The following post is one from the Ramacharitmanas series by Hanuman Dass. Every week we move forward in our journey through the Ramayana of Love, as spoken by the great Saint Tulasidas. The Ramacharitmanas has been described by the Acharya Vinoba Bhave as being similar to a cross between the Bible and Shakespeare. The Ramacharitmanas is like an ocean of love and bliss, and the hope is that these posts will provide a sense of the bhava and how one can benefit by way of immersion in its waters. Above all else, the Ramacharitmanas is a journey in love, and as Neem Karoli Baba has said, ‘Love is stronger than electricity’.
88. Sita Sees Rama
As the sun began to rise to the tune of the cuckoo’s call, the two brothers awoke before their teacher, Vishvamitra. After taking a bath they performed their morning prayers and meditations; they also went to bow before the great sage. Afterwards the brothers went into the glorious gardens to pick flowers. The gardens were filled with trees and flowers of every kind, the choirs of the cuckoos, parrots and cakora birds chimed while the peacocks danced for the bees who buzzed joyously around the sunflowers. In the middle of the garden was a beautiful lake glistening in the sun’s rays as if the water was adorned with precious gemstones. Its waters provided a home to countless lotus flowers which floated with grace.
Both Shri Rama and Lakshmana were delighted to be near the beautiful lake. How lovely it must have been to delight the Lord of the Universe! After spending much time by the lake, the two boys began gathering some beautiful flowers. At the same moment, Sita, the daughter of Janaka came to the garden with her friends. Her mother had sent her to worship to Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. After Sita and her friends enjoyed a swim in the lake, they approached the beautiful temple structure. Standing at the temple dedicated to Girija (Parvati), the girls sang beautiful bhajans. Sita prayed to Gauri for a suitable husband. One of Sita’s friends slipped away from the group to explore the beautiful gardens. By chance, her eyes fell upon the two brothers picking flowers in the gardens and she fell into a state of love. When her friends saw her condition, dancing and filled with bliss, eyes pouring with tears, they asked her what had happened.
She said, “My eyes have been blessed with the sight of two divine princes, both young and handsome beyond description. One dark, the other fair, their beauty is beyond our world, my they exist beyond sight or speech, what can I say of their beauty?” All of the young maidens were delighted, especially Sita who knew within her heart that she had a much deeper connection to the princes. Sita said, “The princes must be the two brothers who accompanied Vishvamitra to our city, I have heard of their arrival.” She felt an intense longing in her heart to see the princes, she pleaded with her friend to take her to them. Unbeknownst to her friends, the love between Sita and Rama is an ancient, sacred love.
Hearing the soft tinkling sound of her anklets and the sound of tiny bells around her waist, Shri Rama said to Lakshamana, “It seems as if Cupid is sounding the conch shell to initiate his conquering of the Universe with love.” He looked again, towards the direction of the sounds, and then he saw her. His saw the beautiful princess Sita, stared at her, like the Cakora bird stares at the moon. He was transfixed upon her, it was as if time had stopped. He couldn’t shut his eyes, it was as if his eyelids had disappeared as he became lost in Sita’s beauty. It was as if the creator of the world had gathered all of the beauty in the world and placed it in a single being. He said to himself, “All of the poetry, music and arts seem stale in comparison to her beauty, O daughter of Janaka.”
Thus out of a feeling of great love and rapture, Shri Rama said to his brother , “She, my dear brother, is the daughter of Janaka for whom the great bow sacrifice is being arranged. Whoever breaks the bow will have her as his bride. She has come to the gardens to worship Parvati Mata and her transcendental beauty is filling my being with light and love. Although nothing effects me Lakshmana, this love I feel is different, indeed my heart is pounding with this feeling of love. My brother, it is a trait of our Raghu Dynasty that we never set our hearts on that which does not belong to us. We would never even dream of being with another man’s wife. Rare in the world are noble men who never glance upon the wive of another man. Rare are those who never turn away a poor person requesting charity, rare is this beauty before me.” Whilst speaking these words to his brother, his mind was drinking the nectar of her beauty with his eyes just like a bee drinks nectar of the lotus flower.
Meanwhile, Sita looked everywhere for a glimpse of the Lord, her mind was at a loss to where the princes could have gone. Her friend seeing the princes pointed them out to Sita. The two lovely princes, one fair and one dark filled her eyes with greed, as if she had just found a long-lost treasure. Her eyelids forgot to fall too. She lost control of her body and began to faint. She received Shri Rama through her eyes and cleverly closed them, trapping him inside her soul. Her friends were lost for words seeing Sita experiencing such heights of love and bliss.
As the two brothers appeared from behind some bushes, it was as if two bright full moons had appeared from behind dark clouds revealing the truth of the Universe. Dressed in blue and yellow cloth, with peacock feathers adorning their heads, their smiles filled the world with happiness. Beholding the ornament of the solar race, Sita and her friends lost themselves in bliss.
As they recovered, one of Sita’s friends held her hand tightly and said, “Meditate upon the Goddess later, for now, just behold these two divine beings.” Sita opened her eyes and saw the two lions of the Raghu Dynasty. Overcome with love, her friends had to pull Sita away, while one of them said, “We are late, let us come here again tomorrow!” Sita blushed and smiled, still feeling light headed from the whole experience. Sita stumbled home thinking of the Swayamvara that was to commence the next day. Everywhere she looked she saw Rama. She looked at deers running and saw Rama, she looked at the beauty of a tree and saw Rama, she looked at birds flying across the sky and saw Rama. The love she felt was a spiritual love and never was it to end.
The first encounter of Sita and Rama is beautifully described here by Tulasidas. Mundane life experiences become transformed by bhakti, this is what even Shri Rama experiences when he sees Sita who is none other than his very being. His mind was the whole time drinking the nectar of her beauty with his eyes just like a bee drinking the nectar of the lotus flower. Reading it brings us into the gardens where the lake of Rama exists for us to take a dip into. The feelings of bhakti (love) filled Sita and Shri Rama with unending happiness. I write this commentary on the second day of Navtratri, 2nd October 2016. A time dedicated to the worship of the Goddess. During this period we dance in bliss recreating the energy of spiritual love which was experienced by the Gopis with Krishna, and Sita with her friends in Mithiala, or purely out of love for the divine mother who lives within each of us.