“On the strength of the good omens she has patience, but then she worries that the outcome won’t happen. ‘The groom is but a teenager and the bow is ghastly in weight, so the giver is not on the right side.’” (Janaki Mangala, 102)
dhīraja dharati saguna bala rahati so nāhina |
barū kisora dhanu ghora daiu nahiṃ dāhina ||
We see that someone is strong. They can lift heavy objects very easily. They can hold these objects in their arms for an extended period of time. Jobs requiring intense manual labor are no problem for them. They don’t get frustrated by the patience required and they don’t get intimidated by the size of the project. We keep that person in mind as our reference point for strength. All other measurements for strength in a person are made against them. But when we see something as large as a tree or a building, we know that our strong person is no match for it. For such reasons it is difficult to conceive of a God, a supreme controller. We’ve never seen anyone strong enough to hold up a tree, so how can anyone even create something as large as a planet? Therefore God must be a myth, right?
Well, we know that the planets are suspended in the air. There is no visible fulcrum underneath. There is no rope holding the earth up. There is no visible person on whose shoulders the earth sits. As nothing stays in the air on its own, some force must exist to accomplish the task. Whether that force directly belongs to a person’s body or is an external manifestation of their energy is not really important. I can drive the car myself or I can hire someone else to drive it. Either way, someone is taking the steps necessary to get the car moving.
As another example, let’s take a computer program that does calculations. I can do complex calculations myself using pen and paper. This proves that I have the mental ability to do the calculations. A written program, which relies on a programming language, an operating system, and user input, can do the same calculations. By writing this program, I am not directly doing anything within my mind when a person needs to figure out the square root of sixty-four, but my energies are acting nonetheless. The energies in this case come from me, so they are an extension of my mental strength.
In the same way, the power of the sun, the suspension of the planets, the force of the wind, the chill in the air, and the heat in fire are all extensions of the Supreme Lord. He is the source of everything; therefore He is automatically the strongest. He holds up the planets. This is what is revealed in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. The Vedas say that a separate personality named Ananta Shesha Naga holds up the planets on his many hoods. This person, who is also known as Anantadeva, is a direct expansion of the original Personality of Godhead. He is almost like God, but not completely the same. Nevertheless, since He acts at God’s direction, He is non-different from Him in one sense. By his holding up the planets, it is as if God were holding them up.
Whether one knows that Anantadeva holds up the planets or not is not important as long as the acknowledgement of the higher authority is there. If you think the planets just hold themselves up, then you are not properly educated. Moreover, your logic doesn’t make sense. Nothing else holds itself up. The earth is not only suspended in space, but it revolves and rotates at set intervals as well. The person who discovered these patterns is certainly wise, but is not the person who created them wiser? We know that life comes from life. Everything we see around us is created by some intelligent person, so the same should apply to all aspects of the material creation.
Despite the scriptural and logical basis for these truths, we are still hesitant to believe in God. We see things that are ghoram, or ghastly, and think that no force is capable of overcoming it. In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, we see a worrying princess who thinks that God, addressed here as “the giver,” has turned against her because of a ghastly obstacle placed in front of a teenage prince. Her attitude shows that she wasn’t foolish, for she attributed the situation to God’s displeasure. He must not have favored her since the odds were so against this beautiful prince lifting up a heavy bow and winning her hand in marriage.
The worrying princess is Sita Devi, who is an incarnation of God’s eternal consort. Therefore she is also His energy, technically known as the hladini-shakti, or pleasure potency. She knows that God is all-powerful and all-wealthy. In this situation, the energy known as yogamaya is acting over her to enhance the pleasure she will feel from the prince’s triumph. The prince is Lord Rama, who is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is automatically the strongest person, so lifting up this bow shouldn’t be a problem for Him.
We see that Sita at one moment draws patience from auspicious omens and the good qualities found in Rama, who is extraordinarily beautiful and chivalrous in every way, and the next she sees the bow and starts to worry. She describes the bow as ghoram, or ghastly, and Rama as a tender youth. Though she is acting under the influence of yogamaya, the behavior is instructive to those who are fooled by the influence of mahamaya, or the material energy. The material energy causes us to falsely identify with our body and forget the influence of God. We see something amazing in stature and think that no human being can overcome it.
This bow was so heavy that none of the other princes at the contest could even move it. Therefore it was natural to think that the bow was something like a large tree, an object impossible for a human being to move. Yet Sita’s sentiment also shows that she understands that God exists. She knows that if no one can lift the bow, it is due to God’s influence and not merely a lack of strength. The Lord is the strongest, and so He can move anything, including a planet. On this occasion, He would prove that fact by lifting a bow of a ghastly weight, winning Sita’s hand in marriage in the process.
If Rama can lift Shiva’s bow for Sita, He can move heaven and earth for anyone, provided that they desire His association. Sita only wanted to serve Rama; she didn’t want Him as a husband just to derive personal pleasure. In the same way, if we desire God’s association with an intent to serve Him eternally, He will remove all the obstacles in our path, no matter how ghastly they are in strength. That desire is best made known through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
“These good omens my future seem to save,
But bow ghastly, looks like giver wrong outcome gave.
This beautiful prince, for eyes precious gift,
How the bow of Shiva in air will He lift?”
Summit of strength in man we tend to think,
Ignoring how massive planets in air never sink.
Marvels of nature held by a higher force,
Who controls seasons and planets’ course.
In Sita’s case, knowledge of His existence shown,
Rama to lift bow and her hand in marriage to own.