“An apparently pitiable condition in devotional service may appear to be distressing to the inexperienced student, but the feelings of the devotee in this pitiable condition are considered to be ecstatic by expert devotees. For example, the subject matter of the Ramayana is sometimes considered to be pitiable and distressing to the heart, but actually that is not the fact.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 34)
“Of all the characters worshiped within Vedic culture, Shri Hanuman is my favorite. I am not alone in this, by any stretch. He is appealing to all sorts of people. Children are drawn to the heroism. Parents wish their children would grow up to be so dedicated to God. Adults understand the trials and tribulations of the real world, and so they appreciate Hanuman’s ability to navigate through difficulty and emerge successful.
“I wish every person would get a chance to know him. There is no analogous figure in the entire universe. Even within Vedic literature you won’t find anyone like Hanuman, let alone extending to other popular faiths and traditions.
“Is there an easy way to get the idea across? A sort of introduction? People tend to be drawn to cinema and film, but I don’t think any human being could give a proper depiction of someone who is so intimately connected to the Divine. What about through images?”
1. Carrying Rama and Lakshmana
In this image we have a large by comparison monkey-like figure carrying two handsome, chivalrous, and strong warrior-youths on his shoulders. One would be surprised to learn that the character in the middle, Shri Hanuman, had only moments prior met the two warrior princes, who were the brothers Rama and Lakshmana from Ayodhya.
This single image says too much to explain in a single lifetime. There is immediate trust from the avatara of Vishnu, who is already within the heart of every person. This is the personal expansion of the Almighty, known as Supersoul. It is the all-pervading witness, typically neutral in disposition.
Rama is the Bhagavan feature; the same Supersoul but more clearly defined. He has a personal meeting with Hanuman and can immediately tell that there should be trust extended. Hanuman is a capable minister to the Vanara-king named Sugriva.
That is the purpose for the ascent on the shoulders. Hanuman will take the brothers to meet Sugriva, who is in a similarly distressed situation, separated from his wife. The alliance will benefit both sides. Rama will help Sugriva win back the kingdom in Kishkindha, and Sugriva will help Rama find His missing wife, Sita Devi.
2. Leaping over the ocean
In this image Hanuman is again of an enlarged stature. Moments prior he was unaware of the ability exhibited in the scene. He did not know that he could leap over an expansive ocean. Jambavan had to remind him.
Here we see the close relationship to the wind. Hanuman is the son of the wind-god, Vayu, and so it is not surprising that there would be swift motion through the sky. Though in a monkey body, Hanuman is beautiful due to his pure devotion. He is on a mission of service, risking life for someone else’s benefit.
3. Giving ring to Sita Devi
The leap over the ocean was to reach Lanka. This is where Sita Devi was being held against her will. Against all odds, Hanuman managed to find her, but that was only the first step. He now had to convince her to trust him in the same way that he had won over Rama and Lakshmana when meeting in the forest.
The final indication of authenticity was the ring previously given by Rama. Hanuman kept this safely with him and presented it to Sita. It had Rama’s name on it, and so it was an immediate reminder of her husband, from whom she had been separated for too long.
4. Revealing his heart
Here Shri Hanuman tears open his chest and reveals who is the most important to him. Sita and Rama are always there, accepting his service and wishing him the best. They protect him in the same way that he always looks out for their interest. This relationship is eternal. It can never be broken and the couple can never be separated from him.
5. Reading the Ramayana
While the avataras of the Supreme Lord come and go, Hanuman chooses to remain on this earth for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be told. It is said that he daily reads from the Ramayana, which is the beautiful poetical composition of Maharishi Valmiki commemorating the events and passing them forward into the future.
Though he has immeasurable strength, though he has shown his amazing intelligence on many occasions, though he has more well-wishers than can be counted, Hanuman’s greatest pleasure in life is hearing about Rama’s glories. This is the ideal way to pass an existence, and we have the greatest role model showing the way.
Avataras coming and going,
Gone today and tomorrow showing.
But Hanuman choosing to stay,
Behavior showing the way.
Daily from Ramayana to read,
Giving most pleasure indeed.
Despite much acclaim reaching,
This image to everyone teaching.