“From that conversation a wonderful delight came over them. They then conversed with each other with mutual confidence.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 34.7)
tayoḥ samāgame tasmin prītiḥ utpāditā adbhutā |
paraspareṇa ca ālāpam viśvastau tau pracakratuḥ ||
It’s better to have friends than not, right? Going it alone in life is difficult. If you have to travel out of town a week from today and the flight you’ve booked is early in the morning, it’s nice to know someone is there to drop you off to the airport. You don’t have to rely on a stranger. A friend is someone you can count on. If you ask for a ride, you’ll get it. By the same token, friends count on you for things; it’s a two-way street.
But how are the relationships formed? There is some interest that is met, for sure. There is also the closeness established through sharing information. This is where things get tricky. It’s nice to share important things with others. There is the saying that love isn’t real until you express it. The concept can apply to all emotions. If you’re worried about something, it can fester inside over a long period of time. If you let it out, you’ll likely feel better. If you have one or a few close friends, you probably won’t ever need to visit a professional counselor. You’ll have other people to listen to your stories.
But what happens if the friendship ends? The illusion that pervades the material world causes forgetfulness, among other things. Therefore it is easy to forget good deeds done for you. Your friend could have come through many times in the past, but if they fail just one time it’s easy to get upset. From that forgetfulness an argument can ensue, which breaks the friendship.
Then you’re living with a potential enemy who knows a lot of your secrets. Even if there isn’t an established disagreement, it’s a risk to share vital information with others. Material life is a struggle, after all. There is no such thing as too much enjoyment. If I earn a million dollars, I will be envious of the person who has two million. If I’m struggling to make ends meet, I will be jealous of the person who doesn’t struggle as much.
Difficulty there will be, as the senses are never satisfied. Therefore in ordinary friendship there is always the risk of exploitation, making yourself vulnerable through the information you share. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we find two people who are not looking to exploit. They have no interest in enjoying material resources to the fullest. They are totally dedicated to serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead, each in their own way.
When they establish that each other has the same interest, they let their guard down. A wonderful happiness comes over them. The Sanskrit word is adbhuta, which can also mean “amazing.” The description is appropriate because the circumstances don’t really call for happiness. Sita Devi is in Lanka, held there against her will. She desperately wants to regain the association of her husband, Shri Rama. Hanuman is in Lanka searching for Sita. To the people of Lanka, he is an invader. If there were an immigration office, he certainly wouldn’t be granted a visa.
Yet both are amazingly happy because they have found each other. Through a preliminary conversation they realize that they are of the same mind. Now they are ready to speak freely, with mutual confidence. Shrila Rupa Gosvami describes that this is one of the ways to interact with devotees.
“Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasada and offering prasada are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another.” (The Nectar of Instruction, 4)
It is safe to reveal your mind to someone who is serving the Supreme Lord without motive. Purity in service, known as bhakti-yoga, has genuine love as the foundation. The devotee wants more for everyone else than they want for themselves. If someone shares confidential information with them, they will only use it to help further the purpose of pleasing the Supreme Lord. If the person sharing the information has the same purpose, then both parties win.
In general there are six ways to interact with a devotee. This verse from the Ramayana gives us a nice example of sharing one’s mind, speaking confidentially. There is no reason to fear, as the result will be increased bliss in devotion, which is the meaning of life. Any other sharing of confidential information carries a risk, as sometimes even sealed court documents get leaked to the public. Sita is there to help Hanuman and he the same. Together they serve Shri Rama purely, one as a wife and the other as a messenger. They know what is in each other’s heart, and they appreciate very much the service offered.
Risky your mind to others to reveal,
Since unsafe even court documents with a seal.
But with the devotee danger not there,
Since always to help with love and care.
Amazing happiness when they conversed,
Sita and Hanuman, who vast ocean traversed.
Both serving pure, deep love for Rama have got,
So that to become friends surprise it is not.
Categories: hanuman the messenger