“With the people of the town and their families, Janaka was disappointed in the heart at seeing this. It was like a forest of the best lotuses being killed by a frost.” (Janaki Mangala, 89)
dekhi sapura parivāra janaka hiya hāreu |
nṛpa samāja janu tuhina banaja bana māreu ||
The farmer’s worst nightmare is the frost. If you have a garden in the backyard, you probably don’t rely on its output for sustenance. It’s nice to see tomatoes and squash growing, but you still get the majority of your food from the supermarket. The farmers are the ones who supply these markets, and so their harvest is a lot larger. When the frost comes and wreaks its havoc, the toll it takes on the farmer can be devastating. This is what it looked like to King Janaka a long time ago when he saw the best princes in the world defeated by an amazingly heavy bow.
The chill was the bow. It was as hard as adamant; it could not be moved. It would just take one prince lifting it to end the contest. They would be declared the winner immediately. No more worry over what to do. No more sadness over seeing defeat. Even if it’s your worst enemy, seeing them fail miserably in front of the world evokes some feelings of pity. Imagine then a host of proud kings bested by a bow while others watched. Janaka felt sad in the heart seeing this.
The princes were the lotuses. They were the best flowers to grow in the forest that was Janakpur. The host Janaka wanted the best princes to come to his city to try their hand at the contest. The winner would get to marry Janaka’s daughter Sita. She was worth the effort. A good wife from a good family is a great fortune for the husband and his family. Through her support the man is energized, and then he is better equipped to carry out his obligations.
The frost of the bow was too formidable a force for these kings, so it looked like Sita would have to stay unmarried. But one person could handle the frost without a problem. He was a special flower in the forest, and for Him whether there was weight or not in the bow was of no concern. He is self-illuminating, so if you compare Him to a lotus, He acts as if the sun is always shining bright in the sky.
“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)
In the Bhagavad-gita, the same lotus in His original form of Krishna says that in His realm there is no need for electricity. We know that the source of light within this planetary sphere is the sun. The further you get away from the sun in outer space, the darker it becomes. When the earth rotates temporarily out of the vision of the sun, there is darkness for the inhabitants. So the sun is the source of illumination, but in the spiritual world there is no need of a sun. The proprietor Himself, the king of the spiritual world, is so effulgent that there is no need for external light. Therefore one who reaches that realm never has to live in darkness.
That proprietor was there in Janakpur that day, ready to take a shot at lifting the bow. His splendor was evident in His facial and bodily features, and that splendor spread to His limbs as well. There was immense strength in Him, and so lifting the bow would not be a problem. Shri Rama, the eldest son of King Dasharatha, at the request of the sage Vishvamitra, stepped up and raised the bow without issue.
Why allow the frost to set in? Why didn’t Rama lift the bow immediately? The sun’s brightness is appreciated more after the dark night. The spring is welcomed after a harsh winter. On this occasion, the cold winter of defeat affected both the participants and the host. The lotus-like princes tried their best to lift the bow, but the chill was too much to bear. Janaka’s hopes were sinking slowly with each successive defeated prince, and so it looked like all hope was lost.
And then came God to save the day. Rama is the Supreme Lord, the same person other faiths worship. In Rama the features are more clearly drawn out. He is Bhagavan, which means one who possesses beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom and renunciation to the fullest degree and at the same time. The defeated princes were embarrassed by the bow, but in seeing Rama victorious, it was known that the proper result occurred. The miscreant princes who were still upset at their failure at least had their false pride checked.
Because of the preceding frost, the sun of the solar dynasty shone so bright that He is still remembered to this day. Word spread quickly of Rama’s victory. The female sage Anasuya even once asked to hear about the event from Sita herself. The saints always delight in hearing about Rama, and since they are like lotuses as well, they look to Him as their sun. In the harsh winter of Kali Yuga, the sunshine is available through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
Hopes of princes dashed by bow standing still,
Like forest of lotuses killed by frost’s chill.
With friends and family Janaka sad in heart,
Hopes of finding ideal match ready to depart.
For the lotus flower life comes from sight,
Of the sun, opens immediately at its light.
Sun of solar dynasty, Shri Rama hope again brought,
That God is self-effulgent through example He taught.