“Hearing those words with faith, the queen became happy in the heart. Staring at Rama’s face so much, her mind is drawn to him in affection.” (Janaki Mangala, 79)
Prema, or pure love, for the Supreme Lord is not like any type of love we have encountered. And neither is it something we will ever feel for another human being, as the relationships in the material world are contingent upon some level of reciprocation. We are friends with someone based on what they can give to us. If they cease to provide companionship or a helping hand, we will stop being friends with them. This only makes sense, for who would want to be around an acrimonious individual? The characteristic of “friendly” should mean something. With the Supreme Lord, however, the feeling of prema is not based on any reciprocation, because in fact He has been the individual’s friend since time immemorial.
How can He be our friend if we have only come to know of Him recently?
Even if you knew about God since you were very little, that still is not a long time in the grand scheme. In the situation from the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, the queen of Janakpur has only known the Supreme Lord’s incarnation of Shri Ramachandra for a few brief moments. In that time she developed the same attraction to Him that exists within all of us.
But where was Rama before this?
In the Ramayana and other Vedic scriptures it is described that Rama holds a bow in His hands and wears a quiver tied around His waist. This is His garb while roaming the forests to protect the innocent sages. He is most famous as a warrior, the prince of the Raghu dynasty, so this vision of Rama is the one preferred by the devotees. But in other parts of Vedic literature, the same Supreme Lord is described as the four-armed Vishnu, the two-armed Krishna, or the half-man/half-lion Narasimhadeva. In other religious traditions He is not given a form or it is speculated that He is an old man who is vindictive.
To make light of the seemingly disparate pieces of information one should be familiar with their own identity. Actually, learning about the Supreme Lord’s transcendental features enables one to know their own identity as well, but in the chance that the descriptions found in the Vedas are too much to take or are dismissed due to sectarian considerations, we can still learn about the difference between spirit and matter to increase our knowledge. This difference is at the core of spirituality. The spirit soul is not the body. Every individual life force is spirit at the core; the material covering is like a temporary set of clothes that gets put on and then taken off later.
The basic truth of the existence of the soul debunks any theories relating to a big bang of chemicals creating the universe. No matter what research is made or to whatever degree of certainty scientists may claim to have proven the “big bang”, there is nothing they can do to reproduce their purported explosion. Where do we see an explosion create things? It always destroys. The terrorist bomber can’t plead innocent and say that chemicals randomly collided to create the destruction of the blast attributed to them. No one will buy this excuse. If chemicals did collide to create the universe, from where did the chemicals come? No answer to this is forthcoming, as saying, “They were just there,” is equivalent to saying that there is a God. If chemicals can create all of life, why can’t human beings create something as simple as the sun? Not a giant solar body like the one we rely upon so much; just anything minute in scope that has an endless capacity to give heat and light without requiring an external source of energy will suffice.
The truth of the soul’s existence makes a lot more sense, and the soul’s properties are further discussed in the Bhagavad-gita. From that text we learn that each individual has two souls within them. One is the individual soul, or jivatma, and the other is the Supreme Soul, or Paramatma, who is God. The Supreme Soul is all-pervading, whereas the individual soul is localized. This means that God is always with us. He has always been with us in the past and will continue to be with us going forward. He is always our well-wishing friend, but through forgetfulness we search out other deities, descending to the point that we’ll give deity status to chemicals that we’ve never seen.
Awareness of the Supreme Soul can come about through different paths, most of which are rather difficult to follow. The easiest path to follow, but also the most difficult to accept, is bhakti-yoga, or divine love. The bhakti process is accelerated when there is the direct audience of the Supreme Soul in a manifested form, as was the case with the queen of Janakpur. She saw Shri Rama, an incarnation of Bhagavan, who is the person most of the world refers to as God. Bhagavan is the origin of the Supersoul, and He is the same person that resides simultaneously within all of us.
The queen on this occasion was set to marry off her daughter Sita. There was a contest to determine her daughter’s future husband. The queen’s husband, King Janaka, drew up the contest. Now the queen saw Lord Rama and wanted Him to win. She was worried that He wouldn’t be able to lift Lord Shiva’s bow due to His youthfulness, but her friends assured her that Rama could do amazing things. Moreover, the sage Vishvamitra had full faith in Rama’s ability; otherwise he wouldn’t have brought the Lord to the contest.
The queen took faith in those words and she became happy in the heart as a result. She then stared at Rama, drawn to Him like a magnet due to affection she felt in the mind. When the outside distractions are removed, one is free to worship God without impediment. And that worship is tied to prema, or pure love. There is no question of reciprocation or a sought out state of maturity. There is just uninterrupted affection offered through the mind, which is an indication of consciousness. To purify our consciousness in this way is the aim of the human form of life, and Sita’s mother reached that pinnacle of existence that famous day when she saw Shri Rama, who was on the precipice of lifting Shiva’s bow.
Like a friend from a time long gone,
Immediately to Him eyes are drawn.
Though only recently eyes on Him laid,
With us since time immemorial He’s stayed.
The Supreme Lord, the friend who is the best,
Ready to win Sita through bow-lifting contest.
In prema-bhakti for reciprocation there is no need,
Presence of eternal best friend our satisfaction to feed.