“The group of young girls and queens stayed there in this way, receiving every auspicious treasure looking at Sita and looking at Rama.” (Janaki Mangala, 152)
jubati jūtha ranivāsa rahasa basa ehi bidhi |
dekhi dekhi siya rāma sakala mangala nidhi ||
The vision of the couple just married is a treasure. Therefore in a traditional wedding ceremony in modern times, there is the reception that follows the religious portion. The taking of wedding vows in front of a man of the clergy is enough to satisfy the requirement for marriage, but the well-wishers desire more time with the new couple. They wish to see them again and again in their wedded bliss. The same held true a long time ago in the marriage ceremony performed in the earthly realm for the Supreme Lord and His eternal consort.
To hold on to the memory of that special day, there are pictures and video taken. The day after, the attendees recount what happened the previous night. “Oh, did you see that person on the dance floor? Did you hear what that other person told me? What did you think of the food? Wasn’t the church ceremony so nice? I couldn’t believe all the nice things the bride had to say about the groom. She must really love him very much. The pair is a perfect match. They complement each other in qualities. One is bold and assertive and the other is calm and steady. I can’t wait to see the wedding video to again experience the festive occasion. If only we could relive that night again and again.”
Understanding the importance of the moment, the young ladies and queens at the marriage of Sita and Rama kept stealing glances at the divine couple. Normally, it is considered impolite to stare. “Would you like it if someone were looking at you all the time? After a while it would be a little creepy, wouldn’t it? Therefore you shouldn’t do that to someone else.”
Sita and Rama didn’t mind. They possess every virtue, every quality in goodness imaginable. If there is any object worth staring at, it is them right after they have officially been joined in the sacred city of Tirahuta. The women in the wedding party had a unique enjoyment due to their level of access. They got to lead Sita and Rama to the wedding chamber, where the couple got to know each other through playing traditional games. The women had the chance to make fun of the two mothers, ribbing them when their child lost a particular round.
Most importantly, the women were able to look at the bride and groom over and over again. Since Sita and Rama are divine, the goddess of fortune and the Supreme Lord respectively, others are not only allowed to stare at them, but encouraged to do so. Physical proximity is not a requirement for having the vision. Here the women got to stare at the couple sitting directly in front of them, but others have the same opportunity in visiting the temple.
Rather than speculate as to who the heavenly father is, and rather than remember only the sacrifice of life given by a son of God, in the temple one can see the transcendental features of God drawn out. There is no limit to these features, so the rendering is never completely accurate. Moreover, man is limited in the materials he can use to create the worshipable form. For instance, if God is everything, His height cannot be limited. And yet when making a statue of the original Lord or one of His many incarnations, the height must have a limit.
The form is still worshipable if it is created and installed in an authorized way. The deity is the mercy of God, giving the individual a chance to worship Him. That individual is not God; so it has limitations. He has a difficult time seeing the presence of the divine that is everywhere. Goswami Tulsidas, the author of the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, in his Dohavali explains how the personal form of God is superior to the impersonal precisely because the personal form eliminates room for error. The comparison is made to the number, and how it looks different based on how it is presented. The numeral form looks different than the written out word. Both forms represent the same number, but the numeral can more easily be distorted. This is why both versions are presented on a check payment.
In the same way, the deity version of the incarnation removes the doubt in the mind of not knowing exactly who God is. The deity allows for the eyes to continuously stare, receiving every auspicious treasure in the process. The jewel of a reward in this life is devotion to God. Devotion is strengthened by attraction, and attraction automatically comes from opulence. The deity is worshiped in all opulence, attracting the mind with its features, activities and qualities.
“After having rested on the worshiped arm of the Lord of the world, how can I now take rest on the arm of any other?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.16-17)
The deity of a just-wedded Sita and Rama attracts the mind to the sacred time in Tirahuta when Shri Rama, using His most powerful arm, which is the only worshipable arm for Sita, effortlessly lifted the heavy bow to win Janaka’s contest. It attracts the mind towards Sita’s undying devotion to Rama. It attracts the mind towards the kind attendants of Sita, who took so much pleasure in her auspicious day. Most importantly, it attracts the mind towards devotion itself, which is life’s ultimate reward.
“To look at me in this way you dare,
Don’t you know it’s impolite to stare?”
With Supreme Lord such behavior acceptable,
When seeing deity with features perceptible.
Mistakes removed when attributes drawn out,
Learn that form Supreme God not without.
Friends at Sita and Rama repeatedly stole a look,
Serving divine couple most of opportunity took.