“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 speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.27)
In this passage, Lord Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is advising His younger brother on how to react to a series of statements made by Shri Hanuman, a great devotee and emissary of the monkey-king Sugriva. Hanuman had just approached the two brothers in the forest of Kishkindha not knowing who they were. Sugriva saw the two princes, who were looking for Rama’s abducted wife Sita, from atop the mountain of Rishyamukha. Fearing that the princes had come to kill him, Sugriva sent Hanuman down to see what they wanted.
Hanuman assumed the guise of a mendicant before meeting Rama and Lakshmana, thus hiding his monkey-like form. Naturally when hearing such stories we may be tempted to believe they are part of folklore or mythology, but this is not the case with the events of the Ramayana. Arguably the oldest book in history, the Ramayana, as authored by Maharishi Valmiki, chronicles the life and pastimes of Lord Shri Rama, a primary avatara of Lord Vishnu. In the Vedic tradition, Lord Vishnu is considered the chief among the gods, a representation of the original form of Godhead Hari, or Krishna. When Vishnu appears on earth, His form is referred to as an avatara, or incarnation. Lord Rama was one such avatara, and He spent a great deal of time on earth roaming the forests of India and giving pleasure to His devotees. On one occasion, His beautiful wife Sita Devi was kidnapped by the Rakshasa demon Ravana in Rama’s absence. While roaming the forests searching for Sita, the two brothers were advised to meet up with a monkey-king named Sugriva who would help them find Sita.
When Hanuman first approached the two brothers, his purpose was to find out the reason for their being in the forest. Yet upon seeing Rama’s beautiful face, Hanuman immediately went into praising both He and Lakshmana. The words uttered by Hanuman, though composed on the fly, were no ordinary statements. He used exquisite poetry which leaned upon the immense beauty of the Sanskrit language. Lord Rama was quite impressed by Hanuman’s speech, but Hanuman could not tell what Rama and Lakshmana were thinking. Finally, he gave up his false guise and revealed his true intentions; informing Rama and Lakshmana that he was sent by Sugriva.
In the above referenced quote, we get Lord Rama’s initial reaction to meeting Hanuman. Right away, Rama was happy because He knew that He had found a way to meet up with Sugriva. During those times especially, it was important for kings to form alliances. All the kings were of the kshatriya order, which is the administrative or fighting class. Kings were expert fighters themselves, so diplomacy wasn’t such an easy thing to practice. Forming alliances was certainly important, so Rama was happy to see that He had found an emissary of Sugriva.
Lord Rama was also quite pleased by Hanuman’s kind words. The Lord could tell that Hanuman was extremely intelligent, strong, and kind-hearted. He advised Lakshmana to treat Hanuman with kindness and respect, and to address him with sweet words. Hanumanji is worshiped today by millions because of his unmatched character and devotion to Lord Rama. From this incident we can see that Hanuman immediately formed a loving attachment for the Lord, without even knowing who He was. By the same token, Lord Rama also immediately formed an attachment to Hanuman. From this spontaneous display of affection, the secret to success in life is revealed.
Eventually an intelligent person will search for the meaning of life, the purpose to their existence. Since time immemorial great scholars and academics have posited their own theories on the issue, each coming from their own point of view which was shaped by their own life’s experiences. The Vedas, however, come from God, so any truth which is derived from these scriptures can be considered valid, and any truth not derived from the Vedas can be considered faulty. Since the ultimate conclusion of the Vedas is that Lord Krishna, or God, is the Supreme Absolute Truth, it makes sense that the purpose of life would be to connect with this Truth. After all, where there is truth, there is knowledge; and where there is knowledge, there is intelligence; and when one acts under the guidance of intelligence, they follow the righteous path; and when one follows the righteous path, there is no chance of falling down.
Since the purpose of human life is to find out the Absolute Truth, one must know where to go and how to act. To aid us in the process, the Supreme Lord, the Absolute Truth in His personal form, kindly appears on this earth from time to time. Though these appearances are spread out across the extremely lengthy time period of creation, it isn’t required that we personally witness all of the Lord’s activities. The great sages and associates of the Lord kindly record all of His activities into book form. The Ramayana represents one such composition of recorded history. Simply by hearing from the Ramayana, one can gain insight into God’s nature, names, appearances, likes and dislikes.
From the incident of Rama’s meeting with Hanuman, we see that the Lord delights in kind words of praise which are offered with sincerity and devotion. Hanuman is known for being a servant of God, but we see that Lord Rama also serves Hanuman. In this particular situation, Lakshmana was acting as Rama’s emissary. When Lakshmana and Hanuman were speaking, it was similar to two heads of state kindly greeting one another. Lakshmana, being a representative of Rama, acted off the advice and consent of Rama. In the above referenced quote, Rama is essentially offering His service to Hanuman through Lakshmana. “Make sure to address him in sweet words, so as to not offend him. He is obviously very kind, sweet, and well versed in speech. Therefore we should take special care not to offend him.”
This is somewhat ironic since most of us look to God to satisfy our needs. If we do something wrong, which is surely a regular occurrence, we look to the Lord for forgiveness, for we don’t want Him to be angry with us. In Lord Rama’s case, He didn’t want Hanuman to be offended by any of His actions. How beautiful the relationship between God and His devotees is. The Lord never allows a devotee’s service to go to waste. He acknowledges everything offered to Him and returns the favor by becoming indebted to the devotee for life.
It is not surprising to see that Hanuman is immensely popular today. Goswami Tulsidas was especially fond of Hanumanji. Along with authoring the famous Hanuman Chalisa, a beautiful poem which praises the exploits of the famous servant of Lord Rama, Tulsidas also erected several Hanuman temples. If Lord Rama Himself loved Hanuman so much, we most certainly should show the same amount of respect.
So how do we honor Shri Hanuman? As events would play out, Hanuman would take Rama and Lakshmana to meet Sugriva, and an alliance would be formed immediately. Eventually, Sugriva would offer the services of his Vanara army to help Rama rescue Sita. With the help of Lakshmana, Hanuman, and countless others, Lord Rama would march to Lanka, defeat Ravana, and rescue Sita. All of the Lord’s close associates would then triumphantly return with Him to His home city of Ayodhya, where Rama would be installed as the new king.
After some time everyone had to part ways and leave Ayodhya, including Hanuman. Prior to leaving, Hanuman asked Rama if he could remain in his body for as long as the Lord’s story was still told on earth. Lord Rama happily agreed and told Hanuman that He’d give him whatever he wanted. This means that of all the things in this world, nothing provides Hanumanji more pleasure than hearing others sing the praises of the Lord. Therefore the easiest way to bring joy to Hanuman is to regularly chant God’s names. The sacred formula known as the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, is wonderful because it incorporates both the names of Krishna and Rama, thus allowing all devotees of God to unite under one message. Such a mantra brings pleasure to the Supreme Lord and all of His highly esteemed servants.
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