“When the king’s wife heard that the barata party was leaving the next morning, being so sad that sleep couldn’t come to her the night passed.” (Janaki Mangala, 162)
prāta barāta calihi suni bhūpati bhāmini |
pari na biraha basa nīnda bīti gai jāmini ||
Insomnia is the disorder where one cannot sleep. It is an identifiable disorder since usually the body goes to rest at night. After a hard day of work, study, play or a combination of all three, the human being needs to completely shut down, escaping from the gross body and taking shelter of the subtle body for upwards of eight hours. When this sleep doesn’t come naturally, there is something wrong. In the case of a queen a long time ago, the insomnia was due to worry over parting with her beloved daughters and their new husbands.
An easy way to have trouble sleeping is to psyche yourself out.
“Wow, when I shut my eyes and then open them several hours will have passed. All I have to do is fall asleep and then tomorrow will come. This is going to be great. But wait, now I can’t fall asleep. I keep thinking about tomorrow and that event that I am anticipating. If I don’t sleep, however, I will be too tired to enjoy that event. This is not fair. I just want to relax. I don’t need this pressure.”
A queen a long time back was worried over losing her daughters. She heard that the party of the groom was set to embark for home the next morning. They had stayed as long as the king could keep them. He was a gracious host. He offered them all sorts of hospitality. It was a genuine sign of affection, too. He never wanted them to leave. Now news broke that they were preparing to finally go home, where the town of Ayodhya would welcome their four handsome princes and their beautiful new brides.
Two of those brides were daughters of the queen in Janakpur, and with the eldest particularly capturing the hearts of everyone there. In thinking about losing her daughters, the queen could not sleep. It just wouldn’t come to her. And wouldn’t you know it, soon enough it was morning.
While typically insomnia is very troubling, this sort of sleeplessness is actually blissful. We have to think about something. As Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” if you’re not thinking then you’re not living. Even in the dreaming state the mind is fast at work. The process of falling asleep involves the mind working much faster, processing so many thoughts, jumping from one thing to another until there is no more control over the consciousness.
If you can spend your waking hours thinking of God, you are on the right path. Even if the thinking is in concern, it is to your benefit. It is difficult to explain precisely why this is the case. We know that water quenches our thirst on a hot day. We know that the space heater in the room makes us feel so good on a cold winter’s day. We can’t really explain why things are this way, but then again it doesn’t really matter. The reaction is there, and we can perceive it. What more is there to know?
In the same way, constantly thinking of Sita with loving concern is blissful. We can try to explain the fact by pointing out how Sita is the goddess of fortune. She is the eternal consort of the Supreme Lord. God has a partner. He is not limited to one, but there is a single individual who excels in devotion and so is thereby eligible to always be by His side. God is also not limited to a single manifestation. He is an individual, like you and me, but He can appear at different times and different places with forms to match the occasion.
Sita is tied to Rama. Symbolically the bond is through marriage, which takes place in the kingdom of Janakpur. The affectionate mother, Queen Sunayana, prepared Sita for entering the bond of holy matrimony. At the first day that Janaka brought home the baby Sita from the field, she knew that eventually she would have to part with her beloved daughter. Then when Rama, the Supreme Lord walking the earth, lifted up the heavy bow to win the contest, she was again reminded how Sita would soon leave her.
Now the moment was fast approaching. Another mystery of devotional service is that thinking is as good as seeing. And seeing is as good as being by the side of. This means that in staying awake all night in worry over losing Sita, the queen never really lost her. Though the daughter was moving away to live with her new husband in Ayodhya, she remained in the mother’s heart.
In a similar manner, the divine couple always stays in the heart of Shri Hanuman, who is the greatest servant of Rama. The couple stays in the hearts of all the devoted souls who adjust their days in such a way that they’re always thinking of Sita and Rama. Thus whether sleeping or awake, Sita and Rama are always with them to stay.
With fear of separation to keep,
Queen through night couldn’t sleep.
Soon beloved daughter to be gone,
On this thought over to dwell upon.
Though sleep for our benefit is meant,
Blissful was this time for mother spent.
In her heart beloved daughter is found,
So to mother Sita is always around.