“So I will stay here and wait for a break in the attention of the Rakshasis. Then I will slowly console her, who is in so much distress.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.16)
antaram tu aham āsādya rākṣasīnām iha sthitaḥ |
śanaiḥ āśvāsayiṣyāmi samtāpa bahulām imām ||
“I tell you, my friend, one thing I lack is patience. It is for this reason that I have trouble building anything complex. One time I bought an exercise machine for the home. It was on sale, and I figured it would be easier for working out than paying a monthly fee to a health club that I would never visit. The only problem was that the machine required some assembly.
“Initially I wasn’t afraid, as I consider myself adequately equipped to take and follow instruction. I went through the manual that was included in the box. There were just so many steps. Eventually I lost my patience. I didn’t tighten one of the bolts well enough, that is for sure. It just didn’t seem to fit right. I started applying brute force. Anyway, I was able to use the machine for a while, but then one day it collapsed. Luckily no one got hurt, but it was due to my faulty assembly.
“Many similar things have happened to me. I received a used printer as a gift from a friend once. I tried connecting it to my computer, but the cable wouldn’t fit. Rather than patiently look behind the computer to see what the problem was, I kept trying to jam the cable into the port. Long story short, I ended up breaking the pins inside of the cable. I was using the wrong port. Thus in my haste, in my lack of patience, I ruined something of value.”
One messenger a long time ago didn’t have room for error with his issue. He had great anticipation, too. He had searched for this one person for so long. He had risked his life even, and all hopes for success lay with him. So many were counting on him. And still, he could foil everything by a lack of patience. From the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we see that his patience was always there, and so he never jeopardized the mission.
Here the messenger Hanuman decides to wait for a gap in vigilance. The watchful eyes of the female ogres in Lanka remain focused on the princess of Videha, Sita Devi. She is in much distress, and so the Rakshasis don’t have to work that much harder, or so they think. Their job is to break her spirits to the point that she will submit to the demands of Ravana, the king of Lanka. Once she finally caves, it’s mission accomplished.
Hanuman is the lone well-wisher for Sita in this beautiful grove of Ashoka trees inside of Lanka. He wants to console her, to let her know that Rama will come to rescue her. Hanuman has many different names due to his heroic feats, his impeccable qualities, and his heartfelt emotions. One of those names is Ramadutta, which means “messenger of Rama.” In the Shrimad Bhagavatam a similar kind of messenger is described, the Vishnuduta. Both act in service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Vishnudutas arrive to rescue the departing soul who is conscious of God’s personal form, which is the source of the impersonal manifestation known as the Brahman energy. The personal is also behind the abstract conception of “God”, a heavenly father, or an original divine being not well defined. The personal is the detail to the abstract.
Ramadutta acts for the personal form of God known as Shri Rama. Hanuman can also rescue if the situation calls for it. In this instance, he comes bearing a message. Rama, Sita’s beloved husband, is intent on finding her, for she had gone missing after Ravana secretly took her away while she was living in the Dandaka forest.
Hanuman here decides to quietly sit and wait it out. He will look for a lapse in attention. These were female ogres after all. They lived in darkness, constantly consuming animal flesh and drinking wine. Accompanying activities in the mode of darkness, or tamo-guna, is sleep. Therefore they would eventually sleep. Hanuman had conquered sleep because of his attention to the mission. He can beat any person in any competition as long as his victory will help or please Rama.
Not only did he have to be patient in waiting for the Rakshasis to back off, but he then had to slowly console Sita. He could not suddenly startle her. “Hey, how are you doing? I’m sent by Rama. All is going to be well. Don’t worry.” If you’re around strangers all the time who wish you harm, why would you trust another stranger who suddenly appeared before you?
This also helps to explain why God consciousness sometimes takes a long time to reach us. If we’ve been accustomed to thinking a certain way, accepting so many bad habits through our own experiences and those of our many ancestors, will we not be skeptical when hearing that the mission of life is to be devoted to God in His personal form? Will we not wonder what devotional service actually means? Will we not think that relinquishing attachment to meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex is a form of senseless torture?
The wise messenger of Rama knew enough to gradually introduce the message of Rama to someone who was already God conscious. We conditioned living entities are suffering from utter forgetfulness of the same Rama, so the benevolent Vaishnavas of today who spread the message of divine love use even more patience and deliberation in their task. Whatever the situation calls for, the messengers of God will adapt, and so their kindness continues to expand infinitely in greatness.
With threats inflicting mental pain,
Successful task to be Ravana’s gain.
Watchful eye on Sita Devi to keep,
But in darkness eventually to sleep.
With attention Shri Hanuman waited,
Soon to repeat what to him Rama stated.
Time in rescuing message to come,
Patience for knowing God with doubts none.