Simple Manners Of Noble Souls

It is Si:ta-Ra:ma Kalya:nam! Let us travel to Mitthila!! What do we see there??!!! Dasarattha the emperor of Ayo:dhya, sits in a second row behind sage Vasishtta. Ra:ma, the one who has vanquished demons, one who has broken the bow of Lord Siva, sits by his father waiting for his command. The exquisitely beautiful Si:tha De:vi of immaculate character, sits behind her father Janaka. Janaka, the lord of Mitthila, is ever humble and requests sage Vasishtta to conduct the marriage. The sages, who are revered by the kings, are ever reserved in their speech and deeds. Such a gathering of noble souls! Such a display of simple manners!! Indeed! We are blessed to travel to Mitthila in our mind’s eye!

Simple-nobel-story

Having been to Mitthila, it would be difficult for us to be in the marriages of our present day, where petty egos rule the day, money rules the hour and ostentation pervades each moment.

Let us stay back in Mitthila and wait for the moment when Mother Si:tha unites with Lord Ra:ma.

The ya:ga sa:la was filled with silence. On one side, sage Vasishtta and others were sitting at the front. Dasarattha was sitting in the second row. Beside him were sitting the four princes. On the other side sat Satha:nanda. Sitting with him were king Janaka and Kusadhvaja. Behind them sat the four princesses. This was the order in which they sat. Breaking the silence, Vasishtta spoke to Janaka- “O King ! Dasarattha is here with bridegrooms. He is waiting for you to bequeath the brides! This deed of ‘kanya da:na’ will bestow auspiciousness to both the giver and the receiver.”

Janaka spoke with charm and dignity. “This kingdom is as good as yours! For whose orders are you waiting!! My daughters have arrived and they are radiant like flames of a fire!” Hearing this speech, Dasarattha sent his sons to the altar. The ever humble Janaka requested Vasishtta to conduct the proceedings. Taking sage Visva:mithra and Satha:nanda along with him, Vasishtta completed necessary ‘ho:ma’ and ‘pu:ja’.
Various rituals were completed at the altar of fire.

Janaka led Si:tha De:vi to the fire altar and made her sit opposite to Lord Ra:ma. Then he addressed Ra:ma,

“iyam si:tha: mama sutha: saha dharmachari: thava |
prathi:chcha chainam bhadram the: pa:nim
grunhi:shva pa:nina: || (Ba:la ka:nda, Sarga 73)

“This is Si:tha, my daughter, your companion in the path of dharma, accept her, take her palm into yours, may you be ever safe !” Thus did Janaka offer his daughter Si:tha De:vi to Lord Ra:ma, with appropriate manthras and sacred water. Thus did Si:tha De:vi unite with Lord Ra:ma.

Lakshmana was invited next, U:rmila was married to him. Bharatha was married to Ma:ndavi and Sathrughna to Sruthaki:rthi. Though Bharatha was elder to Lakshmana, he was married after Lakshmana. Here, the order is that of brides, not of the grooms! Janaka’s daughters were married first and then were married his brother’s daughters. Perhaps this is a reason why we say Ra:ma-LakshmanaBharatha-Sathrughna.

The marriage was a ve:dic rite. It had a fire altar. Manthras were chanted. Va:lmi:ki maharshi does not give details of various others customs. For example, in South Indian weddings, there is a custom wherein the uncles of the bride carry her in a basket to the fire altar. Similarly, there are important aspects like tying the mangalasu:thra, seeing the Arundhati star etc. These are not mentioned by Va:lmi:ki. Either these traditions were added in later periods or the poet had left these to our imagination!

Interestingly, these ve:dic marriage rituals are devoid of all ostentation. The only treasure acquired by a groom was the bride herself! There is no mention of any form of dowry. Janaka conducted the event. Dasarattha implicitly obeyed him. A ve:dic marriage is a beginning of togetherness in the path of dharma. It keeps intact the social fabric. The act of ‘kanya da:na’ sanctifies both the families.

Even the otherwise guileless Dasarattha had some difficult moments before the completion of the marriage. It was regarding the appearance of Yudha:jit, the maternal uncle of Bharatha. For some reason, Dasarattha did not invite maternal grandfathers of the princes and their families. The fact that the marriages were celebrated in a short notice seemed to give him an excuse for not calling the relatives. Yudha:jit had come to Ayo:dhya to meet Bharatha. When he heard about the marriage, he rushed to Mitthila. He was welcomed and felicitated appropriately by Dasarattha. There was certain uneasiness in the mind of Dasarattha when he thought of the maternal side relatives of Bharatha. This would be more evident when he would decide to anoint Ra:ma as his successor.

As the proceedings of the marriages came to an end, Visva:mithra took leave of Janaka and Dasarattha. He blessed the newly wed couples and left to Himalayas for penance. Visva:mithra is the key person in Ba:la ka:nda. He was the one who woke up Ra:ma by chanting the following famous slo:ka

kausalya: supraja: ra:ma pu:rva: sandhya: pravarthathe: |
uththishtta nara sa:rdu:la karthavyam
daivama:nhikam || (Ba:la Ka:nda, sarga 23, slo:ka 2)

Any other poet would have described the departure of rushi in great detail. They might have included expressions of gratitude from Dasarattha and blessings from the sage. But sage Va:lmi:ki does not do so! A personality like sage Visva:mithra makes a silent exit! Being a rushi himself, Va:lmi:ki appreciates the language of brevity of the rushis.

Indeed!
Strength is enhanced by obedience!
Beauty deepens with modesty!
Knowledge shines due to humility!
Respect grows with meaningful speech!
Virtue multiplies with good conduct!
Nobility blooms because of simplicity!

Every episode of Sri: Ra:ma:yana, brings to us various aspects of human conduct and gives us insights to evolve into better human beings.

– Translated from Telugu BN by Ramakrishna T