“O Maithili, when as per the desire of the maharishis the valiant monkey Kesari killed the demon Shambasadana, I was born of the wind-god. I am a monkey equal in strength to him.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.89)
hate asure samyati śamba sādane |
kapi pravīreṇa maharṣi codanāt |
tato asmi vāyu prabhavo hi maithili |
prabhāvataḥ tat pratimaḥ ca vānaraḥ ||
Looks can be deceiving. There is the constant struggle for the living entity in the material world. Whether one is aware of the struggle makes no difference. The animal eats, sleeps, mates and defends. It doesn’t ponder impending death. It doesn’t realize that there is danger at every step. It simply lives.
“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)
The struggle is there due to the constant work that needs to be done to maintain life. In the human species, the troubles increase due to the influence of the mind. I can become upset over something trivial like the result of an election, the outcome to a sporting match, or the negative words directed at me by someone who is not very close.
To push through requires strength. Strength typically can be quantified. I know that a car is powerful based on the horsepower rating. I know that a person is strong based on their physical qualities. From an internal standpoint, I can measure strength through judging the reaction to adverse situations.
For Sita Devi, there was little way to measure strength for someone she had just met. Shri Hanuman approached her in the ashoka grove in Lanka, acting as messenger to her dear husband, Shri Rama. Here Hanuman again relates how he came to the world. There was a kapi, or monkey, named Kesari. At the direction of great sages, maharishis, Kesari rid the world of an asura named Shambasadana. Hanuman was the result of the union of Kesari with Anjana which occurred right afterwards.
How was a monkey going to help Sita? She was in a difficult circumstance. The ashoka grove was in Lanka, and Lanka was inhabited by intimidating Rakshasas, the most powerful of whom was Ravana. Ravana had physical strength and he also had black magic in his bag of tricks. Ravana could change his shape at will, an ability he had already used to Sita’s detriment. How was this messenger, who was nice in every way, going to help in this land filled with ogres of evil intent?
Hanuman explains that his birth occurred through the wind-god, Vayu. Hanuman is equal in strength to Vayu. Though it can’t be seen, the wind is extremely powerful. It is strong enough to take out large buildings. It can uproot trees and hurl them hundreds of miles away. Despite the strongest fortress built with the best reinforcements, the wind destroys within minutes.
Within the body the wind has tremendous potency as well. The life-air, prana, is everything. The ancient system of mysticism known as yoga is based on controlling the different airs within the body. It is not coincidence, then, that Shri Hanuman is very powerful. He has a brother, another offspring of the wind-god, who is also very powerful. His name is Bhima, and he is one of the five Pandava brothers famously known from the Mahabharata.
This interaction between Hanuman and Sita from ancient times has relevance to the modern day as well. Hanuman is as powerful as the wind, and his potency is increased by his unflinching devotion to Rama. Those who are empowered by the Supreme Lord can do amazing things. Hanuman had already crossed over the massive ocean in a single leap. He convinced a highly and justifiably skeptical Sita as to his identity. He persevered through difficult times due to his desire to please Rama. The monkey appearance was somewhat deceiving.
In the same way, upon initial review what can a mantra really do for us? How is chanting a specific sequence of words going to help us out of anything? It’s not going to solve the problems with my family. It’s not going to give me the security of knowing that there will always be food on the table. It’s not going to remove the doubts I have about the afterlife and the purpose of living.
In truth the maha-mantra is extremely powerful. The potency descends directly from the Supreme Lord, whose name is identical to Him. Since the maha-mantra consists of only His names, it is the great deliverer of the mind. It is as empowered as Hanuman, who himself always chants the holy names. “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” is the sound equal to God Himself. When the Supreme Lord is always with you, and you are consciously aware of it, the experience through life gradually turns from difficult to enjoyable.
Hanuman son of the wind indeed,
Leaping over ocean with massive speed.
The monkey appearance a little deceiving,
Sita skeptical when his vision first receiving.
Like capable of hurling trees distant length,
Son of the wind-god possessing great strength.
Can be fooled also by holy name,
But having to God potency the same.