“At night, on the sun having set, Maruti [Hanuman] contracted his body. Becoming the size of a cat, he was a wonderful sight to behold.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 2.49)Download this episode (right click and save)
Find a remote area. A mountain is preferable. Lay down a deerskin rug. Sit in the lotus position. Fix your vision on the tip of the nose. Maybe repeat the sacred syllable “om” over and over. Do this continuously, day after day. The most important restriction during this period of time is abstaining from sex life completely.
“To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kusha-grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should neither be too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogi should then sit on it very firmly and should practice yoga by controlling the mind and the senses, purifying the heart and fixing the mind on one point.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.11-12)
These are some of the conditions necessary for perfection in mystic yoga. The process is described in the Bhagavad-gita, where the warrior Arjuna expresses some interest in giving up his occupation and retreating to the wilderness.
Real yoga of this kind is mysticism. It is meant for detaching the spirit soul from the body. Not literally, but in a way that there is not mental attachment to the different objects of the senses. The fruit is something like an out of body experience.
The fruit of mystic yoga practice is a siddhi. This translates as “perfection” in English. A siddhi is a kind of special ability. The less familiar may mistake siddhis for magic, but the abilities are indeed real. Shri Hanuman several times used siddhis in his service to Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord in an incarnation form made famous in the Ramayana. The unique situation with Hanuman is that he did not have to separately endeavor for these perfections. They came to him easily, and he only used them when they would provide some help in pleasing God.
1. Leaping off a mountain top
Hanuman is in the body of a Vanara, which is something like a monkey. During an ancient time period, he lived in Kishkindha with other Vanaras. They ended up in service to Shri Rama, given orders by their leader Sugriva.
The service involved finding Rama’s missing wife Sita. At one point Hanuman’s search party received some valuable information. They learned that Sita was on an island called Lanka. They knew how to get there, but one obstacle stood between them: a massive ocean.
Jambavan, one of the members of the group, reminded Hanuman of his amazing abilities. Hanuman then used the siddhi of yoga that enlarges the body to whatever size desired. Using a large form, he leapt off a mountain top, hoping to cross the ocean via the aerial route.
2. Dealing with Surasa
There were a few obstacles along the way. One of them was Surasa, who was in the form of a female Rakshasa, or man-eater. She told Hanuman that he was not allowed to pass unless he entered her mouth. She told Hanuman that he was to be her food.
Hanuman was very respectful. He did not want to violate the boons given to her by the celestials, who had actually placed her there to test the ability of Shri Rama’s most dear servant. Hanuman then used his mind, along with his yogic powers. He asked Surasa to become large enough to devour him. In the process, he kept expanding his body. She then kept expanding her size to keep pace. Continuing with the back and forth, when her mouth was extremely large Hanuman used the siddhi of yoga that allowed him to become very small. Then he quickly entered and exited her mouth. Thus respect was maintained and he was able to continue forward to Lanka.
3. Searching through Lanka
Hanuman once again assumed the large size to fly across the ocean and reach Lanka. After entering, he realized that it was best not to be discovered. After all, Sita was taken away in secret, by the wicked king Ravana. A monkey would be conspicuous to the area. Hanuman then quickly became the size of a cat, using his mystic ability.
4. Escaping and setting fire to Lanka
After meeting Sita, Hanuman fought with some of Ravana’s men. Hanuman ended up bound by ropes through a weapon originally coming from Lord Brahma, the creator. The incident allowed Hanuman to have a meeting with Ravana. The king decided to embarrass the messenger by setting his tail on fire and parading him around the town.
While this was going on, Hanuman quickly transformed into a small size to escape the bonds. He then took on the large size, with his tail still burning. He used Ravana’s insult as a way to destroy the city, giving the wicked king a glimpse of the total destruction set to come his way from the arrows of Rama.
5. Meeting Bhima
Hanuman is an offspring of the wind god, Vayu. Another son to Vayu is Bhima, one of the five Pandava brothers described in the Mahabharata. Bhima one time met Hanuman and was so happy as a result. He asked Hanuman to show the large form that was used to cross the ocean in service of Rama. Hanuman was hesitant to show this form, as he did not consider it to be very important. Whatever is needed to be done to please God, Hanuman will do. He is not proud of his abilities or accomplishments, though he has the most over which to be proud. After a while, being pleased with Bhima, Hanuman relented and expanded his body to show that amazing form.
Finally after pleased he relented,
To brother Bhima’s request consented.
That amazing form used in service shown,
To Shri Rama, for Lord’s pleasure alone.
When leaping off mountain tall,
When in Surasa’s mouth small.
Siddhis of yoga for him no big deal,
To world showing use for them real.