“Abandoning his beggar form and reassuming his monkey form, the elephant among monkeys [Hanuman] placed those two heroes on his back and departed.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 4.34)
भिक्षुरूपं परित्यज्य वानरं रूपमास्थितः।
पृष्ठमारोप्य तौ वीरौ जगाम कपिकुञ्जरः||
bhikṣurūpaṃ parityajya vānaraṃ rūpamāsthitaḥ।
pṛṣṭhamāropya tau vīrau jagāma kapikuñjaraḥ ||
When the Supreme Lord speaks, people listen. Evidence is in the continued viability and relevance of Bhagavad-gita. As timeless as God Himself, the first known transfer of that wisdom took place at the beginning of the creation. The disciple in that instance was the sun-god, Vivasvan.
इमं विवस्वते योगं
प्रोक्तवान् अहम् अव्ययम्
विवस्वान् मनवे प्राह
मनुर् इक्ष्वाकवे ’ब्रवीत्
imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ
proktavān aham avyayam
vivasvān manave prāha
manur ikṣvākave ’bravīt
“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)
Bhagavad-gita is known today as the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna. The original spiritual master, the adi-guru, passing on the wisdom to reignite the chain of disciplic succession. If ever the information appears to be lost, if it seems that there is no direct link to the Divine, the all-pervading one makes sure that it becomes available again.
इमं राजर्षयो विदुः
स कालेनेह महता
योगो नष्टः परन्तप
imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ
sa kāleneha mahatā
yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa
“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.2)
Along similar lines, when the Supreme Lord does something, people tend to remember. The life story, charitra, is extraordinary. Evidence is in the continued relevance of the Ramayana poem of Valmiki. This details the life and activities of the avatara of Bhagavan named Rama.
One of His more famous acts was lifting the bow in the contest of King Janaka. Imagine a world’s strongest man kind of competition, with every important person both invited and confirmed to appear. The greatest princes arrived in Janaka’s city to make an attempt at lifting the mighty bow of Lord Shiva.
इत्युक्तस्तेन विप्रेण तद्धनुस्समुपानयत्।।
निमेषान्तरमात्रेण तदाऽनम्य महाबलः।
ज्यां समारोप्य झडिति पूरयामास वीर्यवान्।।
ityuktastena vipreṇa taddhanussamupānayat।।
nimeṣāntaramātreṇa tadā’namya mahābalaḥ।
jyāṃ samāropya jhaḍiti pūrayāmāsa vīryavān।।
“Hearing the words of the vipra, my father brought the bow forward. Bending the bow in the twinkling of an eye and applying string to it, the mighty prince Rama, who was full of valor, quickly drew the bow at full length.” (Sita Devi speaking to Anasuya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.47-48)
None of the participants could even move the bow; they were embarrassed by it. When it came Rama’s turn, the eldest son of King Dasharatha lifted the bow and also drew string to it. The force applied was so strong that the bow broke.
Rama thus won the contest and received the hand in marriage of Sita Devi, who was Janaka’s daughter. That incident is one way of knowing that Bhagavan possesses strength to the fullest extent. He can lift a bow, a mountain, or the entire earth, if necessary.
The Supreme Lord is so merciful that He many times extends further grace and ability to those serving Him. Evidence of this is in the first meeting between Shri Rama and Hanuman, who was the chief minister to the exiled Vanara-king named Sugriva.
The famous image depicts the conclusion of that meeting. Though Hanuman first appeared in a false guise, pretending to be a brahmana, he couldn’t keep up the act for long. He so pleased Rama with his words that there was immediate trust formed. Rama agreed to meet with Sugriva, as the potential alliance would be mutually beneficial.
Thus one way to know Hanuman is to consider him the lifter of the lifter of Shiva’s bow. He can place Rama and Lakshmana on his shoulders without hesitation. Those two brothers trust him implicitly, and the relationship extends beyond the time period of the events in question.
That is to say Hanuman continues to be dear to that family, as he is the gatekeeper to Shri Rama’s kingdom. He is blessed with full ability in his service, yet he remains so humble that he utilizes only whatever is appropriate to the time and place in question. He is the continued inspiration for the devoted souls, who hope to one day please him through their efforts in this temporary life.
With devotion to please,
And my troubles to ease.
Since devotional path clearing,
Of behavior and character endearing.
That even one of immeasurable strength,
Who drew string to bow’s length.
Lifting to shoulders in service making,
To mountain top for meeting taking.