“He strikes with anger only at the appropriate time. He is the best maharatha in the world, and the entire world is supported by the arms of that great soul.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 34.31)Download this episode (right click and save)
sthāna krodha prahartā ca śreṣṭho loke mahārathaḥ |
bāhuc cāyām avaṣṭabdho yasya loko mahātmanaḥ ||
When you go to war, you go to win. Otherwise, why risk lives? Why even engage in conflict if it is merely an exhibition of strength? An obvious advantage for gaining victory is size. The more people you have on your side, the better chance you have to win. After all, one fighter can only combat so many attackers without losing. They can’t defeat every person attacking them at the same time.
If you do have a fighter who can multitask, who can handle several or more attackers simultaneously, they are a tremendous asset. In ancient times, mass conflict took place on chariots, with the warriors using bow and arrow. The number of arrows is limited, so you need tremendous marksmanship in order to stay efficient. You need attention to detail, and courage as well. Here Shri Hanuman speaks of a special warrior, one who was the greatest at fighting on the chariot.
The word used is maharatha. This is a title given to a great chariot warrior. It means a fighter who can combat many chariot warriors at the same time. The more maharathas you have on your side the better. Of all the maharathas in the world, Shri Rama is the best. One incident alone proved this, though with Rama the proof is there in every aspect of the creation.
Rama was living in the forest of Dandaka with His wife Sita and His younger brother Lakshmana. News came that people from Lanka were coming to attack. Ravana was the king of that land, and his sister had recently made a visit to Dandaka. She had lusty desires towards Rama, but Rama declined her. She then tried to attack Sita, but Lakshmana protected her. He disfigured her and she left in shame. To avenge the insult to his sister, Ravana decided to send an army of 14,000 to Dandaka.
All to deal with two men and a woman - to say the force applied was excessive is an understatement. Rama instructed Lakshmana to take Sita to a nearby cave. The greatest maharatha in the world would handle this conflict by Himself. Shri Rama is the Supreme Lord in an incarnation form. One of the properties of God is that He is unlimited. This applies to every aspect of Him, including His fighting ability.
Even the title of maharatha is too limiting for God. It applies to a great fighter, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the greatest. Moreover, chariot-fighting is ancient. Today there are bombers, machine guns, tanks, and naval ships. Even if you are a great fighter today, one bullet can do you in. There is no defense against a nuclear bomb. You have to flee the scene if the incoming is too much.
For Rama there was no option. Though the conflict took place thousands of years ago, the weapons employed were at least as potent as today’s, if not more so. Also, the 14,000 man army had extraordinary skills. They could change their shapes at will. They could appear and then suddenly disappear.
Using only His arrows shot from His bow, Rama fought these wizard-like creatures. He went on to defeat them singlehandedly. For a maharatha this is impossible, but for the Supreme Lord it is very easy. Through His material nature alone, He conquers over every person’s antagonism towards Him. The greatest criminal, the self-proclaimed god of the world, gets devoured by death at some point. The entire creation goes through cycles of creation and destruction, and it is all through Rama’s work.
gatir bhartā prabhuḥ sākṣī
nivāsaḥ śaraṇaṁ suhṛt
prabhavaḥ pralayaḥ sthānaṁ
nidhānaṁ bījam avyayam
“I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.18)
Sita was a witness to Rama’s great achievement. When months later Hanuman described Rama as the greatest chariot-warrior, she knew he was speaking the truth. She also knew that if Rama came to Lanka, He would be able to defeat Ravana and rescue her.
In the same way, though we may be under assault from so many fronts in this material existence at the moment, there is hope in the shelter of devotion to God the person. Hanuman says that the whole world is supported by the arms of that great hero. His arms are transcendental, as are the many arrows shot from His bow. Hanuman went to Lanka with the speed of one of those arrows. He infiltrated Lanka and accomplished the mission of finding Sita.
Today the same arrows swiftly arrive through the disciplic succession, which brings the spiritual guides who carry the aid of the greatest maharatha. Rama appears through sound, and so the chanting of the holy names is the weapon of choice against the dualities of like and dislike, the delusion of the material world. Just as Rama defeated Ravana’s 14,000 men, He defeats the ignorance inside of us. He does this through the instruction of the bona fide guru and also through His names, which are nicely presented in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
To win only a war should be waged,
Leading fighters never to be afraid.
14,000 against one, a fight not fair,
But of Rama’s prowess Ravana not aware.
A maharatha like never before seen,
Turned Dandaka into greatest victory scene.
Defeating enemy of ignorance in us the same,
Empowered guru delivering His name.