Reading Guide. Not only does Rama marry Sita, but his brothers Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna also find wives from Janaka's family!
Image: The illustration shows Rama and his three brothers with their new wives as they all walk around the altar together.
Source. Ramayana, The Epic of Rama, Prince of India, condensed into English verse by Romesh Dutt (1899). [600 words] As always, I recommend you try reading the poetry out loud or listening to the audio while you look at the text.
Sage Vashishtha skilled in duty placed Videha's honoured king,
Vishvamitra, Shatananda, all within the sacred ring,
And he raised the holy altar as the ancient writs ordain,
Decked and graced with scented garlands, grateful unto gods and men,
And he set the golden ladles, vases pierced by artists skilled,
Holy censers fresh and fragrant, cups with sacred honey filled,
Shankha bowls and shining salvers, arghya plates for honoured guest,
Parched rice arranged in dishes, corn unhusked that filled the rest,
And with careful hand Vashishtha grass around the altar flung,
Offered gift to lighted Agni and the sacred mantra sung!
Softly came the sweet-eyed Sita, bridal blush upon her brow;
Rama in his manly beauty came to take the sacred vow;
Janak placed his beauteous daughter facing Dasharatha's son,
Spake with father's fond emotion, and the holy rite was done.
"This is Sita, child of Janak, dearer unto him than life;
Henceforth sharer of thy virtue, be she, prince, thy faithful wife;
"Of thy weal and woe partaker, be she thine in every land.
Cherish her in joy and sorrow; clasp her hand within thy hand,
"As the shadow to the substance, to her lord is faithful wife,
And my Sita, best of women, follows thee in death or life!"
Tears bedew his ancient bosom, gods and men his wishes share,
And he sprinkles holy water on the blest and wedded pair.
Next he turned to Sita's sister, Urmila of beauty rare,
And to Lakshman young and valiant, spake in accents soft and fair.
"Lakshman, dauntless in thy duty, loved of men and gods above,
Take my dear devoted daughter, Urmila of stainless love;
"Lakshman, fearless in thy virtue, take thy true and faithful wife.
Clasp her hand within thy fingers; be she thine in death or life!"
To his brother's child Mandavi, Janak turned with father's love,
Yielded her to righteous Bharat, prayed for blessings from above,
"Bharat, take the fair Mandavi; be she thine in death or life;
Clasp her hand within thy fingers as thy true and faithful wife!"
Last of all was Shrutakirti, fair in form and fair in face,
And her gentle name was honoured for her acts of righteous grace,
"Take her by the hand, Shatrughna; be she thine in death or life,
As the shadow to the substance, to her lord is faithful wife!"
Then the princes held the maidens, hand embraced in loving hand,
And Vashishtha spake the mantra, holiest priest in all the land,
And, as ancient rite ordaineth and as sacred laws require,
Stepped each bride and princely bridegroom round the altar's lighted fire,
Round Videha's ancient monarch, round the holy rishis all:
Lightly stepped the gentle maidens, proudly stepped the princes tall!
And a rain of flowers descended from the sky serene and fair,
And a soft celestial music filled the fresh and fragrant air,
Bright Gandharvas skilled in music waked the sweet celestial song;
Fair Apsaras in their beauty on the greensward tripped along!
As the flowery rain descended and the music rose in pride,
Thrice around the lighted altar every bridegroom led his bride,
And the nuptial rites were ended; princes took their brides away;
Janak followed with his courtiers, and the town was proud and gay!