“Having regained his own kingdom, Sugriva called his great and mighty monkeys and sent them in the ten directions to look for you.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.53)
sva rājyam prāpya sugrīvaḥ samanīya mahāharīn |
tvat artham preṣayāmāsa diśo daśa mahābalān ||
Here Shri Hanuman makes reference to the ten directions. The main ones we see on a compass are north, south, east and west. The compass is two dimensional, so there are up and down to consider as well. Adding the four corners gives a total of ten. The idea is that no place was neglected in the search for the missing wife of Shri Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Rama, who is an avatara of Vishnu, appeared on this earth in the house of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. The king’s name also references the ten directions. He received the name because of his ability to fight against enemies coming from the ten directions simultaneously. This is no easy task, as a man has only two hands. He doesn’t have eyes behind his head, so how does he cover himself in the back?
In American football the expert quarterback has skill at avoiding the sack. As soon as the ball is snapped and the quarterback drops back to look for a place to throw the ball, the defense rushes in. They are looking to tackle him, which when done behind the line of scrimmage is known as a sack. The quarterback must keep an internal clock ticking inside of his head, which is a reminder of the short window of time before expecting contact from the defense.
For the defense to succeed, they have to be unpredictable. Perhaps they will send a defender from the blindside, a player who typically plays back in coverage on the receivers. The good quarterback, though concentrating on the field of play ahead of them, can sense these sneak attacks. They’ll do things like step up in the pocket or make a sudden shift to avoid the pressure. Thus even though their eyes are focused on a single direction at a time, they can remain safe against attacks coming from multiple directions.
Sugriva had a massive army of monkeys at his command. They were both mighty and great. He regained their services after getting his kingdom back. This was through the help of Rama, who shot an arrow into the back of Vali, the rival brother of Sugriva. Rama’s wife Sita went missing previously, and now Rama required help in finding her.
The monkeys went in the ten directions so as to increase the chances for success. They were in search of the goddess of fortune, and not for any personal motive. Who doesn’t want money? Who doesn’t want success? A person can actually get these things by praying to the goddess of fortune, who is also known as Lakshmi Devi. If the monkeys needed fortune, they could have saved a lot of effort by sitting down and praying.
Instead, they were on a mission of service to the Supreme Lord. They were serving Him through the order of the monkey-king Sugriva. Service to the Divine can be something as simple as chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. It can also be as complicated as searching the entire world. In either case the reward is a connection in consciousness to the Supreme Lord. Hanuman would be the mighty Vanara to eventually bring success for the mission, and today he remains devoted to Rama in service. He gets everything he needs to perform that service through the favor of Sita Devi.
Quarterback an open receiver to find,
Must also keep eye on defender from behind.
In this way covering many a direction,
Staying aware of multi-coverage section.
After regaining kingdom from Vali then,
Sending monkeys Sugriva in directions ten.
For missing goddess of fortune to meet,
Hanuman the one eventually to greet.