“One cannot speak this way without having been well-trained in the Rig Veda, memorized the Yajur Veda, and thoroughly understood the Sama Veda.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana about Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.28)
Bhagavan is full of contradictions. This must be the case, as the origin of everything cannot have the same limits imposed on Him that apply to everyone else. As with birth there must be death, as with happiness there must be sadness, as with heat there must be cold, and as with victory there must be defeat, the same pairs do not apply to Him.
He can be both larger than the largest and smaller than the smallest. He can reside simultaneously in more than one place at a time. This is true already through the expansion of Supersoul, which represents the same identity but has a location of residence inside of every living thing.
Those devoted to Bhagavan can rise to a similar level. One example is Shri Hanuman. A pure devotee, he possesses many pairs of features typically contradictory in nature.
1. Strong and intelligent
Have a task to complete? Need to assemble a team to get a particular job done? Not everyone has the same qualifications. This is the way of the material world, after all. The different species exist for a reason. There are different combinations of the three modes of nature: goodness, passion and ignorance.
In high school the differences are quite clear. You have the athletes. They excel in one or many sports. They have the qualities necessary to run fast, lift heavy objects, or endure through great manual effort expended.
On the other side are the geeks. They have book smarts. They are intelligent. They can solve complex equations in math in a matter of minutes. They can understand literature from the past. They can think ahead, beyond the immediate consequences.
Shri Hanuman is both an athletic-type person and a genius. Many examples from his pastimes prove this, but just one incident gives vivid evidence. The time he met Shri Rama for the first time, Hanuman descended from a high mountaintop. He then showed his intelligence by composing beautiful Sanskrit verses, on the fly, in praise of Rama, who is an incarnation of God. Hanuman then again showed his strength by taking Rama and His brother Lakshmana on the shoulders and bringing them to a meeting with Sugriva on the top of Mount Rishyamukha.
2. Compassionate and fierce
Are you a lover or a fighter? Compassionate or ruthless? Very rare it is to be both, but with Shri Hanuman whatever quality is necessary to please the Supreme Lord will be displayed.
Hanuman showed great compassion when first meeting Sita Devi, Rama’s missing wife who was in Lanka against her will. The dedicated servant chose the appropriate words to win her favor, as he was a stranger to her in a land already filled with duplicitous and evil characters.
In future interactions with Sita, Hanuman showed his ability to be ruthless. After the wicked king of Lanka finally got what was coming to him, it was time for Sita to be returned to Rama. Hanuman went to get her, and he remembered the torture she endured at the hands of Ravana’s female assistants. Hanuman was ready to kill those evil women, but Sita stepped in the way. She had forgiven them, as the struggle was now over.
3. Large and small
A height is fixed, is it not? I can’t be both over six feet tall and under it. Bhagavan is known as Adhokshaja because His features can’t be measured by blunt instruments. That is to say His height is never fixed. The deity in the temple is an indication of His merciful nature, but the worshiped statue does not completely represent His features. He is more than the entire universe combined, and yet He is also smaller than the atom.
Hanuman can become very large when necessary, like for crossing the ocean to reach Lanka to search for Sita. He can become very small at the same time, like after reaching Lanka and searching through the city. He became the size of a cat for that purpose, and that diminutive form did not strike at his ego. Whatever size is necessary Hanuman will take.
4. Quiet guardian and expert teacher
Generally keeping to himself, not bothering anyone, Hanuman exhibits the qualities of a transcendentally realized soul. He does not go out of his way to bother anyone. He is silent in terms of not speaking rubbish. He does not waste people’s time.
When the situation calls for it, Hanuman is not shy in teaching. Such was the case when meeting the brother named Bhima. Hanuman was lying down, blocking the Pandava’s path, protecting him from going to a dangerous area. When the time came to speak, Hanuman described important events from the past and predicted certain ominous conditions for the future.
These pairs of features descend from the Almighty, given to the great devotee to allow the service to proceed in the manner desired. Owning the highest stature a person can have, Shri Hanuman is humble throughout, maintaining focus on the pleasure of Sita and Rama.
Tall like mountain a wonderful sight,
Showing also diminutive height.
Wise like Vedas having read,
Strong enough for enemies to dread.
Quiet when Rama’s kingdom guarding,
Teacher when Bhima’s progress retarding.
Features contradictory since devotee pure,
That Hanuman of fame to endure.
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