“With folded hands Janaka said, ‘Please take me as your own. You are the tilaka of the Raghu family, and you always take care of the destitute.’” (Janaki Mangala, 172)
kaheu janaka kara jori kīnha mohi āpana |
raghukula tilaka sadā tuma uthapana thāpana ||
When turning to spiritual matters, there are many levels of understanding. There is the concept of an original person, the entity from whom everything emanates. Then there is the personality from whom this specific universe comes. Then there are also the presiding deities within the creation. Once everything is made, someone is put in charge of destroying at the appropriate time. That is the nature of the material; nothing is fixed. What goes up, must come down. That which is born must eventually die. The time in between calls for maintenance, and the personality in charge of maintaining is Lord Vishnu.
Brahma is the creator and Shiva the destroyer. Interestingly enough, Vishnu is also the origin of everything. His role as maintainer in the material creation is in an expansion form. There are different Vishnus, though they represent the same personality. As a guna-avatara, or incarnation to manage a mode of material nature, Vishnu maintains the material creation. Yet He is never material, so He is also the maintainer of the surrendered souls, who have no attachment to the material energy.
What does it mean to be free of attachment? We can think of it like going to work every day and not being stressed out over the results. If our job is in maintenance, we will meet so many difficult situations. A customer may have done something ill-advised and caused great damage to their machine. If we arrive at their home to fix it, it may take a long time to get the job done. The longer it takes, the more frustrated the customer gets. Their harsh words won’t change the situation; the job is the job.
In other situations the job is easier. It is a routine fix, something over which the customer does not get angry. Whether there is good treatment or not, as a repairman I don’t let anything affect my job. I get my work done. I am not attached to the outcome, for what can I really do? I can try my best and then deal with the outcome.
A person who is not attached to the material energy carries the same attitude into everything they do that is not directly related to serving the Personality of Godhead. He is above the material nature, as He is the opposite of temporary. He remains fixed in His position for all of time. Indeed, the human brain is incapable of truly understanding what that means. There is always a beginning to a beginning and an end to an end. The Supreme Lord is the beginning of all beginnings, and beyond any end. He has always been the Supreme Lord and will always continue to be in the future.
As He is above the material nature, He is superior to it as well. Therefore He can maintain anyone. He indirectly maintains through the forces of nature, but that maintenance is not very pleasing. The rain pours down water in the Spring to make sure the flowers blossom. That same rain can bring pain to someone else who is relying on good weather. The direct maintenance, however, is always beneficial. Sometimes it is offered through a proxy, such as the king.
“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)
In the ancient time periods, the maintenance was carried out by the saintly kings. In this scene from the Janaki Mangala, two of those kings are saying goodbye to one another. King Janaka, an ideal ruler in his own right, kindly requests King Dasharatha to consider him to be his own. Dasharatha ruled the earth following the principles laid down at the beginning of creation by the Supreme Lord. Here Janaka describes Dasharatha as the tilaka, or sacred mark, of the Raghu family. Dasharatha’s line descended from the famous King Ikshvaku, and this line also had the famous King Raghu in it.
Janaka says that Dasharatha picks up those who need to be lifted, and so he asks that Dasharatha consider him in this light. This is a very nice attitude to have, since by the chain of disciplic succession Dasharatha’s work is actually God’s. When the government agent collects taxes to be deposited into the treasury, he is doing the work of the head of the government. The head is ultimately responsible. In the same way, when Dasharatha maintains the surrendered souls, it is actually the Supreme Lord who is ultimately responsible.
In all his modesty, Janaka here hides the fact that he was a great maintainer as well, an equal representative of the Supreme Lord. He had the good fortune of receiving the eternal consort of the Supreme Lord as his daughter. Dasharatha was so blessed that he received God in a lila-avatara as a son. Dasharatha’s son Rama and Janaka’s daughter Sita wed in a grand ceremony in Janaka’s kingdom, and here the groom’s party is all set to return home. Both kings maintained their children very well, and Dasharatha is asked to extend his care to all in Janaka’s family.
The devoted souls, who follow the teachings of God passed on in the Bhagavad-gita, are always ready to rescue the downtrodden, for they know that God’s mercy is without limit. The power in the holy name itself can deliver countless souls with a single utterance. Therefore in the modern era, where the saintly kings are no longer to be found, the maintenance of the greatest maintainer flows through the chanting of the holy names by His devotees: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Even when to spiritual subject to go,
Many levels, different ways to know.
In one role Vishnu as maintainer,
Of devotees also sustainer.
The saintly kings first acted through,
Understood Bhagavad-gita who.
Dasharatha one in that following,
Kind words to him Janaka offering.
Supremely blessed both were they,
Lord and wife in their homes to stay.
Through holy name maintenance now to come,
Chant always, other way there is none.