Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Marriage of Shri Ram and Sita, Baal Kand of Shri Ram Charit Manas-4

Cham: bara kua°ri karatala jori såkhocåru dou kulagura karai,

bhayo pånigahanu biloki bidhi sura manuja muni åna°da bharai.

sukhamula dulahu dekhi dampati pulaka tana hulasyo hiyo,

kari loka beda bidhånu kanyådånu nrpabhusana kiyo.3.

Wedding Rites of Shri Ram and Sita Being Performed

Joining palms of the bride and the bridegroom, the two family priests recited the genealogy of both the families. Paanigrahan or the wedding rite of joining of the hands of bride and groom by the bride's father was performed as per customary norms.The king and queen were so thrilled gazing at the groom who was the very source of joy, that their heart was rapturous and the hair on their body stood erect. King Janaka did kanyadaan (gave his daughter in marriage) as per the religious observances sanctioned by the Vedas and the family.

Himavan Gave Girija to Lord Shiva in Marriage

Just as Himavan gave away Girija to Lord Siva, and the Ocean God handed over Shri to Hari so did Janaka give Sitå to Råma. Seeing Rama, the icon of beauty, King Janaka truly became Videha or forgot everything about his own body.The nuptial knot with garments of the bride and the groom was tied as per the conventional norms and the couple began to circumambulate the sacred fire (five or seven times at the conclusion of the marriage ceremony).

The Kalpavriksha Showering Flowers

Shouts of rejoicing, recitation of Vedic texts, the merriment of festal songs, glories sung by the bards and several musical instruments sounded all around. Deities were delighted to hear them and rained down the flowers of kalpavrikshas (one of the fabulous trees of paradise that grants all desire.)

With adulating eyes everyone feasted on the bride and groom circumambulating the sacred fire. Beautiful images of Rama and Sita were reflected on the bejewelled pillars and shone.

Madan and Rati Eagerly Witness the Marriage of Shri Ram & Sita

It seemed as if Madan (the god of love) and his consort, Rati, had assumed several forms in that scene and come to witness Lord Råma's wonderful wedding.Their ardent longing plus shyness to sight the spectacle was equally great that is why they repeatedly revealed themselves and vanished in quick succession. Other spectators were also enraptured like Janaka and forgot about themselves. Joyously, the sages made the bride and groom circle around the fire. All the rites were duly concluded along with neg (the custom of giving presents at marriages).

The Majestic Beauty of Lord Rama & Sita

The majestic beauty of the scene when Lord Råma was about to apply vermilion on Sitå's forehead, was unearthly. It seemed as a if a dark-hued serpent greedy for nectar was decking the moon with a lotus filament full of reddish pollen. Thence the bride and groom resplendently sat together on the same seat as per the directions of Vasistha.

Shri Rama & Janaki

King Dasaratha was overjoyed to see Lord Råma and Princess Jånaki sitting next to each other on a grand seat. He considered this event to be a fruition of the meritorious deeds of his surtaru or wish-yielding tree. The Mahotsav or grand ceremony of Rama's marriage was accomplished and there were merry rejoicings all over the universe. Thereafter on receiving Vasistha's order, Janaka sent for the other three princesses, Måndavi, Srutakirti and Urmilå.

The Marriages of Rama, Bharata, Laksmana and Satrughana

Mandavi was given in marriage to Bharata, Urmila to Laksmana and Srutakirti to Satrughana. When all the brides and grooms found that they were *well-matched, they shyly looked at each other but were delighted in their heart of hearts.

*Dark-hued Råma and Bharata were married to Sitå and Måndavi who were both fair; while fair-hued Laksmana and Satrughana were married to Urmilå and Srutakirti who were dark in colour.

The four brides majestically shone with their handsome bridegrooms on the pavilion of Janaka; as if the four states of consciousness( waking, dream, state of complete unconsciousness and a condition in which the soul has become one with the supreme spirit) simultaneously reside with their four svamis (vishwa or the universe, tejas or glory, pragya or the wise and brahma or all-pervading spirit of the universe) in the heart of a living being.

The king of Awadh, was so delighted to see his four sons along with their brides, as though a human being is rapturous on having realized the four ends of life, (worldly riches, religious merit, sensuous enjoyment and liberation) along with the four processes of spiritual evolution (sacrificial performances, piety, practice of Yoga and spiritual exercise).

Ram, Bharata, Laksmana & Satrughana Circling the Sacred Fire With Their Wives

All the other princes were married according to the same rites which were observed in Lord Råma's marriage.The dowry given was of such magnitude that the whole pavilion was loaded with gold and precious stones. Rare blankets, priceless silken garments,elephants, chariots, horses, male and female servants, cows which were like kamdhenu (the cow of plenty) and many other gifts were given in dowry, seeing which even guardians of the different realms were envious.

King Dasaratha accepted it all and gave beggars whatever they liked and only what was left came to the janvasa or residential palace of the bridegroom's party. With folded hands Janaka honoured all the baraatis (members of the bridegroom's party) spoke in gentle tones, and respectfully greeted the great sages. Appeasing the gods, he addressed everyone with joined palms, "The gods are satisfied with bhava or love flowing towards the Lord. Just as no one can appease the ocean with jalanjali (an offering of water with cupped hands) in the same we can not please you with articles.”

Janaka Humbly Addresses King Dasaratha

Similarly with folded hands Janaka informed the great king Dasaratha, “ O, Rajan! Our prestige and standing has been enhanced in every respect because of being connected with you. Alongwith our kingdom and all that we own, regard us as your slaves bought without paying any money. Taking these girls to be your attendants, bring them up.

I have been very presumptuous to have called you here from such a distance. Kindly pardon this offence of mine.”

King Dasaratha, a Jewel of the Solar Race

Thereafter King Dasaratha, the ornament of the solar race, flooded Janaka with all sorts of honour. Their mutual courtesy can not be narrated since both the king's hearts were loaded with love and voices were ecstatic. The gods were showering down flowers when king Dasaratha proceeded to the palace where he and his party had been put up, amidst the sound of kettledrums, shouts of victory and the chanting of Vedic texts. An spectacular show was going on in the sky and town, in full swing.

Cham: aba sakhi° mamgala gåna karata munisa åyasu påi kai,

dulaha dulahininha sahita sumdari cali kohabara lyåi kai.4.

That is when on the orders of Vasistha, chief of the sages, the sakhis or friends of the brides sang auspicious songs and took the brides and grooms to the kohbar (a house where the family deities are kept at the time of marriage).

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