The Swan-like Messenger

[Shri Rama]“The son of Dasharatha, Rama, who is the best among knowers of the Vedas, who knows the Vedas and the brahmastra, has inquired about your welfare, O Devi.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 34.3)

yo brāhmam astram vedān ca veda vedavidām varaḥ |
sa tvām dāśarathī rāmo devi kauśalam abravīt ||

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Do you know people who are constantly negative? If you bring them good news on a particular day, they find a way to make a bad comment about it. Among other things this practice is called “raining on the parade,” and some people are expert at it. A long time ago, the king of Lanka focused on only the negative about a particular prince; though even on that side the judgment was erroneous. That prince’s messenger knew His real nature, and this verse from the Ramayana reveals that.

“To err is human.” Man commits mistakes. There is no doubt about this. To the doubtful, an easy way to get proof is to look at the prediction. Do we know any person whose predictions have never failed? Of course not. Things play out much differently in real life than they do on paper. The person who has consistently lost throughout life can one day emerge victorious. The perennial winner can one day suffer a stunning defeat.

[upset victory in tennis]In Vedic literature the comparison is often made between the swan and the crow. The crow stays amidst garbage. It does not prefer the finer things in life. It is happier with things that have been discarded. When discussing the outlook on life, the crow-like person is always negative. They see only the bad qualities in people. They think only of bad news. Feeling so insecure about themselves, they never allow for someone else to be praised too much.

The swan-like person is the opposite. They see the good in people. They put a positive spin on things. And this isn’t done out of foolishness. Rather, they are in-tune with the workings of the material nature, which is driven by spirit. The highest swan, known as a paramahamsa, extracts the spiritual essence from everything. In one sense, they see God everywhere. They also know that He is a person with wonderful attributes.

Lanka’s king a long time back was crow-like in his judgment of the Supreme Lord Rama. Without even knowing His true divine nature, the people of Ayodhya understood the pure goodness of the eldest son of the king. Meanwhile, Ravana could only focus on the fact that Rama left home at the command of His father. Ravana would never dream of renouncing something so important to him as a kingdom. He especially wouldn’t do it to preserve the honor of someone else.

Shri Hanuman understood Rama’s real qualities, some of which he reviews here. Hanuman says that Rama knows the Vedas and the brahmastra. The Vedas are the ancient books of knowledge passed on originally in an aural tradition. They have no known date of composition since they glorify God. The Supreme Lord is without birth, so the same goes for the oldest works that describe His glories.

The brahmastra is a powerful weapon that can only be called upon by the skillful. Hanuman mentions both because they are relevant to the situation at hand. Sita was taken away from Rama’s side through a nefarious plot hatched and executed by Ravana. Since Rama knows the Vedas, he is not evil like Ravana. Since Rama knows the brahmastra, He is indeed capable of defeating Ravana in battle.

[Shri Rama]Hanuman says that Rama is the son of Dasharatha and the best among knowers of the Vedas. This means that Rama transcends occupation. Though by birth He is a kshatriya, or member of the warrior class, since He is God He is not limited by material qualities. The gunas that make up the body of the Supreme Lord are transcendental. They can shows signs of both goodness and passion. Since He is the best of the knowers of the Vedas, Rama is the highest brahmana. As the son of a king, He is an expert fighter as well.

Rama has asked about the welfare of Sita. Hanuman shows his swan-like perspective in this verse for the purpose of alleviating the concerns of the also swan-like Sita. Both Hanuman and Sita know Rama very well, but they had not met prior to this. Therefore Hanuman had to show that he was genuine, that Rama had indeed sent him. What better way than to review some of Rama’s qualities with the person who knows him so well?

[Hanuman meeting Sita]Indeed, the apparent defects that the crow-like atheists discover about God are not defects at all. Everything about the Supreme Lord is good, even His hands-off approach to the workings of the material nature. This is an act of kindness, since it fulfills the desire of those who want to live separate from the Divine shelter. On the other side, the swan-like people, and those who are aspiring to be swan-like, get help from the likes of Hanuman. These servants come and deliver the truth about Rama, and such knowledge helps to gradually bring elevation out of the darkness and into the light.

In Closing:

Since in misery to be,

Crow negative always to see.

Opposite in nature is the swan,

Seeing God always, good to dwell upon.

King of Lanka in mind like the crow,

Glories of Shri Rama not to know.

Hanuman swan in highest state,

Qualities of Rama to Sita to relate.

Categories: hanuman the messenger

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