“All of these subjects in the Ramayana seem very pitiable, and they may appear to be very distressing to the reciter, but actually this is not so. Otherwise, why would Hanuman, the great devotee of Lord Ramachandra, read daily about the activities of Lord Ramachandra, as described in the Ramayana itself?” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 34)
The premise is that I am greatly distraught over the world’s situation. Though it has been this way before anyone can remember, today especially it feels like the criminals are gaining strength. The mob. The rioters. The looters. The people completely sunken into the mode of ignorance, tamo-guna, are rising to power, intimidating the law-abiding, and there is no one in sight to defend.
From the Ramayana story, we see that a saintly person, someone worshiped to this day, personally witnessed so many tragedies. These sad events did not discourage him, as he had the strength of devotion to the Divine as support.
1. Sugriva and Vali fighting
Brothers should love each other. They are family. They grow up together. They are the only people you can critically discuss your parents with. The flaws. The shortcomings. The moments that made you angry. If an outsider agrees for even a moment, you feel offended.
“Hey, don’t you say anything bad about my father. Who are you to speak up? Take care of your own house before peeking into ours.”
Sugriva and Vali were born of demigods; they had special powers. This occurs whenever the Supreme Personality of Godhead makes plans to descend to the land of birth and death. The seeds are planted, so to speak, with the appearance of associates and well-wishers.
Sadly, a mortal feud developed between the two brothers. Hanuman had to see Sugriva driven out of Kishkindha for fear of his life. What should have been a happy time became miserable. The only relief was the summit of Mount Rishyamukha, where a previous curse prevented Vali from entering.
2. The mistreatment of Shri Rama
Hanuman eventually met the avatara of Bhagavan specific to that time period. The first glance was looking down from above while atop the mountain. Sugriva noticed two warrior-like youths roaming the forest. Their presence was conspicuous. The internal thought was, “What in the world are they doing here?”
Hanuman received the orders to go and gather information. In the subsequent meeting he learned of the identities of Shri Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana. Hanuman thought to make an alliance. As Rama was looking for His wife, Sita Devi, and Sugriva looking to regain his own, the two could help each other.
It was a tragedy since someone like Rama should never have anything bad happen to them. He certainly shouldn’t be exiled from His kingdom for fourteen years, being caught in the middle of the jealousy of Queen Kaikeyi directed against her husband, King Dasharatha.
3. Tara becoming a widow
The first person we should appreciate is God. He has already provided so many favors in the gifts of nature, which are necessary for survival. Sadly, our tendency is the opposite. Approach the Almighty for help. Give me this. Give me that. Something wanted in return.
Sugriva was no different. He asked that Rama help first, by getting rid of the threat that was Vali. The Supreme Lord happily obliged. He shot Vali in the back with an arrow, violating the proper standard of warfare. Vali lost his life, and the wife became a widow. Tara grieved for her husband, as he lay on the ground.
शोच्या शोचसि कं शोच्यं दीनं दीनाऽनुकम्पसे।
कस्य कोवाऽनुशोच्योऽस्ति देहेऽस्मिन् बुद्बुदोपमे।।
śocyā śocasi kaṃ śocyaṃ dīnaṃ dīnā’nukampase।
kasya kovā’nuśocyo’sti dehe’smin budbudopame
“Whom are you lamenting for when you yourself are pitiable? Why do you pity the poor when you yourself have now been made poor? While in this body that is like a bubble, how can anyone look at anyone else as being worthy of lamentation?” (Hanuman speaking to Tara, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 21.3)
Hanuman had to witness this tragedy. He tried to offer words of advice to Tara, explaining that every person lives in something like a bubble, which can burst at any moment. For this reason, no person is worthy of envy or should be considered inferior to another. Still, this was a moment that could have been avoided, had Vali not held irrational hostility towards his own brother.
4. Angada and others wanting to quit
When Sugriva regained the kingdom, he ordered the many Vanaras under his control to scour the earth, to find Rama’s missing wife. The massive army divided into groups, and the one with Hanuman was the unofficial favorite to win, to succeed.
Within that group, there was great difficulty. The time allotted for their mission expired, and the members didn’t know what to do. They had yet to even get a clue as to Sita’s whereabouts. The leader, Angada, who was Vali’s son, decided to quit.
Hanuman tried his best to convince him otherwise. Hanuman couldn’t believe that everyone would let Rama down in this way. It was a great tragedy, but one that fortunately got corrected soon thereafter with the chance meeting with the bird named Sampati.
5. Sita Devi suffering
The group learned where Sita was. Turns out it was only Hanuman who could cross the ocean and reach Lanka. There he personally witnessed the suffering Rama’s wife was enduring. She was held against her will, with the evil king hoping to turn her away from her love for her husband.
There was a group of female ogres surrounding Sita, harassing her day and night. Hanuman was so upset at this vision that he never forgot it. When Rama later arrived in Lanka and defeated the king to rescue Sita, Hanuman wanted to kill those people who had harassed her. Sita Devi forgave them, saying the incident was in the past.
From shastra and disciplic succession we know that Hanuman still looks back fondly at the events of the Ramayana, of which he is also a central figure. He asks to remain in this world for as long as Rama’s glories are told, and that bold and fearless servant can lift up our spirits in times of great uncertainty and fear.
Hanuman fearless and bold,
Staying here for as long as told.
Rama’s glories like in Ramayana found,
Describing hero’s journey bound.
That tragedy witnessing in front,
Like Vali his brother to confront.
And Sita harassed day and night,
But in end everything made right.
Categories: the five