“An intelligent person has respect for the body which brings them attachment to Shri Rama. That is why Hanuman gave up his form of Rudra in order to be a Vanara.” (Dohavali, 142)
जेहि सरीर रति राम सों सोइ आदरहिं सुजान।
रुद्रदेह तजि नेहबस बानर भे हनुमान ॥
jēhi sarīra rati rāma sōṁ sō’i ādarahiṁ sujāna.
rudradēha taji nēhabasa bānara bhē hanumāna..
“You have probably heard variations of this criticism before. It is quite common, especially when witnessing the time-honored practice of deity worship from afar. The critic might even be born into that tradition. They have been following along since birth, due to the influence of their parents and grandparents.
“At some point, they begin to wonder about the benefit of the practice. Why are people putting so much emphasis on worshiping a statue or two? Okay, the temple environment might be peaceful. The songs the people sing sound nice. The food distributed afterwards tastes good.
“But wouldn’t it be more beneficial to help the poor? Take the same amount of time and dedicate it to philanthropy. Open a school or hospital. Feed the hungry. Establish a library. Give education to those who really need it.
“Wouldn’t that please God more than blind allegiance? Why make offerings towards the inanimate, when the animate require so much assistance?”
An easy way to understand is to take a blank piece of paper. Two people are in a room and they have this one piece of paper and a pen. The initial setting is peace and calm. Everything changes when one person decides to draw a straight line down the middle of the paper.
That person who drew the line decides to draw different objects and write different words on the left side of the line. The other person, not to be outdone, chooses the right side of the paper, based on the line down the middle. They write their own concepts. They create their own images.
Soon afterwards, other people enter the room. They take interest in the same piece of paper. Some favor the left side of the line, while others join with the party on the right. The interest increases to such a level that there are arguments and debates as to the validity of each side. The passion is so strong that some of the participants are coming close to blows. There might be a physical altercation. How dare someone not agree with my side, one person complains.
At the end of the day, there is no difference between what any of the people are doing. The distinctions are based entirely on the line, which was drawn in an arbitrary location at an arbitrary time. Whether someone chooses the left side or is staunchly aligned with the right side has no long-term bearing on their existence.
The entire material world operates in this way. The dividing lines create duality. There is rich and poor. Young and old. Man and woman. Members from this nation and inhabitants of a neighboring land. Those who speak English and those who know only Spanish. The philosophically inclined and the simple-minded. The strong and the weak. The charitable and the miserly. Those who love children and those who are envious of them.
The list goes on, but the constant is duality at the core. The process of deity worship is above such dualities, though practiced right in the middle of the field of dualities. If a person ignores transcendence, they will be left to swing from one temporary condition to another, for lifetime after lifetime. This is known as delusion, which has the two basic end-points of attraction and aversion.
इच्छाद्वेषसमुत्थेन द्वन्द्वमोहेन भारत।
सर्वभूतानि संमोहं सर्गे यान्ति परन्तप।।
icchādveṣasamutthena dvandvamohena bhārata।
sarvabhūtāni saṃmohaṃ sarge yānti parantapa।।
“O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conquerer of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.27)
In his Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas explains how Rudra prefers the body of Shri Hanuman. This is because of the facility for attachment to the lotus feet of Shri Rama. Within these circumstances, Hanuman thrives in his worship.
We can know someone’s existence based on the impression they leave. This is how they can seemingly live forever. Even when they are outside of our visual presence, when they are supposedly unmanifest, their impact remains. Their impression still has an influence over how we live.
Hanuman leaves the best impression. When I am finally done with duality, his example will save me. His constant worship, his dedication, his perseverance, his decisions based on intelligence, his kindness, his compassion, and his love for Sita and Rama will do more for my welfare than every philanthropist who has ever graced this earth combined.
Through the impression he gave,
My fortunes to save.
Otherwise to duality bound,
Struggle and conflict found.
That wrong turn repeatedly taking,
Decisions of temporary interest making.
But from Hanuman’s example to see,
How truly successful to be.