“O Vaidehi, to inspire faith in you I have spoken of the glories of your husband. O sinless devi, without doubt Rama will soon come here to take you.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.83)
viśvāsārtham tu vaidehi bharturuktā mayā guṇāḥ |
viśvāsa artham tu vaidehi bhartuḥ uktā mayā guṇāḥ ||
Here Shri Hanuman gives the reason for his detailed review of the glories of the husband of Sita. The Sanskrit word is guna, and it has several meanings. When in the context of the living entities and the types of bodies they assume in the material world, guna means a particular quality. Put together in a certain way and combined with a living spirit, jiva, the result is a varna, or color.
cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ
tasya kartāram api māṁ
viddhy akartāram avyayam
“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)
In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that the four varnas and the four ashramas come from Him, with the divisions based on guna and karma. The specific combination of material qualities determines a person’s designation in life. This designation typically corresponds with an occupation, which is the ideal work performed by people with those gunas.
Hanuman’s use of the word guna is for “glories.” It can only be this way because the object of the description is Shri Rama. He is nirguna, or without material qualities. This is one way to understand the Absolute Truth. Look around you. There are gunas everywhere. Indeed, because of certain gunas the human being has the ability to see. Gunas facilitate the proper identification of gunas.
The Absolute Truth is that which is never bound to the material world. No material quality can be placed on it; otherwise it would be part of the material creation. The supreme object that is beyond illusion and doubt, above the cycle of birth and death, and completely independent in its functioning is always without gunas.
The word means “glories” when applied to the Supreme Lord. These glories relate to qualities and actions. The contradiction is resolved through knowing the saguna feature of the Absolute Truth. This is where His qualities can be distinguished. He is always above any conception of duality, so nirguna and saguna are for our understanding only.
Hanuman reviewed the glories of Shri Rama in order to establish faith from Sita. She is meeting Hanuman for the first time. She has no idea whether he is trustworthy or not. Appearances can be deceiving. The serial philanderer is expert at hiding his true intent, speaking flattering words and sometimes even promising a long term commitment. Meanwhile the goal is to enjoy quickly.
Hanuman is in the form of a monkey, so it’s not like he automatically inspires trust. He speaks words, but then again anyone can say anything. How is Sita supposed to have vishvasa, or faith, in the messenger sent from Kishkindha?
The glories of Rama always unite saintly people. One devotee meeting another, the two understand their mutual interest through the glorification of Rama and the pleasure received from hearing that glorification. Hanuman assures Sita that Rama will come to rescue her soon.
In an age where there are many cheaters and participants willing to be cheated, it is difficult to find genuine spiritual life. The atheist says that God is a fairytale, along the lines of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. The preachers of a certain religion rely on dogmatic insistence, and then others who seem genuine describe God to be impersonal, saying that all religions are the same.
The way to establish vishvasa is to see who actually glorifies God. Do they know that He has gunas? Are they familiar with those glories? Do they speak them to establish trust in others, to bring out the devotion that already exists in seed form within the heart? Do they follow the same devotion as Hanuman, who knows that God is a personality originally? If so, they are trustworthy. If not, there is some hidden motive, a desire to enjoy separately from the Supreme Lord.
For Sita Devi vishvasa a must,
In Hanuman a need to have trust.
But a monkey standing before her now,
To believe he’s not a deceiving ogre how?
From glorification of Rama to unite,
Through sound alone coming the divine sight.
To identify pretenders roaming the world today,
Do they love God, do they follow Hanuman’s way?