“How can I ensure that the purpose of my task does not get destroyed? How shall I avoid mental disparity, and how do I ensure that my crossing of the ocean does not go for naught?” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 2.41)Download this episode (right click and save)
It’s only natural to start pointing the finger when you get into a tough spot. There is the strange psychological phenomenon of looking for a factor to ease the pain of bad news. For instance, if someone loses their life from a car crash, if it is learned that they were driving under the influence of alcohol, the news isn’t considered as sad. Never mind the fact that the person suffered all the same. The fault at the individual level assuages some of the grief.
A long time ago Shri Hanuman found himself in an incredibly difficult situation. In an unknown land, searching for a person unknown to him, without any outside help, he had to continue ahead. He was completely invested in the outcome of the mission. Failure was not an option.
Who would be able to withstand such pressure? Many years into the future his brother Bhima would one time carry his four brothers and his mother away from danger and into safety. Both Bhima and Hanuman are sons of the wind-god, so they are extremely powerful. But what normal person can handle such a great burden?
Hanuman had every right to complain about different aspects of the situation. The fact that he didn’t only further increases his glories, as today he is known as the greatest servant of the Supreme Lord in the incarnation of Shri Rama.
1. Why did Sita have to insult Lakshmana
Hanuman was looking for Sita, the wife of Shri Rama. The husband and wife were living together peacefully and happily in the forest of Dandaka. That was only the case due to the nature of the two individuals. They were otherwise from royalty; accustomed to the good life. They could be happy in the wilderness because Rama is God Himself, and Sita the eternal consort. Sita is happy as long as Rama is by her side, and Rama is atmarama, or self-satisfied.
Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana was there with them, and one day things took a turn for the worse. The king of Lanka, though boasting of his tremendous fighting prowess to anyone he met, decided to use trickery to steal the woman he lusted after. First came Ravana’s assistant Maricha, assuming the false guise of a deer. Sita saw the deer and asked Rama to bring it for her, preferably alive.
Rama chased after the deer and instructed Lakshmana to keep guard of Sita. Maricha then used his mystic power again, crying out in the voice of Rama that he needed help. Lakshmana wasn’t fooled by the voice, but Sita became extremely worried. She told Lakshmana to go check on Rama. He refused, and so Sita began insulting him. She took what was most important to Lakshmana, his devotion to Rama, and broke it apart through harsh words.
2. Why did Lakshmana have to leave Sita’s side
After enough time the insults worked. Lakshmana left Sita’s side to go check on Rama. This left her vulnerable to Ravana, who first approached the couple’s cottage dressed as a wandering ascetic, parivrajaka. He quickly lost that form, showing his hideous, Rakshasa self. He then took Sita onto the aerial car by force and took her back to Lanka.
The series of events led to the separation between husband and wife, and now Hanuman was left trying to salvage the situation. He could have complained about both factors, but he never did. The thought never even occurred to him.
3. Why isn’t Rama doing something
Sita is Rama’s wife, after all. Rama is the prince of Ayodhya. He comes from a highly respected family, who are known as protectors of the people. Sure, Rama went to the forest for fourteen years to uphold the word of His father, King Dasharatha, but why so beholden to vows now? Sita was missing. If He really cared about her, He would have returned home and enlisted the royal army to help Him find Sita. Instead, it was Hanuman, all by himself in a foreign territory, amidst a hostile population, looking for someone he had never met.
Hanuman never indulged this line of thinking because he understood the situation. He is honorable himself, so he understands the importance of holding to a vow. He is also extremely eager to serve the Supreme Lord, which means he will jump at the chance, both literally and figuratively, to look for Sita.
4. Why can’t one of the other Vanaras go
Another amazing aspect of Hanuman’s service is that he is not related to Rama. He only met the Lord through chance in the forest, while the brothers were searching for Sita. Hanuman is in the body of a Vanara, and he belongs to the group of Vanaras living on Mount Rishyamukha, with the exiled former leader Sugriva.
After forming a friendship with Rama through Hanuman’s efforts, Sugriva ordered his massive army of Vanaras [monkey-like creatures] to search for Sita. Hanuman could have complained that one of the other Vanaras should go to Lanka. Why did he have to go, and alone at that? Of course the answer was that only Hanuman had the ability to leap across the ocean separating the shore from the island of Lanka. Only he had the intelligence necessary to search properly while inside of Lanka. Only he would know exactly what to say to win over Sita’s trust after meeting her.
5. Why did this situation have to fall on me
If things get really bad in life, it’s understandable to ask, “Why me.” You see other people that don’t have to go through the same things. There’s some reason that the bad luck fell on you. Still, complaining like this doesn’t do any good. Once you get out of the trouble you can begin to think about how to avoid it going forward.
For Hanuman there were no such thoughts. He was despondent at times over not having found success. Even then, he would review things soberly, asking himself how to ensure that his leaping across the ocean didn’t go in vain. Even after everything ended well, with Ravana defeated by Rama and the couple reunited, he didn’t take relief that the burden was now off of him. Rather, to this day he continues to serve the Divine couple, travelling to wherever he is needed and recommending sincere and pious souls for entry into the kingdom of God.
Into difficult situation found,
To blame others eventually bound.
But with Hanuman not the case,
Only how couple’s grief to erase.
Not remembering when Lakshmana leaving,
Or Maricha as golden deer deceiving.
Even after end not thinking of relief,
He a loving servant beyond belief.