Friday, August 24, 2012

Om Sri Guru carana saroja raja nija man mukar sudhaar Baranau raghubar bimal yas do dayak phalacar Buddhi hin tanu jani ke sumirau pavan kumar Bal buddhi vidya dehu mohi harahu kales vicar Having cleansed the mirror of my mind with the dust of the lotus feet of Sri Gurudev, I now proceed to describe the untarnished Glory of Sri Rama which bestows the four fruit of human life, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Realising the inadequacy of my intellect, I meditate upon You Hanumanji, grant me strength, intelligence and true knowledge, and renounce all my afflictions and blemishes. Om Namo Narayanaya Hanuman the Embodiement of Dasya Bhakt When we think of God, we often conjure up images of a mighty patriarch seated upon a throne enshrouded by fluffy white clouds. The renaissance artist Michelangelo painted God this way thus presenting us with a western model for God. The ancient Greek, Egyptian and Norse Gods were all depicted as strong, powerful beings to be feared and revered. Hinduism also has a large pantheon of various forms of God. Lord Brahma the creator, seated upon his Lotus presiding over Brahmalok, Sri Vishnu reclining upon Sheshnag in Vaikuntha, Maheshwar Shiva, meditating in Kailash. Name any aspect of the Hindu pantheon and you will find a grand Master or Mistress, strong, powerful and majestic. Yet there is one aspect of God that, despite His greatness, His extreme strength, wisdom and intellect is portrayed humbly kneeling before another aspect of God; Mahavir, Bajarangabali, Pavan Putra Hanuman. Despite all his greatness Hanumanji offers his entire being at the feet of Lord Rama. He exemplifies the ideal path of a devotee towards God. The Srimad Bhagavad Gita lists the various sacrifice or yogas that one should perform to reach God. Hanumanji is the ultimate yogi, Karma, Gyana, Bhakti he is perfect in all. Verses 32 and 33 of the Hanuman Chalisa read: “Rama rasayan tumhare pasa sada rahau raghupati ke dasa Tumhare bhajan Ram ko bhavai janam janam ke dukh bisaravai” The essence of devotion to Sri Ram is with You, Hanumanji; may you always be the servant of the Lord. Through devotion to you one obtains Sri Rama and the sorrows of life after life are culminated. May you always be the servant of the Lord. What an odd prayer but the reason is simple. Hanumnji is a friend to those who worship his beloved Lord Sri Rama. Vibishana, the brother of Ravana was rescued from Lanka and taken to Lord Rama because Hanumanji saw in him a great devotion to Lord Rama. Hanumaji delights in the glory of the Lord and those who worship the Lord sincerely spread forth that joy. Hanumanji protects the devotees of Sri Rama and carries them safely to the feet of the Lord and eternal Bliss. Dasya Bhakt refers to a servant devotee of God. The word servant has negative connotations if we were to analyse it in isolation. Servant conjures up images of domestic workers on their hands and knees cleaning the floors or washing windows and while there is no shame in doing such essential work it is not a desirable job or rather no one aspires to be a servant. This however is the result of our pride and egoism. Hanumanji was a servant of Sri Rama. His love and service was so immense that in the Hanuman Chalisa it states that Sri Rama declares that Hanuman is as dear to him as his own brother, the devout Bharath. Before we proceed, let us establish what certain words actually mean according to the English dictionary. A servant is a person employed to do domestic work in a household or as a personal attendant. A devoted follower or employee. Bhakt refers to a devotee; a devotee is a person who is devoted to something or an enthusiast. Devotion is a great love or loyalty, enthusiastic zeal or religious worships. Sri Hanumanji was the devoted attendant, follower and employee of Sri Rama. Hanumanji performed his every action as an offering to Sri Rama. In the Srimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter nine, verses 27 and 28, Lord Krishna proclaims: “Yat karoshi, yadashnasi, yaj juhoshi dadasi yath Yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurushva mad arpanam. Subhasubhaphalair evam mokshyase karmabandhanaih samnyasa yoga yuktatma vimukto mam upaisyasi” Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give away, whatever austerity you practice, do it as an offering to Me. Thus shall you be free from bondage of actions yielding good and bad results. Being free, and with your heart steadfast in the Yoga of renunciation, you shall come to Me. How beautiful is the synergy of the Great epics of Sanathan Dharma. The Mahabharat gives us the Srimad Bhagavad Gita which gives us the word of God, assuring us that the offering of all actions at His feet will result in bliss. This teaching is given in the Sri Ramcharitmanas through the example of the Hanumanji. When Sri Rama and his army got to the banks of the ocean, a hero was needed to cross the ocean and find Mother Sita, to see how she fared and to take word to her of Sri Rama’s approach. That hero was Hanumanji. To cross the ocean and overcome the numerous obstacles in his path Sri Hanuman invoked the name of Sri Rama. With his mind and heart on the task set before him by the Lord, Hanumanji overcame many distractions and obstacles along his path and reached the Asoka grove of Lanka where Mata Sita was held. Distressed as she was Mother Sita’s heart was lightened on hearing the tale and message delivered by Hanumanji. He assured Mother Sita that when Sri Rama arrived the demons will be destroyed. It is here that Hanumanji makes a statement that epitomises his devotion to Sri Rama. So great and powerful is Hanumaji but he is devoid of ego and arrogance, he follows only the wishes of Sri Sita Rama. He says to Mother Sita, ‘Mother I would take you to Him this very moment but I swear by Rama, I have no such orders from the Lord. When Sit a Mata questions the abilities of the monkey troop over the forces of Lanka. Hanumanji offers the following explanation: “Listen Mother; monkeys possess no great strength or intelligence either; but through the Lord’s might, the most tiny snake might swallow Garuda, the king of birds.” Sita Mata is pleased with this response and blesses Hanumanji. Moved by Her blessings Hanumanji prostrates to the Mother. He then declares that he is hungry but will only eat the fruit of the trees in the Asoka grove if Mother Sita allows him to. The mother knowing Hanumanjis devotion to her Lord replied, “Go my Son, and enjoy the luscious fruit with your heart fixed on Sri Rama’s feet. “ When Sri Hanumanji burnt down Lanka he returned to Sri Rama with word of Mother Sita’s well-being. Sri Rama was overjoyed and responded that he will never be able to repay the debt to Hanumanji. As Hanumanji listened to Sri Rama’s words he was filled with joy, but he prostrated to the Lord and cried, “Save me, save me from the tentacles of egoism my Lord.” Sri Rama asked Hanumanji how he was able to burn down the mighty city of Lanka. Hanumaji replied: “Nothing is unattainable, my Lord, to him who enjoys Your grace. Through Your might a mere shred of cotton can surely burn a submarine fire the impossible can be made possible. Therefore, be pleased, my Lord to grant me unceasing Devotion, which is a source of Supreme Bliss” Hanumanjis’s devotion to Sri Rama is expressed through many episodes. On returning to Ayodhya, Hanumanji stayed with Sri Rama and Mother Sita following them devotedly. Sri Hanuman was so devoted to Sri Rama that even at his core there existed only Sri Rama. One of my favourite stories associated with Hanumanji, is that of the pearl necklace. On returning to the kingdom of Ayodhya, amidst a grand coronation celebration, Mother Sita gifted Hanumanji a string of pearls. Hanumanji although a monkey in appearance was immensely wise and spiritual. He proceeded to bite each pearl and then discard it. When his actions were questioned, Hanumanji answered that he was searching for Sri Sita Rama within the pearls for without Sri Sita Rama the pearls were worthless and of no use to Him. When his respect and devotion to Sri Sita Ram was questioned, Hanumanji ripped open his chest and there seated in his heart was the divine couple Sri Sita Ram. Thus we see that Sri Hanuman had immersed his entire existence in devotion to Sri Sita Rama. On one occasion Sri Rama and Sita Mata were entering the palace and Hanumanji was about to follow, Sri Rama stopped him and said that he was not allowed. Hanumanji then questioned why Mother Sita was allowed into the palace but not him. In an attempt to find and answer Sri Rama pointed to the sindoor on Sita Mata’s head. “This,” he said, “entitles Sita to enter with me.” That was an acceptable answer for Hanumanji but only temporarily. In an attempt to prove his immense devotion to Sri Rama, the following day Hanuman covered his body in sindoor and waited for Sri Rama at the palace entrance. Understanding the actions of Hanumanji, Sri Rama acknowledged the supreme intellect of Hanumanji and allowed him to enter the palace. It is for this reason that Hanumaji is often depicted as being completely red. “lala deha lali lase, aru dhari lala langur, vajra deha danava dalana, jai jai jai kapi sur.” Red is your body, red is your radiance and red your massive tail. Your body is like the thunderbolt which brings destruction to the demons. Hail, hail, hail,O Heroic Kapi! There is no doubt that Hanumanji was/is a Great bhakt. The question that arises though is; Was Hanumji the bhakt of Sri Ram exclusively? This was the question that Sri Rama and Sita Mata once pondered over. Sri Rama declared that Hanuman was his devotee alone. “How did you deduce that,” asked Sita Mata, “for surely he is my devotee exclusively. The divine pair debated this point before deciding to ask Hanumanji to answer the question. When Hanumanji arrived he dutifully began to massage the feet of Sri Rama with one hand and the feet of Sita Mata with the other hand. Sri Rama asked, “Hanuman, whose devotee are you, are you not mine exclusively?” The same question was posed by Mother Sita. Hanumanji being the repository of knowledge and wisdom sensed the game at hand and replied that he is neither the exclusive devotee of Sri Rama nor of Sita Mata. Sri Rama asked for an explanation for how could Hanumanji then serve them so devotedly if His loyalties lay elsewhere. Hanumanji laughed, “I am not exclusively Ram’s devotee or exclusively Sita’s devotee. I am and will always remain Sita Rama’s devotee!” Sri Rama and Sita were delighted. Sri Sita Rama is one aspect of the same Supreme entity, two sides of the same coin, Shiva Shakti, the masculine and the feminine aspect of the Supreme. Hanumanji, a monkey, a seemingly lesser life form to human beings was able to achieve and overcome great trials and obstacles by offering everything at the feet of the Lord. We must learn to do the same, so that through faith, devotion and love of God we may overcome our trials and obstacles and reach God. Swami Vivekananada said: You have now to make the character of Mahavira your ideal. See how at the command of Ramachandra he crossed the ocean. He had no care for life or death! He was a perfect master of his senses and wonderfully sagacious (showing insight or wisdom). You have now to build your life on his great ideal of personal service. Through that, all the other ideals will gradually manifest in life. Obedience to Guru without questioning, and strict observance of Brahmacharya - this is the secret of success. As on the one hand Hanuman represents the ideal of service, so on the other he represents leonine courage, striking the whole world with awe. He has not the least hesitation in sacrificing his life for the good of Rama. Only the carrying out of Shri Rama's best is the one vow of this life! such whole-hearted devotion is wanted. May we learn from the example of Hanumaji and humbly offer our lives in service to Lord.

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