Episode 5: Hanuman – The “Center-Stage” of the Ramayana

rama-sita

In the previous episode we saw that between the two “Ithihaasaas” (Epics), the Ramayana occupies a special place in the Hindu Literature, due to various reasons. Of course, the Mahabhaarata has it’s own significance, however, the Ramayana is considered as an extremely sacred text in Hinduism. We shall be able to appreciate it as we move through the further episodes. While concluding yesterday, I had also mentioned about an “extremely important” character in the Ramayana who is an epitome of “Bhakti” (Devotion), “Sharanam” (Surrender to the Lord) and a Sevaka to his Lord (Servant). He’s none other than Hanuman – The person who is widely described and respected as “Raama Daasa”/”Raama Bhakta”. In today’s episode, we shall see the significance of Hanuman in the entire Ramayana story.

It’s very interesting to note that even today wherever there is a recital of Ramayana anywhere in the world, it’s a common practice to place a chair or any kind of an “Aasanam” (Seat) for Hanuman to sit. Why do we do that? Here’s a sloka to justify:

 

Yatra yatra raghunaatha keerthanam tathra tathra kridamasta kaanjaleem!

Baashpavaari paripoorna lochanam maaruthim namada raaksha saanthakam!!

 

The sloka says that whoever (even a small child) recites the Ramayana, in whichever part of the world, Hanuman comes to all those places and sits at a corner with his head bowing down, with folded hands and with his eyes filled with tears of love and devotion for his Lord Rama.

It is to be noted here that Hanuman has directly heard the entire Ramayana story from the author Valmiki Maharishi himself. He has also listened to it from the two sons of Lord Rama – Lava and Kusha, when they came to meet Lord Rama. For a person of that stature, who has directly listened to the original version of the text, whatever we are chanting and singing today would never sound significant enough to listen. This is one characteristic that is widely applicable for all of us in today’s world. But in the case of Hanuman,  if He has to come and listen to whatever we’re blabbering today, it is not important for him as to who is chanting the Ramayana. All he is interested in is whether whatever is being chanted is the story of Lord Rama or not.

This sloka conveys an important message to all of us today that the art of listening is of supreme significance, if we’ve to be successful both in our professional and personal lives. Especially for leaders and managers in modern-day organisations, it’s not important as to who is conveying a brilliant idea. All we should be interested in is the content and applicability of the idea in our day-to-day business. Hence, as leaders and managers we should encourage our employees to come up with new ideas and we should have the patience to listen to them.

It’s also to be noted that this Ramayana unites the entire Bhaaratha Desha (India) into one – Right from the Himalayas in the north of India, till Kanyakumari in the extreme south. Although the original text of the Ramayana is that of Valmiki Maharishi’s in the Sanskrit language, it has been translated and made available in almost all our Indian languages. For instance, the “Ramcharitamanas” authored by Tulasidas is extremely prominent in the entire north of India. If we come down south, the Ramayana authored by Kambanaataalwaar in Tamil is very prominent. Similarly, there are versions of Ramayana available in Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marati, and numerous other Indian regional languages. In any state, in any city of India, the moment we hear the name “Rama”, all of us tend to worship him as our own beloved king. Such is the significance of the Ramayana in India.

It is this Ramayana that Valmiki Maharishi has composed as a text containing around 24,000 slokas (verses) in about 500 Sargas (Chapters) within 6 Kaandaas (Parts). We can also call this text as “Seethaayanam” (because of the vast presence of Goddess Sita Devi in the text), or as “Bharathaayanam” (In the name of Bharata, the righteous brother of Lord Rama). Valmiki Maharishi conveys this message in the following phrases: “Kaavyam raamaayanam krisnam seethaayaascharitham mahath”. Valmiki goes on to say that this text can also be referred to as “Paulastya vadam” meaning, the story that talks about the killing of Raavana (Pulastya Maharishi’s son).

Now, how did Valmiki Maharishi sing this text? What is his background? How was he “blessed” to compose and sing the Ramayana text? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!!

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