“On the word of His aged father, a man always steady in truth, accompanied by His wife and His brother that hero renounced home for the forest.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.8)
tasya satya abhisandhasya vṛddhasya vacanāt pituḥ |
sabhāryaḥ saha ca bhrātrā vīraḥ pravrajito vanam ||
There are many ways to define a friend. They are someone who is there for you in a time of need. If you are driving on a dirt road and suddenly the tires get stuck in sand, your friend is there to give a helping hand. They call for help or they think of other ways to rescue you. Because you are in difficulty, they are as well. They take your pain as theirs.
Another way to tell a friend is that they respect the people whom you respect, especially those who are the most important to you. For instance, if you love your parents, your friend will respect them too. They will not point out any of the visible flaws in your parents. Even if you say bad things about your mother and father, a true friend will not cross that line, knowing how important the parents are to you.
In this verse from the Valmiki Ramayana, Hanuman gives further evidence of his being the best friend to Shri Rama, the husband of the distressed princess named Sita. Sita and Rama are the most important people in the world. One is the Supreme Lord Himself and the other is His energy. The energy can do anything, being empowered by the energetic. And yet that energy is fully devoted to the energetic, incapable of separating in interest.
The living entities in this world are sparks of the same energy, yet they are neither as potent nor as perfect. They struggle hard with the six senses, which include the mind. They are born into delusion, bewildered by the dualities of desire and hate. One second they love their spouse and the next they can’t wait to file for divorce. One second they dive into a bowl of ice cream and an hour later they regret having done so.
mamaivāṁśo jīva-lokejīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥmanaḥ-ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇiprakṛti-sthāni karṣati
“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)
With respect for Sita and Rama, everything can be fixed. The eternal position of blissfulness can be found once again. The way towards transcendence is not difficult; one merely has to find a friend of Rama’s. Hanuman is one such friend, and from this verse he shows us what goes into achieving such a status.
Hanuman says that Rama renounced His home for the forest. He gave up everything, but His wife and His younger brother came with Him. It was not that Rama was so attached that He could not live without them. Rather, being the ocean of mercy, so compassionate towards His devotees, Rama allowed Sita and Lakshmana to accompany Him at their insistence.
Rama renounced home at the word of His aged father, King Dasharatha. Hanuman says that Dasharatha always spoke the truth. In saying this, he pays the famous king the highest compliment. These words were heard by Sita Devi in the Ashoka grove in Lanka, where she was separated from Rama due to the wicked deeds of the Rakshasa named Ravana.
An enemy to Rama would have easily found fault with Dasharatha. They would have called the king lusty for having made two promises previously to his youngest wife named Kaikeyi. They would have called the king weak for lacking the courage to break a promise made to a helpless woman. Hanuman is a true friend, however, and he knows how important Dasharatha is to Sita and Rama.
As one would respect the parents of their friend, one would also give respect to the important friends of their friend. In this regard, Hanuman shines as the best friend. He is loved so much by Sita and Rama. Hanuman abides by the truth as well. He risked his life in his brave journey across the ocean to Lanka. To travel such a distance by airplane today is not easy in the least. Anti-anxiety pills are necessary due to the stressful conditions in only sitting in a seat inside of an airplane. Imagine crossing the same ocean in a boat, which has no easy escape route in case of emergency. Then imagine crossing the same ocean by leaping, where you have to rely solely on your own abilities.
Hanuman did just that and so much more, all due to his love for Sita and Rama. He is the best friend to have, and he is the best person to respect. Not requiring anything in life, pleasure comes to him most from seeing devotion to Sita and Rama, which is best practiced today through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Many ways to test,
To see if your friend is the best.
To your parents giving respect,
This at the very least to expect.
Hanuman in Lanka to Sita displayed,
Knowledge of Dasharatha, honor duly paid.
To Sita and Rama a friend like him none,
Through devotion to them his heart won.