By Narayani Ganesh
When Valmiki completed his Ramayana, Narada said, ‘It is good, but Hanuman’s is better.’ A perplexed Valmiki set out to find Hanuman and reached Kadali Vana, the grove of plantains, where he found Hanuman’s Ramayana inscribed on seven broad leaves of a banana tree. He read it and found it to be perfect. He started to cry. ‘Is it so bad?’ asked Hanuman. ‘No, it is so good, that after reading your Ramayana no one will read my Ramayana,’ replied Valmiki.
Without hesitation, Hanuman simply tore up the seven banana leaves, saying ‘Now no one will ever read Hanuman’s Ramayana.’ A stunned Valmiki asked Hanuman why he had destroyed his beautiful work. Hanuman said, ‘You seem to need your Ramayana more than I need mine. You wrote so that the world remembers Valmiki; I wrote so that I remember Ram. Ram is an indelible part of me; he is in my heart, soul, body and mind.’
Valmiki’s writing was inspired by ambition whereas Hanuman’s inspiration was his pure devotion and affection for Ram. That’s why Hanuman’s Ramayana read so much better; it was his way of expressing his deep love for Ram. Hanuman did this without the expectation that his exquisitely written Ramayana will make him famous. That Hanuman destroyed what he had written shows his utter humility and lack of interest in self-promotion or glory. He was just a genuine bhakt of Ram who happened to express himself in writing, and the perfection of that expression and his willingness to also tear up the writing, reveals that he was full of equanimity.
Hanuman needed no validation from the outside; nor did he wish the focus to be on him. He just did his karma, spontaneously, with no expectations. He was just content with something that was well done. Whether it would make him famous or not, was of no consideration.
There are many versions of the same story retold across the world. One story says Hanuman engraved his Ramayana with his nails on rocks in the Himalayas where he had gone to do penance. And Valmiki was taking his Ramayana to Shiva for his blessings and that was when the Valmiki-Hanuman encounter took place, and Hanuman is said to have simply picked up the engraved stones and dumped them into the ocean.
Stories related to Hanuman exalt the virtues of selflessness, love, faith, devotion, humility, self-esteem, inner strength and self-confidence besides the need to cultivate the ability to perform action without worrying about the fruit of that action. Perhaps this is what inspired Tulsidas to write of Hanuman in the following words, in his Ramcharitmanas: ‘Greater than Ram is the servant of Ram.’
Hanuman is renowned for his courage and strength, both physical and mental. Which is why Tulsidas composed 40 verses in praise of Hanuman, called the Hanuman Chalisa that is recited by young and old believers, who invoke Hanuman’s grace, to overcome fear and become strong.
One verse describes him as the bestower of the eight Siddhis, the supernatural powers named Anima, Garima, Mahima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Isitva and Vasitva. And the nine Nidhis – divine treasures named Mahapadma, Padma, Sankha, Makara, Kacchapa, Mukunda, Kunda, Nila and Kharva. This boon is granted to Hanuman by Mother Sita, daughter of Janaka.
Today is Hanuman Jayanti ([email protected])
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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