“And it is proper for me to console the mighty-armed Rama, whose face resembles a full moon, and who is desirous of the vision of Sita.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.10)
mayā ca sa mahābāhuḥ pūrṇa candra nibha ānanaḥ |
samāśvāsayitum nyāyyaḥ sītā darśana lālasaḥ ||
The gravity of the moment keeps increasing with each successive thought revealed by Shri Hanuman in his mission in Lanka. Unlike any other task given to any other person in history, so much was on the line. Failure meant letting down an entire world of well-wishers, and success meant bringing a smile to the face of those who most deserved it.
If you’re having a get-together this Friday night at your home, you may be assigned the cooking responsibilities. Your guests will come hungry and there will be many of them. They will rely solely on you for eating. A meal is a gamble of sorts; if you choose incorrectly you’re stuck with the poor taste in your mouth for a long time. If you’ve eaten enough of the poor food, you can’t eat again until the next meal. If you haven’t eaten enough, you’re stuck searching for something better.
If you, as the host, must make the entire meal, you will likely have to multitask. Keep one eye on the rice, another on the vegetables, another on the dessert, and even one on the drinks. You will have to purchase multiple items from the supermarket at one time, and then figure out how to cook everything so that the dinner is warm when served.
If you have only one item to cook, then it’s not so bad. You have your recipe and you stick to it. But the more items that get introduced, the more objects of attention there are. You can’t give too much attention to one item; lest the others get ignored.
This example is of a simple task like cooking a meal. It is not nearly a life and death situation, for if you mess up you can always try again some other time. Moreover, the attachment to the responsibility isn’t so wise. The fear of success or failure should not figure into how you perform your duty, for it is better to keep a level head.
“Be steadfast in yoga, O Arjuna. Perform your duty and abandon all attachment to success or failure. Such evenness of mind is called yoga.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.48)
Shri Hanuman did not have any of these luxuries. He was fully attached to the people he was trying to help. There was nothing he could do about that. He was won over by their qualities. And who wouldn’t be? The first person was mighty-armed and had the countenance of a full moon. His complexion was dark, like a raincloud ready to shower the starving crops with nourishment. Still, the face was bright, a paradoxical combination that can only exist in one person.
That moonlike person was married to another moonlike person, who had gone missing while she was in the company of her dear husband in the forest of Dandaka. Hanuman met the wife second, though he hadn’t really spoken with her yet. He observed her behavior while hiding in a tree above. That behavior related to enduring the torments of wicked female ogres. They were trying to scare the beautiful princess into submission, into giving in to the evil king of Lanka. That king had taken the princess there against her will, trying to make her his wife.
Hanuman felt great affection for the princess, seeing her plight. He was so eager to tell her that her husband was indeed on His way to come and rescue her. Hanuman was ready to reveal his identity as the messenger sent by the lady’s husband. Though he was only tasked with finding her and not necessarily speaking to her, he felt the need to console her, for she deserved it.
Here Hanuman says that Rama, the princess Sita’s husband, also deserved to be consoled. This was the counter argument, the one in favor of returning to the home base and reporting on what he had seen. Thus Hanuman was in a dilemma. He had attachment to his duty and the outcome based on the people involved. He couldn’t mess up now after having worked so hard to find Sita. The clock was ticking, so to speak, so any time wasted in any area could jeopardize the entire mission.
From this verse we are also again reminded of how well Hanuman knows Sita and Rama. Here he says that Rama is desirous of having the vision of Sita. Hanuman could not bring that to Him, but his words would be the same thing. He knew that Sita was desirous of seeing Rama as well. In this way Rama picked the best messenger, one who knew His true nature.
Hanuman knew that Sita’s vision would come to Rama through words describing her. Rama would be proud to know that she never wavered in her devotion, that she showed a level of resolve never before seen in the world. In the same way, the words of the Ramayana give us the vision of the beautiful Hanuman, whose courage, strength, and love know no bounds. Typically when one is very affectionate, their strength takes a hit. If one is very attached to an outcome, their resolve isn’t so great due to fear. All paradoxes are resolved in the Supreme Lord, who holds every opulence imaginable. And we see that the same traits get passed on to those who are devoted to Him, such as Shri Hanuman.
The Supreme Lord, of divine grace,
Dark-complexioned, of moonlike face.
Since separated from wife to live,
News of her Hanuman wanted to give.
This argument against previous to counter,
So dilemma now trusted servant to encounter.
Paradox in Supreme Lord and servants resolved,
Hanuman to describe Sita, problem now solved.