“(Hanuman did not see Sita) who was firmly situated on the eternal path of devotion to her husband, had her gaze always fixed on Rama, was always possessed by love for Rama, had entered the glorious mind of her husband, and was always the most exceptional of women.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 5.24)
sanātane vartmāni samniviṣṭām |
rāmekśaṇāṃ tāṃ madanābhiviṣṭām |
bharturmanaḥ śrīmadanupraviṣṭām |
strībhyo varābhyaśca sadā viśiṣṭām ||
In a field devoid of God consciousness, another person’s rise to prominence is taken in the competitive spirit, viewed as an affront to our own progress. In a fruitive endeavor, the aim is to rise to the top, to become the most respected and successful person in a particular venture. Therefore if others are already on the superior position or on their way to the top, there is a feeling of insecurity, that the path to our own success is being threatened. But when the endeavor shifts to the spiritual arena, where the aim is to form a permanent connection to the Divine consciousness, seeing others who are already on the highest platform of thought is the most humbling experience. It also serves as an important tool in making progress. Not only is the mental picture of such persons worth the effort, what follows is a great eagerness for having a real-life meeting, personal association with a saint. If perchance the reunion with the saints does not happen, despondency results. Such was the case with Shri Hanuman many thousands of years ago.
Hanuman can never be properly described with words. In Sanskrit his body type is described by terms such as vanara, kapi, and hari, which can translate to “monkey”. But people who are familiar with his attributes and divine nature take great offense when he is thought of in this way. A monkey is a lower animal after all, so to consider Shri Hanuman to be anything like a monkey is not a valid viewpoint. For people who follow Vedic traditions from their childhood, Hanuman is always referenced with the suffix “ji” to indicate that he should be given the proper respect. More than anything else, Hanumanji is a Ramadutta, a messenger of the Lord. Lord Rama is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, say that we should worship and honor God, and in order to increase the taste that results from such a connection, the Supreme Lord makes divine appearances on earth every now and then. His original presence in the spiritual sky is also a personal one, as the divine material substance is nothing like the matter we are accustomed to playing with here on earth. Since the original Personality has a spiritual form, so do all the personal expansions that appear on earth, which are thus known as avataras, or “those who descend”.
The Rama avatara is celebrated especially throughout India, but Rama’s mercy is open to all, even those not belonging to the human race. This fact was validated through Rama’s activities, which are nicely documented in the Ramayana of Maharishi Valmiki. Rama’s meeting with Hanuman came in the forest of Kishkindha, which was where Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana went after the Lord’s wife Sita Devi had gone missing. Rama and Lakshmana were of the princely order, sons of the King of Ayodhya, Maharaja Dasharatha. Through a series of unfortunate events, Rama was banished from the kingdom for fourteen years. Sita and Lakshmana were not ordered to go, but they insisted on coming along. While Rama was lured away from the group’s cottage by a golden deer, Sita went missing. Lakshmana went looking for Rama, so when the two brothers returned to see that Rama’s wife was not there, they immediately began to search for her.
In Kishkindha, Shri Hanuman, the chief minister to the Vanara-king Sugriva, met Rama and Lakshmana and took them to Sugriva. An alliance was then formed, with Sugriva agreeing to help Rama find Sita. When the time came for the search, countless monkeys were dispatched to scour the globe, but it was well known that only Hanuman was capable of finding Sita. Through intelligence gathered from a bird named Sampati, the monkeys in Hanuman’s party learned that Sita was being held captive on an island called Lanka, which was ruled by a Rakshasa king named Ravana. This Ravana was notorious, as the very mention of his name instilled fear in others.
The monkeys were set to go to Lanka, but there was one small problem. A massive ocean separated the island from land. Hanuman was the only one capable of jumping far enough to reach the city, so he did just that. Prior to entering Lanka, Hanuman assumed a diminutive stature so that he could search the city unnoticed. Making his way through the majestic city, Hanuman saw pretty much everything. There was tremendous opulence, beautiful queens, and people enjoying in so many ways. Though he saw things he had never seen before, though he had gone on a wonderful site seeing tour, Hanuman was nevertheless dejected. He still had not found the person he was looking for.
The above referenced verse from the Ramayana provides descriptions of Sita Devi, the wife of Lord Rama. The listing of these attributes is meant to praise the wonderful princess and also juxtapose her qualities and behavior with those of the women Hanuman had just seen in Lanka. Even though Hanuman first met Rama in Kishkindha at Sugriva’s behest, he was nevertheless fully devoted to the Lord. Born with the divine qualities, Hanuman knows no other business except bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. He was given the task of finding Sita and delivering to her Rama’s ring as proof of the genuineness of his mission, but he was eager to see the princess more because of her qualities.
Hanuman’s temporary dejection is easy to understand, provided that one knows the nature of the great servant and the divinity of his eternal master. Hanuman loved Rama so much, and he knew that Sita loved Rama even more. That’s at least how he thought. He had seen how saddened Rama was at being separated from His wife, so Hanuman wanted to meet this person who had such an effect on the jewel of the Raghu dynasty, the man who is Himself above fear, sorrow, pain, and deviation from the path of righteousness.
The Vedas describe God through thousands of names that also praise His many attributes. He is known as atmarama because He is self-satisfied. Atma can refer to the body, mind, or soul, and rama refers to giving transcendental pleasure. An atmarama can derive total peace and happiness simply from their own self, the soul, the identifying aspect within every form of life. Therefore one who is self-satisfied has no need to indulge in sorrow, lamentation, anger, grief, lust, or so many other negative emotions brought on by attachment to sense objects.
Sita Devi is the energy of Rama. She gives Him more pleasure than anyone else can; therefore in some respects she is even greater than God. Hanuman was also in the business of pleasing Rama, so instead of being jealous of Sita, he was very anxious to meet her. When practicing devotional service – which is the eternal occupational duty for everyone, even if they don’t know it – the quickest way to make advancement is to witness the devotional efforts of others. This sort of progress is further sped up when the devotee being observed is persevering through difficult circumstances. It is one thing to always chant the holy names of the Lord found in the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, when times are good, but it’s a different story when you are facing the punishment of death and the prospect of never seeing your beloved again. These were the circumstances facing Sita; yet her devotion to Rama never wavered.
If someone else is practicing devotion in this way, with their consciousness connected to God at all times, others who are similarly engaged in serving the Lord take great pleasure from such exhibitions and become fully humbled by them. Sweethearts like Hanuman always think that they are not anything special, and they feel internal satisfaction seeing others who are on a high level of practice. Sita was famous throughout the world for her devotion to Rama, so Hanuman was thrilled at the prospect of meeting her. It is said that she was fixed on the eternal path of devotion to Rama and had her eyes always focused on Him. This fixing of the eyes on the lover is initially intended for the benefit of the object of worship. Those who are on the highest platform of understanding know that simply remembering God and worshiping Him are the greatest boons one can ask for. Sita Devi wanted nothing from her husband, as His company was beneficial enough for her in both the current life and the afterlife, where the two live eternally in the spiritual sky as Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi Devi.
“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)
Sita remained devoted on the path of chastity, not even looking at any other man, for Rama’s benefit alone. This is the hidden secret to devotional service. In the beginning stages, there may be a desire to alleviate distress, find material wealth, learn about the Absolute, or satisfy one’s inquisitive nature, but these desires eventually cease through steady devotional practice. The paramahamsa, the topmost transcendentalist, has no need to even chant the names of the Lord, for they think about God at every second, seeing His presence in even the insignificant grass. Nevertheless, the paramahamsas of the bhakti school redouble their devotional efforts, as they know that gazing upon the wonderful form of the deity representation or even the personal form of the Lord standing before them gives great pleasure to the Person they are devoted to.
It is said that Sita had penetrated deep into Rama’s mind. This means that just as the devotee always thinks of the Lord, God always thinks of those who are always thinking of Him. The beauty of this wonderful relationship is seen in the behaviors of Sita and Rama. Though she was far away on a distant island, Sita was right there in Rama’s mind. The Lord never forgets even just one call to Him that is made in full purity. The chanting regimen passed down by the Vaishnavas calls for at least sixteen rounds of daily mantra recitation. The benefits of this practice are manifold, but the ultimate aim is to be able to say God’s name purely just one time, for doing so keeps the Lord’s attention. Even though Rama is never in need of anything, because Sita remains forever devoted to Him, He always keeps her in His mind. Their relationship best illustrates the potency of bhakti-yoga.
It is also said that Sita was the best of women. Hanuman had seen many wonderful princesses, all of whom were fit to be married to the most pious princes. But still, at least in Hanuman’s estimation, they were no match for Sita. How can any woman ever compare to Shri Rama’s eternal consort in qualities? Hanuman knew Sita’s nature even though he had not met her up until this time. Due to his strong dedication to Rama’s interests and his deep love and affection for all of the Lord’s family members and well-wishers, Hanuman would not have to wait long. He would eventually meet the princess of Videha and successfully carry out his mission. Just as Hanuman is humbled by Sita’s level of devotion, so we are energized, enthralled, and thrilled throughout our body every time we can even remember Hanuman. He is forever dear to both Sita and Rama, and from his activities we see that he is lacking nothing in devotional consciousness. By hearing of his exploits and his firm dedication on a regular basis, one can very rapidly make progress towards the ultimate destination, the spiritual sky.
Categories: searching for sita