Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Who You Work For

Hanuman's heart“It was for her sake, she of wide eyes, that I crossed over the magnificent ocean, the lord of rivers and streams, and explored this city.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 16.12)

sāgaraḥ ca mayā krāntaḥ śrīmān nada nadī patiḥ |
asyā hetor viśāla akṣyāḥ purī ca iyam nirīkṣitā ||

Wouldn’t you want to work for someone that you like? If you’re going to put in so much time and effort at the office, in addition to getting paid, it would be nice if you respected the establishment. If you are doing good work, things that will help society at large, you’ll feel better about going to the office each day. If the person calling the shots, the leader, has a good character, you’ll also be more enthusiastic when working. For a spy sent on a reconnaissance mission a long time ago, the leaders were already of the best character, but when he saw the person who was to ultimately benefit from his work, he felt even better about the mission.

This mission wasn’t easy. It was reconnaissance, and it was risky. If you’re told to find someone who has gone missing in the neighborhood, you aren’t necessarily risking your life in trying to find them. You call around, put up flyers, go into local establishments, and continue your search that way. For Shri Hanuman, the missing person was the wife of the prince of the Raghu dynasty. She could have been anywhere in the world, and to make matters worse, the person who took her obviously didn’t want to be found.

This meant that the closer Hanuman got to finding her, the more danger he would be in. But such things didn’t deter him. His dedication to duty is what contributed to his being picked for the job. An entire army of eager soldiers went out for the search, but it was known to the leader Sugriva beforehand that Hanuman was the most capable. Rama, the husband of the missing princess, also trusted Hanuman from their initial meeting.

“O hero, your determination and sterling prowess, coupled with Sugriva’s words, tell Me certainly of success.” (Lord Rama speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 44.14)

The monkeys searched for a long time but to no avail. When Hanuman’s group was about to quit, they came upon valuable intelligence. They learned that Sita, the missing princess, was on an island ruled by the king of ogres, Ravana. Sure, it was good to know where she was, but how were they going to get to this island? It was far away and surrounded by the vast ocean. At this point, Hanuman stepped up and crossed the ocean by jumping from a mountaintop. This was no ordinary feat, and even the celestials in heaven watched with amazement.

As mentioned before, the closer Hanuman got, the more dangerous his situation became. When he reached Lanka, he had to contend with the inhabitants of the city. He was a Vanara, which is a human-like monkey. He would not fit in with the ogres living there. So he had to mask his figure and still continue his search. In a diminutive stature, he searched extensively throughout the city and still couldn’t find Sita. As a last resort, he entered a beautiful grove of ashoka trees, and while perched on a golden tree he could see a woman from a distance. After reviewing her features, he realized that she was Sita, Rama’s wife.

Police officers, firefighters, and military personnel voluntarily enter service to protect their fellow man. Though they are paid for their work, they are still risking their lives with what they do. And going in, they have to prepare to meet the worst possible people. Dedication is tested not in the best circumstances, but through the harshest conditions. For instance, if I say that I am a staunch supporter of freedom of speech, my claim is tested with my tolerance of statements that I most disagree with. If someone says the worst possible thing and I try to use the strong arm of government to stop them from speaking, I obviously don’t support freedom of speech.

Sita DeviSimilarly, if I am a sworn defender of the innocent, my allegiance to duty is tested when I have to defend someone of the worst character. Someone I don’t like at all needs my help, and if I don’t help them, I’m not really faithful to my duty. Nevertheless, it always helps when the people you’re working hard for are of the highest character. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we see that Hanuman knows that his work has been worth it. He sees Sita from afar, and he can tell that she is something special; she is not an ordinary woman. Otherwise why would Rama have gone to such great lengths to try to find her? Rama defeated the most powerful Rakshasas in Ravana’s army on a prior occasion, and He did so to protect Sita.

Though Hanuman worked for Rama and Sugriva, since their purpose was to find Sita, Hanuman essentially worked for her also. He risked his life to find her. Crossing that ocean was not easy. If it were, any of the Vanaras would have done it. Searching through Lanka without being spotted was also difficult and risky. Yet it was all worth it since the beneficiary was of the highest character. From the Vedas we learn that Sita Devi is the goddess of fortune and Rama the Supreme Lord Himself. Therefore from Hanuman’s testimony we can take it as fact that working for God or one of His devotees is always worth the effort, no matter the risk or struggle. In the modern age, the dharma for every living entity is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” and since the beneficiaries are Sita and Rama, any effort expended in chanting is well worth it.

In Closing:

For my dedication to duty to test,

Not only through conditions the best.

 

If even harshest opposition comes my way,

Towards the mission faithful I must stay.

 

If the character of beneficiary is high,

Easier to follow through on mission my.

 

Such was the case for Sugriva’s Hanuman,

Found Sita, beloved wife of Bhagavan.

 

The giant ocean with a leap he crossed,

And out of his way Lanka’s guard he tossed.

 

All the risky work coming to bear,

When at beautiful Sita he could stare.

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