“Seeing that woman of intoxicating eyes, Hanuman shed tears of joy and offered respectful obeisances to Shri Rama.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 17.31)
harṣajāni ca so'śrūṇi tām dṛṣṭvā madirekṣaṇām |
mumuce hanumānstatra namaścakre ca rāghavam ||
“Oh God, please help me out. I’m in a lot of trouble. I know that prayer can heal any wound. The power of prayer is immense. I will hold this special prayer ceremony to get your favor. I will gather my friends and family around to increase the volume of the prayer. I know that you can hear us. No one is kinder than you, so if you can help us this one time, we will be eternally grateful.”
It is completely understandable to turn to the Almighty when there is trouble. When there is seemingly no other hope, why would you just sit back and do nothing? The origin of matter and spirit must be able to control any outcome. If you don’t ask Him to help you, how will He know to intervene? If one is truly faithful, however, they will make the same turn when something good happens to them. This was exhibited by Shri Hanuman when he felt a happiness like no other.
The word used in the above referenced verse from the Ramayana to describe his emotion is harsha. This Sanskrit word can translate to “joy”, but it has a deeper meaning. In the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu of Shrila Rupa Gosvami, harsha is described to be the joy that comes from finally achieving the desired goal in life. Harsha is not related to any ordinary goal; the objective has to be important. The use of harsha is entirely appropriate in this regard, as Hanuman’s primary goal in life is always to please the Supreme Lord. Finding Sita accomplished that for him.
“Harsha is described in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu. Harsha is experienced when one finally attains the desired goal of life and consequently becomes very glad. When harsha is present, the body shivers, and one’s bodily hairs stand on end. There are perspiration, tears and an outburst of passion and madness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 3.127 Purport)
As we are eternal beings, we live for an endless amount of time. This means that if we achieve the goal of pleasing God one time, we’re not prevented from getting it again. Hanuman is so wonderful that he looks to please God all the time. After He experiences harsha, he doesn’t rest on his laurels. He doesn’t consider himself to be the sole doer either. He offers respects to Rama in both times of trouble and turmoil.
He previously offered respectful obeisances to Rama, the Supreme Lord in His incarnation as a warrior prince, at the outset of his journey to find Sita, Rama’s missing wife. From reading Vedic literature it is known that Hanuman is extremely knowledgeable. Though he is in a monkey form, he is not prevented from reaching high intelligence. He also has complete mastery over the siddhis of yoga. These are mystic perfections that allow one to do amazing things.
Therefore Hanuman cannot be considered a poor person who has no recourse other than to worship God. He serves Rama with full knowledge. In the Bhagavad-gita, such a worshiper is considered to be topmost. They see things as they are [jnani] and follow only devotional service, or bhakti-yoga.
“Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge in union with Me through pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.17)
In full knowledge, Hanuman worships Rama, a personal form of God. He doesn’t worship Brahman, which is the impersonal representation of the Absolute Truth. He doesn’t worship the Paramatma, or Supersoul, situated within the heart. You can’t serve Brahman or Paramatma. You can’t experience harsha in relation with these two features because they are incapable of being served. You can realize them, experience them, study them, and think about them, but you can’t serve them. Only Rama, who is also known as Vishnu and Krishna, can be served.
“Thereupon taking the ring and placing it on his head, with folded hands, that foremost and best of monkeys praised Rama's lotus feet and then departed.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 44.15)
Prior to embarking on his journey, Hanuman paid respects to Rama. He did so after accepting Rama’s ring, which was to be given to Sita, should she be located. When he was in trouble in Lanka, Hanuman again paid respects to Rama. Hanuman had searched long and hard but still hadn’t found Sita. In that distressful situation, he again prayed for Rama’s favor, to have the strength to serve Him.
“I offer my obeisances to Shri Rama, along with Lakshmana and the divine lady, the daughter of King Janaka. I offer my obeisances to Rudra, Indra, Yama, and Anila, the deity of the wind. I offer my obeisances to the moon, the sun, and the wind-gods.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 13.59)
Now that he had found Sita in this grove of Ashoka trees, Hanuman again didn’t forget Rama. The happiness he experienced, the harsha, was related to Rama’s interest, not his own. Hanuman didn’t think: “Look at all I have done. I crossed over the expansive ocean by leaping from a mountaintop. I battled wicked creatures who tried to obstruct my path. I scoured through the city of Lanka unnoticed. I searched through the inner apartments of the vile king, Ravana, the creature who took Sita away from Rama without any cause. Now I have finally found Sita. All my hard work has paid off. I’m so proud of myself.”
Hanuman was indeed happy with the success, but he still remembered Rama. This means that he knew that he was not solely responsible for his success. If even Hanuman gives God credit, how can any other person ever think that they should take all the credit for their good fortune? How can any sober person ever think to ignore the influence of God in their life?
Though Hanuman offered obeisances to Rama, the Lord still gives all the credit to him. Hanuman is offered prayers today, for he can grant devotion to the same Sita and Rama. In those prayers he is praised for his heroic journey to Lanka. He is honored for his bravery, perseverance, determination, kindness, and respectful attitude. He deserves all the accolades, and one can certainly experience harsha when they have found Hanuman and vowed to never let a day go by without honoring him.
When the goal to finally achieve,
Experience joy you cannot believe.
As harsha in Sanskrit it is known,
Relates to serving God alone.
Hanuman in Ashoka grove this feeling felt,
Upon finding Sita, of beauty the heart to melt.
When in this life Shri Hanuman found,
Harsha comes too, joy without bound.