“Sita is not capable of associating with any other man, even if he were the lord of the demigods; for there is no one equal to Rama, not even among the demigods.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 11.3)
na anyam naram upasthātum surāṇām api ca īśvaram |
na hi rāma samaḥ kaścid vidyate tridaśeṣv api ||
Almost fooled by his vision colored with anticipation borne of pure love and devotion to the holy Lord Rama, Hanuman regained his senses by contemplating on the divine qualities of both the princess he was looking for and her dear husband. Seeing one woman in particular stand out amongst the crowd of beautiful ladies enjoying in the luxurious palace of the leader of the Rakshasa clan in Lanka, Hanuman thought that maybe he had finally found the princess of Videha, Sita Devi, who had been taken away from the side of her husband through a backhanded plot. Yet he remembered that not only was Sita incapable of cavorting with any man except her husband, her husband Himself was more opulent and strong than any person existing in any realm. In this way Hanuman’s assessment of Sita and her husband was completely accurate, and it fueled his fire of devotion even further.
Why did Hanuman need his spirits uplifted? What was he doing in Lanka looking for Sita anyway? Shouldn’t Shri Rama have gone there? If the Lord is the most powerful person in the world, stronger than any figure residing in even the heavenly realm, why was He not in Lanka taking on Ravana in battle and rescuing His wife? The lila, or transcendental pastimes, of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are very difficult to understand from only a quick glance. Just as Hanuman for a split second thought that Mandodari, Ravana’s chief queen, was Sita, those who only briefly review the accounts of historical events found in sacred texts like the Ramayana may overlook the positive role that transcendental pastimes play in the shaping of the lives of millions of pure souls just looking to exercise their inkling for divine service. Found deep within the soul, the identifiable aspect of every form of life, is a desire to love, and not of the variety that can be checked, scorned or squashed. Rather, this type of love, known as prema or bhakti, operates best when the actor follows their tasks without motivation and without interruption.
These two qualifications seem paradoxical, as motivation is the reason for action, and the desire for interruption at some future point indicates that the end-stage has been reached. With pure bhakti, however, the engagement itself is so rewarding that no successes or temporary victories can ever douse the flame of loving devotion found within the heart. What can occur outside of bhakti, however, is for the soul, through contact with matter and anything not personally related to the Supreme Lord, to get temporarily bewildered into following engagements which are driven by motivation and which eventually must be interrupted. Therefore, to awaken the dormant propensity for transcendental action found within each resident of the phenomenal world, the very Personality of Godhead Himself appears on earth and takes part in pastimes.
Let’s say that someone were to tell us that God has come to town. He is residing somewhere in a building. Now let’s say that we went to visit Him. We make time in our busy schedule specifically for this appointment, as the opportunity to see God is something that should not be missed. We enter this majestic dwelling and see someone seated on an elegant throne who is more beautiful than any person we’ve ever seen. Just looking at Him is enough to bring transcendental pleasure to the eyes. This divine vision is wholly enchanting and at the very least indicates that the person in question is not ordinary. He is not like the rest of us. There must be something special about Him.
Shri Rama’s appearance on earth as the eldest son of the King of Ayodhya, Maharaja Dasharatha, can be likened to this scenario, and the emotions felt by the residents of the town can be likened to those felt by the visitors seeing the enchanting figure purported to be God. The difference with Rama, though, was that He never claimed to be of the divine nature. What need is there for such a proclamation? A person would much rather make friends and well-wishers through their own qualities than through fear or flashing a badge indicating importance.
Even though others didn’t know Rama was God, they still took great delight just from seeing Him. Having the divine vision alone is extremely beneficial, but an even greater benefit, one that taps into the reservoir of action found within every single life form, comes about when the same object of worship takes to activities which are then followed, heard about, and glorified. What’s even more special is that a select few individuals are allowed to participate in these pastimes. Through their roles they become glorified as well, as they remain forever tied to the divine pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Just as Rama is still celebrated to this day for being Bhagavan, or the person who possesses the qualities of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, knowledge, renunciation and wisdom to the fullest degree and simultaneously, His devotees who helped Him are also remembered and honored. They show the way in life, how to devote every one of your actions for the highest cause.
When Sita was taken away from Rama’s side in the forest of Dandaka, the Lord could have easily found her. He could have destroyed the whole world with just one arrow shot from His illustrious bow, but what purpose would that have served? The entire creation will be destroyed eventually anyway. Mahadeva, the greatest devotee of Lord Vishnu, the four-handed form of the Absolute Truth of whom Rama was an incarnation, is known as the destroyer because he swoops in at just the right time to annihilate everything. Where there is creation there must be destruction. There are debates as to how and when the earth came into being, but judging from the fact that it had to be created, we can take it to the bank that the earth will one day be destroyed again. If this weren’t the case, it would have never needed to come into existence.
Rama instead enlisted the help of Vanaras residing in the forest of Kishkindha. Vanaras are a sort of elevated race of monkeys, a mix between humans and apes. They were around in the Treta Yuga in abundance in the forests. The monkeys of today are their descendants but due to the influence of the dark age of Kali, their existence isn’t nearly as advanced. Hanuman was the most capable of the Vanara warriors, and he was also the most devoted to Rama. When it comes to serving the interests of the Supreme Person, everyone is equally suited for the job, but not everyone can exhibit their natural love fully. The soul in the conditioned state can be likened to a seed, and the advanced devotees are the seeds which have matured and grown into full blown trees of devotion.
Hanuman’s eagerness is what really made him fit for the job. The task at hand was finding Sita and then returning to Kishkindha with the information of her whereabouts. Knowing where Ravana was staying, Shri Rama would then march to the city and take on the demon in a fair fight. Just learning Sita’s location was difficult enough, but what made matters worse was that Hanuman had to go it alone towards the end. Lanka, the island ruled over by Ravana, was situated far away from the mainland, and only Hanuman was capable of leaping across the massive ocean separating the two points. When he reached the shores of Lanka, he had to devise a plan by himself and remain committed to the mission without having any outside help. Though he was without a guru, Hanuman used his love, devotion and knowledge of Shri Rama to guide him.
Sometimes that devotion was so strong that it caused him to make misidentifications. Such was the case when he combed Ravana’s inner apartment looking for Sita, finally coming upon a most outstanding princess. Hanuman searched through Lanka in the middle of the night so that no one would see him. He had looked far and wide and still had not found Sita. He was certainly dejected over the failure, as he was the most eager to find Rama’s wife and inform her of the Lord’s fervent desire to rescue her. An ordinary worker may be afraid of failing because of what the boss will tell him, but Hanuman’s despondency was due entirely to his own interests. He wanted to put a smile on Rama’s face more than anyone else. He knew of the Lord’s divine qualities, so he had no doubt as to His abilities. He just didn’t want to let Rama down.
Since Hanuman had never met Sita, he’d have to go by what he had heard of her and who her husband was. Knowing Rama to be fully endowed with every divine quality, Hanuman made the correct assumption that Sita was no ordinary woman either. Having such a wonderful man for a husband, surely Sita would not be in a cheerful mood in Lanka. She would be torn by the pain of separation and fearing her future. Therefore when Hanuman saw beautiful women enjoying themselves, he could understand that they weren’t Sita.
Ravana’s kingdom was so opulent that it seemed like the realm itself was heaven. The women were enjoying in so many different ways – getting drunk, singing songs, putting on beautiful dresses. Finally, Hanuman saw one woman who was more beautiful than the others. She was especially enchanting, unique in her features. For a second, Hanuman became elated with joy, pounding his chest and kissing his tail in happiness. This is Hanuman. Just thinking that he had found Sita caused him to go crazy in happiness, so strong was his desire to see Sita.
When his elation subsided, he thought the matter over. “How could Sita be in Ravana’s palace enjoying herself? She would never associate with any man except Rama, even if he were the king of the heavenly realm.” The concepts of heaven and hell are not unknown to most, but the Vedas provide a level of detail about the two realms not discussed in other scriptural traditions. Heaven is indeed a place full of enhanced delights, including a longer duration of life and a higher level of material opulence. Hell, not surprisingly, bears the inverse properties. Life there is miserable, there is little enjoyment, and people just want to get out. In either case, since heaven and hell are both part of the material world, their residents cannot remain there indefinitely.
The post of king of heaven implies that the occupant is the most powerful. The residents of the material heavenly planets are referred to as suras, and since the beginning of time there has been an ongoing fight between the suras and the asuras, or demons. Good and evil will always clash, as evil does not like the good and looks to root out its influence from every sphere of life. To be the ruler of the suras, one must be very powerful and capable of fending off the demonic forces, which constantly attack like the pulsing waves of the ocean. There is no such thing as permanently eradicating evil, as the very nature of the material realm stipulates that people lacking full God consciousness will always occupy it. If there is any deviation from the constitutional engagement, devotional service, there will be both good conditioned beings and bad conditioned beings. In either case, a non-devotee will never be fully pure of material contamination.
“If I am by Your side, O Raghava, not even Indra, the chief of the celestials, shall be able to overpower me with his might.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 29.6)
To be with the leader of the celestials is a big deal. Basically, for a woman such a man would be considered the greatest catch. But Sita was so devoted to Rama that she would never even look at such a man. Indeed, the wonderful princess definitively declared her noninterest in the heavenly realm when she pleaded with her husband to accompany Him to the forest. Rama and Sita were only in the forest of Dandaka because of an exile order handed down by King Dasharatha. Sita was advised to stay home by Rama, but she refused to listen to Him. In the Vedic system the wife’s dharma is to worship her husband and abide by his every command, but divine love is never checked by rules and regulations. Sita is so exalted that Rama cannot even control her love for Him in the least. She loves Rama with her life and soul, and there is nothing the Lord can do about it.
Hanuman, when bringing to mind that Sita could never think of any man except Rama, also remembered that Rama is not like any other person. If you take the wealthiest and most powerful person in the world, living past, present or future, they could still never measure up to Rama. The jewel of the Raghu dynasty is unmatched in His possession of divine qualities, and especially in His diffusion of mercy. Simply having the ability to chant the Lord’s holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, reveals the true mercy bestowed upon everyone. Hanuman knew that Mandodari, the person initially misidentified as Sita, wasn’t Rama’s wife because of the divine qualities of both Sita and Rama. Through his contemplation he further revealed his love for the divine couple, his level of dedication that has yet to be matched by any person. Sita and Rama are unparalleled in their love for each other and their dedication to their devotees, and Shri Hanuman is unparalleled in his love for Sita and Rama.
Whoever is fortunate enough to associate with these delightful, inspirational and divine characters on a regular basis by reciting their holy names, remembering their divine activities, and accepting their causeless mercy will be able to awaken the love for God that has been quietly resting for far too long within the heart. Just as Shri Rama never stops accepting the obeisances and glories offered by the sincere souls, those who follow bhakti as a way of life never let a day go by without glorifying the Lord of their life breath, their prana-natha, and His wonderful servants like Shri Hanuman.
Kissing his tail, jumping up and down,
Hanuman’s excitement was unbound.
After searching through Lanka all around,
Sita Devi he had finally found.
But on second thought, woman was sleeping sound,
Clothes were beautiful and food and drink were around.
In sober thought, realized Sita he did not see,
With any man except Rama she could never be.
Even if company of ruler of heaven she had the chance,
Upon him she would never bestow her amorous glance.
Besides, compared to Rama an equal was there not one,
Even amongst demigods a match for Rama there was none.
Thus Hanuman knew that Mandodari Sita was not,
But from incident hint of monkey’s love we got.
In the future, the enthusiasm would bode well,
For monkey in whose heart love for God does swell.
At thinking of Sita and Rama Hanuman does rejoice,
To the glory of bhakti his behavior does give voice.
Categories: searching for sita