“O Saumitra, subduer of all enemies, welcome with pleasant words this monkey, who is a counselor of Sugriva and a knower of speech who uses words which are sweet, affectionate, and just befitting the situation.” (Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.27)Download this episode (right click and save)
The journey through life - those who are far along know just how difficult things can get. They don’t want to see the people newly arriving to face the same struggles. Better to get a jump start. Learn the pitfalls right away. Why experience them personally, when the end result is guaranteed?
But how to get that instruction across? The youth are naturally rebellious, not wanting to trust the older generation. That is the reason for the saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.” There is more vitality, more energy, but also more naivety.
Fortunately, so many important qualities can be learned from a single person. He is a historical figure whose deeds are prominently featured in an ancient Sanskrit text known as the Ramayana. This person provides a living example of these qualities, revealing their true meaning. Knowledge is power, and from Hanuman comes tremendous knowledge.
Like it or not people are judged by the way they speak. Presentation is important. The leader of a country could be doing a great job of protecting life and property. They could be impartial in the prosecution of the law. But if they have a difficult time speaking in public, people will think they are less intelligent. It is sad to say, but the people would prefer a well-spoken cheater and thief over an honest person to lead them.
Eloquence is the ability to speak well, to convey thoughts in a pleasing and effective manner. Hanuman is the embodiment of eloquence, and proof is there in the first meeting with Shri Rama. The king of the Vanaras in Kishkindha asked his chief minister to descend Mount Rishyamukha and greet two strangers. The minister was Hanuman and the strangers Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana.
Hanuman’s task was to find out the purpose of their visit to the forest, as usually human beings weren’t found in the area. Yet Rama and Lakshmana are of a Divine nature. They are God the person and God the servant, respectively. This was not lost on Hanuman, as he went into praise shortly after greeting them.
Rama Himself was impressed by Hanuman’s speech. The language was Sanskrit and the speaker was in the body of a Vanara, which is like a monkey. From Hanuman we learn that true eloquence is the ability to praise the Supreme Lord. Excellent speech at the level of Hanuman is not required; sincerity is what matters most. Though Hanuman originally took on a false guise, the sincerity in his heart was detected by Rama.
“I would not be where I am today without my parents.” So many people have said this. It is an indication of wisdom. A grateful person appreciates what others have done for them. They do not take things for granted. They do not expect others to make up for their irresponsibility.
I appreciate others for the sacrifices they have made. They gave up something important to them in order to benefit someone else. In Hanuman we find the embodiment of sacrifice. He risked his life for Rama. He travelled to a foreign land, populated by people hostile to him and his cause, and continued forth. He did this all for someone he barely knew. After the initial meeting with Rama and Lakshmana, Hanuman thought that Rama and Sugriva would develop a friendship.
That indeed occurred, and so later Hanuman and many other Vanaras were dispatched to search for Rama’s missing wife Sita. In the end it was Hanuman searching alone, through the land of Lanka, populated by Rakshasas, which are ogre-like creatures of the sinful persuasion. Hanuman gave up every personal comfort in order to serve the Supreme Lord.
Good things come to those who wait. Slow and steady wins the race. Perseverance is important, especially since results don’t manifest right away. When you plant the seed you don’t demand the resulting plant emerge immediately. There is proper time and place.
Hanuman is the embodiment of perseverance because he continued on despite major obstacles against him. The number one opposing force was time. He kept searching, but to no luck. Then he worried about letting everyone down, including Rama.
When everything is going against you, how will you respond? Will you continue on in the struggle or give up? From Hanuman we see that the real meaning of perseverance is to move forward in the service of the Lord. Rama rewards the devotee who makes even the slightest effort in trying to please Him. Imagine, then, the reward awaiting the person who doesn’t quit.
This is one of the more difficult qualities to acquire. It is beneficial since it represents knowledge. An ignorant person thinks that everything they possess is due to personal effort alone. They forget the cooperation of external forces necessary to their success. They don’t remember the help they got along the way.
Even if a person becomes humble, there is risk of becoming proud of how humble they have become. Shri Hanuman is the embodiment of humility. One proof is the fact that he has so much. Vedic culture has passed down to us the ancient practice of mysticism, commonly known as yoga. Real yoga has strict requirements and is difficult to practice.
The fruit of mystic yoga practice is siddhi. The best English translation is “perfection.” A siddhi is a kind of amazing ability. You can become very small. You can become very large. You can get any object you want simply by contemplating it. You can travel outside of the physical body.
Hanuman possesses all the siddhis of yoga. He received them without asking for them. At the same time, he has no attachment to them. He is not even consciously aware of them. It is not like he walks around remembering how he can change his shape at will.
Hanuman uses whatever abilities he has for pleasing Rama. His humility is at the highest level due precisely to the fact that he has the most over which to be proud. He has done amazing things for Rama. He is one of the most well-liked heroes of all-time. Still, when his brother Bhima one time asked to see the amazingly large form that was used to cross the ocean to reach Lanka, Hanuman was reluctant to show. He made up an excuse about the effects of Kali Yuga and how it was no longer possible to transform his body. Only after being further pressed by Bhima did Hanuman finally relent. From his humility he doesn’t consider that form to be so amazing.
To again show form through Rama tasked,
By brother Bhima sincerely asked.
Excuse about Kali’s effects made,
Finally at the end displayed.
Though Hanuman possessing so much,
Arrogance or pride not in him a touch.
Sacrifice for Rama, in praising eloquence,
Never to give up, living perseverance.