Lessons from Hanuman’s devotion to Rama 2 – Earning trust through emotional intelligence
[Congregation program at Phoenix, USA]
Transcription of Lecture:
Lessons from Hanuman’s devotion to Rama 2 – Earning trust through emotional intelligence.
Since tomorrow is Ramnavami I will be talking about some incidents and lessons from the Ramayana, and I will be speaking about the theme of Hanuman’s devotion to Ram, and what we can learn from that.
Yesterday evening I talked about how Hanuman was able to bring about the union between Ram and Sugriva, and today I will move forwards from there. If you consider the Ramayana, the section of the Ramayana where Hanuman appears is the Kiskinda Kanda. That is the time when he appears, and then he comes into his own in the Sundara Kanda.
The word Sundara has many different significance’s; if you consider all the other sections of the Ramayana they are either describing the events there or the location. E.g. there is the Bala Kanda which describes the childhood activities of Ram. The Ayodha Kanda describes the activities in Ayodhya, the Aranya Kanda describes what happened in the forest; the yudha Kanda describes the activities in the warfield; the Uttara Kanda is the final Kanda. The kiskinda kanda is the geographical location. The sundara kanda is the only kanda that either seems to be related with activity directly or the place. The Acharyas have given different meanings for this. Sundara refers to one of the names that Hanuman was given because he was a very attractive child. Another understanding is that actually it is permeated with the beauty of devotion, and in fact this is the only kanda in the whole Ramayana where Ram is present the minimum. In fact the Kanda begins with Ram seeing Hanuman off, and the whole kanda is about the search of Sita where Ram is not present, and then Hanuman jumps across Lanka, goes there and finds Sita, does heroic adventures over there and then he
returns, and then when he returns he unites with Ram, and that is where the role of Ram directly comes at the beginning and at the end, and yet the Lord’s presence is felt actually the most in this kand.
It is said that Lord Ram sent Vanaraduta; he sent messengers who are out to search for Sita. That what he sends; and then as the vanaras were going out what did Kapivara? Kapivara means that among the monkeys they were the best and the foremost, and they were constantly remembering him. This is described in the Nam-Ramayana which is one hundred and eight names of Ram which describes chronologically the full Ramayana.
Like sometimes when students don’t study for the exam, then there is the crash course; just do this and pass the exam. So, it is said that if you can’t recite the whole Ramayana, just do the crash course by reciting the one hundred and eight names of Ram in the Nam-Ramayana, and get the benefit of reciting the Ramayana. So, each name is related to one particular pastime.
In this particular kanda of the Ramayana there is basically the presence of Ram in the absence of Ram. The presence of Ram is in his remembrance. The presence of Ram in the absence of Ram is in his remembrance. So, they were always remembering him, and the height of this emotion of recollection and separation comes when Ram is recollected in the discussion between Sita and Ram. That time there are two great devotees of Ram: the consort of Ram and the servant of Ram; both of them are separated from Ram, and both of them are remembering him very intensely.
The dramatic climax of the Ramaya will come in the next kanda where there is the yudha that is going to happen, but the emotional climax in one sense comes over here because there is the intense remembrance by
both of them. We will go towards that in due course, but here let’s focus on the situation that starts off this incident.
Hanuman is a powerful vanara, but he is not considered the foremost of the vanaras. Bali had been the king earlier, and Sugriva had been his assistant and Hanuman was one of the assistants of Sugriva who had been exiled, or rather who had fled for his life, and was living in exile. At that time Hanuman is resourceful and he is intelligent, but he has not done anything spectacular till then.
Among all the vanaras Ram meets Hanuman first, and it is Hanuman who introduces him to Sugriva, and in that sense among all the vanaras, just simply for the fact that, for the first meeting Hanuman has special place for Ram, but it is not just because of the first meeting; it is also because of the great devotion that Hanuman has, and not just because of the great devotion; as we will see eventually see he has great prowess, great heroism and great courage. But before that when Ram is departing, Ram is arranging for the armies or for the divisions of the monkeys to go in four different directions. So, Sugriva is arranging and Ram is overseeing it all. At that time Angad is made the head of the division that is going Southwards, and Ram at that time calls Hanuman. Hanuman is going there as an assistant. When Hanuman goes there as an assistant, at that time Ram singles out Hanuman and he tells him to go. Sampatti saw Ravana going in the southern direction; even Jatayu had said that actually he is going in the southern direction.
In the Ramayana there are many characters who are actually brothers. Bali and Sugriva are brothers; Sampatti and Jatayu are brothers. Sampatti and Jatayu don’t meet each other once they are separated, but they both meet in the service of the Lord. Jatayu lays down his life serving for the Lord, and Sampatti actually in a sense gains his life back
by serving the Lord. He has been immobilized because he had lost his wings.
When Jatayu and Sampatti were flying high to sky, they had their young blood in an adventurous spirit. They wanted to go to the sun, and then normally when both of them started going up; both of them had the adventurous spirit; but still because Sampatti was older among the two he had some responsibilities also. When he saw that the heat was too much he covered Jatayu with his wings in order to shield him; the result was that his wings got burned. It is interesting that for both the birds something similar happened; they both lost their wings. So, Sampatti lost his wings in trying to protect Jatayu, and Jatayu lost his wings in trying to protect Sita. Now for every living being there is some particular feature of the body which is vitally important. So, each living being has his defining feature. So, for the birds it is primarily their wings. That is what enables them to fly. To lose the wings signifies the greatest loss practically speaking. So, Jatayu loses his wings before he loses his life. That means that he keeps fighting till he loses everything, and ultimately he loses his life. But for Sampatti, his wings had been lost, but whenever he fulfills his service; he tells the Vanaras later that actually Ravana had gone that side.
This whole incident will come later, but I am just drawing a correlation over here to illustrate a point that at that time his wings come back, and then he flies away, and he attains elevation. At this time Jatayu has told that they had gone towards the Southern direction, and Sugriva and the monkeys had also seen the monkeys go in the Southern direction. So, Ram tells Hanuman that it is the party that is going in the South that is most likely to find Sita, and Ram says, If you find her; I will like to give you a symbol that you are my authorized representatives, and through
that she will recognize you, and she will accept you as someone who has genuinely come from me. So, this is both an act of trust and an act of preparation in the sense that he is preparing Hanuman. We will later know about how Hanuman wins the trust of Sita. That is very significant for us to understand how relationships work, and how we can build trust and relationships. But at this stage it is Ram who is expressing trust in Hanuman, and he is also preparing Hanuman for the eventual situation that he is going to encounter.
The human mind works in different ways in different situations. When we are entrusted with some responsibility, sometimes the mind may interpret the responsibility as a burden, but sometimes the mind may interpret that as, “Oh you trust me I can do this! Yes, I will try my best.” So, sometimes the trust that is reposed; the expectation that is put can inspire and sometimes can burden.
We all live in a relational world where every relationship means that there is some contribution that is made, and there is some expectation that is 12.41? (inaudible) So, in a relationship if somebody has too much expectation and they make too little contributions, then the relationship starts getting strained. If we expect people to do a lot and we don’t do even one thing that they want us to do, then they will say, “Why should I do all these things?” So, every relationship is based on reciprocation.
Now for Ram, he is offering this symbol of trust to Hanuman and Hanuman is overwhelmed with gratitude that Ram is specially trusting him and entrusting him. By entrusting he is showing his trust for him, and Hanuman feels enlivened that the whole party goes off at that time, and they meet with various dangers at different times, and they go through all those dangers. And finally Hanuman is the only person who
is capable of jumping across the ocean to get to Lanka, and he jumps through; all that is also great adventure. We will focus on the theme of the Sundara Kanda which is the presence of Ram and the absence of Ram.
We will just focus right now on the theme that he just so heroically and fearlessly goes over all obstacles. It is the journey that is difficult; sometimes we go through a very difficult journey to meet someone and then they are there to welcome us. It is nice that at the end of journey there is somebody who loves and welcomes us. But here after a long journey there is no welcome, but there is suspicious. So, it is after the journey ends, another bigger challenge begins actually. Srila Prabhupada’s journey was like that. Coming to America was very difficult singlehandedly, but after coming there was no welcoming party; there was absolutely no one he had. He had to make everything on his own. So, that was quite difficult for him when he after some great effort finally finds Sita. But even after finding Sita that is not enough. Sita has never met him; Sita doesn’t even know who she is. At least in this particular lila.
They are all eternal associates, but when the Lord descends to the world, at that time most of associates act as if they are normal human beings, and so in that case that’s why they have never met. So, Hanuman is a majestic warrior, but he is a very purposeful warrior. He enters into Lanka and sneaks around and finally comes to the Ashoka Vatika which is Ravana’s favorite garden, and that’s where he has kept Sita. And Ravana himself comes again and again to try to tempt Sita. In trying to pressurize Sita he uses what is called as the good cop-bad cop strategy. Good cop-bad cop strategy is that, if there is prisoner whom the police want to confess, what they do is, there is one cop who comes in and acts
as a bad cop. He will threaten, beat and abuse saying, “You will be destroyed if you do this.” And then after this person has beaten, threatened and tormented him, the good cop comes along and says, “It is such a terrible thing. If I had known I would have stopped but I was not here. But he is also doing his job. I will ensure that he doesn’t do this again, but you also have to help me. You reveal something.” So, they both come together and they weaken the person.
Those who are in criminology they say that if you are always good or if you are always bad it doesn’t work as effectively as it would work if you are alternatively good or bad. So, Ravana when he would come he would promise, “You can be my chief queen. All the opulence of Lanka can be for yours.” And then he had all these demonesses with him who are guarding Sita, and they would threaten her; some of them had the job of threatening her, “If you don’t succumb to Ravana you will be ruined and you will be destroyed. Ram will never come. Ram must already be dead also.” And there are others who will allure her. Ravana himself will sometimes tempt and sometimes threaten. Hanuman was sitting on a tree and observing all these. He was very intelligent. Because of his intelligence he could see one thing and perceive everything that was happening.
Hanuman could see that this is Sita, and could see that she was very apprehensive. She had pulled her body very close to her pulling her legs also, just trying to create as much distance as possible from Ravana, and he could see the fear and disgust on Sita’s face and he felt appalled. At that same time he didn’t want his presence to be detected. So, he just waited.
Ravana finished his whole succession of threatening her or tempting her. Ravana, what he would do is, every night when he would sleep, after
waking up the first thing he would remember Sita, and he would go to Sita. He would try to tempt her or threaten her, and when he would not succeed he would go back. So, Hanuman had been searching all over Lanka at night. He had started from the coast line in the morning. He had travelled all day and he had reached Lanka. Eventually by using the cover of night he had searched, and by the time he had found Ashoka Vatika it was morning. It was early morning and Ravana had just come in. Actually Ravana had just come by the tree where Hanuman was sitting. But Ravana was so caught in his infatuation of Sita that he didn’t notice anything out of place. Even if he had noticed he thought that there was another monkey over there. Then Hanuman came closer to Sita, and when he came close at that time he started thinking, “How do I approach her?” Then he found a solution. He said that the best way to do is – the rakshashis had been tempting and threatening her, but finally they had went a little distance from her so that they could do their own thing. So, Sita was a little bit alone at that time. They were still guarding, but they gave her a little privacy. So, they had threatened her and left her alone to think. Then at that time Hanuman went close to the tree under which Sita was sitting, and there he started singing the glories of Ram, and he started singing the various pastimes of Ram. And when Sita was sitting and she heard it she got surprised and she started looking, “Where is this coming from?”
In the whole of Lanka there were all kinds of sounds, but they were in glorification of Ravana; nothing was in the glorification of Ram. So, her heart just swelled in joy. But at the same time when she looked up she saw, “Who is this? Normally a sage or a brahmana or some person like that may glorify Ram, but this is a monkey, who is this monkey?
Initially Sita was delighted, but then she became suspicious, “What is
this? Could this be some agent of Ravana who has taken the form of monkey?” It is said that if you are beaten once or if you are burned once, you are twice shy. If we put our finger in some heated milk to find if it is hot we may get burned. The next time we will be very very cautious about touching. Similarly, once Sita had been deluded by the form changing demons, Ravana had tempted her to come out. Actually he had misled her into coming out of her cottage and out of the Laxman rekha, but now she was very cautious. So, when she saw this monkey she thought, “Who is this monkey. How is it speaking about Ram?” Hanuman very gently continued speaking about Ram and he jumped down and approached her and continued speaking about Ram, and he not only spoke about the pastimes of Ram which was generally known to everyone, but when he saw that he had got Sita’s attention, then he started speaking about incidents from their life which no one knew. He told about how once Ram and Sita were in the forest. At that time there was a bird who came, and that bird started approaching Sita or accosting Sita, and when he started accosting Sita, at that time she started flapping the bird away, and then Ram noticed, and then Ram took some grass from it and just hurled the grass, and that grass had the force of an arrow and it started across, and this bird flew all over. Nowhere could it escape the missile like grass, and then finally that bird came and surrendered to Ram itself; and that bird was actually a manifestation of Indra. He had become attracted to Sita, and at that time Ram had punished him. This was an incident which had happened in Citrakuta when Laxman was not been there over there.
Then Sita spoke, “Who is this, who are you?” Her guard started going a little lower, and that time Hanuman spoke. He said, “I am the servant of the servant of Ram. For searching you I have formed an alliance with Sugriva. Sugriva is the king of the vanaras and I am his servant.” And as
he continued speaking, slowly but surely he started winning her trust.
Generally whenever we approach people; when we approach a person whom we don’t know, or even someone we know but don’t know very well, we all have security wall that we put between ourselves and others. Of course when we are staying at home we have doors which protect us. If we are in some office or somewhere there is security which is a major concern, we have even guards who guard at that time. If at time if we are not expecting anyone and somebody rings the bell; then we may look who is there if there is camera. If there is no camera we may look through a peep hole to see who has come. We look at the person if he looks familiar or not familiar, and we may have a chain so that we can open the door a little bit so that the person cannot barge in. Basically, just as we don’t let any stranger to come into our house, we don’t even let anyone unfamiliar come close to us; the same applies at the emotional and relational level also.
When we are to meet someone, at that time we have to get them to lower them their guarding walls and open their guarding doors, and without that, things cannot move forward.
Hanuman’s purpose was to find Sita. He could have simply found Sita and given the signet to her and gone back, but he did not stop with that. He actually had a very emotionally rich and fulfilling reciprocation with Sita, and he gave assurance and confidence to Sita that Ram loves her and remembers her; Ram is searching for her, and Ram is soon going to come. He was able to do all these because he was able to earn his trust, and for earning that trust he first and foremost focused on that which is common between him and her. The two of them are unknown. He had heard about Sita, and Sita also probably saw some monkey down there, but Sita was at that time panicky as she was abducted. She may not have
recognized him also from there, but even if she recognizes him, how does she know that he is trustworthy? So, what he does is, he speaks about the common which is the Lord, and as he speaks about the Lord. By that the trust starts building and the doors of the heart starts opening.
In general when we relate with people we presume many things. There are many things which we assume that this is the way things are, but those things maybe obvious for us, but they may not be obvious for someone else. To the extent we make these assumptions, to that extent we can actually move forwards.
Once a traffic cop caught a person who was speeding, and this person told the other person, “Did you not see the other person? Did you not see the speed limit?” the other person says, “Yes, I saw the speed limit, but I just didn’t see you.” What that means that usually we think that there is nothing wrong in doing wrong if you are not caught for doing wrong. That is what people think, that if we get away there is no problem. “The problem was not that I was speeding; the problem was that you were seeing me.” Here what is happening is that the cop is expecting that there should be some respect for the law when he says, “Didn’t you see the speed limit?” But in this person there is no respect for the law, but there is only fear for the consequences of breaking the law, and he thinks that if he is not caught there is no problem at all. So, when two people are interacting and if there is no common point in terms of what is the common interest, or what is it that they share or what is the expectation of each other; without that we can’t move forward. So, what Hanuman does is, he simply glorifies Ram. By glorifying Ram he doesn’t start by glorifying Sita, “O how devoted you are. In spite of all the trouble you have remained faithful to Ram.” Because that would have raised the suspicion further. Even Ravana tried that initially.
When Ravana wanted to abduct
Sita, he first thought that I will do that by winning her over. So, he started praising Sita’s beauty, and he started describing his own wealth. He thought that by this he will win over Sita, but Hanuman did not do that. Hanuman simply glorified Ram. In fact we see how Ravana actually mislead Sita, and how Hanuman earned the trust of Sita. In one sense you could say that Ravana also won the trust of Sita, but it was temporarily. He actually misled her. He didn’t actually earn her trust. He misled her by his appearance and his words. When Ravana initially took on a garb, his purpose of taking up a garb and Hanuman’s purpose in taking up the garb were entirely different. Ravana wanted to take up the garb because he wanted to deceive Sita. He eventually wanted to abduct her. Hanuman wanted to take on a garb because he wanted to reach Sita; because he wanted to eventually unite Sita with Ram. So, both of them change their appearances. More important than the action is the intention.
Ravana and Hanuman both change their forms, but their purposes were entirely different. Ravana even if he took on the form of a saintly person, his consciousness had not changed; his consciousness was still demoniac. And what did Ravana do? He had a typical, mundane, materialistic mentality. For example, when a boy wants to woo a girl what does he do? He praises the girls beauty, and then he praises his own wealth, and then he trashes the competition,
Although Sita was married, Ravana had no respect for the vows of marriage. So, he says, “What are doing with Ram? He is a poverty stricken prince. Even his own father rejected him. So, what can he give you?” When Sita heard this she was furious and she was disturbed by it, but still she respected him because he looked like a saintly person, but
his intention was simply to manipulate Sita. Actually Hanuman’s intention was to reunite Sita with Ram. So, he first spoke some intimate pastimes of Sita and Ram which nobody knew, and then he gave the signet. She got the signet at that time when the trust got completely won over. That is why Hanuman is called Buddhimatam Varistam; the most intelligent among intelligent people.
Intelligence also has different aspects to it. Intelligence can be in terms of remembrance of facts. So, in religious circles it can be remembrance of scriptures. Intelligence can also be in terms of knowing what to do at what time. Nowadays people talk a lot about emotional intelligence; “You should be sensitive to others emotions, you should know how your own intelligence are acting and respond appropriately.” So, Hanuman exhibits his intelligence in such a way that he completely wins over Sita, and then reassures Sita about Ram’s imminent arrival; and once Sita understands that Hanuman is really a representative of Ram, she starts speaking. It was pouring out of her heart telling Hanuman about how Ravana was threatening her, how she is alone over there, how she is being tempted and threatened, and then she says that, “Actually Ravana has given me a time of one year within which I have to surrender to him. If I don’t he will kill me.” When the vision is of sense gratification, when one wants to enjoy the senses, one basically objectifies others; others simply becomes objects by which we can enjoy. If at one level Ravana wanted Sita as his queen; he said, “If you don’t become my queen, you will become my breakfast.” So, he was not completely treating Sita as a person in her own right; he was objectifying her. When Hanuman heard this he was alarmed. He said, “There is great danger, but there is not much time.” Because Ram wanted to immediately search for Sita, but it took him some time to reach to Sugiva. But Sugriva, even after he became the king, the four months of Caturmasya started. At that
time the rains were very heavy. Normally one would say, “O.k, if some loved ones are lost you won’t keep rains from stopping you from searching.” But at that particular time what happened was that, because Bali had been Indra’s son, and Bali had been killed, so Indra was furious, and Indra poured rains torrentially.
The monkeys are used to living in the forest, and the monkeys can move about in the forest also quite easily even when it is raining, but this rains were the rains of the kind which nobody had seen before. Because of this torrential rains for four months they couldn’t do anything, and then it took time for them to search. Sugriva had given one month to search and come back, but it had taken them six weeks to finally come to the ocean coast, and so a lot of time had passed. So, Hanuman said, “There is a great danger to your life. So, you just come with me. I will carry you.” Now, sometimes what happens is when we put on some other façade; at that time we may normally have impersonated it in a particular way or we may act it in some particular way. But then when suddenly some rush of emotion comes, at that time we forget that we have to act in this way, and then we start acting in our normal way.
I met one devotee who was earlier a spy in the government. He was telling me that if somebody is from India, and suppose that person is to be a spy in some country like Russia, then he has to learn and speak Russian very fluently. What tests he had was; he was sleeping one day and suddenly someone threw a bucket of water on him. Normally when we wake up, disturbed from the sleep, we get angry and we may curse. They are checking if you curse in Russian or you curse in Hindi. If at that time you curse in your mother tongue; that means that you are still not trained enough. Even in the most emergency situation you should be able to act as if you are a Russian. If you are only trained to that extent,
then you can actually become a spy.
In the case of Hanuman what happened was that he was there in the small form and he had sneaked in like a small creature, a small monkey, and he said, “Sita, you can come with me. I will carry you.” He had forgotten that he was in a small form. So, Sita became amused and she said, “You have a body of a monkey and you also have a brain of a monkey. How can you carry me? You are so small.” Now Hanuman was a warrior and for a warrior to have his strength questioned is a great challenge.
Once I had gone to one Middle East country, and when we go those countries we can’t wear saffron. So, when I went to the temple, the devotees who had taken me there just parked me over there in civil clothes. I was trying to go into the temple and then change into saffron before I gave the class. There in the temple we can wear saffron, but not publicly. When I went to the temple I was not wearing any kind of devotional clothes. One devotee came and start preaching to me, “Do you know the Bhagavad-gita?” I thought, “I know the Bhagavad-gita and I write on the Bhagavad-gita everyday” That ego comes up at that time. So, I told him, “Obviously I know the Bhagavad-gita.” But then I thought, “He doesn’t know because I am not wearing devotee clothes right now.” So, I just calmed myself down. Similarly, Hanuman thought, “Do you think I am not strong enough to carry you?” So, he felt his strength challenged by that, and then immediately right in front of Sita’s eyes – Sita was looking at him; now he became bigger and bigger and took a giant form, and he became so big that he said, “I can easily carry you across.” And now Sita said, “Yes, you can easily carry me across, but if you carry me like this what will be difference between Ravana and Ram. In Ram’s absence Ravana took me, and if in Ravana’s absence
Ram comes or he sends his representative to take me away, what is the difference? Let Ram come as a hero and punish Ravana. I will wait till then.” Hanuman appreciated that devotional intent and mood that she wanted; she did not just want herself to be protected, but she wanted Ram’s good name also to be protected at that time. And then he bade farewell to her, and then he came back.
End of Transcription.
Transcribed by Sadananada Prabhu