“How can I ensure that the purpose of my task does not get destroyed? How shall I avoid mental disparity, and how do I ensure that my crossing of the ocean does not go for naught?” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 2.41)
न विनश्येत्कथं कार्यं वैक्लब्यं न कथं भवेत् |
लङ्घनं च समुद्रस्य कथं नु न वृथा भवेत् ||
na vinaśyetkathaṃ kāryaṃ vaiklabyaṃ na kathaṃ bhavet |
laṅghanaṃ ca samudrasya kathaṃ nu na vṛthā bhavet ||
1. My painting
“I am so proud of this painting. Please don’t throw it away. I know it looks amateurish. I know that it was done during my childhood years. I get it that we are running low on space in the home.
“But I can’t believe I was able to produce something so beautiful. I surprised not only everyone in my life, but myself, as well. When I see this work of art, I am reminded of what I am capable of. On the inside, I really do have some talent. I am not completely useless.”
2. My furniture assembly
“What are you doing? Do not put that outside! It will not be part of the garage sale. Yes, it is old. No, I don’t use it anymore. But I am not ready to part with it. Do you have any idea how long it took me to assemble?
“You make fun of me for not being handy, for not knowing how to fix anything. Well, that there is visible proof that I can do some things around the house. There was no instruction manual, either. I figured it out by myself. I am proud of my accomplishment.”
3. My perfect report card
“From third grade. You see that? I got an ‘A’ in every subject. I was the only one in the class with such high marks. I guess they conducted some assessments back then. They told my parents that I was reading at an eighth grade level.
“Back then, I didn’t know what that meant, but my parents were sure impressed. They didn’t celebrate too much, but at least I didn’t get yelled at. In one sense, it sort of set expectations too high moving forward, but it was my first real academic accomplishment. I will never forget it.”
4. My high score in the video game
“That is my high score. It was a game you played online. I don’t think it is around anymore. I took a screenshot of my accomplishment. This was before the days of camera-enabled phones.
“It was this ongoing battle between colleagues at work. One day I had the high score, the next day someone else surpassed it. This right here is the end of that competition. The score I got that day was so high that no one was able to match it. I am so proud. I hold on to the memory.”
5. My crossing over the ocean
Shri Hanuman has this accomplishment to his name, but with the lack of attached pride. It doesn’t make sense, if we think about it. Who wouldn’t be proud of having crossed over the ocean in a single leap? Who wouldn’t rush to the phone to tell their friends and family?
If a modern day equivalent would be achieved, we would surely see social media posts with creative accompanying hashtags. The person to whom the accomplishment belongs would surely fully document the occasion, leaving no doubt as to the truth.
With Hanuman, the reason for attention is a little different. He wants to make sure that the effort does not go to waste. This sentiment acknowledges the difficulty of the journey. An honest person understands the extraordinary nature to the accomplishment.
You don’t cross over a massive ocean every single day. Without the history of the Ramayana to document the event, who would even conceive of such an accomplishment? The skeptics still have their doubts. The cheating spiritual leaders will strip the glory from Hanuman and ask their gullible followers to extract only the symbolic meaning to the narrative.
Hanuman’s effort is for pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is why he doesn’t want the effort to go to waste. Let there be a fruitful result. Let the endeavor end in success, saphala. Let the one whose eyes are everywhere be pleased with the effort.
सर्वतः पाणि-पादं तत्
सर्वतः श्रुतिमल् लोके
सर्वम् आवृत्य तिष्ठति
sarvataḥ pāṇi-pādaṁ tat
sarvataḥ śrutimal loke
sarvam āvṛtya tiṣṭhati
“Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes and faces, and He hears everything. In this way the Supersoul exists.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.14)
How can Hanuman be so humble? How can he be so selfless? How can he not feel some sense of superiority over others for having done something so amazing? A wise person understands that with the support of the Supreme Lord, either directly through physical association or through internal guidance, anything is possible.
Hanuman’s mission was to find Sita Devi. If successful in that search, then the crossing of the ocean would be part of the story of triumph. It would take on a spiritual component, as Sita Devi is the wife of Shri Rama, the person to whom Hanuman had dedicated everything.
This concern for proper utilization of work and connecting accomplishment for the higher good is but one instance of the amazing humility found in that chief emissary to the Vanara king named Sugriva. There is another story involving Hanuman and one of his major accomplishments.
It is said that he once composed his own retelling of the events of the life of Shri Rama. Hanuman’s literary work was so outstanding that after seeing it Maharishi Valmiki felt dejected, as his own Ramayana looked to be inferior by comparison.
Rather than be the cause of dejection and the lessening of enthusiasm in a devoted soul, Hanuman proceeded to destroy his own version of the Ramayana. The problem was now solved. Valmiki could continue with his version, which the world now knows.
After ocean to cross,
Concern over loss.
That mistake not made,
True to path stayed.
With no hint of pride or bragging,
Hope that success’s chance not sagging.
Humility beyond measure to see,
Only in Rama’s servant could be.
Categories: the five