“With love and excitement, Janaka said to Dasharatha, ‘Please come back now.’ The kings then exchanged requests, with their words full of goodness.” (Janaki Mangala, 171)
prema pulaki kahi rāya phiriya aba rājana |
karata paraspara binaya sakala guna bhājana ||
It is not uncommon for a husband and a wife to argue. After all, they spend so much time in each other’s company. They know each other’s faults, and strong points as well. More importantly, they likely have a close relationship, so they do not feel shy in voicing their opinions. They are not too concerned with what the other person may think of them, since the relationship is as close as one can get.
Imagine a situation where the couple argues over which person has the better father. The husband begins.
“The glories of my father cannot be counted. He raised three boys with the help of his beautiful and faithful wife. He worked all day, tirelessly, without complaining once. He was kind to us, but firm as well. He instilled discipline in us, and more importantly he taught us to respect others. He was kind to all guests that came to the home, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t like him. He is terrific in all respects. I can’t think of any other father like him.”
Hearing this, the wife feels compelled to respond. She has a terrific father too, she believes.
“Well, my father is the kindest person on earth. He never watches television. He never drinks. He never smokes. He’s always spending time with his children, helping them with whatever they need. His wife never has to yell at him because he never does anything wrong. On the weekends, he volunteers at various charitable organizations. He is well known throughout the community for his generosity. He never once laid a hand on any of us children growing up, but he still made sure we weren’t spoiled. He naturally loves everyone, even strangers. He has no problem pulling over to the side of the road to help a stranded motorist. He’ll do this even if he has somewhere he needs to be. He doesn’t get angry when others insult him. I think he is the best father in the world.”
A similar situation, which was more difficult to reconcile, existed in Janakpur a long time ago. Two fathers were meeting for perhaps the final time, as one was the guest and the other the host. The guest was returning home with his four sons, who had just been married through the host’s arrangement. The host was the donor and the guest the receiver.
The guest was a defender of righteousness on earth. He had been called upon many times in the past to deal with the miscreant class. “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone got along? Wouldn’t it be great if there was no war? Why can’t everyone live in peace?” These are yearnings of man since the beginning of time. Yet we see conflict nevertheless, as not everyone wants to play by the rules. Some have no problem cheating, stealing, and using violence. In such cases, the easy way to maintain peace is to give in. “Go ahead, come in my house and take everything. Go ahead, plunder the wealth of society. Go ahead, kill whomever you want.”
The innocent people are not safe unless they have defenders. The guest in this situation, King Dasharatha, was the greatest defender of the innocent. Therefore he was highly exalted, respected throughout the world. The host had his own set of good qualities. He was dispassionate. This meant that he never played favorites while administering justice. He didn’t change the laws on a whim to suit a campaign donor or to avert a drop in his poll numbers. Even if someone didn’t like what he did, he stayed with his decisions since they were in accordance with righteous principles passed on since the beginning of time.
“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.2)
The host, King Janaka, carried out his responsibilities, despite being known as an expert transcendentalist. Here we see that he also felt thrills from time to time. He was not above emotion. He didn’t force himself to act like a robot. He had love and affection for his daughter Sita, and that naturally extended to Sita’s new father-in-law, King Dasharatha.
In this scene Janaka is kindly requesting Dasharatha to stay. “Don’t go home yet. This is your home as well. You can stay here as long as you like.” This is the proper etiquette when dealing with a departing guest. Janaka was more than following etiquette here. As a pious king himself, he had so much respect for Dasharatha. The King of Ayodhya felt likewise about Janaka. Thus they exchanged many requests with each other, in pure goodness.
In the household of Sita and Rama, a hypothetical debate over who has the better father cannot be settled. It would end in a draw, as the goodness found in each father is without limit. It is no wonder then that Sita and Rama are adored by superior authorities on all matters of life, like Shri Hanuman.
With debate not to bother,
Can’t know which father is better.
One defended against demons’ attack,
The other not a single virtue to lack.
Blessed indeed are their offspring,
Poets, sages and wise their glories sing.
Janaka and Dasharatha in competition a tie,
No need for debate, of virtues so high.