“O Devi, being interested in the welfare of your valiant husband Rama, I arrived here alone, on the instructions of Sugriva.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.75)
tasya vīryavato devi bhartuḥ tava hite rataḥ |
aham ekaḥ tu samprāptaḥ sugrīva vacanāt iha ||
Has Shri Hanuman just revealed a flaw? He should know better, after all. He is well versed in the Vedas. He is able to both remember the words and make proper use of them. He can construct perfect Sanskrit on the fly. Sanskrit is no easy language; it is the preferred choice for the gods. Hence the script it uses is known as Devanagari, which means “city of the gods.”
“One cannot speak this way without having been well-trained in the Rig Veda, memorized the Yajur Veda, and thoroughly understood the Sama Veda.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana about Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.28)
Shri Rama was impressed in the first meeting with Hanuman. The chief minister to the Vanara Sugriva was able to glorify both Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana perfectly. Hanuman did not stutter. He did not pause for dramatic effect or to look for the proper words. The Sanskrit flowed from Hanuman without interruption, and the content was beautiful. It had to be since it accurately described the Supreme Lord and the person who serves Him without fail for all of eternity.
Since Hanuman is connected to Rama, it would make sense for him to be very intelligent. There are many aspects to that intelligence, with a fundamental one relating to the identity of living entities. More specifically, that every living thing is a spirit soul. There is no qualification on the soul. It is not that there are human souls and animal souls. Spirit is spirit. The only difference is between individual spirit, jivatma, and supreme spirit, Paramatma.
There is qualification in terms of body type. The human being has a high potential for intelligence. The animals lack this potential. Nevertheless, the animal is still a living thing. It has a spiritual spark within that animates it. Movement itself doesn’t have to be present to indicate life. The trees are living things, but they do not move. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending are the four basic signs of life, but any kind of autonomous growth, where the body changes, indicates the presence of a combination of spirit and matter.
As Hanuman knows about the presence of the soul, by extension he should be interested in the welfare of all souls. Yet in the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, it looks like the great servant who crossed the ocean in search of Rama’s wife Sita has a limited interest. The Sanskrit words are bhartu tava hite ratah. This means “interested in the welfare of your husband.” While that is very nice, why isn’t Hanuman interested in the welfare of everyone? Indeed, this is how Sita once described her husband Rama.
“My husband Rama is famous throughout the world. He is pure, truthful, and very gentle. He is mighty-armed, has wide eyes, and is always busy working for the welfare of all living beings [sarva-bhuta-hite-ratah].” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.11)
Rama is God Himself, so it makes sense that He would have this interest. Sita’s description is sufficient for proving that Hanuman is intelligent. If you serve the person who is interested in the welfare of all creatures, then by extension you have the same interest. When the situation is reversed, the same property is not there. For instance, if my interest is focused only on my family, it doesn’t mean other families benefit. If I only care about my nation, what about other nations? Are they not populated with people? Is not everyone in this world struggling with the same things, namely attachment and separation, happiness and sadness, birth and death?
Rama possesses great heroism, viryavatah. He is not afraid of anyone. By serving the heroic one, Hanuman is doing the best service for his fellow man. The supposedly limited focus of service to the Supreme Lord automatically extends limitless help. The longevity of the Ramayana is itself proof. People still know Hanuman to this day because of that one brief period in history. He helped Rama so much that he became forever dear to both Rama and His wife Sita. Their favor is all that is needed to be successful in life. Through that favor Hanuman continues to rescue fallen souls by showing the example that life is meant to be spent in devotional service, bhakti-yoga. That service can be practiced in any condition of life, in any type of body.
Since in Rama’s welfare interested,
Not Hanuman’s scope limited?
Why not for all creatures to see,
That best situated they be?
Service to Supreme Lord actually,
Benefit to others automatically.
Rama caring for creatures every single one,
In bhakti-yoga like Hanuman there is none.