“This golden-hued good and virtuous lady must be the dear queen of Rama. Though He is separated from her, she has not departed His heart.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 15.48)
iyam kanaka varṇa angī rāmasya mahiṣī priyā |
pranaṣṭā api satī yasya manaso na praṇaśyati ||
You’re not with the person you love the most. The separation brings uncertainty. “What are they doing right now? Are they okay? Are they thinking of me? Do they think about me as much as I think about them? Did all that time I spent with them mean as much to them as it did to me? When will I see them again? Maybe I’m not forgotten, which makes my state all the more pitiable. Perhaps it is better to forget them, though I’m having a hard time doing it. My heart belongs to them, so how can I get it back before knowing for certain whether they are taking care of it?”
In the course of our everyday dealings these concerns seem completely valid. We don’t know for sure if someone who is far away from us is actually pondering over our welfare. We don’t know whether the time we spent with them was as meaningful to them as it was to us. But with the Supreme Lord there is no need for such worry. His eyes and ears expand everywhere, as does His presence. This means that He can hear any prayer offered His way. He doesn’t always respond in the manner requested; but the superior benefit of His association within the mind does arrive.
We can look to Sita Devi’s plight within the Ashoka grove in Lanka to see how this works. Sita is a historical personality as well as a divine goddess, a person still worshiped to this day. A long time ago, in an ancient time, she was in Lanka not of her own choosing. She was taken there against her will by a wicked king who wanted to make her his chief queen. She was already married, though, and happily so. She never got to say goodbye to her husband. He was diverted into the dense forest for a brief moment by an illusion hatched by the wicked king of Lanka. To make matters worse, Sita could have been protected by her husband’s younger brother, who was by her side. But she heard her husband apparently scream out for help, so she ordered His younger brother to leave the scene and check on Him. The younger brother didn’t think Sita’s husband was in trouble, but Sita insulted him in such a way that he finally gave up the opposition and left the scene.
After the fact, Sita felt responsible for the subsequent abduction carried out by Lanka’s king Ravana. Now she was in this grove of Ashoka trees, left to wait for an uncertain future. She didn’t know if Rama, her husband, even knew where she was. He was already famous for His high level of renunciation. Rama was the heir to the throne of Ayodhya, but He gave it up to fulfill a promise made by His father. He didn’t want Sita to come with Him to the forest, where He was to serve an exile punishment for fourteen years.
If Rama could give up the throne and regal life, surely He could live without Sita. At least this is something someone in Sita’s position would have thought. She only came along to the forest after she convinced Him with unassailable logic offered in a presentation that would put the best lawyers in the world to shame. Rama previously showed that He could live without His wife, and now in Lanka she was out of His way. But more than just worried about herself, Sita was very concerned over how Rama and Lakshmana felt. She knew that Rama would feel bad over having failed to protect His wife. Lakshmana too would feel remorse over having left her side. Thus Sita’s misery had many sources, and compounding the situation was the falling hourglass of time, indicating that the chances for her rescue were diminishing.
Never fear, though, as Shri Hanuman came to the scene to find Sita and notify her of Rama’s fervent desire to rescue her. Hanuman was Rama’s servant, and in the above referenced verse from the Ramayana he is finishing up his review of the features belonging to this woman he could see from a distance. Perched on a golden tree in the Ashoka grove, Hanuman could see a princess up ahead. Though she wasn’t in a pleasant state, by carefully observing her he could discern divine qualities, which matched those belonging to Rama’s wife.
Hanuman here is firmly convinced that the golden-hued woman he is looking at is Sita. He also notes that though Sita is physically lost to Rama, she is always in His heart. There are many ways to reach this conclusion, but seeing Sita’s distressed condition was one way to know for sure. She was sighing repeatedly and was thin from fasting because of anxiety over separation. This meant that she was always thinking about Rama. As Dasharatha’s eldest son is the Supreme Lord Himself in the guise of a warrior prince, anyone who thinks of Him is automatically with Him. As Sita only thought about Rama, she was always with Him.
This reveals the kind nature of the person most of us refer to as God. The benedictions of temporary significance that we ask for are not as important as the association of the person who is to offer those benedictions. More important than keeping the requests coming is keeping the faith going. Without seeing for ourselves that a divine controller is within our heart, it is very easy to lose faith, but from Hanuman’s wise words know that those who think of God are never lost to Him.
“Supreme Lord difficult to see,
Does He hear prayers offered by me?
Why not to my side does He run?
When to rescue me will He come?”
Understandable are these concerns,
How the divine company will we earn?
From Hanuman’s thoughts one fact derive,
That by thinking of God never alone to reside.
Sita in Lanka all by herself seeming,
But lived in Rama’s heart through devotion beaming.