“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 ||
If you have never heard of Shri Hanuman, this one verse is sufficient for understanding him. He possesses many wonderful qualities, with a commonly known one being his immense strength. He is depicted in pictures carrying a mountain in his hand and flying through the air from leaping. And yet this strength is always used for the right cause, which we see in the images depicting his humility, where he pays obeisance to Shri Rama, His younger brother Lakshmana, and His wife Sita Devi.
The scene of the above referenced verse from the Ramayana is the Ashoka grove in Lanka. A princess had been taken there against her will a long time ago. No one knew where she was, at least outwardly. Rama, the princess’ husband, worked with the king of Vanaras, Sugriva, to get a search party together. Hanuman was the most capable member of the searching monkeys, and he eventually made it to where Sita was.
As the verse says, Hanuman was delighted in seeing Sita. Nothing of her condition brought joy to the heart, but her mere presence was enough to give Hanuman hope and enthusiasm. The mission assigned to him was reconnaissance. The difficulty lay not only in searching but also in properly identifying the perceived object. Here he finally found a distressed princess, and through reviewing her features he was sure that she was indeed Rama’s wife.
Hanuman’s delight is rooted in pleasing Rama. There is no other cause. Hanuman was not happy that Sita was in distress, surrounded by female ogres who regularly feasted on animal flesh, including that of human beings. He was not happy that Sita was worn thin from fasting in defiance of the advances of the evil king of Lanka, Ravana. He was not pleased that Sita had been dragged there against her will, after she was peacefully residing alongside Rama and Lakshmana in the forest of Dandaka. He was not happy that she looked disheveled, nor was he pleased that she was missing ornaments that deserved to be on her body.
He was delighted, nonetheless, because of her relation to Rama. He knew that finding her would please all the parties of importance. It would spell doom to Ravana, the fiend who deserved the punishment of death for his crime. It would spell victory for Rama’s side, for now they would learn where Sita was. It would give the distressed princess the confidence that Rama was indeed looking for her. Rama did miss her. He did worry over her night and day. He was ready to come and rescue her, though as a pious soul He was naturally unattached to sense gratification. Sita is a chaste wife, a sadharma-charini, as Rama describes her. She helps in the performance of religious duties, which Rama takes very seriously. Therefore her association to Him has nothing to do with sense gratification.
In the verse previous to this, it is said that Hanuman offered respectful obeisances to Shri Rama. Hanuman didn’t take all the credit for success. It is easy to remember God when we are in distress, when we are in need of something, or when we are inquisitive about something we can’t understand. It is not as easy when things are going well for us, especially if we have succeeded in something after working very hard. As viryavan, Hanuman is mighty, possessing immense strength. He easily could have attributed all of his success to his hard work and strength, but he still paid respect to Rama.
Here it is said that he paid respect to both Rama and Lakshmana. Know that there is no one in the world physically stronger than Hanuman. At the same time, know that such a person loves God and His immediate family members so much. Strength or weakness are of no concern to the origin of matter and spirit. Sincerity in devotion, with knowledge of the higher being’s authority, is what counts most. He accepts the service of materially poor souls like Sudama Vipra, who have nothing to offer but pieces of chipped rice. And He also accepts the service of the mighty Hanuman, who crosses oceans and lifts mountains to put a smile on His face.
While he has immense strength, from this verse we see that Hanuman is also not too proud to mask that strength when appropriate. It is said that he went back to hiding after being delighted at seeing Sita. He did not want anyone to see him. He also didn’t want to startle her. She had been harassed greatly by Ravana and his attendants, so he didn’t want her to think that he was part of that group. Only a person blinded by their hubris would pound their fists and cause senseless destruction without cause. The wise know when to be as gentle as a feather and when to be as hard as a thunderbolt.
Thus from this verse we see that the mightiest person is the humblest and wisest as well. If he offers respect to Sita, Rama and Lakshmana, why shouldn’t we? Why shouldn’t we honor Hanuman every day and remember his love for God? He bravely acts through service, which is an example we can also follow through the constant chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
Can leap over ocean of immense length,
Shri Hanuman, of immeasurable strength.
If that he’s proud of his abilities you suspect,
Know that to Rama and Lakshmana he offers respect.
All accolades and worship to him deservedly so,
But still his dedication to God and His family go.
For his heroism and strength known as viryavan,
Best in devotion to God is Shri Hanuman.