“It is the devotee's inclination to worship a particular form, and he engages in devotional service to that form. In a verse in the Ramayana, Hanuman, the great devotee of Rama, said, ‘I know that there is no difference between the Sita-Rama and Lakshmi-Narayana forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but nevertheless, the form of Rama and Sita has absorbed my affection and love. Therefore I want to see the Lord in the forms of Rama and Sita.’” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.20.25 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
For a complete stranger he risked his life. To help his friends, he courageously leapt across an expansive ocean, filled with unknown dangers. For his minister, he mustered up the courage necessary to continue fighting. For the sake of a beautiful princess who was in sore distress he hid himself from attacking enemies, though he easily could have defeated them all. He did such things out of love, and the people he helped were capable of granting him anything for which he asked in return. What he ended up asking for is thus quite telling.
My boss gives me an assignment:
“Dear employee, I need you to migrate the current software system we use over to the new version. This is for one of our clients. They have not asked for this migration. They seem to be working just fine on the current system. However, I have already made the promise to them for the conversion. When this client is on the new system, I can then use that as a marketing tool. I can tell other potential clients that we have someone on the new system.”
My father gives me a chore:
“I need you to clean the gutters and rake the lawn. It’s autumn now, so the leaves are falling very rapidly. All you do is watch television on the weekends anyway. So I know that you have some free time on your hands. This will teach you some responsibility as well. It might take you the whole day, but I don’t want you to skimp. Everything must be done thoroughly and properly.”
My wife tells me to run some errands on the way home from work:
“Honey, can you pick up the dry cleaning? I didn’t have time to go today. By the way, my mother is coming over tonight. She is going to stay with us for a week. Don’t you dare make any comment! My mother is a dear, sweet lady. She loves you very much too; you should try being a little more friendly with her. After you get the dry cleaning, can you buy some extra sheets and pillows from the store? Also, we’re out of milk and bread. Please pick up those as well. And don’t take too long. I love you.”
If I satisfy the boss, I get to keep my job. He may even eventually promote me to a higher position. The promotion might lead to an increase in salary, which is never a bad thing. If I do the work to my father’s satisfaction, he will be pleased with me as well. He will be more inclined to provide me protection, to oversee my maturation into adulthood. If I make the wife happy, then, well, I get to survive in peace and harmony for another day. As the famous joke says, “If the wife’s not happy, you’re not happy.”
In each case, the satisfied party is still limited in their ability to reward the worker. This is simply the way of the world. Not everyone is a king who has millions of dollars and hundreds of servants at their disposal. One person, however, owns everything. His wife manages the inestimable wealth. She is therefore known as the goddess of fortune. Together, they can grant any benediction to any person. They have done so numerous times in the past, so the claim is not merely theoretical. There are many people who can attest to the generosity of the Supreme Lord and His eternal consort.
Shri Hanuman happened to do selfless work for both of them. And this work was both dangerous and difficult. He first met Shri Rama in the forest of Kishkindha. Hanuman was asked by his minister Sugriva to find out who Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana were, as at the time they were strangers to the area. Hanuman immediately made an impression on Rama with his dexterity of speech and his artful poetic composition.
“O Saumitra, subduer of all enemies, welcome with pleasant words this monkey, who is a counselor of Sugriva and a knower of speech who uses words which are sweet, affectionate, and just befitting the situation.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.27)
Hanuman then learned that Rama was looking for His missing wife Sita. Hanuman knew that Rama would be helped by forming an alliance with Sugriva. In the course of the famous events to follow, Hanuman would leap across a massive ocean, clandestinely search through an enemy territory, carefully approach Rama’s wife in secret, allay her fears, fight with many powerful fiends, return to tell his friends and Rama what transpired, go back to the same territory to help rescue Rama’s wife, and then serve as Rama’s emissary on His return trip home to Ayodhya.
Indeed, no one in history has done so much for one person. Hanuman thus deserved everything the world could offer. Sita and Rama were ready to give that to him as well. But he only asked for one thing: devotion. Hanuman knew that there are many forms of Godhead. In the Vedas, the personal God is considered the original. He is the definition behind the abstract. He is the man behind the veil of a mostly misunderstood Supreme Controller. He is the supremely kind personality to correct the falsely concocted angry and vindictive God.
Amongst genuine followers of the Vedas, there is sometimes a disagreement as to what the original form actually looks like. Some say that it is a beautiful youth who holds a flute in His hands and wears a peacock feather in His hair. Others say that it is a four-armed form opulently adorned and worshiped in reverence. Some say it is the very same Rama that Hanuman so valiantly served. Shri Hanuman understands that there is no difference between these forms, which are described in the authorized Vedic texts. He knows that not all divine figures are God, but that the Vishnu forms are all identical in the personality they reference.
Though knowing this, Hanuman prefers to worship Sita and Rama. And this gift is most eagerly bestowed upon him by that couple which loves him so dearly. Another powerful benediction granted to Hanuman is that he can give the same devotion, without asking nearly the same amount of effort. Just a sincere desire to please Sita and Rama is all he looks for, and upon witnessing such he makes the recommendation to the blessed couple, opening the gates to their sacred kingdom.
When happy is the wife,
Tolerable is your life.
When for chore father to ask,
Pleased when completed is task.
With boss of company the same,
Reward of promotion or salary gain.
To such benefits always a limit,
But not in God, who with fortune’s goddess sits.
To Hanuman anything they can give,
But asks only for in devotion to live.