“O sinless one, certainly, how can any king accomplish his objectives if he doesn't have such a messenger working for him?” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.34)Download this episode (right click and save)
evam vidho yasya dūto na bhavet pārthivasya tu |
siddhyanti hi katham tasya kāryāṇām gatayo.anagha ||
Attachment in the material world is detrimental. It takes away attention from the higher goal, which is liberation. Like spinning endlessly on a wheel, the conditioned living entity, the jiva soul, changes from body to body, lifetime after lifetime, until there is perfection in desire. Perfection is reached when there is no longer a desire for the temporary, when the only wish is to constantly serve the Supreme.
There are many ways to learn about the Supreme. The conduit is the representative, and one of the most beloved representatives is Shri Hanuman. As Goswami Tulsidas says, Hanuman is the gatekeeper to Rama’s kingdom. Rama is God in a transcendental form whose glories are endlessly extolled in the Vedas, which are the original scriptures, having no known date of inception.
Rama descended to earth millions of years ago, and in His pastimes one time He met Hanuman. Within just a few moments, the delight of the Raghu dynasty determined that there was something special about the chief minister to the Vanara-king Sugriva. Rama remarked to His younger brother Lakshmana that it would be difficult for any king to accomplish their work without having such a representative.
Indeed, from these descriptions and more found in the Ramayana, it is difficult not to form a lasting attachment to Hanuman. That dedicated servant remains in the manifest world for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be told. Therefore he is accessible, someone whose association can be tightly secured for many lifetimes.
1. He is such a good friend to Sugriva
Sugriva was living on the summit of Mount Rishyamukha, basically in fear of his life. He had a quarrel with his brother Vali, and that led to Sugriva’s ouster from the kingdom. Vali was ready to deal a mortal blow, but from a previous curse he was unable to enter the area of Mount Rishyamukha.
One day Sugriva noticed two men dressed in ascetic garb approaching the area below. He wondered if they were sent by Vali, as they looked to be strong. Sugriva asked Hanuman to descend the mountain and find out what was going on. Hanuman obliged, as he is such a good friend. Though the two men were Rama and Lakshmana, and thus harmless, there was no way to know that at first.
When Hanuman approached the brothers, he was in a false garb. He looked like a brahmana, or member of the priestly class. This way if the brothers were aggressors, they likely wouldn’t attack right away. Again showing how great a friend he is, Hanuman ended up creating an alliance between Rama and Sugriva. The brothers trusted him right away based on his wonderful Sanskrit glorification of Rama. They hopped on Hanuman’s back and went up the mountain to meet Sugriva.
2. He assures his friends when they are in doubt
Hanuman is humble by nature, but when the occasion calls for something else, he is not afraid to deviate. Sugriva and Rama were ideal candidates for friendship since they were separated from their wives. Sugriva’s was in the kingdom of Kishkindha. Rama’s wife Sita had been taken away in secret, so there was no idea of her whereabouts. Sugriva had a massive army at his old kingdom, so if that could be regained, those Vanaras could help in the search for Sita.
That is what eventually happened, and the leading search party had Hanuman in it. Several times they fell into despair due to lack of success. Never at any time did Hanuman want to quit. Even after they got the vital information of Sita’s whereabouts, there was a huge obstacle in the vast ocean standing in their way.
At that moment Hanuman assured his friends that he would succeed. They should not worry, as he would complete the journey they had progressed so far in. Success was not guaranteed, but Hanuman is always there for his friends. He has no personal ambition.
3. He continues on despite setbacks
Hanuman made it across the ocean in a single leap, reaching the island of Lanka. This is where the group was told that Sita was. Hanuman searched and searched, but success was still lacking. He contemplated quitting and ending his life. His love for Rama helped carry him forward. Insurmountable odds don’t deter him.
Indeed, after he found Sita there were more setbacks. Hanuman proposed taking her back to Lanka. He would carry her on his back. In response, she actually insulted him at first, suggesting that maybe his monkey nature was showing through in the ridiculousness of his idea.
He had come all this way, risking his life, for this person he had never met and now she had sort of insulted him. Sita was simply worried about touching another man, as she was very chaste. She too is only devoted to Rama, and Ravana had already taken her away by force. Hanuman continued on, for he knows the love Sita has for her beloved husband.
4. He downplays his abilities
When leaving the Ashoka grove after meeting Sita, Hanuman decided to stir up some trouble. Ravana and his men deserved to get a taste of the punishment that was set to come their way. As a result, Hanuman ended up fighting directly with some of Ravana’s men. These were powerful ogres, known as Rakshasas in Sanskrit.
During the encounters, Hanuman didn’t say that he was the strongest of the fighters. Back at the base, there were many powerful Vanaras ready to come and attack. Hanuman was the most capable of the Vanaras, proven by his successful journey to Lanka. Yet Hanuman never thinks he is better than anyone else. In pure devotion, he acts in whatever way is pleasing to the Supreme Lord.
5. He asks to remain in this world
The end result was the rescue of Sita and the destruction of Ravana. Rama also received glory since He defeated the powerful king in an epic battle. Since the Vanaras helped so much, Rama felt indebted to them. He showered them with blessings. Hanuman had the notable distinction of getting anything that he asked. Whatever he wanted, Hanuman would get.
The servant who risked so much asked only to remain in this world for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be told. This one answer reveals the meaning of life. It teaches the struggling living entities so much. Rama is one of the most unique forms of Godhead due in part to the association of Hanuman, who is wonderful in every way.
Tell me to worship others so,
But Shri Hanuman I’ll never let go.
Impressed Rama right from the start,
Then to Mount Rishyamukha to depart.
For his friends always looking out,
Giving hope, showing form strong and stout.
Rama ready to him anything to give,
Asked simply in bhakti to continue to live.