“By my returning there, this famous princess, Janaki, not seeing any rescue might indeed give up her life.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.9)
gate hi mayi tatra iyam rāja putrī yaśasvinī |
paritrāṇam avindantī jānakī jīvitam tyajet ||
“I don’t mind working. Sure, I’m as lazy as the next guy, for who doesn’t enjoy sleeping in on the weekends? Who doesn’t like to kick back and watch a movie to pass a few hours? Still, I know that I am happier when I have a task to complete. Sort of like a pleasurable burden, when there is something to keep my brain active, I am in a better mental disposition during and afterwards as well.
“That being said, I’m not too keen on responsibility. Let others decide where to eat for dinner. Food isn’t so important to me. Some things taste better than others for sure, but sometimes I’m in the mood for a specific kind of food. Sometimes I’m not even sure what I like or don’t like. It takes someone else suggesting something for me to try it for the first time. Only then can I know. Thinking back, if I had followed my instincts every time, if I had the burden of choosing where and what to eat, I wouldn’t have been pleased by the outcome most of the time.
“I don’t like it when everything rests on me, especially if what I need to accomplish isn’t a sure thing. If someone’s counting on me to be at a certain place at a certain time, that’s not too difficult. But if something important breaks and I’m the one called on to fix it, the pressure is a little too much for me. God bless all the parents out there. They are in a position of responsibility all the time. They don’t have any days off. They are the last word. They are the last defense for the dependent children. I’m not sure I could handle that responsibility.”
Such thinking is only natural, as when there is full responsibility placed on you and you subsequently fail to deliver, all the blame goes to you. It’s not fair, indeed, but this is how things work out. Shri Hanuman a long time back unintentionally had the most responsibility in the world placed on his shoulders. An entire host of Vanaras in Kishkindha counted on him to successfully leap over a massive ocean, search incognito in a foreign city, find a princess he had never seen before, and then safely return with the information on her whereabouts.
Interestingly enough, these weren’t the most difficult aspects to his mission. Hanuman had many tough decisions to make, and he had no one to counsel him. He couldn’t make a pros and cons list on a sheet of paper and then circulate that to well-wishers and advisers for help. The famous philosopher, inventor and statesman Benjamin Franklin once wrote a letter in which he described his method for making tough decisions. This included a pros and cons list, a system of weighting, and several rounds of elimination. Hanuman did not have the time for this mathematical style of deliberation.
He did make the right decisions, though. This was because of his love for the central characters. There was love for Shri Rama, the distressed prince from Ayodhya. There was the searched for princess, Sita Devi, who was Rama’s wife. Here Hanuman remarks that she is most famous, yashasvini, and the daughter of a king, raja putri. Hanuman has already found her, and so in returning home he will have succeeded in his mission. However, if Sita gives up her life due to grief of separation, because she is famous her death will be known throughout the world. Hanuman will be culpable in that tragedy, for he had the chance to give her words of consolation.
Of course the manner in which to offer those words was not obvious, thereby creating another point of deliberation for Hanuman. He loved Sita, for she was dear to Rama. He knew that she was famous and beautiful and that he now had the responsibility for her welfare. In a similar manner, one who is today fortunate enough to hear the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” and learn the science of bhakti-yoga, the most worthwhile of all services, bears some responsibility in easing the sufferings of others.
With Sita consolation would come through hearing about Rama, for whom she felt so much pain in longing. All living entities suffer the same separation, though they may not realize it. Always searching for transcendence, they choose the pursuit of material opulence, indulgence in eating, intoxication with beverages and other chemicals, and surrender to paramours. Rama is the life of all that lives, the essence of everything. He is the Supreme Lord in an incarnation specific to a time and circumstance. He is known by many other names as well, such as Krishna, Vishnu, Narayana, and Narasimha. Sita is known as Hare, Radha and Lakshmi as well.
“But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form-to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.22)
The means for meeting the responsibility which is placed upon the devoted soul is revealed through the very love they feel for Sita and Rama. Though he didn’t ask for that enormous responsibility, Hanuman never let anyone down. This is the grace of Shri Rama, who guarantees success for the sincere servants who only wish the best for Him.
At mind’s peace away to tear,
When responsibility too much to bear.
Shri Hanuman, of beautiful monkey face,
Greatest burden on shoulders placed.
Even if successful return to make,
All blame for Sita’s peril to take.
Since love for Rama in heart presided,
On proper course eventually decided.