Five Times Hanuman Could Have Given Up

[Shri Hanuman]“Lakshmana has many naracha arrows [made of iron] that are just like the thunderbolt hurled by Indra and lightning in the potency of their impact, as they can even split mountains.” (Hanuman speaking to Angada, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 54.15)

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Things not going your way? You thought this was it, but it looks like the outcome will not be in your favor. In your opinion, the country has been in a downward spiral for the last many years. This was the time to change things. Renewed hope. Time to make the country right, back to the way things used to be.

The problem is the forecast isn’t looking good. The poll numbers say the party responsible for the recent destruction will win the next election. You are ready to give up. You don’t want to be involved in these things anymore. You’d rather be like the rest of the population, who is in the dark. They know what the celebrities wear to the awards night, who is dating whom, and what time their show comes on television, but they have no clue about laws that have been passed and the politicians who pass them. Ignorance is bliss.

“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)

In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that the living entity is not the doer. Under the illusion caused by false ego, ahankara, he mistakes the contribution of the three modes of nature for human effort. The only way to guarantee success in a venture is if the venture is for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord.

Yet even in that effort there are times of trouble. Case in point Shri Hanuman. His life is devotion, bhakti. He knows nothing else. He is an eternally liberated soul who plays an active role in the real-life drama known as the Ramayana. In Hanuman’s story there are moments of despair, where success is in jeopardy. He easily could have quit and gone home, but that is not the course he took.

1. When the other Vanaras wanted to

The main mission assigned to Hanuman was actually shared by a vast army of forest-dwellers known as Vanaras. These are monkey-like creatures who have hints of civilized life in them. Even among Vanaras Hanuman was special, as he could recite perfect Sanskrit on the fly. It was an ancient time period, the Treta Yuga, but Sanskrit was a language still only spoken by the highly cultured.

“He has certainly studied well the entire range of Sanskrit grammar, for though he has addressed Me with many words, he has not used a single one out of place.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.29)

Sugriva was the commander of the Vanara army. He gave the order to search the entire world for the missing princess of Videha, Sita. There was a time limit. If they failed after that duration passed, they should not bother to return.

Sure enough, the time expired. The monkeys were divided into groups, and Hanuman’s group was led by Angada, who was Sugriva’s nephew. Angada was so despondent at the lack of success. He was too afraid to return home to Sugriva with the bad news. He decided to give up. Hanuman did not like this plan and so he tried various means of diplomacy to change the situation. One of them was danda, or the threat of force. He reminded Angada that Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana could shoot arrows made of iron that could split mountains easily. Hanuman could have given up too, but in spirit he was always thinking of the welfare of Rama, the husband of Sita and the elder brother of Lakshmana.

2. When they reached the ocean

Angada’s deliberation that led to his decision to quit actually saved them. A bird from above heard what was going on. He heard the name of Jatayu, who was his brother. The eagle Sampati was ready to eat the monkeys at first, but when he heard about Jatayu he was interested to know more. The monkeys informed him about Jatayu’s death at the hands of Ravana, the evil king of Lanka, and how they were looking for Sita, Rama’s wife.

Sampati then told the group where Sita was, on the island of Lanka. This was great news. Renewed hope. They had been saved. Ah, but they soon found another great obstacle. This was physical. A massive ocean. Lanka was an island far away from the shore. How were they going to reach? Again, they could have given up. Thankfully, the perseverant Hanuman was there. Using the mahima-siddhi of yoga, he increased the size of his body and prepared to leap from a mountaintop.

3. When he saw the women in the palace

Hanuman successfully made it across the ocean. Again, a big obstacle cleared only to be followed by more. He was in Lanka, but how was he going to search for Sita? It wasn’t like monkeys were indigenous to the area. The place at the time was ruled by ogres, known as Rakshasas in Sanskrit.

As he had used one siddhi before, he used one again. Known as the anima-siddhi, Hanuman shrank his body to the size of a cat. He used that small form to search throughout the city. He eventually found his way into Ravana’s palace. There he saw many queens enjoying in the intimate setting. Hanuman could have quit again, as it is against dharma to look at women in this way. Realizing that the cause of pleasing Rama is greater than any other dharma, Hanuman properly assessed that his mind had not been disturbed. Consciousness is the ultimate determining factor for piety or sin. There was no sin for Hanuman since his mind was still focused on finding Sita.

4. When he misidentified Mandodari as Sita

Hanuman was looking for Sita, but he had not met her before. He didn’t have a picture to use. There were only some ornaments that had fallen from the sky as Ravana had taken her away on the aerial car. There was the amazing beauty that is the perfect match for the Supreme Lord Rama. There was another key trait that helped him to correct a misidentification.

Hanuman saw a beautiful queen inside of Ravana’s palace. She was obviously the chief queen. Hanuman rejoiced at the apparent victory. He had succeeded against all odds. He kissed his tail in joy. Then he quickly realized that this wasn’t Sita. It was Mandodari. She was beautiful in every way, but she was not despondent. Hanuman knew that Sita would be in a miserable state, as anyone who was close to Rama would feel that way after being separated from Him.

5. When Sita subtly insulted him

Hanuman eventually found Sita, in a grove of Ashoka trees. He was so happy to meet her, but there were further obstacles. He had to convince her that he was a genuine messenger sent by Rama. After all, Lanka was filled with fiends who changed their shapes at will for nefarious reasons. Ravana himself had done so when he approached Sita in the forest of Dandaka.

Hanuman eventually did convince her, and as the conversation proceeded he proposed the idea of taking her to Rama himself. He would carry her on his back. Sita rejected the proposal, and subtly insulted him in the process, attributing the foolishness of the idea to his monkey nature.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman did not let that deter him. He knew that her words were rooted in pure love for her husband. Hanuman is amazing in this way. He never gives up because he never wants to disappoint the people who count on him. He continues to work for Rama to this day by remaining in this world for as long as the glories of Sita’s husband continue to be told.

In Closing:

Possible now for Hanuman to behold,

Staying in this world as long as glories told.

Of Shri Rama, the person who mission assigned,

In different search groups Vanaras aligned.

Could have quit when time expired,

Again after Sampati with information inspired.

Or when in Lanka the palace inside by him seen,

But never to stop in finding Rama’s queen.

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