“O son, don’t forget our love for You; keep us always in Your heart. Know that the king, his relatives, and this entire city are Your servants.” (Janaki Mangala, 168)
tāta tajiya jani choha mayā rākhabi mana |
anucara jānaba rāu sahita pura parijana ||
The new child is a bundle of joy. You can’t get enough of it. How God could create so beautiful a creature, with its delightful features, limitless exuberance, and endearing gestures, is beyond you. You just want to stare at the new child all day, but then you also know that it cannot do anything on its own. It can’t feed itself. It can’t move to anywhere; not yet anyway. It can’t communicate its emotions. Therefore you and the elders must provide complete care. The child is fully dependent on you.
The not-so-hidden secret, however, is that the elders are the servants. They are the ones who depend on the child. Though seemingly helpless, everyone is more than ready to offer it assistance. The person in adult life won’t receive the same treatment. If others walk past it on the street, they won’t even say “hello.” Indeed, if we get stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire and someone comes up to us, we are likely suspicious. “Who are they? What do they want? They know I’m stranded, so that leaves me vulnerable. Hopefully they are being kind and want to help me, but I can’t be sure.”
Though the child is in the inferior position, it is the one being served. The parents, relatives and siblings are the servants, especially if they have love in their hearts. Through love in service, the child is able to reach maturity, hopefully acquiring values like honesty, cleanliness, compassion and austerity along the way. There is no ego in the servant-like adults. They are more than happy to cater to the child’s every whim. This service is what makes them happiest.
Along similar lines, an entire community, including its king and queen, were servants to a newly welcomed son. He wasn’t a baby, though He exhibited all the beautiful features of youth. He wasn’t helpless, but He didn’t talk very much. He spoke when necessary, and then only words that were appropriate.
The son already had a family. He came to the city accompanied by His younger brother, who was just like Him in features and demeanor, with the lone exception being that his skin color was golden while this new son’s was dark. The son already had a loving father back home. That father had three wives, giving the son three loving mothers. They had so much affection for the son that it was difficult to tell which one was the biological mother.
The son also had an entire city that loved Him. When He and His younger brother left for a brief time to accompany a notable sage in the forest, the people of the town prayed that the boys wouldn’t get hurt. They asked the higher powers to not let a single hair on their heads be harmed.
“They pray to God to grant them blessings: ‘May You garner fame and return victorious. May You not lose a single hair while bathing.’” (Janaki Mangala, 29)
Despite everything the boy had going for Him already, the people of this sacred town of Janakpur eagerly served Him. He was welcomed into their lives through winning the contest of the bow. That made Him the favored son-in-law to King Janaka and his wife Sunayana. Here the queen makes a heartfelt plea to the new son-in-law, Shri Rama, just as He leaves for home. Rama was returning with His new wife Sita, the daughter of Janaka and Sunayana.
The mother asked Rama to never forget their love for Him. She did not give Him demands as to what He should do at home. She did not order Him to take care of her beloved Sita. Just the opposite in fact; she asked Rama to consider all the people in Janakpur to be His servants. Whatever He would want, they would do, without hesitation. Though He was younger than them, a newlywed in fact, they were ready to protect Him, take care of Him, and make life enjoyable for Him in every way.
The Janaki Mangala is the story of the marriage of Sita, who is also known as Janaki, to Rama, the beloved son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. It is of importance due to the nature of the main characters. Rama is the Supreme Lord in an avatara specific to the second time period of creation. Sita is His eternal consort; she is otherwise known as Lakshmi Devi and Shrimati Radharani. Sita is the goddess of fortune, always linked to the Supreme Lord, who is the husband of the goddess of fortune.
Now that we know the nature of Rama, we see that the people of Janakpur considered themselves to be servants of God. They asked nothing from Him; they only offered to give more and more. They asked only that He keep them in His heart. If Rama can create billions of universes simply by exhaling, how difficult is it for Him to remember His devotees? It is His most pleasurable duty to always protect the surrendered souls, remembering all they have done for Him. And so the queen’s request was most certainly granted, and the same is available for all souls, regardless of age, income, ethnicity, race, or gender. While Rama was apparently their son, He was their beloved Lord and master, whom they would serve without motivation and without interruption.
“This child now our reason to live,
With innocence happiness they give.”
Though parents seemingly the superior,
Are fully dependent to the inferior.
With new son to queen too was this way,
Town offered everything on departing day.
That He remember them only thing to ask,
For Supreme Lord an easy and welcome task.