“How can I ensure that the purpose of my task does not get destroyed? How shall I avoid mental disparity, and how do I ensure that my crossing of the ocean does not go for naught?” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.39)
na vinaśyet katham kāryam vaiklavyam na katham bhavet ||
langhanam ca samudrasya katham nu na vṛthā bhavet |
Who wants to have their work get spoiled? Who wants to be careless? And who wants to have previous successes go for naught? Shri Hanuman here asks three questions of himself to ensure that these important errors are avoided. No one is perfect against preventing them, as to ere is human, but in devotional efforts, the guiding hand of the all-perfect being is there. And so simply by having the desire to avoid these errors, Hanuman was guaranteed of succeeding.
Hanuman’s work was to find Sita, the missing wife of Shri Rama. Not like an ordinary reconnaissance mission, this search spanned the entire globe. There weren’t informants stationed at key locations who could give him information. There wasn’t a tracking device available to give him her exact location. There was no GPS navigation, either. He had to look anywhere and everywhere, taking clues from wherever he could get them. He had other Vanaras from Kishkindha working with him, but that hardly made the task easier.
Hanuman wanted to be thoughtful because he was on the verge of completing the mission. Here he has finally found Sita. She is in the Ashoka grove in Lanka, held there against her will by the king, Ravana. Hanuman had been thoughtful up to this point. He was the lone member of the search party who could reach Lanka. Upon reaching Lanka, he hid his form from the inhabitants. In simpler terms, no one knew he was there. No one knew who he was anyway, including Sita. Therefore he had many smaller successes already under his belt. Now a careless mistake could ruin everything.
Hanuman didn’t want his leap across the ocean to go in vain. This is the second time he worries over such a matter. Indeed, this verse spoken here and two preceding it were also spoken by Hanuman previously. They can be found in the second chapter of the Sundara Kand of the Ramayana. The repetition means that Hanuman maintains the proper focus at all times. He knew that his leap to Lanka was no small feat. He knew that ordinarily things like that didn’t happen. Ravana had an aerial car that he used to take Sita back to Lanka. Lanka was an island, far away from any mainland. Not only did Hanuman make the giant leap, but he passed through several obstructions thrown his way. The celestials watched from above in amazement, and the mountain Mainaka even tried to offer some assistance as a way to honor Hanuman.
“O Sita, see the golden lord of mountains [Mainaka], which is golden-peaked and which rose up, piercing the ocean, to provide rest to Hanuman.” (Lord Rama speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Kand, 123.18)
As Hanuman was on a search mission, it is not so difficult to compare his predicament to ordinary ones we encounter in our lives. The closest match is to the mission of the human birth, that of becoming God conscious. The Vedanta-sutra says athato brahma-jijnasa, “now is the time for enquiring about Brahman, or the Absolute Truth.” This means that the human birth is not for acquiring a lot of wealth. It is not for eating sumptuous food and enjoying with members of the opposite sex to no end. It is not about being envious of another’s lot in life, and it is not about making more and more distinctions, such as those based on race, gender, ethnicity, language, or religion.
The human birth is for seeing Brahman, which is the all-pervading spiritual energy. The human birth is where intelligence can reach its full potential. Thus going in reverse order, the human being has to keep an eye out for making their birth go in vain. Just as Hanuman crossed the ocean, the living entity crossed through many other species to reach the auspicious human life. If no Brahman realization occurs, then the past journey gets nullified to a degree.
In the human birth there is the ability to act with thoughtful consideration, accepting right and wrong from the highest authority source. Thus there is the need to watch out for thoughtlessness, which again would spoil the chances for success. If you stay on the Brahman path but then fall down due to mental disparity, all your hard work gets nullified for a time.
Hanuman would succeed due to his love for Rama, who is Parabrahman. Rama is superior to all abstract conceptions of His potencies. He is superior to the material energy and is the highest spiritual force. He is the chief eternal amongst all eternals, nityo nityanam chetanash chetanam. Therefore from His favor alone one can achieve success in the highest endeavor to become God conscious and make this life fruitful. And in that pure consciousness one takes up service to Him, like Hanuman did. Again and again, Hanuman works for Rama, and every time Shri Rama ensures Hanuman’s success; such is the wonderful nature of their relationship.
The purpose of mission how to keep,
So that for naught not to go giant leap?
To avoid also disparity of the mind,
Hanuman’s three questions again to find.
Since working for Shri Rama’s side,
Soon in bountiful success to preside.
In human birth too same questions to ask,
To be God realized assigned is the task.