“O Devi, do ascend my back without hesitation. O beautiful one, be thus reunited with Rama, like Rohini returned to the moon. You will be thus united like Rohini to the moon as soon as you say the words. Do ascend my back and cross the great ocean through the sky.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 37.24-25)
pṛṣṭham āroha me devi mā vikānkṣasva śobhane |
yogam anviccha rāmeṇa śaśa ankena iva rohiṇī ||
kathayanti iva candreṇa sūryeṇa iva suvarcalā |
mat pṛṣṭham adhiruhya tvam tara ākāśa mahāarṇavam ||
From the ancient Vedic text known as the Ramayana, we learn that travel by the aerial route is not a modern day invention. We know that birds have accomplished this before anyone can remember. The ability accompanies their body type. The exact mixture of earth, water, fire, air and ether allows travel through the sky. Wings are important in that movement, and size is not a factor, as the tiny fly is also able to travel via the aerial route.
“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego-altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4)
Yet from the statements of a few people of high class and authority, we see that not even human beings were restricted. That is to say a person could travel from one place to another through the air. It was considered a wonderful ability, and in some cases mistaken for spiritual achievement or advancement.
Yet to the wise this was not considered a major accomplishment. The spirit soul is amazing, after all. It gives life to the tiny ant and the large elephant. The type of soul is the same in both, though the less intelligent will speculate otherwise. They will claim that animals either have no soul or possess a different kind from human beings. The guess is made simply as an excuse to kill animals for food, for pleasing the sense demand of taste.
Otherwise, variation in ability is never mistakenly considered a disqualification for the presence of spirit. A human being who can deliver a speech from memory is not considered to be more of a soul than a person who can barely speak. The infant can hardly do anything on its own, and yet that is not used as an excuse for killing.
The soul is indeed amazing, and through the process of mystic yoga the inherent abilities begin to shine more and more. To move from one place to another via the aerial route is considered a siddhi, or perfection. The ability does not come easily, but it is always lying there, usually dormant. The gift is not provided by some outside force.
“Whether it be residence on top of a palace, traveling on airplanes, or flying through the sky (via yogic powers), in all circumstances the shade of the husband’s feet is by far superior.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 27.9)
Sita Devi once referenced this ability when speaking to her husband, Shri Rama. There was an argument over how to proceed in a tricky situation. Rama was leaving home to live in the forest for fourteen years. He was moments prior a prince in Ayodhya, the heir to the throne. Sita was the queen in waiting, but now her husband was leaving to live like a homeless person. She wanted to accompany Him, but He advised against it. One of the arguments she made in her favor was that the association of her husband was more enjoyable to her than even flying in the air through mystic abilities.
In the above referenced verses from the Ramayana, another conversation involving Sita mentions the same kind of travel. Here Shri Hanuman is advocating for immediate rescue of the distressed princess. She is held in Lanka against her will, separated from Rama due to no fault of her own. Hanuman has found her and is ready to reunite her with her husband. The comparison is made to Rohini joining together with the moon. The idea is that Sita and Rama are meant for each other.
Hanuman says that the aerial route will be fast. In the time it takes to ponder the idea, Sita will be back with Rama. The two will cross over the ocean, in the same way that Hanuman had reached Lanka in the first place. Not every person exhibits this ability, but Hanuman is special. His devotion to Rama is so pure that the Supreme Lord gives to him every ability required to carry out the desired service.
In the same way, the individual who is struggling in the ocean of material existence can quickly escape through connecting in yoga to Sita and Rama, the Divine pair who are there for anyone who desires their association. By chanting their names, thinking of them always, and remembering the dedicated servants like Hanuman, the rescue is made easy and quick, in the time it takes to merely ponder the idea.
In time it takes to ponder,
Cross over samsara yonder.
Birth and death no more,
Sita-Rama only to adore.
The servant Shri Hanuman through,
Who stature for ocean leap grew.
Ready in same way to return,
That such travel before to learn.