“Deliberating on it further, if I am killed I do not see any monkey who can leap over the great ocean, which is one hundred yojanas long.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.33)
vimṛśan ca na paśyāmi yo hate mayi vānaraḥ ||
śata yojana vistīrṇam langhayeta mahāudadhim |
You’ve been meaning to clean the living room. There are old newspapers lying around. Some stray clothes are here and there as well. In fact, you haven’t seen the living room in this bad a shape in a long time. Your wife is away on a business trip, so you haven’t had anyone pushing you, urging you to clean. You’ve been eating out for dinner each of the nights she has been away, and the rest of the time you’ve been sitting and watching television.
There is one spot in the living room that is clean: your comfy chair for television viewing. The kitchen is also kind of a mess. The dishes are piled up in the sink, and the refrigerator is more or less empty. Every day that you come home from work you say the same thing to yourself: “Man, I really need to clean. This is getting ridiculous.” Of course the reason that you don’t is because nothing is really pushing you.
Then one day you hear that your parents are coming over for a visit. They are worried about you. They guess that you’re having a difficult time managing on your own. They want to come to help out. The proud person that you are, you don’t want them to think that anything has changed. Therefore the morning of their visit you get up early and clean up. All the chores that were put off due to fatigue now are top priority. You don’t feel tired anymore since the clock is ticking. You have to act, lest others discover your laziness.
This scenario is quite common. The householder feels impelled to clean the house whenever guests are coming over. Otherwise, the situation isn’t so dire. The same concept works with deadlines. If the teacher gives us an assignment and tells us that it’s due whenever, no one would complete it. But when they say it’s due on a specific date, the time crunch forces action. A similar thing occurs in bhakti-yoga when one is seriously desirous of serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The good Lord takes the impetus Himself to create the emergencies, and the results are splendid.
Mother Yashoda takes care of Krishna in Vrindavana. She doesn’t have a job that pays a salary, but she works night and day. In fact, few could say they work harder than Yashoda. In the morning she rises early and prepares her darling child for His day of work and play. In the farm community, the young boys tend to the calves. It is not difficult labor, and they find it quite enjoyable. Krishna and His friends of the same age take this chore as an opportunity to play out in the fields. Sort of like having pets to take out for a walk each day, these animals are protected in the society and loved by everyone.
Yashoda makes sure Krishna is dressed properly. Sometimes her son’s friends come to the house early, when Krishna is not yet ready. She invites them in to come help, and they take great joy in this. While her son is out, Yashoda takes care of the household responsibilities. She churns yogurt into butter to be fed to her darling child. She meets with the other mothers of the community, who tell her about the playful antics of her child.
She works all day because she loves it, but also because she thinks that without her effort her young child will starve. She thinks He will die if she does not feed Him properly. She already worries that He doesn’t eat enough. It’s difficult to pull Him away from the fields; He’s like the child who wants to play baseball out in the street with his friends the entire day. She worries that Krishna’s delicate soles will be hurt by the hard ground. And then she sees all the nefarious characters who come to Vrindavana and try to harm her boy. Krishna manages to survive each of these attacks, while the assailants aren’t so fortunate. Still, the good mother thinks that without her intervention Krishna will not survive.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman has a similar attitude. Here he is deliberating on what course of action to take next. He was assigned the task of finding a missing princess in an enemy territory. That part of the mission has now concluded successfully. However, he was also told to give her a message, that her husband was going to soon arrive to rescue her. This is where things got tricky. This princess was here against her will. She was taken there by an ogre of cruel deeds who could change his shape at will.
Hanuman first decided to speak to the princess, Sita, in the Sanskrit language. He considered the pros of that decision. Sita could hear the message. She would think that he is learned, which he indeed is. But as a wise and intelligent person, Hanuman also weighed the cons. Sita might mistake him for Ravana, due to his odd form, that of a monkey, and corresponding speech, Sanskrit. Being alarmed, others would learn about his presence. Then Hanuman would have to fight off all the Rakshasas in the city, who were very powerful.
Hanuman knew he could defend himself, though he rightfully remarked that in conflict the outcome is never assured. Here he worries about being able to cross over the expansive ocean and reach his friends again. Could he do that after having fought so many enemies? He also concludes that none of the other monkeys would be able to reach this territory. His search party consisted of thousands of forest-dwellers from Kishkindha. These creatures were monkey-like, and so they could leap, but not that far. Hanuman had special abilities; thus he found himself in the enemy territory of Lanka alone. He was the only one who could leap across the massive ocean to reach Lanka.
In both of the situations mentioned, the object being served is God. Krishna is the Supreme Lord in His two-armed form of a beautiful youth who roams the land of Vrindavana. Rama is the same Krishna appearing in the Treta Yuga to do away with the king of ogres, Ravana. The Supreme Lord will not die if someone forgets to feed Him. Shri Rama easily could have retrieved Sita from Lanka. He did not need any monkeys to leap over an ocean for Him. Yet Hanuman thought that if he didn’t succeed, the mission would be foiled. Such thinking is encouraged in devotional service, and in fact even if apprised otherwise the devotee on this level will not abandon their attitude. Their love is actually stronger than any opposing force, even if that force is God. For this reason Hanuman is worshiped by so many to this day, for to the idea of not serving Rama, he emphatically replies, “No possible way.”
If to not serve Rama one would say,
Hanuman to respond, “No possible way.”
In love Hanuman of Rama to think,
That from failure His hopes to sink.
In emergency, of his effort a need,
Attitude his enthusiasm to feed.
Unbreakable the staunch devotee’s course,
Not swayed even by Supreme Lord’s force.