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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hanuman In Lanka

Hanuman was delighted to observe the City of Lanka. For protection, he reduced himself to the size of a cat, and then proceeded to walk into the city, taking careful note of how everything was situated. As a servitor, he was very concerned at every moment, lest he be caught and ruin the project. Hanuman reflected that, “Emissaries proud of their education or intelligence sometimes become the cause of failure.” The taking of the city of Lanka and the vanquishing of Ravana appeared to be nearing success, but it could be marred by such an agent as himself.

“If I lose my life,” thought Hanuman, while walking down the populated way amidst the nightlife of Lanka, “great obstacles will crop up for the fulfillment of my Master’s object.”

Still no more than the size of a cat, he walked along the roof of a seven-storied building and saw at a short distance the palace of Ravana, surrounded by a glittering wall. The palace was guarded by armed Rakshasas, whom Valmiki describes as “never shrinking from anything on account of moral principles.” Treading past noisy drinking parties and quiet gatherings, past big mansions with spacious halls, Hanuman gained access at last to the inner chamber of Ravana.

The time was past midnight, and the monkey warrior observed a virtual sea of beautiful women, sleeping under the influence of drink. Hanuman was looking for the one woman described to him as Sita, and there was no question of his being moved by a harem full of disheveled beauties. Hanuman’s agitation was, rather, that time was passing, and he had not yet found Sita. In the center of the chamber, on a crystal dais, he saw an elaborately decorated bedstead, and upon the bed lay Lord Ravana himself. Ravana was spread out in intoxication, “like an elephant in sleep.” Lying like that, his body smeared with red sandal, and wearing bright cloth, he presented the perfect spectacle of a sensualist in royal power.

But where was Sita?

Hanuman paced up and down the city wall. He began to think that his leap across the ocean had been in vain. This is the frustration of the transcendental servant. He does not see all indifferently as One, as the impersonalist philosophers would have it. When engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord, any obstacle unfavorable to the discharge of that service is a source of frustration and even anger, until it is removed. Hanuman was proceeding with the work of Rama Chandra. He was prepared to go to any lengths, and in Hanuman’s case the wish of his heart was not mere bravado. He had been blessed with the most intense individual yearning for actual service of the Lord. Actually, there is no impediment in serving the Lord, and once we decide that we belong to God we cannot be stopped from serving Him. We can always chant His Holy Name. God, being omnipotent, is truly in no need of our services, but He is most pleased by the individual who makes an effort on His behalf.

Finally the noble monkey found Sita in the heart of the dense Asoka forest, seated under a tree. Wracked with grief, but still radiantly beautiful, with tears flowing down her face, she is described as “Lakshmi without the Lotus.” She was seated on the ground like an ascetic, wane, and sad for the absence of Rama Chandra. She was undergoing a continual, harrowing nightmare of separation from Rama. Hideous Rakshasa monsters of misshapen form danced in a ring around her, telling her rumors of Rama’s weakness and death.

Hanuman’s first step was to communicate with Sita and assure her. He was certain this was her because of the information he had received about her appearance. He had to approach her, gain her confidence that he was not another Rakshasa, and convey to her that Rama and the Vanaras would soon be on their way to her rescue, so that she must not give up her life.

Hanuman began to speak to her from his place, concealed within the branches of the tree. Janaki was delighted to hear him. She had some doubt, but Hanuman was very sweet of speech, assuming a large form, reddish and clothed in white. And he recited to her the history of King Dasarath and Rama Chandra and Lakshman and Sita.

Listening to this being who so cheerfully pronounced the Name of Rama, Sita began to shake off her ascetic firmness. She was becoming convinced that she was beholding Rama Chandra’s messenger, and that was as good as seeing Rama Himself! She thought for a time that Hanuman might be another mirage, but the monkey told her things too treasured to be Rakshasa deceit. Rama Chandra had given to him the utmost confidence.

With folded palms, Hanuman approached Sita and gave her a ring from Rama. In blissful exchange, Sita offered that Hanuman should ask Rama, “Do you remember the time We were wandering in the Dananka Forest and a crow was disturbing me, and You shot him with an arrow?” Sita then received all of Hanuman’s speech like honey. When: however, he related Rama Chandra’s grief at her separation, she received it like poison. Assuring her that she would soon be re-united with Lord Rama, Hanuman finally left. In parting, Sita told him that she could only live one more month like this, and then she would give up her life.

Before heading back with his message, Hanuman decided to gauge the enemy’s power. He understood that he had been given no direct order to do this, but he reflected in his mind that there is no guilt if the servant, while accomplishing the main objective, does something else in addition. Thereupon, in a miraculous display of prowess, Hanuman broke down all of the trees in the Asoka forest except the one under which Sita was seated.

He then sat upon the main gate of Lanka and, uprooting a bolt, shouted out that he was Hanuman, a Vanara, and the servant of Rama Chandra! Frightened Rakshasas rushed out to see him expanding himself to gigantic size, ranging the sky, determined to fight. Hanuman single-handedly destroyed thousands of Rakshasa warriors and top military personalities, and set fire to every house in the city, declaring again and again: “None of you will survive when you make an enemy of Rama Chandra!” Then he flew back across the ocean, and landed with a great noise upon a mountain peak.

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