“After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.15)
माम् उपेत्य पुनर् जन्म
संसिद्धिं परमां गताः
mām upetya punar janma
saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ
“Look around. Is anyone happy? Are any people satisfied with the present condition of the world? Are people excited for what the future holds for their children and grandchildren? Do they think society is advancing from the way things were?
“From everything I hear, there is only chaos, despair, murkiness, tumult, fear, dismay and confusion. No one is happy. The thing is, if you choose any arbitrary point in the timeline of existence, as we know it, I think the same could be said. Ten years ago, people were unhappy, but upset over different issues. Ten years into the future, there will be new problems to be concerned over.
“From the teachings of the acharyas I realize that this is the nature of the material world. Duhkhalayam and ashashvatam. Miserable and temporary. Any place featuring these two characteristics will not be one of lasting happiness or peace. We are in the morose condition precisely because of where we reside.
“The future will not get any better. If anything, it will continue to descend to the point of total madness. Then another avatara of the Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear. He will clear everything and start anew, with another golden age.
“My question relates to Shri Hanuman. I know that he is still within this world. It is his choice. He could have returned to Vaikuntha with everyone else in Ayodhya at the time of Shri Rama’s departure. He chose to stay here for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be told.
“Why would he do that? Does he not witness the hopelessness? Does he not perceive the rampant atheism? Why intentionally be within vicinity of such insulting and degrading behavior?”
We know that the reason for staying has nothing to do with the temporary world. He is not around to see who will win the next election. He is not interested in who will emerge victorious in the upcoming season of that popular reality television series.
Rather, the choice to hear the glories of Shri Rama indicates the superiority of the path of shravanam. Hearing alone is enough to liberate a person. There are eight other paths devotional service can follow, as enumerated by Prahlada Maharaja. Any path has the potential to bring perfection. One is not necessarily better than the other, though shravanam and kirtanam get first mention.
From Hanuman’s decision we see that shravanam can continue after liberation. This is important to understand since during the beginning stages the tendency is to focus on the end goal. That is the basic cycle to any type of transformative process. You start with something you may not like. You want a change. You institute a regimen based on the guidance of someone who is hopefully an expert in the field.
If the process doesn’t work, you can try again. This is where rebirth enters the picture. Only through the path of yoga is there the opportunity to continue from where you left off previously. The progress does not get erased. Reaching the perfection of an existence is not easy; just to be interested in such an endeavor is rare. Nevertheless, the potential is always there, as the individual spirit soul is always linked to the Almighty in their travels.
You expect a completely different state at the end, when reaching perfection, but with bhakti-yoga there is life after the end. Shravanam can not only change my thinking from material to spiritual, but it will continue to bring me bliss, joy and happiness into the infinite future. Shri Hanuman is the living proof, as he daily takes pleasure from reliving the events of the Ramayana period.
Despite in world of tumult and fear,
Reason for Hanuman staying here.
Though far to Vaikuntha always near,
Daily from Ramayana to hear.
Showing that liberation not the end,
Bhakti life infinitely to extend.
To new levels of bliss reaching,
By his example teaching.