“O most fortunate one, I am a Vanara, messenger of the intelligent Rama. And behold this ring, O Devi, marked with Rama’s name.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.2)
vānaro aham mahābhāge dūto rāmasya dhīmataḥ |
rāma nāma ankitam ca idam paśya devi angulīyakam ||
The Sanskrit word “Bhagavan” is peppered throughout the sacred Bhagavad-gita. Indeed, the title of that book has a similar name found within, as does the Bhagavata Purana, also known as the Shrimad Bhagavatam. The wise know that the most accurate English translation for Bhagavan is “God.” The more complete description, kindly provided by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, is “Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
There are competing versions of God, after all. One religion bars its members from crafting any images of the Divine. This is heresy, idol worship, they claim. In the Vedic tradition, from which the word Bhagavan comes, there are philosophical schools that take the Almighty to be impersonal. Negate everything you see around you. Neti neti, which means “not this, not that.” Since everything around us is maya, God must be “not maya.” In theory, He must be formless. We are the same way at the core, spirit soul that has no perceptible form. Take every fragment of spirit, put them together, and you have the formless Almighty.
These claims are refuted both by the teachers in the disciplic succession of bhakti, or devotion, and the definition of the word itself. Bhagavan has a specific meaning. The word bhaga means “fortune.” Bhagavan is the most fortunate one. Though He is beyond any definition conceived by the flawed mind, the sage Parashara has kindly enumerated the opulences that Bhagavan possesses.
“Bhagavan means who possesses these six opulences in full: all riches, all strength, all influence, all wisdom, all beauty, all renunciation.” (Vishnu Purana, 6.5.47)
Bhagavan has beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom and renunciation, simultaneously. Some of these opulences contradict. How can you be beautiful and strong at the same time? Delicate features are beautiful, and if you are delicate then how can you handle difficult situations? How can you be both rich and unattached to your wealth?
Moreover, Bhagavan has these opulences in full. There is no way to properly quantify. We calculate someone’s wealth based on their net worth. Even though the value is estimated, there is still an acknowledged end, a finite amount. Since God’s features are immeasurable, He is also known as Adhokshaja.
In the verse quoted above from the Ramayana, a servant of Bhagavan is speaking. He works specifically for Bhagavan’s incarnation of Rama, who is described to be dhimata, which means “wise” or “intelligent.” The personal expansions of Bhagavan retain the fortunes; just not all of those features may be prominent. For instance, in Rama there is more renunciation shown, especially during a fourteen year period of exile from the kingdom of Ayodhya.
The duta, or messenger, of Rama is speaking to Sita. She is a goddess, or devi. She is Rama’s wife. Hanuman has found her after searching for a long time. He has brought with him a ring, which has Rama’s name inscribed.
Hanuman addresses Sita as maha-bhage. This means that she is just as fortunate as her husband. In fact, Sita Devi is known as the goddess of fortune. As Rama is an incarnation of Bhagavan Vishnu, Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi Devi.
When viewed separately, Lakshmi is like a demigoddess who grants benedictions to her worshipers. But from Hanuman’s words we learn that she is in fact equal to her husband. They are one and the same. The feminine and masculine become one in the larger picture. That is why in temples Bhagavan is most often not alone. Krishna is worshiped with Radha. Vishnu is with Lakshmi. And Rama is with Sita.
That most fortunate lady can grant benedictions to the devotees of her husband. Hanuman is the most dear servant to Rama, and Sita to this day provides everything that he needs. Hanuman is not poor. He is not lacking anything. His only desire is to continue in devotion, and Rama’s wife helps to support that dedicated life.
Since desire for only in bhakti living,
Sita support for that dedication giving.
To Hanuman servant most dear,
Who travelled to Lanka without fear.
Message from the most fortunate one,
Difference to Him with Devi none.
Worship together husband and wife,
And make perfect this auspicious life.