“Wherever Sita’s beautiful form goes, others follow with their eyes, like blue-lotus arrows flying from Kamadeva’s bow.” (Janaki Mangala, 82)
rūpa rāsi jehi ora subhāyam̐ nihārai |
nīla kamala sara śreni mayana janu ḍārai ||
One of the many names for God provided in the Vedas is Madana-mohana. This has special significance beyond the basic translation. Madana is the god of love, or the equivalent of a cupid. Mohana is an enchanter, so as Madana-mohana God is the enchanter of cupid. The common understanding of this name is that the Supreme Lord enchants cupid, who can enchant others. If one person is so beautiful that they can cast a spell on others, whoever can cast a spell on them is obviously more beautiful. But another name for Madana is Kamadeva, and kama can translate to lust. An enchanter is one who can defeat someone, so the Supreme Lord is thus also a conqueror of lust.
Why is this important to know? Lust is not a good thing. Even in the basic understanding, to lust after something shows a weakness of mind. If, for instance, I am lusting after a slice of pizza, the behavior is not justified. Pizza is just food after all. Sure it tastes great. The combination of cheese, sauce and dough is unique and flavorful. The one slice isn’t enough either, as a few slices really hit the spot. Some like their pizza well done, while others prefer the softer crust, wherein the ingredients are not too hot. In either case, the pizza tastes great to the person lusting after it.
But why should I lust after pizza? I need food for survival and no other reason. I could get the same nutrients, in likely a healthier combination, from other dishes. Moreover, the satisfaction from eating the pizza, from giving in to the lusty demands, is short-lived. Pretty soon thereafter I will crave pizza again, and if I can satisfy my itches so easily this way, I will start eating pizza on a regular basis, which was not my original intention.
Lust after food is one thing, but in its more dangerous form lust targets illicit sexual connections. To achieve this connection requires more effort, and the consequences are more harmful as a result. You could end up with an eighteen year responsibility in the form of an unwanted child. You could end up with a relationship with a person of the opposite sex whom you don’t like. You could end up doing something gravely sinful like killing an innocent child within the womb. You could be depleted of money while supporting your habit, and you could start running from partner to partner to satisfy your lust that never seems to go away. Indeed, studies in America have shown that one of the easiest ways to prevent poverty is to graduate from high school and wait until you are married to have children. These are both difficult to do when you are ruled over by lust.
As the enchanter of cupid, God is above the influence of kama, or lust. He also defeats the lust in others, whether they prefer it or not. This is the result of connection with Him, proving that yoga, or the link to the supreme consciousness, is never harmful. It is worthwhile in every case, as even with an improper attitude in the neophyte stage the divine influence itself will purify you of things that are bad for you. Case in point the lusty kings in Janakpur many thousands of years ago. They were not interested in yoga, but due to the divine vision consisting of both the Supreme Lord and His eternal consort, their lust led them towards purity.
The scene was a contest. Princes and rulers from around the world gathered in Janakpur to try to lift an extremely heavy bow originally belonging to Lord Shiva. The winner of the contest would win the hand of Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka, who was the host of this contest. Madana-mohana was there in His incarnation of Lord Rama, the prince of the Raghu dynasty. He appeared so beautiful that others could tell that He could defeat the pride of millions of cupids. The pious wanted Him to lift the bow and win the contest, while the impious were jealous of His beauty and the attention others gave to Him.
Then came Sita. Janaka called for her, and she walked through the assembly. The lusty kings kept staring at her. Wherever she went, their eyes followed. Goswami Tulsidas likens the situation to Kamadeva constantly shooting his blue-lotus arrows. Their lust was targeted at her, and yet they had to keep shooting because Sita was not affected by their attraction. She is eternally Rama’s. She is the pleasure potency of the Supreme Lord, and so she can never be with any other man. She is never swayed by lust, and she is so beautiful that she enchants even Madana-mohana.
The lust of the kings would lead to purification because their eyes would next focus on the lifting and breaking of the bow by Rama. Because of their lust for the most beautiful woman in the world, they were led to the vision of one of the most famous incidents in history. Though their intentions were not pure to start, they received a wonderful benediction, one rarely achieved. Their arrows of lust had no effect on Sita and Rama, and in this way know that through the divine consciousness, through focusing on the Supreme Lord, all negative attributes we possess will lose their strength, sort of like a serpent losing its fangs.
The senses remain, but in real yoga they are used for continuous glorification of the wonderful couple, Sita and Rama. If in enmity the rival kings in Janakpur got the benediction of seeing Sita and Rama wed, imagine what reward awaits the yogi in devotion, who harbors love and affection for the Supreme Lord instead of envy. Through chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, practice the yoga of devotion and defeat the dreaded enemy known as lust.
At Janaka’s daughter lusty kings take their aim,
With arrows shot hope her hand to gain.
But these glances on her have no effect,
Devoted to Rama, off her these arrows deflect.
Their lust towards divine vision she draws,
Rama’s lifting of bow they then saw.
If such reward given to those with enmity,
Imagine the gain for those free of hostility.
As Madana-mohana God holds sway over lust,
Same power to those who bhakti-yoga trust.