Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Tale of Two People

Hanuman's heart“Offering obeisances to Rama and Lakshmana, the very powerful Hanuman, delighted in seeing Sita, became hidden.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 17.32)

namaskṛtvā rāmāya lakśmaṇāya ca vīryavān |
sītādarśanasamhṛṣṭo hanumān samvṛto'bhavat ||


Person 1: “I am so distressed. I can’t believe how bad things are right now. No, this is not about money. I’m doing okay. Actually, I’m pretty content with respect to possessions. I don’t need much to survive. I don’t shop online all the time or worry about my next big purchase. If I were a kid, the Christmas holiday wouldn’t be that exciting to me. I don’t need more stuff.

“I am distressed over certain situations with my family members. They aren’t in as good a shape as me. I’m worried that with what is going to happen in the future, they will be put into more distress. The future is uncertain. There is a cause for this uncertainty, and that person is hated by me. I wish they would be injured in the worst possible way. They are the greatest offender to my family members, so I don’t feel bad wishing these ill things upon them. Until some justice comes their way, I won’t feel satisfied. The whole time I will worry over the uncertainty of the future.”

Person 2: “I am not in distress. I have everything I could ever want. I have enough money. I have a beautiful wife, wonderful children, and a nice home. I came up from nothing too. I was once poor, but now I am not. I found success the old fashioned way: hard work. I delight in getting to see my family every day, and my job is also a lot of fun.

“I’ve been told that I am very beautiful. I am skilled in pretty much everything I try my hand at. I am well-known throughout the community, and if I have to go without for a few days, I can do that too. I pretty much have it all, so my life is worry-free. I am enjoying life to the fullest.”

Aspects of both of the above mentioned people were found in a devoted warrior a long time ago. He was distressed and at the same time highly blessed with personal fortunes. Through his behavior we learn who is the right person to approach and when the appropriate time for that approach is. We also learn of a great source of delight that is not dependent on any specific situation.

Shri HanumanThe person of whom we speak is Shri Hanuman. At the time of the scene mentioned in the above referenced verse from the Ramayana he was in distress. Thus he could sympathize with the first person. He was worried over the future outcome of a mission. Shri Rama, the eldest son of King Dasharatha, had invested His trust in Hanuman. Rama relied on Hanuman to find Sita Devi. She was Rama’s wife and had gone missing while the couple was together in the Dandaka forest.

Hanuman tried very hard, but after an exhaustive search he still hadn’t found her. He was thus worried. What would happen if he didn’t succeed? There was no one else capable. Hanuman was the only one who could leap across the ocean to the island of Lanka, where Sita had been taken. If Hanuman failed, there was no backup plan. He couldn’t call for reinforcements.

Hanuman’s personal abilities made him similar to the second person. He was highly knowledgeable. Real knowledge relates to information about the difference between matter and spirit. Such knowledge is safely tucked away in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. One is truly knowledgeable when they possess this relevant information and act upon it thusly. Hanuman’s behavior showed that both were true in his case.

“One cannot speak this way without having been well-trained in the Rig Veda, memorized the Yajur Veda, and thoroughly understood the Sama Veda.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana about Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.28)

Meeting HanumanHanuman also had beauty and strength. He heroically leaped from a mountaintop to cross the expansive ocean. He was able to do this by first expanding his size, an ability available to expert yogis, or mystics. There are eight different siddhis, or perfections, granted to dedicated yogis, and Hanuman had all of them. He wasn’t really a yogi by occupation, though. He received these abilities as boons during his childhood.

Hanuman felt tremendous delight when he saw Sita. When he was finally sure that the person he was looking at from a distance in the Ashoka grove in Lanka was Rama’s wife, he felt the need to offer obeisances to both Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana. He then remained there hidden so that no one would see him. He was assigned the task of finding Sita, not doing away with her captor.

Hanuman was in distress, and in that situation seeing Sita made him delighted. He was also materially comfortable, and even with that he felt the same pleasure from seeing Sita. This means that Sita is not an ordinary person. Her vision delights Shri Hanuman, a person of the highest character. She is also cherished by Rama, who searches after her like a thirsty man does a well.

Sita DeviThe same delight is available to us, who can see Sita in many temples dedicated to her and her husband around the world. We can see her when we think of Shri Hanuman, who is depicted in many pictures heroically serving Rama’s interests. We can see her when we chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

Whether we are full of desires, devoid of them, or want only liberation from the cycle of birth and death, devotional service will always be to our benefit. One of the benefits is delight, which Hanuman felt when seeing Sita from a distance. From the same Vedas that Hanuman is expert in we learn that Sita and Rama are the Supreme Lord’s energy and the Supreme Lord respectively. They are not ordinary people. From Hanuman’s behavior we thus get another lesson: seeing God is not the end. He saw Rama and then faithfully took up service. He felt delight from seeing Sita and then remained hidden, awaiting his next opportunity to serve. Similarly, we can regularly visit the temples of Vishnu, another name for God, and see God and His energy, and from there be rejuvenated in our eternal occupation of serving Him. Both the prince and the pauper have something to gain from seeing Sita, who as the goddess of fortune shows how the vital spirit in all of us can be properly utilized.

In Closing:

One person daily distresses only to find,

Another person without a worry in the mind.

 

Hints of both in Shri Hanuman found,

Who saw Sita Devi seated on the ground.

 

Still, obeisance to Rama and Lakshmana paid,

Despite accomplishment, humble he stayed.

 

Sita alone from seeing felt so much delight,

Vision worthy of eyes of sad and happy alike.

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