“Auspicious singing, drums and sounds filled the air and the city. It looked like a desire tree blooming with whatever the mind desired.” (Janaki Mangala, 105)
nabha pura mangala gāna nisāna gahāgahe |
dekhi manoratha suratarū lalita lahālahe ||
The Vedas describe something known as a desire tree. In Sanskrit the word is either kalpataru or surataru. The latter mentions the suras, or demigods. They are residents of the heavenly planets. When the term “heaven” is invoked it must relate to something. In this case the heavenly aspect relates to increased material sense gratification. One way this is facilitated is through the desire tree, which immediately grants whatever the mind wants. Goswami Tulsidas chose to invoke this tree when describing the felicity that followed the lifting of the bow by Lord Rama.
It’s the winter. It’s cold outside. It takes you ten minutes to warm up your car. If you don’t have a remote starter, you have to run out into the cold, start the car, turn on the heat, and then run back into your house. Then you can get ready, eat something, and enter your car when it is warmed up. The car will be easier to drive, and there also won’t be the discomfort of the cold conditions.
Depending on where you live, in the winter months it could be so cold outside that the high temperature doesn’t even reach the freezing point. This is a little disturbing if you think about it. If you were to stay outside for an extended period of time, you would freeze to death. At least in the summer months if you stayed outside you would only be slightly discomforted. You could still survive. In the winter it is so cold that life cannot sustain itself without some means of heat generated by other forms of life.
As life outside cannot survive in the winter, the leaves fall off the trees. This is depressing because the tree is meant to have leaves. A plant’s ideal destiny is to produce fruits. In the Vedas, the fruit-bearing trees are considered pious, and the ones without fruits are tagged as sinful. The fruit-bearing tree helps others to survive by providing food. The trees that only have leaves don’t really do anything for others besides providing oxygen and perhaps shade. Granted, these are necessary to sustain life, but if the tree could give fruits someone could rely on it for their livelihood.
When the tree is blooming, it looks better. Think of it like having a home that is nicely decorated. The interior and exterior arrangements make everything look better. In Janakpur a long time ago, it looked like a desire tree was in full bloom. A desire tree gives whatever the mind wants. If you want to eat something, you go up to the tree and ask for some food. They say that money doesn’t grow on trees, but if you go up to a desire tree, money will fall in bundles should you ask for it.
Now imagine that you had a city full of citizens kindly approaching a large desire tree. They simultaneously ask for their specific desire. The tree then responds by blooming all the things asked for. In this verse from the Janaki Mangala, Tulsidas says that beautiful singing and drums filled the air of the city. This was in response to the culmination of the contest of the bow. King Janaka vowed to give away his daughter Sita to whoever would first lift the bow of Lord Shiva. The prince of Ayodhya, the eldest son of King Dasharatha, Shri Rama, finally accomplished the feat, and everyone was so happy that joy filled the air.
The symbolic desire tree in this instance was not material. It was a tree that granted all the spiritual desires of the citizens. A spiritual desire is one that does not have any karma tied to it. If I ask for a tablet computer and I get it, the device then drives my actions. Since the device is related to matter, my subsequent actions are tied to matter as well, which means that I will have to accept a material body again in the next life. Lord Krishna, the same Shri Rama but in His original form, confirms this fact in the Bhagavad-gita, where He states that whatever state of being one remembers at the time of death, that state they attain in the next life.
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)
To accept a material body in the next life is considered inauspicious because we are all spiritual at the core. Why not accept a spiritual body in the next life? The spiritual body is actually our original body; it is tied to our original consciousness. That consciousness is God consciousness, where we only think of the Supreme Lord and His interests.
In Janakpur the celebrating citizens were thinking only of Rama’s welfare, and also Sita’s. They wanted the divine couple to reunite, to stay together for all of time. They also wanted to celebrate Rama’s victory. Their desires were fulfilled by the only person who can fulfill all desires. By lifting and breaking that bow, Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord, fulfilled so many desires simultaneously. As that desire tree was in full bloom, the scene was beautiful.
Whatever state you want to live,
To you the desire tree can give.
Money, glory and fame you like,
Or perhaps obstacles removed from sight.
Such trees in heaven to be found,
Large and small, all around.
For Rama lifting of Shiva’s bow an easy task,
Can grant any wish anyone could ask.
To celebrate His glories of desires the best,
Only reward of time to stand the test.
Thus the scene like flowering tree did look,
Joy from Sita and Rama’s marriage everyone took.