Within Hearing

[Shri Hanuman]“Having thus thought over the matter in many ways, that great monkey addressed these sweet words that were within the hearing of Sita.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.1)

evam bahu vidhām cintām cintayitva mahākapiḥ |
saṃśrave madhuram vākyam vaidehyā vyājahāra ha ||

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Here Shri Hanuman is about to address Sita Devi, the distressed princess from the area known as Videha. Her father was the king of Videha, so she was known as Vaidehi, among many other endearing terms. To be known as the offspring of a great personality is an honor. The name Janaka itself elicits auspiciousness when heard by someone who knows the king’s qualities. Here Hanuman brings auspiciousness to Sita by preparing to speak sweet words about her dear husband, Shri Rama.

It’s the age old problem for the person with something to say. They have the message. They know how they will deliver it. They may even have skill in composition, in elucidating their innermost thoughts. The problem is finding others to hear. Who will want to listen? How will they receive the message? What is the best way to reach as many of the target audience as possible?

In devotional service, the desire is to spread the message far and wide. The difference, however, is that the helping hand of the Almighty takes care of the distribution. In times past the glories were spread by each person through their travels. Narada Muni is a son of Lord Brahma, the creator. Narada can travel anywhere; indeed he has to. From a curse put upon him Narada cannot stay anywhere for too long.

“A preacher is known as parivrajakacharya – an acharya, or teacher, who always travels for the benefit of human society. Prajapati Daksha cursed Narada Muni by saying that although he had the facility to travel all over the universe, he would never be able to stay in one place.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.5.43 Purport)

[Narada Muni]Narada uses this curse to his advantage. It allows him to keep moving and chanting the glories of the Lord. God is one. One religion may say He is this and another may say He is that, but the personalities they are addressing are identical. One group may only know so much about Him. Another group may have a particular sentiment directed towards Him based on the good fortune they have received in their local sphere. Regardless the motive, the Divine is always one.

Narada chants that Almighty’s glories all the time. Narada addresses His personality of Narayana. This is also a Sanskrit word that means “the source of all men.” Narayana is also known as Vishnu, or “the all-pervading one.” Narayana is also Krishna, or “the all-attractive one.” Narayana is Rama as well, who is the source of all transcendental pleasure. Narada spreads the message of divine love through chanting the holy names. By travelling, he ensures that others can hear him.

But for the devoted soul, simply chanting to oneself is not enough. They think, “It would be better if others would also accept the task of spreading the glorious sound of the holy name. This way the benefits will spread more quickly and multiply.” To that end, Narada inspires countless souls to glorify God in their own way. He inspires Vyasadeva to compose the sacred Bhagavata Purana, which specifically focuses on bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, and describes the nectarean pastimes of the Supreme Lord in His form of Shri Krishna, the darling of Vraja.

[Krishna's childhood pastimes]Narada also inspires Valmiki with devotional service. Valmiki then writes the Ramayana, from which the words in the above quoted verse are taken. With others inspired in devotional service, the range of hearing increases. With the passage of time, the range of hearing further increases with the massive distribution of literature, either physical or now electronic. Through all these mechanisms the problem for the devoted soul is solved by the Supreme Lord Himself. With an earnest desire to speak His glories, Narayana ensures that there is a suitable audience. Even when no one is around, the sound of the holy name is so powerful that the neighboring trees get a benefit. There is the benefit to the worshiper also, so just by chanting to oneself, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” there is at least one important person who hears the message.

Here Shri Hanuman prepares to speak sweet words about Rama. He will make sure that the words will be heard by Sita. Again, Rama ensures the success of the devotee. Hanuman’s desire is pure, and since he is such a wonderful soul, Rama provides to him the best audience in the world. Imagine if you were a recording artist who enjoyed playing live. Playing a concert will bring joy to you, for sure, but you get even more joy if the audience members like what you play. Now imagine if you could have an auditorium full of the people who would enjoy your music the most.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman had something similar with Sita, for no one takes more pleasure in hearing about Rama than her. And the servants of the same Sita and Rama take great pleasure in hearing about Hanuman. Therefore Valmiki composes the Ramayana’s “book of beauty.” The sacred words allow so many to come within audible range of the glorious activities of Shri Hanuman, the dedicated servant of the Supreme Lord who never fails in his most important tasks.

In Closing:

Thoughts in my head now to convey,

Mechanism decided, I know the way.


But how to find those willing to hear,

Above all else, this is my fear.


For the devoted soul, God Himself provides,

Gives audience, from within He guides.


Message of Rama to Sita was brought,

In her best audience Shri Hanuman got.


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