“Or I shall release you even today from these miseries caused by the Rakshasas. Do you ascend my back, O irreproachable lady.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 37.19)
athavā mocayiṣyāmi tām adya eva hi rākṣasāt |
asmāt duhkhāt upāroha mama pṛṣṭham anindite ||
There is the tale of two friends. One eats healthy. They don’t indulge in pizza, ice cream, large meals at restaurants and the like. The outside establishments intentionally add more fat to their dishes in order to enhance taste. Patrons have made the decision to leave the home, to have a night out, so why should there be austerity? The items on the dessert menu often have as many calories as the entrees served during the meal.
This friend monitors their caloric intake. They exercise on a regular basis, and as such they appear to be relatively fit. They are in otherwise good health. The only issue is that they seem to contract minor illnesses here and there. At the beginning of the spring season, a good few weeks after winter has passed, they catch influenza. They are not sure what happened, as there weren’t any other ill people around them. That is the prevailing wisdom anyway, that the culprit is others carrying the disease and bringing it towards otherwise healthy people.
The other friend doesn’t eat as healthy. They are always feeling hot due to spicy foods and high salt intake. They exercise, as well, but they can’t seem to lose weight. They are around just as many people in public, but they don’t get sick. It has been years since they caught something even minor, like a cold.
One obvious difference between the two friends is workload. The healthy-eating friend spends long hours at the office. They feel they can handle the burden of juggling many responsibilities simultaneously. They burn the candle at both ends, as the saying goes.
The other friend tends to take it easy. They don’t feel as much stress. They reserve portions of the day for relaxation. They can’t handle more than one task at a time. Otherwise they will get flustered and not complete any to satisfaction.
Indeed, as the human being is limited, there is only so much work they can accept. They will otherwise reach a breaking point, where the body starts to break down. Weakness of the body invites disease to take over and gain influence. Knowing limitations is not easy, as there is no simple way to measure.
From the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we get an idea of just how much one particular person is willing to take on. He previously carried two amazing warriors on his back, leaping from the ground to the top of a mountain. More recently, he had leaped across an entire ocean, bearing the burden of responsibility for success in a difficult mission.
With so many victories behind him, and with already more pressure on him than an ordinary person could stand, Hanuman is ready to accept more responsibility. He proposes to Sita Devi that she climb on his back as a way to escape the grief in Lanka. The cause is the Rakshasas, who are like man-eating ogres. They are harassing her day and night, attempting to scare her into submission.
What exactly do they want? What is Sita resisting? She is married in all righteousness, dharma, to Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. The king of Lanka has no respect for dharma. Whatever the senses desire, in that direction Ravana will go. His senses tell him that Sita must be made the chief queen, and despite her refusal he is not relenting. The last resort is the threat of lethal punishment.
Hanuman’s mission is to find Sita and report back to home base. He is ready to leave Lanka and return to where Rama and company are. Still, he can’t help but feel compassion. He does not want someone as blameless as the daughter of King Janaka to suffer for a second longer. He is willing to accept more responsibility, if it means that someone else will have their distress eliminated.
This is the mood of the pure devotee of God. They are not concerned with going to heaven, hell or anywhere else. Shri Hanuman was in a place turned hellish by Ravana and his influence. There was no distress from the place of residence, just the situation for someone who deserved better.
In the same way, the pure devotee representatives of the Supreme Lord travel the world spreading the message of Divine love. If they are limited in their mobility due to time and circumstance, they still find a way to rescue others. Even if no one is around, they chant the holy names and speak on the glories of God, giving benefit to any living entities nearby. When they are blessed with ability, such as with Shri Hanuman, they fearlessly exercise them to the limit, ready to carry any burden in order to relieve the suffering of humanity.
How from that agony freeing,
When suffering so much seeing?
The saintly minded this way to think,
Not that interest only in eating and drink.
Hanuman ready to carry on back,
Sita who husband association to lack.
Representative in this way brave,
Ready for entire world to save.