“I trust that Shriman Sugriva, the commander of the Vanaras, will come here for my sake, surrounded by valiant monkeys with teeth and nails for weapons.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.25)
vānara adhipatiḥ śrīmān sugrīvaḥ kaccit eṣyati |
mat kṛte haribhiḥ vīraiḥ vṛto danta nakha āyudhaiḥ ||
Ninety-nine percent immunity. That should keep you safe. What are the chances anyone will be able to break through that small vulnerability? The Supreme Lord already has the most creative and artistic mind, as evidenced in the amazing world around us. Embedded into every section, both large and small, is intelligence which can be relied upon. There is predictability and reliability in the mechanisms of nature, which come together not from randomness.
God also has the most clever mind. Thus when King Hiranyakashipu received boons from the creator, Lord Brahma, granting him protection from so many kinds of species and different situations, it didn’t take long for the Almighty to find a loophole, one that wouldn’t violate any of the benedictions offered to the king.
Hiranyakashipu was quite powerful. Other kings around the world feared him. Sometimes the threat of violence is enough. The roar of the lion dissuades potential attackers. The show of military might keeps foreign threats at bay. In the same way, Hiranyakashipu had others around the world afraid of him.
God already wins. He is already undefeated. He accomplishes this through an external force, something He doesn’t manage actively. This force is known as kala, which translates as “time” or “death.” Both have the same meaning, as time eventually destroys everything that is created.
Kala could have accounted for Hiranyakashipu’s demise, but the king decided to make himself a target for direct intervention by persecuting his five-year old son, who was named Prahlada. The boy hadn’t done anything wrong in the eyes of most. But to the king the gravest sin was committed: Prahlada was a devotee of God the person, Vishnu.
So the persecutions began. Prahlada survived them all. Finally, Vishnu Himself arrived in an amazing form. It was half-man/half-lion. Despite being protected from so many kinds of weapons, Hiranyakashipu lost his life to an attacker who used nails and teeth.
There is no duality of spirit and body for Bhagavan, which is another name for God. This Sanskrit word means “one who possesses all fortunes.” He has full strength, and that strength is in something as basic as nails and teeth. Narasimhadeva’s nails were more powerful than Hiranyakashipu’s arms. His teeth could penetrate through any armor the king could have used for protection.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana we see how that potency is passed on to the devotees. When a person is in pure devotional service, bhakti-yoga, they are able to do amazing things. Sometimes they don’t require much. The messenger Hanuman infiltrated the land of Lanka all by himself. He was in the body of a Vanara, which is a kind of monkey, and he didn’t need special weapons.
The king of Lanka was Ravana, who was very similar to Hiranyakashipu. They were brothers in spirit. Ravana had amazing powers and protection from death against many creatures, except human beings. Despite this protection, Ravana thought better against fighting Shri Rama for the wife Sita. Ravana hatched a secret plot to take Sita back to Lanka, when Rama wasn’t by her side.
Rama is the same Narasimhadeva, an incarnation of Vishnu. He empowered Hanuman to reach Sita with life-saving news about her impending rescue. Here Sita speaks to Hanuman about her different expectations. Now that she has learned that Rama has formed an alliance with Sugriva, she trusts that an army of Vanaras will come to Lanka to save her.
Sugriva is the commander-in-chief of the Vanaras. The Vanara is also known as hari, which can mean “monkey.” Ravana and his people were Rakshasas, which are like man-eating ogres. They were expert in black magic. On the battlefield, they could appear and disappear at will. They could change their shapes, also.
How were uncivilized animals from the forest going to overcome the great opposition? Sita says that the haris will use teeth and nails as their weapons. Just like with Narasimhadeva, these humble by comparison weapons will be enough to overcome the great strength found on the opposing side.
The reason is the support of the Divine. He destroys through all-devouring death, and so He can protect through His personal intervention. He supports the devotion of the devotees, ensuring that their devotional life never perishes. On the other side, whatever is acquired materially is sure to vanish, no matter how safeguarded a person may feel.
Despite existing every safeguard,
For Him to destroy not hard.
Through time happening already,
Death always on march steady.
Ravana with ocean and boons protecting,
Required Hanuman into air projecting.
But soon massive army of haris to come,
Whose work by teeth and nails done.