“All of these subjects in the Ramayana seem very pitiable, and they may appear to be very distressing to the reciter, but actually this is not so. Otherwise, why would Hanuman, the great devotee of Lord Ramachandra, read daily about the activities of Lord Ramachandra, as described in the Ramayana itself?” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 34)Download this episode (right click and save)
The mind can be a friend, but it can also be a pesky enemy that refuses to go away. The latter is easy to understand. Take a bad experience. It’s something you want to forget. The problem is the mind won’t let you. The memory lingers. Every now and then it appears in a dream, turning the experience into a nightmare.
Memory is also a sign of intelligence. It is a contributing factor to the superiority of the human species. The most important thing to remember is identity, namely that I am a spirit soul, part and parcel of God. From the Bhagavad-gita we learn that the Supreme Lord is responsible for both remembrance and forgetfulness.
“I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)
In the case of Shri Hanuman, there is always connection to the Divine. A person who is bhakti-yoga embodied, Hanuman does not know any other way of life. He gets help from God in the form of Rama from both within and without. From within Rama helps him to remember many important things.
1. Sugriva’s plight
Though Hanuman is always a devotee, in the chronology of historical events described in the Sanskrit work called the Ramayana, there is an initial meeting with Rama. At the time Hanuman is the chief minister to the king named Sugriva. This is not your ordinary kingdom. It is in the forest. There is no royal palace. Oh, and the inhabitants, including the king himself, are a race of forest-dwellers known as Vanaras.
For all intents and purposes, these are monkeys, but since there is a kingdom involved, we see that there are hints of civilized life. Sugriva one time asked Hanuman to descend Mount Rishyamukha and meet two men who were approaching. They were beautiful and had auspicious characteristics, but they were obviously foreign to the area. Maybe they were coming to cause harm.
Hanuman did as asked, masking his form during the first meeting. These two men were Rama and Lakshmana. Hanuman immediately went into praise. He continued uninterrupted until he finally gave up the ruse and revealed his true purpose. This is the effect Rama has on the devotees. He maintains a poker face, where the other side can’t figure out what He is thinking. They can’t help but praise Him, as that is what naturally comes to the mind upon being gifted with the beautiful vision, or darshana.
Hanuman met the object of his service but did not forget Sugriva. Most importantly, Hanuman kept in mind Sugriva’s plight. The Vanara king was separated from his wife, which happened to be the same situation Rama was in. Using his amazing intelligence, Hanuman immediately came up with the idea to arrange a friendship between the two. Both Rama and Sugriva would benefit from that alliance.
2. The mission for Rama
The two were separated from their wives for different reasons. Sugriva was driven out by his powerful brother Vali after there was a misunderstanding. Rama was living with Sita Devi in the forest, along with Lakshmana, when she was one day taken away in secret. Now both Rama and Lakshmana were looking for her.
Through Rama’s help Sugriva regained his kingdom and so the attention then shifted to searching for Sita. This was the mission given to all the soldiers in Sugriva’s army, but especially to Hanuman. If an informal poll was taken of the people involved, Hanuman would be the overwhelming winner of “most likely to succeed.”
The subsequent mission was very difficult. No GPS. No cell phone tracking. No wireless or wired communication of any kind. The Vanaras had to search the entire world. Hanuman never forgot the mission. He always remembered Rama. This was necessary especially during the tough moments, where it looked like success would never come.
3. Vibhishana’s piety
Not surprisingly, in the last stage of the mission Hanuman was flying solo, both figuratively and literally. He leapt over the ocean to reach Lanka, and he then searched the city by himself. He found Sita, gave her news of Rama, and on his way out he encountered some of the soldiers under the charge of the king of the city, Ravana. Ravana had taken Sita against her will, so Hanuman thought maybe a meeting with the king would do some good.
The meeting took place through Hanuman being bound by a weapon and dragged into an assembly. There Ravana berated him as only he could. There was only one person who was sympathetic to Hanuman. He was Ravana’s younger brother, Vibhishana. That brother advised Ravana to let Hanuman go, since he was just a minister. Ravana didn’t listen. The king decided to set Hanuman’s tail on fire and then parade him around the city as a form of humiliation.
Hanuman easily freed himself from the ropes and then used the burning tail as an opportunity to inflict major damage. He jumped around the city, burning building after building. In his anger, he still kept one thing in mind: Vibhishana’s piety. Hanuman skipped Vibhishana’s palace. Both the Supreme Lord and His devotees never forget a kind act.
4. The Rakshasis who harassed Sita
Ravana took Sita away by force, demanding that she become his chief queen. He tried and tried, but Sita kept refusing him. Finally, the wicked king ordered some of his female attendants to harass Sita, day and night. Though Rama’s wife was in a peaceful setting in a grove of Ashoka trees, her experience in Lanka was hellish. Hanuman got a glimpse into her life when he met her in that grove.
Eventually victory came for Rama. The Supreme Lord is Achyuta, which means “infallible.” He is also Ajita, which means “unconquerable.” Ravana was winning for a while, but everything came crashing down through the blows inflicted by Rama’s arrows.
Hanuman was part of the victorious army, and after Ravana’s fall he went to tell Sita the good news and reunite her with Rama. While in that Ashoka grove again, Hanuman remembered the torture Sita had undergone. He remembered the people that were responsible for it. He politely asked for her permission to kill the Rakshasis, the female ogres who made her life a living hell. Sita declined the offer, showing her forgiving nature. She no longer had enmity with them since Ravana was gone.
5. The events from the Ramayana
The most amazing servant, the hero who risked everything for someone he had not known for a long time, the most perseverant, kind, sweet, intelligent, and compassionate friend a person could ask for. Just as Hanuman remembers important things, so does the Supreme Lord. After returning home to Ayodhya, Rama rewarded His friends with gifts. He told Hanuman to ask for anything he wanted.
Hanuman deserved the world but what he asked for might surprise you. Hanuman desired to simply remain in this world for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be told. This is what makes him happiest. Hanuman remembers the events from Rama’s life by daily reading from the Ramayana. If someone as special as Hanuman considers those events worth remembering, then certainly the content will do good to the entire human race. Undoubtedly there are sad moments in the story, but the overall influence is transcendentally good. Indeed, just remembering Hanuman brings so much auspiciousness.
As greatest enemy could be set,
Since mind something never to forget.
Hanuman helped by it is he,
Like events of Ramayana daily to see.
Remembering Sugriva’s difficult plight,
Skipping Vibhishana’s home when setting alight.
And harassment the Rakshasis to Sita gave,
Image of Lord in his heart to save.