Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sundara kaanda - Ramartham Vaanaraarthamcha

After being reminded of his amazing might by the great bear Jambavantha, Hanuman decides to cross the huge ocean and search for Mother Seetha in Lanka. He gets onto the mountain on the seashore and takes a good look at the task ahead as well as the (otherwise) insurmountable obstacles. He sums up all his strength, takes a deep breath and with a mighty leap takes off into the skies to get across to Lanka. As he pressed the mountain with his feet, it quaked and showered all the flowers that were borne on the trees. The inhabitants of the mountain, animals, snakes and other people fled thinking the mountain is being harmed by a demon. And then they heard the scholars in the sky saying thus:

रामार्थं वानरार्थं च चिकीर्षन कर्म दुष्करम
समुद्रस्य परं पारं दुष्प्रापं प्राप्तूमिच्छति
రామార్థం వానరార్థంచ చికీర్షన్ కర్మ దుష్కరం 
సముద్రస్య పరం పారం దుష్ప్రాపం ప్రాప్తుమిచ్ఛతి
He has set upon this arduous and impossible (for others) task for the sake of Rama and the fellow monkeys and decided to cross to the other side of the ocean ||1.30||
(Sundarakanda: Follow this link for the verses and meanings)
The most wonderful aspect leading to this verse is that Hanuman never even once feels he is doing this to earn personal glory. In this verse he has squarely put the team (vanaras or the monkeys) and SriRama(the "Boss") ahead of himself in the sincere pursuit of the goal. This observation has been made by the onlookers, the scholars in the skies watching over the proceedings. This implies Hanuman has created a strong perception of why he is doing what he is doing. Such perception creation is obviously not possible without strong behaviour. The key point though is that Hanuman never craved to make an impression and build an image for himself. The image built itself based on the manner in which he carried himself. As Jambavan praises him and reminds him of his amazing might, Hanuman grows to gigantic proportions and dwarfs everyone present before him. Yet, he bows to the elders exemplifying humility. Being humble in the backdrop of great accomplishments is a great quality to have. This is important because we never achieve anything in isolation. There are immense contributions of people around us in everything we do. And finally when we realize without the grace of God, we count for nothing, humility and gratitude will automatically appear. The idea is not to belittle oneself and feel insignificant. It is only not to have an exaggerated feeling about oneself. In order to do so, one must place the goal (the work of Rama) and team (people around) before oneself. Thus Hanuman is a great example of working selflessly for the sake of SriRama and his mates. This seems to have brought him immortality and ultimate glory without setting himself to achieve it. The point is further strengthened by Ravana whose sole aim was himself and his pleasures and his glory. In order to achieve that he didn't shy away from taking shortcuts, doing immoral acts, putting the entire state machinery at work to fulfil his desires till ignominy caught up with him and he finally perished becoming the perfect example of how not to be in life. Hanuman's personality traits, work ethic and selflessness stand in stark contrast to Ravana's pride, selfish motives and his obsession with himself. The result is today Hanuman is worshiped as a God and Ravana is remembered for examples of wrong doings. 
At a worldly plane, Hanuman holds lot of examples for us to follow. In our day to day life, we should be valorous like him, giving our best in whatever we do. Excelling in the sphere of our activity should be our goal. That satisfaction is its own reward. "Work is worship, Duty is God", it is said. Finally offering it to one's beloved master and thanking for the opportunity makes one light. Hanuman was well aware that it is Rama who was powering him to do this job and that made his job easier. When the self takes upon the doership, discrimination leaves us. This can potentially make us take wrong decisions. By surrendering to the master and thinking whatever happens is his will and giving our best we don't put the pressure of failing on ourselves and thus usually do a better job. This is a great working philosophy that one should adopt in order to excel. The work we do is always an opportunity. It could have been done by someone else but we got a chance to do it. So we should do it such that we are remembered for that. This is where goal includes and transcends skill.

In the spiritual plane, Hanuman signifies budhhi that losely translates as intellectual aspect. Rama signifies the Supreme soul and Seetha, the individual soul. The union of the individual soul with the supreme soul can happen only when budhhi decides to do it. The individual soul is hijacked by the ten senses that signify Ravana. Saving the individual soul from the clutches of the senses and merging it with the supreme soul is fraught with obstacles. It should be done by budhhi for the sake of the supreme self itself since everything came from that and should ultimately merge in that. It is this symbolism associated with Ramayana that makes it eternally sweet. I wrote about it here quoting Sri Sathya sai Baba.

Read in the backdrop of this, the above verse is really loaded with implications in our worldly and spiritual life. Comments welcome. 


Prasanth Sarath said...

Nice articulation and succinct description

Prasanth Sarath said...

Nice articulation and succinct description

sravan said...

Nicely summed up and a great learning

Anonymous said...

interesting thoughts. wondering on the phrase "buddhi decides"...does it? If Hanuman symbolises buddhi (and so on), individual soul (or rather its self-knowledge) is forcefully hidden away by the ten-headed ignorance and the param soul is actively seeking for the individual soul...and though it really knows where it is, waits for buddhi to cross the sea of worldly insurmountable barriers and feel as if it has discovered the individual soul!

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