“With the rituals done just as the mind desired, the women became happy. Taking the bride and groom, the friends of the bride led them to the nuptial chamber.” (Janaki Mangala, 146)Download this episode (right click and save)
mana bhāvata bidhi kīnha mudita bhāmini bhaī |
bara dulahinihi lavāi sakhīṃ kohabara gaī ||
“What is the purpose to a marriage? Is it to facilitate sense gratification? Instead of chasing after woman after woman, hoping that they like you enough to spend time with you, you get one woman for life. This way you won’t have to go far to satisfy your urges for conjugal relations. You won’t have to worry about dying alone. Is this all there is to a marriage? Why not just find a companion and forgo the formality?”
In the Vedas we get answers to these questions. These answers represent the truth as well, as marriage is indeed there to fulfill a higher purpose. The objective for every living entity is the same, but in the human form the opportunity for meeting it is the best. The animals don’t have nearly the same potential, therefore things like austerity, penance, renunciation, knowledge, and rituals are absent in their lives. They are allowed to live like protected children, roaming here and there. Sin and piety do not apply to them. Righteousness is for the human species, and in the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala we get an instance of a very pious rite, one that is meant to help both parties involved.
The two parties are the groom and the bride. They start as a man and a woman. When they unite in holy matrimony, they become a singular entity, while maintaining their individual natures. Essentially the marriage allows two parties to help one another in advancing towards the ultimate objective of God consciousness. Not to be reached out of fear, this consciousness is what provides lasting and real happiness. The bliss that everyone is after only comes from intimate union with the Divine, a bond so strong that no one can accurately explain it in words.
To reach the point of creating that bond one has to eschew all other favoritism. Every exclusive affectionate relationship, every like and dislike, every attachment and detachment, must be cast aside. Otherwise the bond to the Divine will not be pure. Seems strange then that a relationship that is built on trust for another entity is meant to help one to advance towards God consciousness. If one is supposed to relinquish attachment to this person and that, how are they supposed to reach the vital objective when they accept a partner for life through marriage?
The living entity in the human body automatically has a tendency to form attachments to members of the opposite sex. Marriage, therefore, is a way to curb that tendency. It fixes the attachment on only one individual. In ancient times, some men did accept more than one wife, but again the attachment was limited.
Even in that fixed attachment, there is a singular objective. Like a wife who works to maintain the household and a husband who works to pay for the home’s expenses, the marriage in dharma allots duties to each party. The objective is to maintain a devotional consciousness, one tied to the Supreme Lord. Thus there is work in both instances, but the marriage in dharma has a higher objective; therefore the work is more worthwhile.
Here Sita and Rama, the new bride and groom, are led to the nuptial chamber by Sita’s assistants. Her friends were part of the royal court in Janakpur. Sita’s father, King Janaka, was the leader of the country and the host of the marriage ceremony. Rama was the groom chosen through a contest, and here the rituals relating to their marriage have just completed.
Everything went according to the mind’s desire. A marriage is a stressful occasion for those in charge of organizing it. The parties each have their specific desires. They want a certain place setting, menu, and banquet hall. They want different kinds of entertainment also. In Sita’s wedding, everything that anyone could want was there. The most important element, happiness in celebration, was there at a level never before seen in the world. Sita is the goddess of fortune, who is the eternal consort of the Supreme Lord. Rama is that Supreme Lord in an incarnation specific to a time and circumstance many thousands of years ago.
Sita became a wife through the happily executed rituals, and the first destination for the new husband and wife was the bedroom. This was more than a place for sleeping or enjoying intimate relations. There they would worship the family deities, who had passed on the vital spiritual traditions that allowed everything in life to be ideal. The families were both happy through following dharma, or duty, and so the new members who would carry the torch forward would continue the tradition of worship.
Having someone by your side to support you is always better than going it alone. Perhaps one can get lazy if they don’t have to do things on their own, but provided that one is enthusiastic to work having a partner is beneficial. Sita and Rama are equal in their respect for dharma. They are paragons of virtue, and so they set the ideal example for wife and husband. Shri Rama even remarks in the Ramayana how Sita is His partner in following religious principles. She is a sadharma-charini.
“My dear beautiful wife, what you have said is befitting the occasion and also indicative of the greatness of your family heritage. You are dearer to Me than My life, for you are My companion in the performance of religious duties.” (Lord Rama speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 10.21)
As they are the objects of worship for the householder, Sita and Rama don’t require advancement towards a final objective. Still, they set the proper example of how one can happily live in the company of a spouse. The Supreme Lord is all-attractive, and by extension the householders who work together to worship Him on a daily basis are as well.
Help in worship need do I,
Lethargic when by myself to try.
To give spark to my spiritual life,
God sends to me supporting wife.
Like with Sita and Rama shown,
Supports Him even in forest alone.
At their marriage’s end to bedroom went,
There worship to family deities sent.