“Then, like a naracha arrow released from a bowstring, he flew quickly towards the garden of trees, which was surrounded by mango trees and had hundreds of creepers intertwined.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.4)Download this episode (right click and save)
atha āmra vaṇa samcannām latā śata samāvṛtām |
jyā mukta iva nārācaḥ pupluve vṛkṣa vāṭikām ||
The Supreme Lord is all-attractive. As attractiveness can only belong to something tangible, from that feature we can deduce that He is a person; He is known as Bhagavan. As a person He descends to this world from time to time. He protects the pious and annihilates the miscreants. He upholds righteousness and curbs the harmful rise of irreligion.
“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.8)
His descent as Shri Rama is considered an avatara, but the attractiveness is there all the same. Though He upholds law and order by engaging bad guys in conflict, every aspect to His transcendental form is beautiful. One aspect is the bow and arrow, the preferred means of fighting during the time period. The arrows released from Rama’s bow are special, and in many ways His dedicated servant Shri Hanuman is like one of those arrows.
1. Empowered by the holy name
As Rama is God He doesn’t need any outside help. One of the descriptions for God the Vedas provide is atmarama. Atma means “the self” and rama means “pleased.” The Almighty is satisfied in Himself; He doesn’t require intervention from other parties to accomplish anything.
Playing the role of a human being, He displays the importance of accepting a spiritual guide. The bona fide guru in the varnashrama system of societal management can actually give instruction to people of all occupations. Rama appeared in a royal family, so He was a kshatriya, or warrior, by occupation.
“Rama showed His tremendous knowledge of fighting by killing the demon Tataka. The muni then gave to Him knowledge of secret mantras to be used in fighting.” (Janaki Mangala, 36)
Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana were under the tutelage of Vishvamitra for a while. This was during their youth. When Rama pleased the guru one time, the guide obliged by giving the brothers confidential mantras to help in fighting. Basically, by repeating these sound vibrations the power of the arrows would increase to the point that they would be like modern day nuclear weapons.
Shri Hanuman is similarly empowered. He doesn’t need a full mantra; the name of Rama is sufficient. It is a holy name, non-different from the person it represents. This is one of the secrets of the Sanskrit language. Sound is significant. Sound is powerful. The sound of the holy name is the most powerful. Hanuman, through devotion to that sound, is able to do amazing things.
2. Courses swiftly through the air
The arrow is a weapon, after all. It is released from the bow, which means that it does its work after being separated from its origin. Naturally, it should fly swiftly through the air, lest the target have enough time to move out of the way and avoid contact. In the same way, Shri Hanuman swiftly courses through the air in service to Rama. His most famous flight was over the vast ocean separating land and the island of Lanka. He leapt from a mountaintop, and his resulting air travel was rapid.
3. Carries out Rama’s work and reaches its intended target
The arrow is an inanimate object, but it is a servant nonetheless. The material elements used in its construction become spiritualized through connection with Rama and His interests. Service to Shri Rama is known as bhakti-yoga, and it is actually the original occupation of all living things.
The arrow is a weapon but it is so auspicious because of the effect it has in service. Rama’s work is to rid the world of the evil influence of the Rakshasas. The arrow helps in that regard. Hanuman is just like one of those arrows, as he helps Rama so much. He also reached the intended target. Hanuman’s famous journey to Lanka is one example. No other servant was capable of making that long and difficult journey.
4. Returns to Rama
The arrows shot by Rama are known to return to His quiver. They come back home and are ready to fly again when needed. They eagerly accept the mission assigned to them. Hanuman is the same way. After flying to Lanka and finding Rama’s wife Sita, he returned to home base with the good news. He is not afraid to accept the assignment, and he is not attached to the glory that comes from success. He is the most dedicated servant, and he is always eager to go out and do the Lord’s work.
5. Destroys apparitions
The Rakshasas during Rama’s time were expert in illusion. Fully under the sway of maya themselves, they were not against using black magic to fulfill their desires. Something like wearing civilian clothes while attacking soldiers, the Rakshasas would mask their shapes prior to attack. They would then pounce on innocent sages residing in the forest.
When in a military-style conflict with identified combatants, one of their trusted tricks was to show an illusion, something like an apparition. The image would be depressing, like the leader of the opposition being killed. The purpose was obvious: to dispirit the opposition. When this would happen on the battlefield, Rama would shoot one of His arrows and the apparition would immediately vanish.
Hanuman is like one of those arrows; he helps to dispel the illusions created by the atheists. The enemies of Shri Rama and bhakti-yoga say things like there is no God, there is no afterlife, the Vedas are allegorical. They say that the famous figures described in the Vedas, such as Hanuman and Rama, are fictitious.
The arrow-like servant of Rama helps to destroy that illusion, which is intended to depress the pious and steer their attention elsewhere. Hanuman dispels the fake image through his presence, which he has asked to keep in this world for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be sung. His authority, his word, his presence, and his character are the best proof of the existence of God.
From attacks the pious to defend,
Toward enemies arrows to send.
From incarnation Shri Rama coming,
His servant Hanuman like arrow becoming.
Like swiftly through air to Lanka when,
Returning back mission accomplished then.
Destroying illusions of Rakshasas fake,
Proof of God from his example to take.