sa tvām manuja śārdūlaḥ kṣipram prāpsyati rāghavaḥ |
samitra bāndhavam hatvā rāvaṇam janaka ātmaje ||
“Last winter season was surprisingly cold. Rather than declare it an anomaly, an aberration, the experts attributed the change to something called the polar vortex. Of course this was done after the fact. The super cold winter was not predicted beforehand. If it were, then those who had the foresight would get applauded.”
“They don’t really know what they are doing. I hear people on television get plaudits for predicting the results of an election, but they don’t tell you the whole story. The same people make wrong predictions all the time. Do they lose their expert status? No. They continue on. There is no such thing as accurately predicting the future.”
These sentiments are rooted in the fact that the material world is constantly changing. Though the energy at the source is imperishable, the visual tells a different story. The origin is spiritual, known as purusha in Sanskrit. The original purusha glances over the dull, unmanifest substance known as pradhana. From that glance the amazing variety of objects and living things comes to be.
“Material nature acts in two capacities as maya and pradhana. Maya is the direct cause, and pradhana refers to the elements of the material manifestation. When the first purusha-avatara, Maha-Vishnu, glances over the material nature, material nature becomes agitated, and the purusha-avatara thus impregnates matter with living entities.” (Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Ch 8)
With the action of kala, or time, things continue to change. There are patterns for sure, and from those patterns a wise person can try to predict the future. Yet these predictions are not always accurate, as the element of karma has to be considered. Each human being has their fruitive activities that have consequential results. The results don’t all manifest at the same time, and so the many reactions slated to arrive can foil the predictions of even the wisest person.
In Vedic history there is the famous Dhruva Maharaja, whose story is nicely told in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Dhruva was insulted by his step-mother, and when contemplating what to do for revenge, his real mother gave him the advice of approaching the Supreme Lord. Dhruva then did just that, going to the forest to meditate.
“When Dhruva Maharaja was talking with his mother, Suniti, of all the incidents that had taken place in the palace, Narada was not present. Thus the question may be raised how Narada overheard all these topics. The answer is that Narada is trikala-jna; he is so powerful that he can understand the past, future and present of everyone's heart, just like the Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.8.25 Purport)
Narada Muni came to visit the boy in the forest. He knew what was going on since he can see past, present and future. This ability is known as trikala-jna. It is inherited from God Himself, who describes in the Bhagavad-gita that He is the beginning, middle and end of all beings.
aham ātmā guḍākeśa
aham ādiś ca madhyaṁ ca
bhūtānām anta eva ca
“I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.20)
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman is making a prediction. Though Hanuman is not among the twelve mahajanas listed by Yamaraja in the Bhagavatam, he is one nonetheless. This is because he knows God in truth. Hanuman knows the Supersoul in the heart as the prince of Ayodhya, Shri Rama.
Those who are trikala-jna do not make predictions on trivial matters. Rather, they know the spiritual science so well, and since they are connected to the Supreme Consciousness they are able to use God’s potency to carry out His mission. Here Hanuman is on assignment in the territory of Lanka, which at the time was hostile to devoted souls. Rama’s wife Sita found herself there as well.
Hanuman addresses her as the daughter of King Janaka, who was very pious. Sita’s husband would come to see her shortly. Sita had relations with great souls, while Ravana was connected to bad people. He was the leader of the Rakshasas, after all. Hanuman’s prediction is that Rama will see Sita after having killed Ravana. Ravana’s friends and relatives will be killed, also.
This prediction would indeed play out. Not a show off, the wise soul Hanuman gives glimpses into the future when the situation is appropriate. He also knows that those who are devoted to Rama in thought, word and deed get Rama’s association in the future. The outcome is guaranteed, and so Hanuman is someone in whom full trust can be extended.
Devoted soul, messenger to Lord is he,
Like saints past, present and future can see.
Hanuman, to Sita making the prediction,
After from Lanka’s reign Ravana’s expulsion.
Through messenger Rama’s interests defended,
So in Hanuman full faith to be extended.
With devotion God’s association guaranteed,
By His grace from maya’s clutches be freed.