“She saw there a monkey who was humble and beaming like a collection of blossomed Ashoka flowers, who spoke sweet words and had eyes that resembled molten gold.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 32.2)
sā dadarśa kapim tatra praśritam priya vādinam |
pullāśokotkarābhāsam taptacāmikarekṣaṇam ||
It’s not the easiest thing to live in this world as a beautiful woman. Surely it is nice to be appreciated for your good looks. It is comforting to know that your husband finds you attractive, that your vision puts a smile on his face. At the same time, there is the danger that accompanies beauty in a person who is generally weaker than another group. Purusha in Sanskrit means “enjoyer” and prakriti means “the enjoyed.” For analytical purposes, these two terms apply to the male and the female, and so when the enjoyed and the enjoyer are matched inappropriately, the enjoyed runs into problems.
Take the most beautiful woman in the world and put her in a place where one of the most powerful men in the world looks at her sinfully and you create a very dangerous situation. The woman was Sita Devi, the beloved daughter of King Janaka. The man was Ravana, the dreaded king of Lanka. Though beauty is subjective and thus difficult to measure quantitatively, we know that Sita’s beauty was very high based on the lusty actions of Ravana. Lust can carry away the thinking of even the most rational person. Sometimes it seems that lust controls the individual instead of the other way around.
arjuna uvācaatha kena prayukto ‘yaṁpāpaṁ carati pūruṣaḥanicchann api vārṣṇeyabalād iva niyojitaḥ
“Arjuna said: O descendant of Vrishni, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.36)
Sita was a married woman; happily at that. The marriage was legitimate; it took place according to the respected tradition of the Vedas. Any prince in the world could have married her; they had the opportunity. Yet only one met the lone qualification, the ability to lift a very heavy bow in an assembly hosted by the king of Mithila.
Though it was sinful to go after Sita, Ravana’s eyes were not pure. They were driven by lust. So he forcibly took her away years later and brought her back to his home of Lanka, which was an island situated far away from any mainland. With seemingly no hope for return to her family, Ravana figured that Sita would eventually give in to his advances. She did not. He thought that maybe by seeing the opulence of his kingdom, Sita would be impressed. She was not. He hoped that Sita would abandon her vow to love Rama through the passage of time. She would never.
So you had the lusty eyes of Ravana staring at Sita. Compounding the problem were the jealous eyes of the other females in Lanka. They did not like that Ravana was so hung up on another woman. They did not understand why he had not just killed her already, for they would never act so defiantly in front of someone they respected so much. There were also the terrorizing eyes of the female ogres ordered to harass Sita. She was kept in a grove of Ashoka trees. This setting is normally pleasant, but not when you have people around you day and night who threaten to kill you and eat you up.
To this situation of sinful eyes staring at her constantly came the soothing eyes of Shri Hanuman. Sita saw these when she looked up at a particular branch on an Ashoka tree. Sound first caught her attention. That sound described the glories of her husband Shri Rama. This sound was unique to this area; no one else dared speak well of her dear husband, who is the Supreme Lord in a special incarnation form. Rama is non-different from God. If you have Rama in your life, you have God. If you have the Lord, then you have someone to whom you can offer endless service. If you have endless service, you have no need to despair; you don’t lack direction in life.
Hanuman’s journey to Lanka is one instance of that service. He had Rama in his life through a meeting that took place in Kishkindha. From only a brief period of interaction, Hanuman knew Rama so well that he was able to identify Rama’s wife though having never met her. Upon seeing her he took the risky action of speaking out loud. Those words had to be perfect; otherwise the mission of finding her would be ruined.
Sita did not know from whom or where the message came. When she looked up, she saw someone whose eyes were like molten gold. These eyes were pleasing. They did not intend any harm. They did not look at her lustily. They did not want to scare her. Just the opposite in fact; these eyes came to give her renewed hope.
When we see Hanuman depicted in images today, we see the same soothing eyes. The love he feels for Sita and Rama shines forth in every aspect of his being. His words and actions documented in the Ramayana bring the same comfort. In the material world lust, anger, envy and greed are dominating factors even amongst our friends and well-wishers. Lacking God consciousness, what is the individual left to do? They can never become God, so they are forced to be envious of others who they deem to be doing better than them materially.
Hanuman’s eyes are different. He is a great well-wisher; not only for Sita and Rama but also for anyone who desires to find the true mission to life. He envies not; instead he hopes that others will surpass him in devotion. That is not possible, but through Hanuman’s grace anything can happen.
After glories of her husband told,
Sita seeing eyes of molten gold.
Odd since Lanka mired only in lust,
All sinful, not one she could trust.
A friend in Hanuman, of eyes soothing,
There for Sita’s grief to be removing.
For all devoted souls Hanuman wishing well,
Happily Sita and Rama in his heart dwell.
Categories: spotting hanuman