“The barata procession in the middle of the road looked very appropriate, like Kamadeva taking rest underneath a desire tree in a garden.” (Janaki Mangala, 125)
madhya barāta birājata ati anukūleu |
manahum̐ kāma ārāma kalapatarū phūleu ||
Here Goswami Tulsidas continues his description of the festivities that took place just prior to the marriage ceremony of Sita and Rama. The bridegroom party had arrived in Janakpur, where the host King Janaka was set to give away his daughter to the eldest son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. The groom, Shri Rama, was appropriately adorned with beautiful ornaments by His father. The Lord looked like the bright sun that opened up the eyes of the lotus-like world. Here the same Rama is once again compared to the god of love, Kamadeva, and His attendants to beautiful flowers within a garden.
Kamadeva is extremely beautiful, which is the reason for the reference. Similar references are used in ordinary talks. If we want to say that a woman is very beautiful, we’ll compare her appearance to that of a famous actress. The same goes for a beautiful man. The celebrities are used as frames of reference, objects for comparison. Kamadeva is described in the Vedas to be very beautiful, capable of enticing other women to enjoy with him. He also instills amorous feelings in others through the arrows that he shoots from his bow.
Kamadeva lives in the heavenly realm, which is filled with trees. These trees are not ordinary, however. They are referred to as kalpatarus and suratarus, which mean desire trees. Like a wishing well or a magic lamp, you go up to one of these trees and ask for whatever you want materially. The reward is granted immediately, making the tree like a large umbrella to give shelter. Even the lower trees, which haven’t grown to be very tall, are famous in the heavenly realm. This is because they are also desire trees, capable of granting whatever the wisher wants.
“By remembering Shri Rama’s holy name, even those who are born into a low caste become worthy of fame, just as the wild trees that line the streets in the heavenly realm are famous throughout the three worlds.” (Dohavali, 16)
The Barat procession featured Shri Rama in the center. In traditional Vedic marriages, the groom arrives riding on an elephant. There is a canopy above him, and in this scene the shade from the canopy is compared to the shade of a desire tree. The person resting underneath is compared to Kamadeva because of His beauty. The scene thus looked very appropriate, as Shri Rama is the most beautiful. This is one of the features of God.
God is also the most renounced, the most intelligent, the most wealthy, and the most famous. And on the occasion of Sita’s svayamvara, He proved that He is also the strongest. He lifted a bow that no other prince in the world could lift. This earned Him Sita’s hand in marriage, in accordance with the rules of the contest drawn up by King Janaka.
The people around the barata procession were looking very beautiful. This is the effect of devotional service enacted without motives. What did the people want for themselves? They had travelled far from Ayodhya just to see their beloved Rama get married. They wanted Him to be happy with Sita. They rejoiced as He approached the scene of the wedding. In their ecstasy, they looked like the flowers that surround the desire trees in the heavenly realm.
Rest is meant to be a state of comfort. You offer someone a nice seat or a bed so that they become more comfortable. In this sense Rama was very comfortable travelling to the marriage. His position made the revelers all the more joyous. Since He is the wealthiest, God does not require any gift from any person. He rests in the spiritual sky on the bed made by Ananta Shesha Naga, so He sleeps whenever He needs to. Nevertheless, He accepts the kind service offered to Him by the devotees. Their service makes Him very happy, and His pleasure is passed back to them.
To the people of Ayodhya, Rama especially deserved the best accommodations. He never played favorites in the kingdom. As the king’s eldest son, any perk was available to Him. He could live in the largest palace, drink the finest wine, and enjoy with any woman. And yet since His very birth all He was interested in was the welfare of the citizens. The people He punished from time to time couldn’t find fault with Him. They knew that Rama never violated dharma, or religiosity.
While still a teenager, He left home for the forest. This was at the request of the sage Vishvamitra. Rama took His younger brother Lakshmana with Him. The people of Ayodhya prayed that the brothers wouldn’t get harmed while with the sage. They had good reason to worry. Vile creatures known as Rakshasas were attacking the sages in the middle of the night, killing them, and then eating their flesh. What would the people do if Rama and Lakshmana didn’t return home?
The brothers provided ample protection for Vishvamitra, and their journey eventually led them to Sita’s svayamvara. The blessed Rama made everyone so happy, including King Janaka. He deserved the best of everything. Here He travels to reunite with Sita Devi, His eternal consort. The couple is divine according to the Vedas. They are the Supreme Lord and His wife. Marriage is a spiritual institution meant for bringing the two parties closer to their original consciousness. Sita and Rama are the object of that consciousness, so their marriage is a little different. It represents the unbreakable link between the energetic and the energy. The energy like Sita never separates from Him, while the energy like us tends to alternate between devotional life and material life. Through remembering the love they have for each other, which was shown at the great ceremony that saw Rama arrive looking like the beautiful Kamadeva, the final decision in favor of devotional life can be made without reservation.
From attachment intent on material preservation,
Difficult to practice bhakti, devotion with reservation.
For all your doubts to finally strip away,
Your mind in marriage of Sita and Rama stay.
Safe is their shelter, like sturdy canopy,
Rama like Kamadeva under tree comfortably.
Friends and family after journey all did rejoice,
Rama to marry Sita after ceremony of self-choice.