“Spoken to by Vaidehi, then Hanuman, the son of the wind, began to describe Rama according to the truth.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.5)
evam uktaḥ tu vaidehyā hanūmān māruta ātmajaḥ |
tato rāmam yathā tattvam ākhyātum upacakrame ||
“Can you really prove that God exists? I’m not talking about quoting specific verses from your religious work of preference. I mean really believing in the existence, the guiding hand, of the Almighty. How do you prove that? How do you actually know Him?”
This question looks more difficult to answer than it actually is. As soon as the human being matures, one fear takes precedence over others. It is stronger in its ability to cripple drive and enthusiasm. It has a way of remaining in the consciousness, even if the best attempts are made to forget. In the Ramayana, a noted prince makes mention of this fear, comparing it to the life cycle of the fruit growing on a tree.
“Just as the ripened fruit has no other fear than falling, the man who has taken birth has no other fear than death.” (Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 105.17)
Let me think about what I have to do tomorrow. There is the laundry that needs to get done. The car needs to be taken in for servicing. I have to finish that task for work. Then I have to make sure to drop the kids off for their afterschool activities. There are so many things that I have to do on a daily basis, and if I didn’t worry about them they wouldn’t get done.
Ah, but what happens if everything does get done satisfactorily? What if I could guarantee success in every one of my ventures from now into the foreseeable future? That brings up another issue. When do I stop going into the future? What is the end date to my activities?
Naturally, the answer is death. Everything that I work for will eventually go to waste. It has to because I will be compelled to leave my body. The fruits of my labor do not come with me. No matter how much care and attention I put into something, it won’t last forever. Therefore to fear over death makes sense. Death is the one event that wipes away everything.
The only real answer to death comes from religion. The advancement of science has only provided more convenience in everyday life. Convenience doesn’t equal enlightenment. It also doesn’t prevent death. It doesn’t answer why life came into being in the first place.
The answer to our fear is God. He is the Almighty. He has the greatest intelligence. He will take care of everything. Ah, but there is the looming question. Does He really exist? How do I know for sure? How can I be certain of the fact that He watches everything I do and will reward my pious behavior in the afterlife?
The above referenced verse from the Ramayana gives an idea of how to be certain. Here Shri Hanuman is preparing to address Sita Devi. She has just asked him a series of questions about her husband, Shri Rama. Hanuman, who is the son of the wind-god, will lean on the truth, tattvam, in his reply. That is to say he will not speculate. He will not exaggerate things. There is no need to, as Rama in truth is God in a splendid incarnation form.
The skeptic will say that the Ramayana is an ancient book, and so there is no way to prove its authenticity. The valid response is that the testimony contained within is validation enough. Let’s pretend that I had a bad dream last night. I decide to record my recollections on paper in the morning. Ten years later I become a prominent figure in the public, and so I include that dream as part of my biography. Twenty years later I’m running for president of the nation. Journalists opposed to my candidacy are digging through my past to look for any weak points. They come upon the recollections of my bad dream. They ask other people about it. No one has ever heard of it before. Thus the journalists conclude that I fabricated the dream.
But why would anyone else know about it? The recollection is the evidence itself. Nothing else is required. Surely, people do fabricate things. People do tell lies and the loss of memory leads to foggy recollections of events once vividly captured in the mind. Yet none of these things automatically invalidates a written testimony as evidence.
In the same way, Shri Hanuman’s words about Rama, according to the truth, are sufficient for knowing about God. The lone stipulation is that the individual sincerely seeking the truth must extend a little faith in the beginning. This shouldn’t be that difficult to do considering that the entire world operates on the extension of faith. If people were only skeptical, they would never ride trains, planes and automobiles. They would never drive through an intersection, even if the light were green. They would never believe the weather forecasts or what is written in books. They would never learn anything since the teachers would lack the necessary credibility.
Faith gets strengthened with authority, and in Shri Hanuman you have the foremost authority on God. He saw Rama face to face. In a short time he came to know Rama very well. Sita knew Him too, and she only asked Hanuman to describe more so that her delight would increase even further. This is another way to know if you have found God the person. Hearing more about Him brings more and more joy, like an ocean that continually gets incoming water, but never fills up. This type of response is there exclusively in bhakti, or devotion, which Hanuman has in full.
For Divine just one thing see,
With increasing happiness to be?
Like with ocean having waters incoming,
But despite that never filled becoming.
When in truth of the Supreme Lord heard,
Then deepest love and devotion inside stirred.
Sita already knew, but still wanted to hear,
From Hanuman, of her beloved husband dear.
Categories: hanuman the messenger