“By my good fortune I shall be able to remove the grief of the army of monkeys who were lamenting, telling them of my having found you.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.77)
Shri Hanuman is the dedicated servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His incarnation of Rama. Hanuman is famously depicted in pictures and statues holding a mountain in his hand as he swiftly courses through the air. The image brings to life the incident described in the Ramayana, where there was a dire need of medicine available only on a specific mountain. Having difficulty locating the exact plant required, Hanuman decided to uproot the entire mountain and bring it with him.
That incident shows his amazing strength and also his eagerness to please Rama. Among his many other qualities is Hanuman’s humility. For someone who has done so much, who has broken through the barriers of gravity, time and self-doubt, this trait is one of the more difficult ones to maintain. But from many incidents we see that not only is he humble, but that humility is unlike anything we’ve seen.
1. Remarking on his good fortune when having found Sita
Hanuman met Rama in the Kishkindha forest. Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana were looking for Sita, Rama’s wife. Very quickly after that initial meeting, Hanuman found himself working for Rama. He and other Vanaras from the area went on a search that spanned the entire world. Their mission was to find Sita and then return home with the information of her whereabouts.
It so happened that once Sita’s location was learned, Hanuman was the only one who had a chance at reaching her. He was able to continue on due to possessing different siddhis of yoga. These are perfections, something like abilities, achieved after steady practice in mysticism. Hanuman didn’t need to spend any time in meditational yoga; he received several boons from demigods when he was younger.
Making use of these siddhis at the appropriate time, he finally reached Sita, who was in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. Hanuman had every reason to be proud of his accomplishment. The journey wasn’t easy. He had to cross over a massive ocean. He had to roam through a city undetected. Yet when he found Sita, he remarked on how it was his good fortune to have succeeded. He thought of his Vanara friends and how happy they would be that he succeeded.
2. Keeping attention on a wasted effort
After he reached Lanka, Hanuman still had a difficult time finding Sita. As mentioned before, any person would have been proud for crossing the ocean in a single leap. There were obstacles along the way, also, and Hanuman overcame them too.
Yet the mission wasn’t over yet. Success was on the horizon, but there was no way for Hanuman to know that. He several times reminded himself of the need to ensure that his great feats shouldn’t go to waste. Only a truly humble person would think this way. His interest is always tied to Rama’s. That is why Hanuman is always in yoga. He has an unbreakable connection to the Divine. He is always concerned with the happiness of Sita and Rama; not his own reputation.
3. Deprecating himself when first meeting Ravana’s men
Sita was in Lanka against her will due to the wickedness of the king, Ravana. After Hanuman met Sita and assured her of Rama’s imminent arrival, he decided to mess the place up a bit on his way out. Naturally, this caught the attention of Ravana’s men. They were Rakshasas, which are like man-eating ogres of bad character.
When Hanuman first met these men, he told them that he was a servant and that there were many more monkeys like him on their way. Essentially, the best was yet to come. The Rakshasas would be meeting even more destruction in the future. Yet it was only Hanuman who could even reach Lanka. Out of all the soldiers in the army of Sugriva, the Vanara-king in Kishkindha, Hanuman was the best. Hanuman genuinely felt so much affection for his friends that he never spoke so highly of himself. When an occasion would call for confidence, Hanuman would make bold declarations, but on the inside he is the most humble person always.
4. Being bound by Brahma’s weapon
In the ensuing fight, Hanuman held his own. Then one of Ravana’s sons unleashed a weapon that originally came from Lord Brahma, the creator. Out of respect for Brahma, Hanuman allowed the weapon to bind him. Hanuman was not too proud to be captured. There was nothing to worry over, as having audience with Ravana might prove valuable in the future. Though Hanuman is so dear to Sita and Rama, he never thinks he is better than anyone else.
5. Intentionally breaking the Hanumad Ramayana
The story of Hanuman is included in the lengthy poem known as the Ramayana, which is dedicated to Rama’s life and pastimes. The author of the Ramayana is Valmiki, who rightfully so has received so much credit and praise over the years for the quality of the work. Sanskrit is not an easy language, and the Ramayana was composed at a time before printing presses. The sages during ancient times could recite such lengthy works from memory alone.
Centuries ago there was another famous writer of Vedic texts known as Kalidasa. One time he found a tablet that had words written on it that no one could decipher. They were in an unrecognizable script. Kalidasa deduced that the tablet had words from a work known as the Hanumad Ramayana, which was composed by Shri Hanuman himself.
The legend goes that after the victory over Ravana, Hanuman decided to compose his own work as a way to remember his beloved Rama and everything that happened. Valmiki one time met with Hanuman and saw the amazing quality of this work. Valmiki felt defeated, judging that his own work was less in quality compared to Hanuman’s. At that instant, Hanuman decided to destroy his own work, composed on stone.
This is likely the greatest illustration of Hanuman’s humility. Who wouldn’t want to preserve something of such high quality that they created themselves? Yet Valmiki’s feelings were more important to Hanuman. Hanuman has real ego; he determines his self-worth on the happiness of the Supreme Lord. Hanuman has no desire for fame, though he is the most famous. He is not proud, though he has the most over which to be proud. For these reasons and more he remains forever dear to the devoted souls.
Though perfections of yoga to own,
Most humility by Hanuman shown.
Like when Lanka in fury razing,
His monkey friends first praising.
Though over the ocean flown,
Not puffed up from effort his own.
Though Ramayana writing on stone,
Prefers credit for Valmiki alone.
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