“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
1. After having met Vishnu face to face
If you have several eyewitnesses to an important event, they may not provide an identical description of what took place later on. If asked to relay the significance to someone who was not there, as each person is an individual they may choose to highlight certain aspects and downplay others.
They might choose a specific background as a prologue to the story. There is also the possibility that the same eyewitness describes the event differently based on the time and circumstance. If disseminated in written form, they may add certain literary embellishments to enhance the beauty of the presentation.
In this light we come to know of Shri Hanuman’s meeting in the forest of Kishkindha with two handsome youths, who as warriors looked foreign to the area. Hanuman is a forest dweller described as the species of Vanara. Other Sanskrit words like kapi and hari indicate that the Vanaras are monkey-like in features and behavior.
At the behest of Sugriva, the king of Vanaras in that exile-space of Mount Rishyamukha, Hanuman descends the mountain to go meet the two youths and find out what they are up to. Hanuman goes in disguise, taking the garb of a brahmana. The princely order is known to be kind and charitable to the priestly order, so this type of interaction likely avoids any hostilities or apprehension.
The meeting is actually quite significant because Hanuman is coming in direct contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yogis otherwise spend years and years in unbroken and secluded meditation in order to hopefully achieve the same, though success is not guaranteed. Given the nature of the surrounding world, with its limitless distractions, to even endeavor to know God in truth represents a significant milestone.
बहूनां जन्मनाम् अन्ते
ज्ञानवान् मां प्रपद्यते
वासुदेवः सर्वम् इति
स महात्मा सु-दुर्लभः
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)
2. After having served Vishnu in the most daring mission
In this meeting Shri Rama had something like a poker face. Hanuman kept talking and talking, but there was no discernable response from the other side. Rama was the elder youth, a warrior prince from Ayodhya. Rama’s younger brother, Lakshmana, was with Him. They were both impressed by Hanuman in that first meeting.
“One cannot speak this way without having been well-trained in the Rig Veda, memorized the Yajur Veda, and thoroughly understood the Sama Veda.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana about Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.28)
Eventually, the ruse was up. Hanuman showed his real form and revealed everything about his intent. A friendship formed. There was so much trust in that initial meeting that Rama and Lakshmana agreed to climb onto Hanuman’s shoulders and be carried up to the top of the mountain to meet Sugriva.
Shri Rama is an avatara of the Almighty. We find the definitive list in shastra, in places like Bhagavata Purana and other important works. Rama was not assigned this title after the fact. Maharishi Valmiki, the great poet, blessed by Lord Brahma knew many of the events of the Ramayana before they occurred.
Hanuman met God, talked with Him, offered some service, but did not stop there. He went on to carry out one of the most dangerous missions in history. He and his Vanara friends frantically searched the earth for Rama’s missing wife, Sita Devi.
Towards the conclusion, Hanuman was the last person standing. A great physical barrier in the ocean prevented the other Vanaras from continuing. Hanuman leapt over that ocean and proceeded in the search, in a hostile territory, foreign to him, looking for someone he had never met.
3. After having pleased Vishnu to a level that cannot be repaid
Hanuman succeeded. He found Sita and managed to return to home base to give information of her whereabouts. At the time, Rama was so pleased that He directly embraced Hanuman. The work was not over, and everyone joined together to march to Lanka and rescue Sita. The wicked Rakshasa named Ravana was defeated in the process.
These are various characteristics to the life in liberation for Hanuman. He pleased Vishnu’s avatara of Rama so much that there is nothing the Supreme Lord can do in return. He cannot repay the favor, and Hanuman is not one to demand anything. As the shining example of pure devotion, Hanuman chooses to remain in this world for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be told.
Exceptionally brave and bold,
Remaining for as long as told.
Shri Rama’s glories so,
Blessed whoever to know.
Hanuman already setting,
In liberation stance getting.
But continuing in service to this day,
Supreme Lord never properly to repay.
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