“O Vaidehi, having eyes like lotus petals, alas it is my great fortune that you are asking me to describe the features of your husband and Lakshmana, though this is known to you already.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.6)
jānantī bata diṣṭyā mām vaidehi paripṛcchasi |
bhartuḥ kamala patra akṣi samkhyānam lakṣmaṇasya ca ||
Public speaking is not easy. There is a reason that it is often named as one of the top fears in opinion surveys. All eyes are on you. The appearance gets the majority of the attention, too. It doesn’t matter as much what you say, especially if your appearance is on television. They see your nervousness. They hear your mistakes. They feel the tension. There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.
Public speaking occurs in different situations. For high officials, there is the prepared speech. The teleprompter has the words to say, which make them easy to access. The delivery is then the only thing required. In times past the same was accomplished through memorizing the written word, with just a few notes accompanying the speaker on stage.
Then there is extemporaneous speech, such as when someone asks you to say a few words that you haven’t prepared beforehand. If you don’t know what to say, it is a big deal. You have to improvise.
Then there is the situation where you are eager to speak, even though it’s not your turn. The person at the microphone is discussing a topic near and dear to your heart. With every sentence they utter, you can’t help but think of what you would say, the things that you would add and the things that you would characterize in your own way.
In this case, if someone asks you to speak, you are more than happy. You consider it a great fortune, as you have knowledge of the issue and are enthusiastic to share your thoughts. A similar thing happened to Shri Hanuman, whose feelings are described in the verse quoted above from the Ramayana.
Hanuman enjoyed Rama-katha. This is discussion on the Supreme Lord Rama, who is also known as Ramachandra. Rama-katha is synonymous with Krishna-katha. The same with Hari-katha. Rama, Krishna and Hari are just different names for the Almighty. Their significance is that they specifically reference God the person, someone with identifiable and distinguishable features. You can talk at length about God the person. Not so much with God the abstract or God the impersonal, attributeless energy.
Sita is Rama’s wife during their earthly pastimes. In the spiritual world she is His eternal consort, i.e. the female aspect to the Divine. She already knew Rama very well, but she asked Hanuman to continue describing. Though she is an expert, she does not consider herself the sole person qualified to discuss her husband. In fact, she derives more pleasure hearing others describe Him.
The specifics of the situation are also noteworthy. Sita was in an area where Rama-katha did not take place. Instead, there was glorification of Ravana. Think of him as the opposite of Rama, a person of the demoniac qualities. Imagine if someone asked you to go up to the microphone and say a few kind words about a thief, a cheater, a person ruled by their sense demands instead of the other way around. It would be akin to praising someone for having eaten and slept the majority of their life.
Hanuman was asked to also describe Lakshmana, who is Rama’s brother. A better brother on this earth there never will be. His glories alone are endless. Hanuman met both Rama and Lakshmana, and from association he became qualified to speak about them. They were both looking for Sita, who had been taken away from Rama in secret.
In the present time period it is rare to hear Hari-katha. A person is fortunate to come within earshot of such discussion. The devoted person who is asked to speak Hari-katha is even more fortunate. They take as much pleasure discussing as the devotees do in hearing.
Nervous when with public speaking tasked,
Even more so when for extemporaneous asked.
Better if when eager for something to say,
Your good fortune, what a blessed day.
Shri Hanuman feeling this way,
When asked of Rama and Lakshmana to say.
From Rama’s wife Sita Devi coming the request,
More than happy, by situation blessed.
Categories: hanuman the messenger