Saturday, September 8, 2012

Putting The Pieces Together

Shri Hanuman“Though they have gone black due to a long period of use, the well-made earrings and well-fitting Svadamstras, as well as the ornaments on her hands, set with gems and coral, are all in the proper places, and thus must be the ones that Rama described.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 15.42-43)

sukṛtau karṇa veṣṭau ca śva damṣṭrau ca susamsthitau |
maṇi vidruma citrāṇi hasteṣv ābharaṇāni ca ||
śyāmāni cira yuktatvāt tathā samsthānavanti ca |
tāni eva etāni manye aham yāni rāmo anvakīrtayat ||

Though in a renounced state, Janaka’s daughter was still beautifully adorned. She wore precious earrings and had wonderful jewels and coral in the ornaments on her hands. The hands look so beautiful on the innocent wife of the Supreme Lord, and just by seeing them the heart is won over. For Hanuman and other devoted souls, the heartwarming image of the Supreme Lord’s wife evokes both sympathy and an undying spirit of devotion, the desire to offer service without reciprocation. Hanuman risked his life to offer service to that sweetheart daughter of the pious king, a lady whom the Vanara had not previously met.

Think about that for a second. Someone asks you to do them a favor. “Hey, can you find this missing princess? She was taken by a fiend who is so low that he will change his shape at will. He is a vile creature at heart, but due to his abilities acquired through austerity and penance he can give off a benign shape. He doesn’t do this to make friends or acquire knowledge from others. Rather, treachery is his trademark, and he’ll use whatever abilities he has to exploit others, to cheat them into handing over what he wants.

“On one occasion, this fiend masked his shape by assuming the garb of a mendicant. He then took advantage of this princess’s deference to the saintly class. She is the goddess of fortune herself, and though she was living in the wilderness, an area devoid of material opulence, she was still ready, willing and able to offer this faux-mendicant whatever he wanted. Moreover, she was ready to wait for her dear husband to return, as He had sworn to uphold the truth, to protect the saintly class with His fighting prowess.

“Rama always gives in charity but never takes any. He always speaks the truth and never tells a lie. O brahmana, this is Rama’s highest vow and He is incapable of deviating from it.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.17)

“But this wretched Rakshasa dressed as a brahmana wanted to have the princess for himself, though she was already married at the time. Unable to win her over with flattering words, he finally had to show his hideous form, which sported ten ugly heads. He then forcefully took the innocent princess away. Now, we need to find her. Can you take care of that?”

This is essentially what was asked of Hanuman, except not all of the details of the abduction were known. He hadn’t even met the princess in question, nor the fiend who could assume different shapes at will. As the seasoned adults know, the key ingredient to success is desire. The champions in sport don’t just have the most ability; they also have the strongest drive for success. They want it more than the other guy. This only makes sense. If you don’t have a burning desire to achieve something, how will you put forth the effort? Why will you go the extra mile when you don’t care?

Hanuman's task was almost impossible. The Vanaras in Kishkindha teamed up with the missing princess’s husband. They were monkey-like figures with human-like attributes. Their king was Sugriva, and he ordered his massive army to scour the earth to find Sita. Nevertheless, it was assumed that only Hanuman was capable of success, for he had the necessary attributes. He was well versed in the different creatures of the earth, and he could make use of mystic abilities, such as masking his shape and becoming lighter than air. He also had a keen intellect, which meant he would know how and when to invoke his various powers.

“All the worlds - which consist of asuras, Gandharvas, Nagas, human beings, devatas, oceans, earth, and mountains - are known to you.” (Sugriva speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 44.4)

HanumanBut most of all, Hanuman had the most eagerness for success. This is quite remarkable if you think about it. He had not known the princess’s husband for long. He first met the prince of Ayodhya and His younger brother Lakshmana in Kishkindha and then brokered the alliance with Sugriva. This meant that just by meeting the kind prince, Shri Rama, Hanuman developed an attachment to Him. The liking was strong enough for Hanuman to risk everything to please Rama. This type of devotion again proves that Hanuman is supremely intelligent, as he could recognize the signs of divinity in Rama, who is the Supreme Lord in His incarnation as a warrior prince.

In the above referenced verses from the Ramayana, Hanuman has just spotted the princess he was ordered to find. At least he thinks he has spotted her, as there are some troubling signs. She has been worn thin due to fasting. She is surrounded by female ogres inside of this grove of Ashoka trees next to the head palace in Lanka, the city that the vile creature named Ravana rules over. Obviously the king had brought Sita here and kept her in this beautiful grove. She refused his advances, and so he ordered his female attendants to harass her day and night.

Hanuman remembered what Rama described about Sita. The devoted warrior then began to match the various signs. He noticed that the princess wore well-made earrings and had beautiful ornaments on her hands. They had turned black due to a long period of use, as she had no means to maintain them. And neither was she interested in looking overly appealing. She was not in the company of her husband, so for whom did she have to look good? It is better for the wife to look unappealing when separated from her husband; this way she can ward off advances from other men.

“The ornaments were all in the right places, so they must be the ones Rama described,” thought Hanuman. It’s amazing that he remembered all of this information after having travelled for such a long time. This shows the power of hearing with the proper attitude. Rama was like a spiritual master, or guru, and Hanuman the qualified disciple. Though the backdrop was information relating to a reconnaissance mission, Rama’s words were really a way to glorify the goddess of fortune. Rama is God, who is the energetic, and Sita is His energy. All the living entities are energy expansions of God, and the pleasure potency expansions show how the energy is supposed to act. Devotion is the individual’s dharma, and in Sita and Hanuman we see the same devotion but in different transcendental mellows. Sita gives pleasure as a wife and Hanuman as a servant. And in devotion there is not only affection for the Supreme Lord but also His many devotees. Thus Hanuman took Sita’s welfare to be as important as Rama’s.

This enthusiasm would eventually bring Hanuman success. He had nothing else to rely on at this critical moment except the descriptions Rama previously gave him. As a devoted soul eager to serve God, Hanuman remembered those words and knew when to reference them. In the present age of quarrel and hypocrisy, man’s memory isn’t as good, so the instructions from God and His devoted servants have been written down in shastra, or scripture. And easier than consulting those works is chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, which are the best words to remember that both come from God and glorify Him.

In Closing:

“Now that divine image to gain,

I see the ornaments look the same.

 

Though through use some have gone black,

They match what Rama said in Kishkindha back.”

 

Sita’s ornaments to the eyes most pleasurable,

That Hanuman could recognize them most remarkable.

 

Pattern matched because of his devotion strong,

Chant holy names to get company for which you long.

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