“Whose heart is not moved by these wonderful words, which emanate from three places [the chest, throat, and head]? Even an enemy, who has his sword uplifted, would be touched by such words.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana about Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.33)
One of the more intriguing positions in the American government is the Secretary of State. When a new administration takes over, new Cabinet appointees require approval by the Senate, so there is much fanfare in anticipation of who will fill the key positions. The Secretary of State is noteworthy because they don’t spend much time in the country. Their job responsibilities call for travel around the world and the spreading of the message of the government. In this way, we see that the person who fills this key position must be very learned, kind, wise, and good at speaking to opposing elements. The same concept applies in spiritual life, for the representatives of God try to persuade as many wayward souls as possible to take up devotional service. One representative in particular is quite effective in this area, with his remarkable speaking ability being on full display many thousands of years ago during a famous incident.
While the Secretary of State is a position belonging to the executive branch of the United States government, similar positions are held in governments large and small around the world. Moreover, the position has existed since time immemorial, dating back to the first signs of government. Why is such a position required? Whenever borders are drawn demarcating the boundaries between countries, cities, and states, the lines indicate differences in government. A difference in government means a difference in interests. We can think of it in terms of the houses in a community. Each house is occupied by a family of individuals. The individuals must cooperate with fellow members of the neighborhood in order for there to be peace and prosperity. At the same time, each family has their own interests, goals, and financial dispositions. The differences must be shielded, or at least removed from each other’s path; otherwise there will be constant fighting.
When the workings of a small neighborhood are applied on a much larger scale, you get the current world’s situation: many large countries that each have their own interests which involve the acquisition of land, the restriction or lack thereof in relation to trade, humanitarian rights, and a host of other issues. When we have an argument with our neighbor, the result may be the erecting of a fence or the giving of the cold shoulder when walking by them. When countries argue, however, the consequences can be much worse, the most severe of which involves the death of many of its citizens through warfare. The twentieth century alone saw two major world wars along with a Cold War that lasted for several decades.
If we were to narrow down the justifications for maintaining a Secretary of State or chief minister into just one purpose, it would be to avoid war. Contrary to the opinion of some, most people don’t like to go to war. Violence is the last resort, and with war, there is no guarantee of victory. War depletes the treasury, causes needless deaths, and also takes away the security of the citizens. Therefore a wise leader takes every effort to avoid war. The problem is that the differences between countries can be great. Moreover, an effective leader is one who is very passionate about their beliefs. When the passions of world leaders collide, arguments can ensue very quickly. In order to get ideas across to other nations, a leader will employ a representative, someone to go and talk to other world leaders in a cordial manner, while remaining committed to the stance of the leader at the same time.
With secretaries of state and foreign ministers, we see that partisanship is usually kept to a minimum. During summits and important meetings, pleasantries are exchanged and press conferences are held where both parties praise each other’s efforts. The foreign representative’s objective is to be kind, polite, and praiseworthy, while trying to get across their country’s message at the same time. The ultimate objective is to get the other party to agree to your terms. An effective minister is one who knows how to use just the right words to melt the hearts of their counterparts. An effective representative can change the hearts and minds of millions without ever firing a shot.
Many thousands of years ago there was an illustrious minister in the form of a Vanara [monkey-like human] who proved his ability to execute diplomacy when it counted most. This person, Shri Hanuman, is still alive today and is not surprisingly worshiped by millions around the world. Hanuman has many great qualities, but he is primarily known for his devotion to Lord Rama, or God. The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, detail many different features of the Supreme Absolute Truth, including an impersonal energy known as Brahman. Brahman is compared to the rays of the sun, a blinding light that beams off of a larger source of energy. This source is known as God to many around the world, but in Vedic parlance, He is known as Bhagavan. Bhagavan is one who is the most fortunate, one who possesses all good qualities. Bhagavan’s original form is that of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna is all-attractive, and in His primary expansion as the four-armed Lord Vishnu, He is all-opulent. Vishnu then kindly appears on earth from time to time as an avatara to enact pastimes. Lord Rama, Vishnu’s form as a handsome and pious warrior prince, is one of God’s most famous avataras.
While Hanuman is eternally devoted to Lord Rama, the two still had an initial meeting. The details of this seemingly chance encounter are documented in many Vedic texts, with the accounts varying in levels of granularity. While many Vedic texts give a summary version of this meeting, the most detailed account can be found in the Ramayana authored by Maharishi Valmiki. Lord Rama spent thousands of years on earth, so compiling His biography was no easy task for Valmiki. Therefore the great sage chose to highlight the most noteworthy events of the Lord’s life, with one of them being the meeting with Hanuman. Early on in Rama’s life, the Lord had to roam the forests of India as an exile. During this time, His wife Sita Devi was kidnapped by the Rakshasa demon Ravana while Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana were momentarily not by her side. In trying to find Sita’s whereabouts, Rama and Lakshmana made their way to the forest of Kishkindha.
At the time, this forest was inhabited by a Vanara king named Sugriva. He had his own problems, similar to those of Rama. Rama had been previously banished from His kingdom, thus resulting in His fourteen year stint in the forest. Similarly, Sugriva had been driven out of his kingdom by his angry brother Vali. Sugriva sought refuge in Kishkindha because Vali was not allowed to enter that area due to a curse imposed by a sage. While on top of Mount Rishyamukha, Sugriva saw Rama and Lakshmana approaching. Fearing that they might be assassins sent by Vali, Sugriva asked Hanuman, his chief minister, to go down and see what the princes wanted. Hanuman gladly obliged, assuming the guise of an ascetic just in case Rama and Lakshmana were indeed sent by Vali.
Descending from the mountain, Hanuman approached Rama and Lakshmana in a humble way, kindly asking them who they were and what they were doing in Kishkindha. While questioning them, Hanuman went into a very nice speech consisting of beautiful Sanskrit poetry which praised both Rama and Lakshmana. This speech was so wonderful that Rama was immediately moved by it. Before responding to Hanuman, Rama talked things over with Lakshmana. In the above referenced quote, Rama is noting to Lakshmana how wonderful Hanuman’s speech was. Lord Rama notes that His heart was indeed melted, and that anyone’s heart, including that of an enemy, would similarly be moved by such wonderful words emanating from the three places where a good speech should come from, namely the head, chest, and throat.
Rama’s praise of Hanuman speaks volumes. It indicates that Hanuman’s speech, though presented as being from an emissary, was not duplicitous in any way. Since the speech was coming from the head, chest, and throat, it was not something memorized or thought up beforehand. Hanuman is so smart that he could generate beautiful Sanskrit poetry on the fly, without even thinking. How was this possible? Hanuman is a great devotee of Lord Rama, so when in the presence of the Lord, he simply has to speak from the heart. The Lord takes care of the rest, for as He accurately points out in the Bhagavad-gita, He is the ability in man.
“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)
From Rama’s statement we also see that Hanuman would be able to move the hearts of those enemies who have their swords uplifted. When an enemy raises his sword, it means that he is ready for battle. We can compare it to scenes in action movies where the hero has his pistol upraised with his back against the wall, remaining alert for the attacks of the enemy. Hanuman is so sweet that he can even get the enemies to lay down their weapons. It is this quality of Hanuman’s that can prove to be most beneficial to us.
Upon taking birth in the material world, the living entities become enveloped in a cloud of ignorance. In one sense, this is by design, for the dense fog is a product of the initial cause for the soul’s descent to the temporary and miserable world. In order to remain here, one must be completely ignorant of the presence of the soul and its relation to the Supreme Lord. Spiritual life means coming to the platform of knowledge, understanding that eternal blissful life can only be found in the spiritual world in the presence of God. But taking to spiritual life isn’t easy, especially since the individual grows accustomed to worshiping matter throughout the course of many lifetimes on earth.
“Unless they smear upon their bodies the dust of the lotus feet of a Vaishnava completely freed from material contamination, persons very much inclined toward materialistic life cannot be attached to the lotus feet of the Lord, who is glorified for His uncommon activities. Only by becoming Krishna conscious and taking shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord in this way can one be freed from material contamination.” (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.32)
So how do we get out of this precarious condition? How do we take to spiritual life and abandon our hopes for material fame and fortune? The Vedas tell us that the only way to attain salvation is to have the benediction of associating with a devotee, one who has already abandoned material life. A person who is not God conscious can be thought of to be donning armor and a sword. This sword is constantly upraised when it comes to dealing with spiritual elements. A devotee can be thought of as a person who has dropped their sword and armor and has wrapped their arms around the Supreme Lord.
The mercy of the devotee is that they don’t just hoard God for themselves. Rather, they perform the thankless task of trying to get others to drop their weapons in relation to spiritual life. This is where Hanuman’s true potency comes into play. After this initial meeting, Hanuman went on to form a great friendship with Rama and Lakshmana. Lord Hanuman would find Sita and help Rama rescue her. For his heroic feats of strength, his dedication to Sita, Rama, and Lakshmana, and his unselfish attitude, Hanuman was granted the boon of remaining in his body for as long as the glories of Lord Rama would continue to be told on this earth. This means that anyone can still approach Shri Hanuman and get his blessings.
What does it mean to be blessed by Hanuman? As we see from Rama’s authoritative statements, Hanuman can melt the hearts of enemies. As a result, anyone who kindly approaches Hanuman will slowly but surely take to dropping their weapons. As the perfect foreign minister of the Lord, Hanuman kindly points everyone in the right direction. Anyone who regularly associates with him will surely have their heart moved. Who wouldn’t love Hanuman? Upon seeing his face just once, who wouldn’t want to spend the rest of their lives remembering, honoring, and worshiping him? The result of worship of Hanuman, God’s devotee, is that a person slowly but surely changes their consciousness from the material world to the spiritual. This consciousness, when purified at the time of death, takes one back to the eternal kingdom of God, wherefrom they never have to return.
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