“The fortunate Hanuman, the son of the wind, upon hearing those words of Sita, a new insult to him, thought:” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 37.31)
सीताया वचनं श्रुत्वा हनुमान्मारुतात्मजः।
चिन्तयामास लक्ष्मीवान्नवं परिभवं कृतम्।।
sītāyā vacanam śrutvā hanūmān māruta ātmajaḥ |
cintayāmāsa lakṣmīvān navam paribhavam kṛtam ||
It is said that one of the dangers of having only one child is that they will grow up to be spoiled. It only makes sense. The parents are so taken by their little one that it is difficult to let go. From childhood into adulthood they are treated as the baby in the family, as there is no other reference point; no comparison.
Whatever that child wants, they get. Lavish praise and attention from other family members. No concept of sharing within the household. No example to set for younger ones. No getting blamed for something you didn’t do just because you are the oldest. No friendship with someone of a closer age within the same home.
Of course not every situation follows the same pattern, but the concern is there. How will a person who has experienced nothing but unconditional love, always in the positive direction, handle the difficult and harsh real world? People will not be so nice. There will be insults hurled. There will be emphasis on sharing. The only child will not always get their way.
A similar situation Shri Hanuman faced, with regards to outside treatment. He had already braved a world full of hostility and danger. Travelling to Lanka via the aerial route was not easy. The devas, the demigods living in the heavenly region, intentionally placed obstacles along his path. This was to test the devoted messenger’s ability, to see just how capable he was in delivering for the Supreme Lord, Shri Rama.
“I offer my obeisances unto you, O daughter of Daksha. Indeed, I have entered your mouth, and the truth of the boon granted to you has been maintained. I shall now go to where Vaidehi is.” (Hanuman speaking to Surasa, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 1.169)
Hanuman dealt with bad characters who had enhanced abilities due to previous curses and benedictions. One person could catch someone from seeing their shadow. Another insisted that the only way to continue forward was to first enter her mouth. Hanuman found a way around both issues. Then he dealt with the gatekeeper in Lanka, the place in which he needed to search.
Hanuman overcame so many obstacles until he finally met success. He received the direct meeting with Sita Devi, the goddess of fortune. She was the intended recipient of the message. A long way to go for a postman-like mission, but Hanuman would do anything for Rama.
In fact, he was known to go to any length to please and protect his friends. For this reason he received nothing but praise from those around him. Sugriva, the chief minister of the Vanaras in Kishkindha, looked at Hanuman as the most trusted advisor. Shri Rama noticed the value upon the first meeting.
“O sinless one, certainly, how can any king accomplish his objectives if he doesn’t have such a messenger working for him?” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha-kanda, 3.34)
Prior to embarking on the mission to find Sita, it was Hanuman who received Rama’s ring to give to her. The one who is antaryami, the all-pervading witness, the Supersoul residing within every living being’s heart, understood that of all the people working under Sugriva it would most likely be Hanuman to succeed.
For these reasons and more Hanuman is known as Lakshmivan. He is in full possession of lakshmi, which has several meanings. Beauty, wealth, splendor, fame – every one applies to Hanuman. Those who knew him only had good things to say about him.
How, then, to deal with an insult, which is described above as nava? This means “new,” which implies that Hanuman was not accustomed to hearing such words. Enemies behave this way, but not someone who is respected in every way like Sita Devi.
It is interesting that Sita is herself Lakshmi. The Sanskrit word also references the personification of those attributes. A goddess who resides in the spiritual world, Lakshmi Devi is the eternal consort of the Supreme Lord Narayana, who incarnated on earth as Shri Rama. Lakshmi simultaneously appeared as Sita Devi.
The one who is lakshmivan took the words in stride. This was just another moment of adversity to handle. Keeping the mission of pleasing Shri Rama in mind, the son of the wind, who swiftly coursed over the ocean, was able to proceed forward in a positive manner, giving inspiration to present and future generations of devotees.
That servant glorified in many ways,
Previously accustomed only to praise.
Like after Shri Rama first to meet,
Praising Lord with verses sweet.
Obstacles in ocean leap overcame,
But then from Sita first insult came.
Accepted since properly situated in mind,
Soon most blessings from her to find.