“O best of the monkeys, how could any other ordinary person reach this land, crossing the immeasurable ocean?” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 37.41)
प्राकृतोऽन्यः कथं चेमां भूमिमागन्तुमर्हति।
उदधेरप्रमेयस्य पारं वानरपुङ्गव।।।।
prākṛto’nyaḥ kathaṃ cemāṃ bhūmimāgantumarhati।
udadheraprameyasya pāraṃ vānarapuṅgava।।
The ocean is an ideal object for comparison, especially when trying to explain higher concepts. Comparisons to the ocean abound in Vedic literature, which stands the test of time, as there is no known inception date. As Bhagavan, the full feature of God the person, expands the limits of time and space, so those works which pass on His teachings and His transcendental activities cannot be locked into a specific period. Though they are sometimes put down into written form, the content always exists prior.
A common follow-up question to the teaching of the individual’s identity as spirit soul relates to the relationship with God.
“Okay, I am spirit soul; not the body. I get it. Not difficult to understand in theory, but to be consciously aware on a daily basis might be tough. Anyway, I am willing to make progress along that path. I wonder how we are related to Bhagavan, though. Is He spirit soul, also? If so, does He go through the cycle of birth and death in this material world? Does He have a distinction between body and spirit?”
The spirit souls are like God in quality, but unlike Him in quantity. What exactly is being measured? Take the intrinsic qualities of the soul: infinite existence, knowledge, and bliss; sach-chid-ananda. The truth is the truth; though it may not seem that every person has these qualities given the struggle with material life.
न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन्
नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतो ऽयं पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)
The soul cannot be killed. It was never born. It cannot be destroyed. Thus it has a timeless existence. Intelligence is evident in every aspect of life. The horse knows how to trot away soon after taking birth. Though the infant human is helpless in so many areas, no one taught them how to suck the mother’s breast to feed. They had this intelligence from before.
Bliss is the reason for living. Even the rare occasion of self-torture is for finding some pleasure later on. The individual seeks ananda, though they may have a difficult time finding it while staying in a land of duality.
Bhagavan also possesses these three features belonging to the individual spirit. The difference is that He has these qualities to the fullest degree. He is so eternal that He never succumbs to birth and death. Full knowledge is always with Him, whether in a large or small external form. He is always blissful; there is no such thing as misery for Him.
The living entities are His amshas. Like sparks coming from a fire, they are from the same source. A common comparison is to the ocean. Take a drop of ocean water and you have something identical to the ocean itself. At the same time, just by taking a drop you cannot say that you have the entire ocean; hence simultaneous oneness and difference.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Sita Devi describes the ocean as aprameya. This means “immeasurable.” Bhagavan’s avataras resemble the number of waves in the ocean. That is to say it is impossible to count how many times the full manifestation of the Supreme Lord has descended to this world and shown Himself, with distinguishable features, to the people.
As Bhagavan is unlimited in His qualities, so those who serve Him can surpass the limits that material nature ordinarily imposes. Shri Hanuman is one such servant, and here he has crossed the immeasurable ocean to reach the bhumi [land] of Lanka.
Sita appreciates this accomplishment, acknowledging that no ordinary person could have done the same. He must be capable of returning her via the same route, over the ocean. This would reunite her with her husband, Shri Rama.
Sita Devi is an incarnation of the goddess of fortune, who serves the unlimited and immeasurable one in the spiritual world. If anyone would be capable of understanding Hanuman’s accomplishments, it would be Janaka’s daughter.
Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord, recognizes Hanuman, as well, and places him in situations to strive and succeed. Through Rama’s favor, Hanuman is capable of doing amazing things, of surprising the world. This is the power of Divine love, which can bring a person back to the original position of eternal bliss. Sita and Rama empower through their personal association and also through the holy names that represent them, like those found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Far too long ocean’s length,
For even one of sufficient strength.
For over it to leap,
Only as dream to keep.
But to Hanuman belonging that feat,
For purpose of Sita Devi to meet.
Because always to Rama connected,
His servants’ success protected.