“Then the priest asked all the sakhis to sing wedding songs. They then went to bring to Janaki whatever her mind desired.” (Janaki Mangala, 106)
taba upurohita kaheu sakhīṃ saba gāvana |
calīṃ levāi jānakahiṃ bhā mana bhāvana ||
If you could plan out your perfect day, what would it look like? Where would you go? What would you do? Who would be there with you? For many young women, this dream relates to their marriage. That will be the perfect day, when everything goes right. For one famous young lady in particular, her wedding was like a fairy tale, only everything about it was real. News of the reality spread throughout the world at the time. The same news was then immortalized in India’s ancient texts, allowing for us to relive that most auspicious day.
What would be the perfect wedding? For the woman, obviously a suitable husband would be the first priority. How can you have an ideal wedding if you’re marrying someone you don’t like? This begs the question as to what makes the perfect husband. The word itself implies protection. In the Vedas, the term for husband is pati, which can also mean controller. Not to be confused with a domineering figure who forces other people to submit to his demands for sense gratification, the controller in this sense is one who runs the show with respect to a married life guided by religiosity.
What is the difference between marriage in religiosity and marriage in irreligiosity?
Without religiosity, one is guided by their senses. The sense impulses have dominance in the lower species, but in the human being those impulses can be ignored. For instance, we decide when and how much to eat. We could immediately shift to a diet of rice, vegetables, and fruits if we wanted to. We could eat meat, drink wine, and consume endless candy bars if we wanted to also. Each choice has consequences, and using the receptacle of information that is the mind, combined with the wonderful gift of an advanced intelligence, the human being can make wiser choices that will benefit them in the future.
A marriage based in sense gratification isn’t really a marriage at all; it is more a formalized bond based on animal instincts. The animal is cold in its dealings with sense objects. Think of the two dogs that have sexual relations and then move on. There is no duty or honor; there is no conscience persuading one party to take care of the other for life. A marriage in sense gratification is similar to this, as it can break at any time should either party no longer feel sense stimulation. In the Vedas, the householder who lives without religiosity is known as a grihamedhi.
A grihasthi is the householder who lives with religiosity. All rules and regulations of religious life, which in its bona fide form is based on the laws of the spiritual science, are meant to culminate in God consciousness. To think of God is to have a taste of the original consciousness. To constantly think of God is to reach the aim of life, which automatically brings an end to the cycle of birth and death. As the sense demands are the strongest hindrance towards God consciousness, various systems of maintenance are suggested to help one gradually work their way towards the stage of bhava, or full ecstasy resulting from connection with the Divine.
Grihastha is an ashrama; it is a spiritual institution. The male in this system is the protector; he dominates in the sense that he will protect his wife from outside attack and also maintain the household so that the spiritual activities can be carried out without a problem. The woman looking to enter this religious institution would thus prefer the best protector. Someone who was religiously inclined would be the most helpful to fitting into the scenario of the dream wedding.
For your special day, you would also want your friends and family around. Life is no fun if you don’t have anyone with whom to share your experiences. Sometimes it is actually more enjoyable to relive an event after the fact, telling your friends about what happened. If you go on vacation, it is better to visit so many places just so that you have something to talk about with your friends later on. “I went here and I went there. I ate at this place and relaxed over there.”
For the daughter of King Janaka, the wedding was perfect. Everyone she loved was there. All her closest friends, along with her family priest, mother and father, celebrated the occasion. Sometimes the wedding situation is not ideal for everyone. For instance, perhaps the father of the bride doesn’t like the groom. Perhaps the mother of the groom has objections to the marriage. In the end, they may give their blessings begrudgingly so that the wedding can go forward without a hitch.
In Janaki’s situation, everyone was ecstatic. One couldn’t tell who was happier. Was the bride more thrilled or the parents? Were the friends happier or the protected citizens, or praja? In this verse from the Janaki Mangala, Goswami Tulsidas provides further details about Janaki’s special day. The name Janaki means the daughter of Janaka. She is more commonly known as Sita, the wife of Rama. Here Rama has just fulfilled the qualification for marrying Sita, and so the wedding is all set to take place. King Janaka’s family priest, Shatananda, told the sakhis, the friends of the princess, to sing felicitous wedding songs. They then went to get Sita, fulfilling all her desires.
Sita’s marriage was perfect because all the conditions were met. Her husband is the best husband. He is the protector of the whole world. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His spiritual form of a warrior prince. If you surrender to Rama, you will never be devoid of protection. Even if you somehow think He is absent from your life, you can simply chant His name and be reminded of Him. And more comforting than thinking of Rama is thinking of Sita, who is devoted to Him in thought, word and deed. She united with that beautiful son of King Dasharatha on the occasion of her perfect marriage, an event still talked about to this day.
Marriage of Sita and Rama set,
For best day all conditions met.
Groom of strength and righteousness there,
Also all people for whom Janaki did care.
Priest asked friends for wedding songs to sing,
Then to ceremony the princess to bring.
Always names of Sita and Rama should say,
And instantly perfect becomes your day.