“Indeed, I will console this woman, whose face resembles a full moon, for she never before has experienced distress and currently cannot see the end of her distress.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.7)
aham āśvāsayāmi enām pūrṇa candra nibha ānanām |
adṛṣṭa duhkhām duhkhasya na hi antam adhigacchatīm ||
No matter how strong in character you think you are, you likely know someone who is stronger. Someone who is like a rock in resolve, who doesn’t get flustered in times of crisis, someone who can be counted on when the chips are down - you appreciate them so much for what they do. But what happens if they should suddenly fall into distress? What if, for a change, they are the ones who need help? Will not their previous heroic exploits give you motivation to help them? This is similar to how Shri Hanuman felt when deliberating on what to do next after finding the missing wife of Shri Rama in the Ashoka grove in Lanka.
There is another point to consider as well. Perhaps the person who previously helped you has no experience dealing with their own distress. They were always lending a helping hand to others. An example of such a person can be the mother of many children. She took care of all her boys when they were young and then also when they were married and had their own children. Whichever home saw any trouble, that was where she went to stay for a while. Her presence alone did so much to fix the issues.
And what should happen if she should fall into trouble? She never needed help before, for she was the person everyone relied on. Who is going to be there to help her? What if she doesn’t know what to do when lacking capability and control in a situation? This indeed can happen very easily, such as with the onset of disease. Disease is one of the kinds of distress in this world. There are also the pains inflicted by mother nature and the injuries caused by other human beings, animals, insects, reptiles, and the like. Since this mother helped so much in the past, there is an added emphasis to this time step up and get her out of a distressful situation.
Here the distressed person is a beautiful princess. She previously never knew distress. She grew up under the protection of her chivalrous father, the king of Mithila. Then she was married to Shri Rama of Ayodhya, with whom she lived for many years. Even when the two had to suddenly leave their kingdom and live in the wilderness for fourteen years, she did not experience distress. This was because she had her husband with her. As long as she had the chance to serve Him, she was happy. She did not care where that was.
This is instructive since we all inherently feel the same way. Her husband is the Supreme Lord. He appears on earth as Rama from time to time, sporting an enchanting smile, long and powerful arms, and a dedication to virtue to set the proper example for all leaders. One who has the chance to serve Him is always happy, even if the location of their service is not ideal.
Hanuman here says that Sita’s face resembles the full moon. In the dark of night the moon provides some guidance. It benevolently shines its light to give the struggling traveler vision along their way. The moon provides this light for everyone. It does not play favorites. It is a rescuer of sorts, and during the specific times in the month it is always in the night sky, steady as a rock.
Now the moon-like Sita is facing distress. She never knew distress before, but now she is being tormented by female ogres. They were ordered by the king of ogres, Ravana, to harass her day and night. Sita had been taken away from Rama’s side in secret, so she had no idea what was going on. Where was Rama? Where was His younger brother Lakshmana? Did they know where she was? Were they coming to rescue her?
Hanuman here has finally found her after being sent to look for her by Rama. He is pleased knowing her location, as now he can report back to Rama. Still, to Sita nothing has changed. She doesn’t know who Hanuman is at this point. She doesn’t know about Hanuman’s courageous journey to Lanka, where he crossed over the massive ocean with a giant leap. She doesn’t know how he clandestinely changed his shape and scoured through the city to look for her, someone he had never met previously.
Hanuman rightly concludes that she is worthy of consoling words. She previously gave so much delight to everyone else, and she also never knew distress herself. Hanuman therefore was ready, willing, able, and motivated to help her cross over that seemingly insurmountable ocean of grief. He would console her by speaking about Rama, her beloved husband. He would speak about His activities, His emotions, and His intentions.
“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)
In the same way, the conditioned souls of today, who are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind, can be consoled by hearing about God. It is for this reason that the Vaishnava saints liberally distribute words of God and His sound as well: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Found Sita after searching difficult chore,
To console, who distress never seen before.
She who pleasing others with face like the moon,
Wondering if husband Rama to come for her soon.
For her hopes and life to preserve,
Soothing words her ears to deserve.
Hanuman these words to her ready to give,
From the heart, always in serving Rama to live.