“By me, who has been secretly moving about as a well-equipped spy tasked with ascertaining the strength of the enemy, this has been seen.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.4)
cāreṇa tu suyuktena śatroḥ śaktim avekṣitā |
gūḍhena caratā tāvat avekṣitam idam mayā ||
“Oh man, I can’t believe how quickly I finished that test. This is what happens when you study for a long period of time. That last test I tried studying only the night before. Talk about procrastination! That strategy didn’t work out too well. The next morning I kept trying to remember what I had studied the night before. I was too nervous to think straight during the test.
“One of my friends told me that studies have shown that it is better not to cram in the moments leading up to an exam, that doing so actually hurts your chances at success. So for this test I studied weeks in advance. It must have paid off, since today I knew the answers without a problem. I am ready to go home and sit on the couch and watch television. But first let me review my answers. I know that I did well, but I want to make sure I didn’t make any careless mistakes. I’ve heard of the horror stories of students accidentally mismatching their answers. They thought they were answering question one, and instead were answering question two. And in this way they ended up putting the wrong answer to all the questions. Yikes! I will make sure that doesn’t happen to me.”
It makes practical sense to double check your work. When given a task that you may not want to take up, the greatest hurdle is in starting. As the saying goes, “a body at rest tends to stay at rest,” getting up from the couch after you have been sitting on it for a while is not easy. The same goes for getting out of bed, as you must suddenly change out of the situation you grew accustomed to over the previous eight hours.
Carelessness can spoil everything. If you’re working at a call center and one day you’re being judged on your performance, you can mess everything up by not following instructions. If the first instruction is to log in to a website so that you can be monitored, you must do it. Failing to do so means you will not be properly assessed. You could do a bang up job on that particular day, but with one careless mistake you end up failing.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman is going through his checklist of tasks assigned to him. He has just reached the end, the point of success that previously eluded him. He was tasked by the king of Vanaras, Sugriva, with looking for the missing princess of Videha. She is Shri Rama’s wife, and she went missing while the couple were residing in the forest of Dandaka. Hanuman had so many other Vanaras with him, but Sugriva and Rama knew that the best chance for success rested with him.
Hanuman found Sita in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. Thus the mission was a success. He found the person for whom thousands upon thousands of Vanaras were searching in every direction. Still, he wasn’t about to act carelessly. Here he reviews how he has learned of the enemy’s strengths by acting as a spy. He has secretly gone through their territory, surveying the situation. If Hanuman only found Sita and failed to learn anything about the enemy, Rama and Sugriva would have to go to Lanka blindly. They would have learned of a location only, and thus they would risk being ill-equipped to handle the barrage of weapons and black magic tricks that were in the arsenal of the Rakshasas of Lanka.
From this verse we get further evidence of Hanuman’s impeccable qualifications in representing Rama. He knows what to do even without being told. Such a messenger is indeed rare to find. Hanuman acted like a spy when he needed to. He acted like a brute fighter when the situation called for it. And in a matter of a few moments he would act like a celebrated poet who would ease the worries of the distressed Sita.
Shri Rama is the Supreme Lord in His beautiful incarnation as a warrior prince. Sita is His eternal consort. Lakshmana is Rama’s devoted younger brother, and the three are always with Hanuman. He is forever devoted to them, and one of the roles he plays in that devotion is gatekeeper to their kingdom. Gaining entry into that kingdom is not very difficult. One simply has to have pure motives, a desire to serve Rama. That sincerity is judged by Shri Hanuman, who looks over the situation carefully, not making any hasty judgments. As in Lanka he gathered valuable intelligence to report back to Rama, in this world he sees sincere devotion and thereby gives his blessings to associate with Sita and Rama, which is the ultimate goal in life.
When finishing test to take,
Make sure not any mistake.
The answers again to review,
Otherwise failure maybe to you.
Sita in Lanka was found,
Seated in Ashoka garden’s ground.
For Hanuman success this meant,
But into preserving his thoughts went.
Carefully always Rama’s interests considering,
No wonder Sita and Rama his love mirroring.