“O Sita, see the golden lord of mountains [Mainaka], which is golden-peaked and which rose up, piercing the ocean, to provide rest to Hanuman.” (Lord Rama speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Kand, 123.18)
हिरण्यनाभन् शैलेन्द्रन् काञ्चनं पश्य मैथिलि ||
विश्रमार्थन् हनुमतो भित्त्वा सागरमुत्थितम् |
hiraṇyanābhan śailendran kāñcanaṃ paśya maithili ||
viśramārthan hanumato bhittvā sāgaramutthitam |
Diwali is commonly known today as the festival of lights, associated primarily with the Hindu faith. At its foundation, the annual tradition follows in the footsteps of residents of a specific city many thousands of years ago.
If there is any faith involved, it was in the eager anticipation of the return of the prince of Ayodhya. He is the Supreme Lord Himself, but to the common people He was the beloved son of King Dasharatha, their leader for so many years.
The lights were aligned as a great welcome, a homecoming of the triumphant son, who defeated the forces of evil concentrated in Lanka at the time. Since Lanka was far away, an island, Rama and company used a special aerial car to return.
Known as the Pushpaka, its path crossed over many places relevant to Rama’s journey to victory. His wife Sita was separated from Him during most of that time, so Rama took the opportunity of the plane ride to point out various places of significance.
1. Mount Mainaka
It almost seems strange that Dasharatha’s eldest son would mention this. The incident was brief, but to the participants the interaction meant everything. The mountain called Mainaka, which has a beautiful golden color, rose through the ocean to offer assistance to Shri Hanuman.
This was worth mentioning to Sita because it shows that Hanuman had well-wishers. The brave Vanara warrior was the one who first searched for Sita in Lanka, while Rama and company were back on the other side of the ocean. Hanuman’s journey was a difficult one, but Mainaka was kind enough to offer a resting place, though Hanuman did not require it.
2. People killed by Hanuman
From reading the sacred Ramayana poem of Maharishi Valmiki, we quickly realize that Hanuman holds a special place in the estimation of the Supreme Lord. Rama made sure to point out other areas of significance related to Hanuman.
He showed Sita where various enemies were killed by that brave Vanara warrior. It was a massive fight to defeat Ravana and his Rakshasa forces. These evildoers were not ready to give up the daughter of King Janaka without a fight.
Rama is God, so He does not require assistance in accomplishing tasks. Yet He understands the service mentality ingrained in the spirit soul. When the fortunate ones are in His company, Rama provides ample opportunity for service to take place, in a mood suited to the individual’s qualities.
Hanuman’s qualities are so deep and far-reaching that he exercises service in a variety of ways. He can use his brain to cleverly maneuver difficult circumstances. He can expand his stature and leap a great distance. He can also heroically fight against combatants holding the most powerful weapons and using black magic to assist in their illusion.
3. Building the bridge
Hanuman crossed the ocean by leaping over it, but this could not be done by everyone else. Rama was with His younger brother Lakshmana, and the two intentionally moved by foot to stay true to a vow of ascetic life.
Rama could not return home to use His royal army, either. But since Bhagavan is automatically related to everyone, He was able to find capable warriors in the forest of Kishkindha. The Vanara-king Sugriva joined the cause, bringing his many enthusiastic warriors with him.
Those servants built a bridge out of floating rocks. This allowed for Rama and everyone else to cross to reach Lanka, where Ravana had hidden Sita. Rama showed this bridge to Sita and explained how everything was done for her.
4. Receiving Mahadeva’s prasada
A popular painting depicts Rama worshiping a deity of Mahadeva, Lord Shiva. This is done prior to the final battle against the Rakshasas of Lanka. Though God does not require help in gaining victory, He holds tremendous affection for those aligned with Him. Rama sets the proper example in the respect that should be extended to Lord Shiva. On the aerial car, Rama showed the specific area where the worship took place, where Mahadeva gave his prasada, or mercy.
5. Mount Rishyamukha
Around this area is where the aerial car made a brief landing. Listening attentively to her husband, Sita could not help but think of the wives of the Vanaras. They were separated from their husbands, just as she was. Sita wanted them to board the plane and return home for the triumphant celebration. Like her husband, the goddess of fortune is not a miser when it comes to accepting honor and glory.
Understanding the amazing characteristics of that Divine couple, it is not a surprise that Ayodhya celebrated the way they did. It is also not surprising that the tradition carries on to the modern day, where Sita and Rama continue to extend their mercy to the devotees.
Mercy continuing to extend,
From original tradition to descend.
Where Ayodhya’s people to earn,
That long awaited return.
While on aerial car seated,
Events shown like Rakshasas defeated.
And Hanuman leaping over ocean where,
The Divine couple of sacrifices aware.