“At night, on the sun having set, Maruti [Hanuman] contracted his body. Becoming the size of a cat, he was a wonderful sight to behold.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 2.49)
Certain things are just amazing to see. A glacier along the horizon while on a boat in Antarctica. The array of colors from the sunset along the ocean. The sun being eclipsed. The view of the clouds while travelling on an airplane. The birth of a child; that suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a brand new life enters this world.
Though difficult to see with conditioned eyes, with the help of shastra and the spiritual master it is possible to realize how one notable historical personality is one of the greatest sights to behold. The reason is always the same: the link to the Divine in a mood of love and devotion.
1. He is a monkey, after all
The person is Shri Hanuman, and he is in an interesting form. The Sanskrit words to describe him are many. Vanara. Kapi. Hari. These reference monkeys, and in particular dwellers of the forest from an ancient time period. In that form one is able to walk, talk, rationalize, reason, deliberate, along with feel excitement and enthusiasm.
These features help in describing, but what actually defines Hanuman is devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the incarnation of Rama. Hanuman is best known as Rama’s trusted servant, a pure devotee who takes any and all risks in service.
2. He can shrink to the size of a cat
Greatness goes in both directions. It is not that only increasing objects and stature is remarkable. In Hanuman’s case he was a sight to behold when he once shrunk his size to that of a cat. The shift was possible due to expert ability in what is known as mystic yoga. The various abilities are referred to as siddhis, which are perfections. A siddhi is something like getting the highest belt designation in martial arts. One distinction is that there can be many siddhis possessed simultaneously.
Hanuman reduced his form in order to better search through Lanka. This particular mission to please Rama involved searching for the Lord’s missing wife, Sita Devi. Hanuman could have torn through the entire city of Lanka with a giant stature, but a smaller size was better suited for this particular phase of the mission.
3. He can expand to the size of a mountain
Indeed, Hanuman had just used a large size to reach Lanka, which was far in the distance from the shore. Expanding his body to mountain-like proportions, Hanuman leaped over the ocean to reach the place where he had to search. Many years later he again showed this wonderful form to the brother Bhima, after repeatedly being requested to do so.
4. He sacrifices everything for Sita and Rama
Large, small, angry, sad, happy, battle-tested – Hanuman goes through so many different situations, all for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord and His wife. Love is an amazing thing to see. It is the reason people in attendance at a wedding shed tears during the ceremony.
Even a quick look at Hanuman’s deeds described in books like the Ramayana make him very endearing. The more one practices bhakti-yoga the more appreciation they have. In pictures where Shri Rama is worshiped alongside His closest family members, Hanuman is included. The great devotee is usually seen kneeling in front, in a smaller form. Again, Hanuman does this intentionally, for though he deserves the most honor he never seeks it, nor does he want any taken away from the people he loves the most.
As Ramayana events to unfold,
One particular sight to behold.
Hanuman to size of cat shrinking,
At thought of danger not blinking.
Can expand size too, in other direction,
For Rama, never on personal reflection.
Though worthy of honor best of them all,
With couple keeping stature small.
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