Saturday, April 26, 2014


[Sita Devi's hand]“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 ||

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“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.”

[Mother Yashoda with Krishna]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.

[Pros and cons list]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.

[Bhagavad-gita, 9.22]“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)

[Sita and Rama]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.

In Closing:

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.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Using Common Sense

[Shri Hanuman]“Indeed, if I shall go without consoling this lady, whose mind is overpowered by grief, then my setting out becomes offensive.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.8)

yadi hi aham imām devīm śoka upahata cetanām |
anāśvāsya gamiṣyāmi doṣavat gamanam bhavet ||

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In handing out a task, usually not every detail is covered. Who in the world can predict every combination of events? Who can actually foresee every pitfall, every moment requiring deliberation, every conundrum? Therefore only the general guidelines are typically given, and then the rest is left up to the capable worker, who is expected to use their intelligence to guide them along the way. Here we get an example of where a courageous messenger noted a possible offense that previously wasn’t stipulated.

Let’s say you’re learning how to drive. To start, you read over the driving manual distributed by the motor vehicle governing authority of your particular area. You study up and then take what is known as the “written test.” This exam consists of many multiple choice questions. They cover the basics, like what to do at a stop sign, what the different traffic signs mean, and where and when you can turn based on the type of line dividing traffic. In Sanskrit this knowledge is known as jnana, or theoretical. It is the important foundation for how to then act.

[Traffic signs]When actually driving, the realized knowledge takes over. This is where the jnana is utilized for guiding behavior. The realized knowledge is known as vijnana in Sanskrit. So based on what you have read, you know to stop at a red light. You know that if you want to make a turn, you should turn on your car’s blinker several moments prior. If you want to make a left turn at a traffic light, you should be in the left hand lane, the turning lane. It wouldn’t make sense to be in the right lane to make a left turn, for then you would have to cross over the many cars that are travelling straight through the intersection.

One of the rules you learned while studying was that a double yellow line dividing traffic means that it cannot be crossed. If there is a slow car in front of you, then tough. The double yellow line is there for your safety; it lets you know that it is not safe to cross over to the other side. Now let’s say that you’re travelling down a local road. You’re practicing your driving. Suddenly up ahead you see a mail delivery truck parked on the side of the road. They are delivering mail. In doing their job, their truck juts out slightly into the traffic lane. This means that they are slightly in your pathway; you must move to the side in order to avoid them. However, this would mean crossing over the double yellow line in the center. What should you do?

[Double-yellow lines]This situation calls for common sense. If it is safe to cross over the double yellow line, then do it. To hit the mail truck would be an offense. You would be faulted with negligent driving. The rules did not cover this situation. They did not cover the fact that sometimes you have to go against the letter of the regulations in order to remain safe. Indeed, you are expected to use common sense and good judgment at all times, no matter what the actual rules stipulate.

In the same vein, Shri Hanuman here rightly concludes that he cannot just leave Lanka after having found the missing princess of Videha. He and a host of other eager Vanaras from Kishkindha received the task to find Sita, who was the wife of Lord Rama, the eldest son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Rama needed to learn Sita’s location so that He could then go and rescue her. The evil king of Lanka, Ravana, had taken her away in secret.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman found Sita in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. No one knew that Hanuman was there. He was so thrilled to have finally found Sita, but now he has to decide what to do next. Should he return back to Rama and the Vanara-king Sugriva with the good news? He sees that Sita is in great distress; her mind is overcome with that distress in fact. Sometimes we see other creatures in great pain and know that we can’t do anything to save them. Such are the ways of nature that there is only so much we can do for our fellow creatures.

In Sita’s case, there was something Hanuman could do. He could give her news about Rama, from whom she hadn’t heard in a long time. He could let her know that a host of Vanaras had gone searching for her and that Rama missed her very much. He could let her know that Ravana and his band of ogres would soon meet their deserved peril, total destruction of their empire.

This was an option for Hanuman, and from his deliberations he reached the conclusion that to skip this step would make his return to Kishkindha offensive. Indeed, by the letter of the rules of the assignment he would have been successful in the mission, but he would know that he had committed an error. Therefore here he decides that he must console Sita, for she is worthy of such kind words.

In the same way, if we are fortunate enough to know that Sita is the goddess of fortune and Rama the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it would be offensive to not at least talk about them with those who are distressed. Every person is looking for transcendence. They want everlasting happiness, and they look for it in the bottle of whiskey, the videogame, the local gambling parlor, the significant other, the beloved children, and even the office where they earn money. None of those things reach transcendence, and so the search continues, lifetime after lifetime.

[Sita and Rama]Hanuman knows that transcendence is with Sita and Rama, and being their most ardent supporter he provides the best example for meeting life’s mission: pure devotion. In this age the same Sita and Rama are found through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” which the saints following in the line of Hanuman liberally distribute to one and all, providing consolation from the grief of a material existence that tends to overcome even the most intelligent mind.

In Closing:

With rules in mind having retention,

To this and that must pay attention.


But even with everything kept in mind,

A tricky situation easily could find.


Common sense in these tasks to use,

Like with Hanuman, to console to choose.


An offense against Sita to do so not,

Even returning with information he got.


Pleased will be Sita and Rama how,

Way to decipher best course for now.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Consoling the Moon

[Sita Devi]“Indeed, I will console this woman, whose face resembles a full moon, for she never before has experienced distress and currently cannot see the end of her distress.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.7)

aham āśvāsayāmi enām pūrṇa candra nibha ānanām |
adṛṣṭa duhkhām duhkhasya na hi antam adhigacchatīm ||

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No matter how strong in character you think you are, you likely know someone who is stronger. Someone who is like a rock in resolve, who doesn’t get flustered in times of crisis, someone who can be counted on when the chips are down - you appreciate them so much for what they do. But what happens if they should suddenly fall into distress? What if, for a change, they are the ones who need help? Will not their previous heroic exploits give you motivation to help them? This is similar to how Shri Hanuman felt when deliberating on what to do next after finding the missing wife of Shri Rama in the Ashoka grove in Lanka.

[Shri Hanuman]There is another point to consider as well. Perhaps the person who previously helped you has no experience dealing with their own distress. They were always lending a helping hand to others. An example of such a person can be the mother of many children. She took care of all her boys when they were young and then also when they were married and had their own children. Whichever home saw any trouble, that was where she went to stay for a while. Her presence alone did so much to fix the issues.

And what should happen if she should fall into trouble? She never needed help before, for she was the person everyone relied on. Who is going to be there to help her? What if she doesn’t know what to do when lacking capability and control in a situation? This indeed can happen very easily, such as with the onset of disease. Disease is one of the kinds of distress in this world. There are also the pains inflicted by mother nature and the injuries caused by other human beings, animals, insects, reptiles, and the like. Since this mother helped so much in the past, there is an added emphasis to this time step up and get her out of a distressful situation.

Here the distressed person is a beautiful princess. She previously never knew distress. She grew up under the protection of her chivalrous father, the king of Mithila. Then she was married to Shri Rama of Ayodhya, with whom she lived for many years. Even when the two had to suddenly leave their kingdom and live in the wilderness for fourteen years, she did not experience distress. This was because she had her husband with her. As long as she had the chance to serve Him, she was happy. She did not care where that was.

[Sita and Rama leaving for the forest]This is instructive since we all inherently feel the same way. Her husband is the Supreme Lord. He appears on earth as Rama from time to time, sporting an enchanting smile, long and powerful arms, and a dedication to virtue to set the proper example for all leaders. One who has the chance to serve Him is always happy, even if the location of their service is not ideal.

Hanuman here says that Sita’s face resembles the full moon. In the dark of night the moon provides some guidance. It benevolently shines its light to give the struggling traveler vision along their way. The moon provides this light for everyone. It does not play favorites. It is a rescuer of sorts, and during the specific times in the month it is always in the night sky, steady as a rock.

Now the moon-like Sita is facing distress. She never knew distress before, but now she is being tormented by female ogres. They were ordered by the king of ogres, Ravana, to harass her day and night. Sita had been taken away from Rama’s side in secret, so she had no idea what was going on. Where was Rama? Where was His younger brother Lakshmana? Did they know where she was? Were they coming to rescue her?

[Sita Devi]Hanuman here has finally found her after being sent to look for her by Rama. He is pleased knowing her location, as now he can report back to Rama. Still, to Sita nothing has changed. She doesn’t know who Hanuman is at this point. She doesn’t know about Hanuman’s courageous journey to Lanka, where he crossed over the massive ocean with a giant leap. She doesn’t know how he clandestinely changed his shape and scoured through the city to look for her, someone he had never met previously.

Hanuman rightly concludes that she is worthy of consoling words. She previously gave so much delight to everyone else, and she also never knew distress herself. Hanuman therefore was ready, willing, able, and motivated to help her cross over that seemingly insurmountable ocean of grief. He would console her by speaking about Rama, her beloved husband. He would speak about His activities, His emotions, and His intentions.

[Bhagavad-gita, 15.7]“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)

In the same way, the conditioned souls of today, who are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind, can be consoled by hearing about God. It is for this reason that the Vaishnava saints liberally distribute words of God and His sound as well: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Found Sita after searching difficult chore,

To console, who distress never seen before.


She who pleasing others with face like the moon,

Wondering if husband Rama to come for her soon.


For her hopes and life to preserve,

Soothing words her ears to deserve.


Hanuman these words to her ready to give,

From the heart, always in serving Rama to live.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

God Is Good

[Sita and Rama]“It is proper for me to console the wife of He who is of immeasurable potency and kind to all beings, for she is hankering to see her husband.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.6)

yuktam tasya aprameyasya sarva sattva dayāvataḥ |
samāśvāsayitum bhāryām patidarśana kānkṣiṇīm ||

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God is good. God is great. This is essentially what Shri Hanuman says here as he deliberates on what course of action to follow subsequent to his amazing discovery of the beautiful wife of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We have heard bad things about God. It doesn’t take much intelligence to harbor these sentiments. Just whatever is bad in your life, blame it on the man upstairs. Whenever things don’t go your way, even if you know it was your decision that led to the unfortunate outcome, don’t take responsibility; blame it all on the cruel hands of fate which belong to the Supreme Controller.

It’s more difficult to see past the constant negatives and extract the essence of life, which is God. In seeing the good, one has a better way of understanding the Supreme Lord. Here some more details into the greatness and goodness of God are provided. He is described as aprameya; this means “immeasurable.” What exactly can’t be measured? For starters, think of time. I celebrate my birthday on the day in the year that marks the anniversary of the day I emerged from the womb of my mother. If I am twenty five years old today, it means that I was born twenty-five years ago.

[Birthday candles]But what about before that time? Did nothing exist? Well, we see children being born today and can thus verify that life does indeed go on before things are born. So many children will be born this year, in the future, which means that life existed prior to their birth. Moreover, so many people leave their bodies and life continues for everyone else. This means that time goes on in both directions.

Now try to think of the beginning of time. Have you reached a point in your mind? Okay, now understand that there is always something before that. There is a beginning to the beginning, and an end past the end. That is the nature of infinity, which is the property held by both time and space. We don’t create time or space. We can only perceive them based on relative changes to the outer world. We know that time is a factor based on the changing of seasons, the withering of bodies, and the outcomes to actions. We know what space is based on walls and boundaries. A small room is considered a small space, but it is simply a way to mark out some territory. The space itself isn’t affected, for you could knock down the walls and see the much bigger space then.

God is also good. How good? He is compassionate towards every single creature. He makes the essential items in life relatively inexpensive and abundant in quantity. What we really need to survive are grains, milk and water. These are always in larger supply than meat, fish and wine. They are also inexpensive compared to high definition televisions, high end automobiles, and yachts and palatial mansions. Just in granting the ability for us to continue in life God shows His goodness. He plays no favorites. He wants everyone to live and fulfill the real destiny of an existence.

[Bhagavad-gita, 9.29]“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)

[Lord Rama]Hanuman knows these things about God intuitively, but he also witnesses them in the activities and qualities of Shri Rama, an incarnation of the Supreme Lord. The form of God is not concocted on a whim; it is not the product of the creative mind of the comic book writer. It is real and can be seen in the flesh, such as with Shri Hanuman. In that transcendental form that roamed this earth, Rama gave a glimpse into the features of the Supreme Lord. He has a potency which is immeasurable, which is an abstract concept. By exhibiting greatness on the battlefield, Rama gave a slight idea of what exactly immeasurable in strength means. By showing kindness to all creatures, including strangers in the forest of Kishkindha, Rama gave a glimpse into how He holds no grudges and plays no favorites.

Remembering these qualities of God, Hanuman here considers that he should console Rama’s wife Sita. She is hankering to see her husband, whom she has been separated from due to the ill-conceived plan of the king of Lanka, Ravana. Rama is powerful and so kind, so why should not Hanuman do something nice for Rama? Why shouldn’t he console Sita as well, who is the wife of that compassionate Lord?

[Sita and Rama]Hanuman wasn’t specifically tasked with consoling Sita. He was asked to find her, as were a host of monkeys serving in the army of Sugriva, the king of monkeys in Kishkindha. Hanuman takes the initiative here out of compassion for God, which shows that love for the Supreme Lord automatically brings the intelligence necessary to succeed through any difficult time. No one was there to help him, but his compassion for the all-compassionate Rama guided Hanuman all the way to success.

In Closing:

The person whom Sita so much does treasure,

Of compassion and strength beyond measure.


As Supersoul with everyone lives,

To those wanting it guidance gives.


Hanuman to repay a thought in mind,

To such a benefactor to him so kind.


Sita wanting to see Rama so dear,

So His glories from Hanuman to hear.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Characteristics of the Enemy

[Shri Hanuman]“The characteristics of the Rakshasas and the city, as well as the power of the king of these Rakshasas, Ravana, has been ascertained.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.5)

rākṣasānām viśeṣaḥ ca purī ca iyam avekṣitā |
rākṣasa adhipateḥ asya prabhāvo rāvaṇasya ca ||

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The good guys were coming from the wilderness. They knew the terrain consisting of forests, trees, bulbs, roots, and pristine rivers and lakes. The army consisted of monkeys living in the wild, but they were somewhat civilized. They were aligned with the most pious man, after all, the knower of the self, the righteous Shri Ramachandra, the eldest son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Rama’s equally valiant younger brother was there as well.

[Vanaras]The bad guys were in a distant land. They didn’t know that war was about to take place, for their home was guarded on all sides by a vast ocean. The good guys at first didn’t know where that land was, how the inhabitants behaved, and what exactly their leader was capable of. In stepped the fearless, brave, perseverant, and intelligent messenger of the king of monkeys. Known by the name Hanuman, he ended up searching through the enemy town all by himself for the missing princess Sita, who was Rama’s wife. Along the way he gathered some vital intelligence.

First he saw the characteristics of the Rakshasas. They were like ogres, human beings who were barely civilized. In modern times, we don’t necessarily consider a meat eater to be uncivilized. Under strict Vedic culture, the original spiritual tradition of the world, someone who drinks alcohol and eats meat is considered a mleccha or yavana, i.e. an uncivilized person. With the further passage of time since the beginning of the creation, man deviates so much from the principles of the highly cultured class that they start mistaking unrighteousness for righteousness. Therefore meat eating eventually became the norm around the world instead of the exception.

Still, amongst meat eaters there is a code of ethics. Certain kinds of animals you just don’t kill. Cats and dogs are off limits. If someone should kill them they get labeled a “monster,” whereas another person can kill cows by the thousands and not be in violation of any laws. Imagine, then, how uncivilized one would have to be to kill humans and eat them. These are known as cannibals, and they are hard to find in the world. Shri Hanuman found an entire city of them.

These Rakshasas would consume any flesh, and without limit. They were also intoxicated most of the time. They had a special ability to change shapes at will. The men had the most beautiful wives, which meant that the men were very strong. The wives were very devoted as well. In short, the Rakshasas would post a formidable challenge, and they would have no problem violating any rules of etiquette for the battlefield.

The city where they lived was very opulent. Just looking at the city gave pause to Hanuman, who initially worried over how his friends from the humble setting of the forest could come there and achieve victory. There was gold everywhere, including in the construction of the buildings. The city did not look poor at all; it was beautiful in every respect. The good guys would have their work cut out for them.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman also ascertained the power of their leader, Ravana. This fiend was a special creature indeed. We see freaks and oddballs who are unusually tall or perhaps have an extra limb, finger or toe. Ravana would stand out at any circus, for he had ten heads. Lest anyone try to make fun of him, Ravana was extremely powerful. He ruled over an entire city of creatures who had no values. This meant that they feared him, that they listened to what he said. Hanuman knew that Ravana was the strongest of all the skilled ogres in Lanka.

The good guys had Rama on their side, leading them, so there was no chance for defeat. Moreover, they had Hanuman working to gather intelligence. As unscrupulous as the Rakshasas were, as beautiful as their city was, and as strong as Ravana was, Hanuman still found a way to infiltrate the city unnoticed and find Sita. Here he is preparing to speak to her, to let her know that Rama is indeed looking for her. Thus far no one has noticed him, which means that Hanuman is more skilled than any of the Rakshasas. He is both strong and gentle. He is both honest and dishonest. He is honest when he vows to keep searching to please Rama, and he is dishonest when he masks his shape and hides in a tree in the Ashoka grove so that no one will notice him.

All his characteristics are used for pleasing Rama, who is God. Therefore Hanuman is all-good. Whatever situation he finds is always beneficial for his devotional service, which is life’s ultimate goal. We are all searching for transcendence, that pleasure which goes beyond the temporary body. The days themselves are temporary, erasing the various opportunities for enjoyment that we find. The body too eventually goes away, after many days and nights have passed.

Devotional service is timeless, and it can be practiced anywhere. Any characteristic belonging to the individual is suitable for that devotion, provided that the sentiment is proper. The ogres in Lanka provided a formidable challenge, but the characteristics of Hanuman are too great to measure. Even when seeing him shortly after, the Rakshasas still could never understand him. Ravana too would never understand Rama until the very end, when the swiftly-coursing arrows released from the son of Dasharatha would take his life.

In Closing:

One army from the forest came,

In potency to ogres not nearly the same.


Hanuman took note of what to expect,

Yet his presence none could detect.


Characteristics for Rama used all,

Therefore a pure soul Hanuman we call.


His true nature Rakshasas never to understand,

Through him Rama’s victory imminent at hand.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Checking Your Work

[Shri Hanuman]“By me, who has been secretly moving about as a well-equipped spy tasked with ascertaining the strength of the enemy, this has been seen.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.4)

cāreṇa tu suyuktena śatroḥ śaktim avekṣitā |
gūḍhena caratā tāvat avekṣitam idam mayā ||

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“Oh man, I can’t believe how quickly I finished that test. This is what happens when you study for a long period of time. That last test I tried studying only the night before. Talk about procrastination! That strategy didn’t work out too well. The next morning I kept trying to remember what I had studied the night before. I was too nervous to think straight during the test.

[Scantron sheet]“One of my friends told me that studies have shown that it is better not to cram in the moments leading up to an exam, that doing so actually hurts your chances at success. So for this test I studied weeks in advance. It must have paid off, since today I knew the answers without a problem. I am ready to go home and sit on the couch and watch television. But first let me review my answers. I know that I did well, but I want to make sure I didn’t make any careless mistakes. I’ve heard of the horror stories of students accidentally mismatching their answers. They thought they were answering question one, and instead were answering question two. And in this way they ended up putting the wrong answer to all the questions. Yikes! I will make sure that doesn’t happen to me.”

It makes practical sense to double check your work. When given a task that you may not want to take up, the greatest hurdle is in starting. As the saying goes, “a body at rest tends to stay at rest,” getting up from the couch after you have been sitting on it for a while is not easy. The same goes for getting out of bed, as you must suddenly change out of the situation you grew accustomed to over the previous eight hours.

[call center]Carelessness can spoil everything. If you’re working at a call center and one day you’re being judged on your performance, you can mess everything up by not following instructions. If the first instruction is to log in to a website so that you can be monitored, you must do it. Failing to do so means you will not be properly assessed. You could do a bang up job on that particular day, but with one careless mistake you end up failing.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman is going through his checklist of tasks assigned to him. He has just reached the end, the point of success that previously eluded him. He was tasked by the king of Vanaras, Sugriva, with looking for the missing princess of Videha. She is Shri Rama’s wife, and she went missing while the couple were residing in the forest of Dandaka. Hanuman had so many other Vanaras with him, but Sugriva and Rama knew that the best chance for success rested with him.

Hanuman found Sita in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. Thus the mission was a success. He found the person for whom thousands upon thousands of Vanaras were searching in every direction. Still, he wasn’t about to act carelessly. Here he reviews how he has learned of the enemy’s strengths by acting as a spy. He has secretly gone through their territory, surveying the situation. If Hanuman only found Sita and failed to learn anything about the enemy, Rama and Sugriva would have to go to Lanka blindly. They would have learned of a location only, and thus they would risk being ill-equipped to handle the barrage of weapons and black magic tricks that were in the arsenal of the Rakshasas of Lanka.

From this verse we get further evidence of Hanuman’s impeccable qualifications in representing Rama. He knows what to do even without being told. Such a messenger is indeed rare to find. Hanuman acted like a spy when he needed to. He acted like a brute fighter when the situation called for it. And in a matter of a few moments he would act like a celebrated poet who would ease the worries of the distressed Sita.

[Rama Darbar]Shri Rama is the Supreme Lord in His beautiful incarnation as a warrior prince. Sita is His eternal consort. Lakshmana is Rama’s devoted younger brother, and the three are always with Hanuman. He is forever devoted to them, and one of the roles he plays in that devotion is gatekeeper to their kingdom. Gaining entry into that kingdom is not very difficult. One simply has to have pure motives, a desire to serve Rama. That sincerity is judged by Shri Hanuman, who looks over the situation carefully, not making any hasty judgments. As in Lanka he gathered valuable intelligence to report back to Rama, in this world he sees sincere devotion and thereby gives his blessings to associate with Sita and Rama, which is the ultimate goal in life.

In Closing:

When finishing test to take,

Make sure not any mistake.


The answers again to review,

Otherwise failure maybe to you.


Sita in Lanka was found,

Seated in Ashoka garden’s ground.


For Hanuman success this meant,

But into preserving his thoughts went.


Carefully always Rama’s interests considering,

No wonder Sita and Rama his love mirroring.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Ecstasy of Gold

[Sita Devi]“That same lady, for whom thousands upon many thousands of monkeys have been searching everywhere, in all directions, has been found by me.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.3)

yām kapīnām sahasrāṇi subahūni ayutāni ca |
dikṣu sarvāsu mārgante sā iyam āsāditā mayā ||

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In the famous American Western film, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, a motley band of characters desperately goes in search of a prize of gold. Sort of like a treasure hunt spanning a vast area, when one of the characters finally finds the spot where they believe the gold is hidden, they run around in joy. In the background the famous score by Ennio Morricone titled The Ecstasy of Gold plays. The composition is befitting the occasion, for it attempts to match the sentiment of the desperate seeker who has seemingly won against all odds. In the scene of the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, the seeker has found something much more than gold. And the search was done by many more than a few, and at far greater a range. And so the seeker’s ecstasy was increased a thousand fold. He kept an eye on the grave responsibility at the same time.

[Scene from The Good The Bad and The Ugly]Imagine if you were told to search for something very valuable in a small area. The same task is given to a few others. Naturally, if you are the person to find the item first, you will feel a little humbled. “I can’t believe I’m the one to find it. All those other people searched as well. They employed their best tactics, using all of their intelligence. How is it that I am the one to find it? My fortune must be so great. No one is luckier than me, for I have hit pay dirt first.”

For Shri Hanuman, the search was for the most valuable item in the world, the personification of all fortune. There was a lady who had gone missing. She was the wife of the prince of Ayodhya. Though a fact not known to all, she was actually the goddess of fortune, the eternal consort of the personal God. As we are all individuals who can feel, will and think, so the origin of everything is a personality in His complete feature. He is a male in that He enjoys everything that He creates. The enjoyed is thus female. The most enjoyable object for the Supreme Lord is His eternal consort, who goes by names such as Shri, Lakshmi, Radha and Sita.

Here Shri Hanuman has found Sita. Thousands upon thousands of monkeys were sent to look for her. These were all Hanuman’s friends. They lived together in the forest land of Kishkindha. They were hiding on Mount Rishyamukha just prior because of a clash between the two leading monkeys, Sugriva and Vali, who were brothers. Shri Rama, in search for Sita, met up with Hanuman, who then brokered a friendship between Sugriva and Rama. Sugriva then dispatched his entire army of monkeys to look for Sita.

They searched in all the directions and in all spaces. They left no stone unturned, as the saying goes. Therefore Hanuman feels extremely humbled and amazed that of all the searching monkeys, and of all the places searched, he has found Sita in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. In all his humility, he couldn’t believe his good fortune, though Rama and Sugriva were confident that if anyone were to find Sita, it would be Hanuman.

“Sugriva in particular broached the subject of finding Sita with Hanuman, for he was convinced that Hanuman, the best among monkeys, was capable of accomplishing the desired purpose.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 44.1)

[Hanuman]More than just reviewing his good fortune, Hanuman here reminds himself of the gravity of the situation. He has found Sita, who was very hard to find. Therefore he can’t now screw up the mission. He must decide what to do next. He heard her being harassed by female ogres of wicked faces. Those creatures were ordered to torture Sita into submission. The vile king of the land, Ravana, had taken Sita there against her will, in secret. She would not submit to his demands to become his chief queen, and so the king employed other tactics.

Hanuman could have easily left and returned with the information of Sita’s whereabouts to give to Rama. But he wanted to console her first. He wanted to give her news of Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana, who were desperate to find her and ready to come to the rescue. He wanted to assuage some of her fears, but at the same time he didn’t want to cancel out the great accomplishment of having found her.

Those souls in this world who find the holy names have a similar responsibility. Out of many thousands of men endeavoring for perfection, only a few will actually attain it. Everyone is searching after God, though they may not know it. Their search for happiness, for heaven on earth, is actually a desire to find a platform of no obstructions. Those obstructions work against divine love. We are always checked in our exhibition of love. This is due to our attitude and our objects of affection. In divine love, there are no obstructions because the perfect match for our affection is found. His features are inexhaustible, and He is also the most powerful. This means that He creates the conditions necessary for that love to flourish, to continue without cessation, lifetime after lifetime.

[maha-mantra]One who hears or chants the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” has found the most attractive being, the only person full of all opulences. In hearing His names they have found the pathway to the platform of no obstructions. So many millions have searched for this treasure, travelling anywhere and everywhere, even into outer space, and have yet to find it. Yogis have meditated and jnanis have studied so many books, only to fail in their attempts to find the Supreme Lord.

The devotee who is fortunate enough to hold on to the holy name and chant it with attention, love and determination has found something that so many others have failed to find. Therefore the responsibility is great to maintain that treasure, to not throw away the good fortune out of laziness or lack of respect.

When the sentiment is pure, the guidance on how to proceed comes from within, from the Supersoul, who is also known as the chaitya-guru. Shri Hanuman got the gift of the chance to serve Rama, and while in Lanka he had no one to consult for help. He was guided by his devotion, however, and so he made the most out of his great fortune of finding Sita. Similarly, those who are sincere in their desire to serve and please the Supreme Lord make the most out of the wonderful gift of devotion, sharing it with others and safeguarding it until the end of life.

In Closing:

When after with difficulty searching so,

From finding goal in ecstasy to go.


Monkeys for Sita searched far and wide,

Hanuman learned that in Ashoka she did reside.


By his feat in humility amazed,

But now on to the next phase.


When heart sincere God will guide,

The proper path from them not to hide.


Devotee with chanting responsibility same,

Ready always to give others the holy name.