“The great devotee in the monkey form carried out his duty, giving everything of himself, and the Lord became so grateful that He, the one who gives boons, stood before Hanuman with folded hands asking for a boon.” (Dohavali, 112)
I believe in God. I am not an atheist. I am not exactly sure how He manifests or what He looks like, but I don’t believe that this life is the only one. Death is not the end, and birth is certainly not the beginning. I have lived before.
In addition to the acknowledgment, I want to please Him. There are different options in this area, and the result may not be as expected.
1. Accumulation of possessions
Just see how many properties I have. I started with nothing. Almost a rags to riches story, I had to work my way up. It wasn’t easy, but I never settled. I made an honest living and decided to invest. One investment turned into two, and soon I was behind an empire. At the time of death this will be my life’s work to show to the Almighty.
2. Consolidation of power
Just see how much is under my control. Not one city. Not one state. An entire nation, and from there I expanded. I am responsible for the protection and wellbeing of millions. It is not an easy responsibility, but someone has to do it. The bad people fear me. Heck, even some of the good people know not to get on my bad side. I am a king-like personality with tremendous influence.
3. Renunciation of the same
I did not want to get entangled by the world, so I gave it up. Why waste my time with so many possessions? Can I live in more than one place at a time? Then what is the use of owning multiple properties? Do I get to take my money with me after death?
I had no interest in power, either. It’s not like one person is better than another. Just because you have some responsibilities doesn’t make you a superior person. In many ways you are more miserable. You can never be happy. You need peace, which I tried to achieve through living very simply.
While each of these options may be appealing, they do not please the Almighty; at least not in isolation. The body will be abandoned at the time of death. A new body will be accepted in the next life, known as birth.
Moreover, these different directions speak nothing of character. A business mogul could be the worst person in the world. A renounced person isn’t necessarily a believer in God. They may be making a show of renunciation only for gathering followers, who then pay for the necessities through donations. Indeed, a quick way to get rich without being tagged as such is to become a bogus guru.
As God is known to give boons, He can make any person extremely wealthy. Goswami Tulsidas gives the example of Shri Hanuman, the famous historical figure whose deeds are described in the Ramayana and other Vedic texts. Hanuman was not even in a human body. He lived renounced in the forest as a monkey, but this wasn’t a conscious choice; it was simply the way of life.
Hanuman pleased God by sacrificing everything, but for the Lord’s interest. Bhagavan roamed the earth as the warrior prince named Rama, and for Hanuman and others there were specific responsibilities to carry out. Hanuman wasn’t a servant for hire. He wasn’t a private investigator paid to bring back intelligence from a foreign land.
He took up the risky work because of love for Rama. The Supreme Lord became so indebted that He asked Hanuman for a boon. The tables turned, showing the power of devotional service. The boon-giver becomes the boon-seeker. This is due entirely to His feeling of gratefulness.
Shri Rama is pleased when work is done for His honor, for making Him happy. Whether that work involves accumulation of possessions, consolidation of power, or renunciation of the same, the key indicator is consciousness. Hanuman is always conscious of Rama, and so Sita and her husband take care of him.
Hanuman shows others how to receive the same benefits. He gives the example of always chanting the holy names, which others can follow also through the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Accumulate possessions or fame,
Or renunciation of the same.
In whichever material way set,
Guaranteed not His favor to get.
Since on consciousness depending,
Like with Hanuman to Lanka sending.
Power, but sacrifice underlying,
Only for Rama’s pleasure trying.
Categories: the three