Guest Post : Lessons to be learnt from Hanuman


Image courtesy : Google Image search
Image courtesy : Google Image search

My ex-manager and a really good friend of mine has written this post about corporate and real life lessons that we all can learn from Hanuman and his exploits in the great epic Ramayana.

Given that the monkey god is an all-time, all-weather favorite of all Indians, I am sure that this post will resonate with all the readers.

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As my elder girl is named after Hanuman’s mother (Anjana), Hanuman somehow seems less a God and more a family member to me! Regardless of whether you consider Hanuman to be real or a character from a story, there are some endearing qualities about Hanuman that deserve our attention.

Sundara – Hanuman’s birth name was Sundara. Can a monkey face be beautiful? Beauty truly lies in the eyes of the beholder. Every one of us is beautiful to our mother, our spouse and our children. Don’t ever judge a person by his or her looks.

Guru Bakthi – Hanuman’s guru was Surya. When Hanuman learnt all that was to be learnt, he duly requested Surya to name his Guru Dakshina (Fee). Surya refused initially citing that teaching Hanuman was a pleasure by itself. When Hanuman insisted, Surya asked Hanuman to be Sugriva’s minister. Hanuman happily obliged. Education or mentorship can never be a commercial transaction. Knowledge can be acquired only if it joyfully imparted and respectfully accepted. Treat your managers with respect. They may still have something to teach you.

Humility – Hanuman carried his titles & achievements lightly. I have seen too many of our associates attitude take a turn for the worse after a promotion and a corner cabin.

Be Inspired – Hanuman was cursed by a Rishi that he will not remember his strength. When the ocean needed to be crossed, Jambavan had to remind Hanuman about his powers before Hanuman took the leap. Know who your Jambavan is. He is your well-wisher who knows more about you than you.

Differentiate – While crossing the ocean, Hanuman encountered obstacles from Mainaka, Surasa and Simhika. Yet, he tackled each one differently. Mainaka the mountain was a well-wisher who just wanted to be hospitable to Hanuman. Knowing that he will be delayed if stayed too long, Hanuman respectfully took leave from Mainaka and proceeded with his journey.

Hanuman met Surasa next. Surasa had previously obtained a boon that any living thing crossing the ocean would be food for her stomach. Surasa sought to swallow Hanuman. Hanuman realized that Surasa was just doing her dharma (duty). Without wasting any moment, Hanuman increased his size. Surasa opened her mouth wider. Suddenly, Hanuman shrunk his size, quickly entered Surasa’s mouth and exited before Surasa could react. Hanuman had done what Surasa had asked for and Surasa now sportingly let him go.

After this, a Rakshashi called Simhika caught hold of Hanuman’s shadow and tried to eat him. Hanuman realized the threat from Simhika and killed her right away before continuing to Lanka.

Learn to differentiate a friend, a professional rival and an enemy. Don’t behave in the same manner with everyone!

Kanden Sithai (Saw Sita!) – Hanuman spoke to the point. Knowing that Rama was anxiously waiting for news about Sita, Hanuman conveyed to Rama the news about Sita succinctly. Too many of us beat around the bush. Learn to write crisp, easy to understand e-mails!

We can read (and treat) Ramayana as a story or we can treat it as history. The word ‘Ramayana’ means Rama’s journey (‘ayana’). Treat Ramayana as Rama’s blog posts. The people Rama encountered,  the places he went and the things he did, have a lot to teach us. Ramayana is incomplete without Hanuman.

I read Lesley Hazleton’s book – ‘The First Muslim’ which is on Prophet Muhammad’s life. Though the word – ‘Jihad’ has so many negative connotations today, the true meaning of ‘Jihad’ as meant in the Quran is ‘striving’! The first person to have realized Prophet Muhammad’s divinity was a Christian monk! Religions have more in common than we think.

Don’t mistake the messenger for the message!

None of what I have tried to explain above is my own original thought. I am just trying to make sense of the world around during my ‘ayana’. 🙂

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Although I enjoyed the whole post quite a bit, I personally enjoyed the few paragraphs about the tactics that Hanuman used to overcome the various obstacles in his flight to Lanka. There are just so many lessons that all of us can learn from those few paragraphs, which the author has quite succinctly summarized with one word – differentiate.

That word, used in this context, is loaded with so much gravitas and meaning, isn’t it.

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Taraka and Subahu – How did they die?


Image courtesy: kamadenu.blogspot.com Maricha and Subahu attacking the yajna
Image courtesy: kamadenu.blogspot.com
Maricha and Subahu attacking the yajna

Taraka was fierce rakshasi and with her sons Maricha and Subahu terrorized and devoured anybody who dared to enter the forest near the confluence of the river Sarayu with the Ganga. This forest soon came to be known as Taraka’s forest and nobody had the guts to even go near the place, let alone enter it and try to earn a livelihood in this region.

Fed up with the menace of the rakshasa trio, the great sage Vishwamitra decided to conduct a penance and yajna with his disciples in this particular forest. When he noticed that his disciples were unable to perform the rituals of the yajna properly due to the constant menace of the trio, he decided to approach King Dasaratha for assistance. He went to Ayodhya and requested the King to send his eldest son, Rama, then just a teenage boy of 13 yrs to help him vanquish the demons. Dasaratha had a soft corner for Rama and hesitated to agree to this request of Vishwamitra. However, when the learned Sage Vashista who was the royal guru of Ayodhya instructed the King to send Rama with Vishwamitra, Dasaratha agree to do so. Not to be left behind, Rama’s brother Lakshmana also accompanied him to Taraka’s forest.

When Rama, Lakshmana and Vishwamitra entered the forest, they were almost immediately attacked by Taraka. Rama, with some help from Lakshmana succeeded in felling the foul demon with a well placed astra. Pleased with this outcome, the sage Vishwamitra blessed the young duo, and also gifted them with divine weapons.

Then, the sage took the young princes to the place where the yajna rituals were being conducted and proceeded to restart all the rituals with the boys on guard. The teenage warriors stood guard day and night near the place watching out for any signs of Taraka’s sons, Maricha and Subahu. Despite their constant sleepless vigil, for the first five days they did not notice anything untoward.

However, one thing that they did not know was that they were being watched. When Maricha and Subahu heard the news of their mother’s death, they were shocked and enraged beyond their wits. Shocked because Taraka was a formidable rakshasi who with her knowledge of the dark magic and ferociousness would strike mortal fear into the hearts of even seasoned warriors. And the fact that two teenage boys had managed to kill her struck fear into their hearts.

At the same time, they were enraged as nobody had even dared to think of challenging them and their authority over this forest for many a decade now. And now suddenly these young boys had popped up from nowhere and in one felling swoop managed to kill their mother.

They were therefore watching the activities of Rama and Lakshmana very carefully for the past five days, waiting for the appropriate opportunity to strike back and extract revenge for their mother’s death as well as reclaim the forest, their forest.

On the sixth day, the rakshasa brothers had run out of patience and attacked the yajna from the skies above with their horde of asuras. Despite putting up a mighty and valiant attempt, the entire group of asuras were no match for the battlefield prowess of Rama and Lakshmana. And finally when Subahu was killed by the divine astras of Rama, his brother Maricha fled to the ocean. Thus, the hegemony of the asura brothers over the forest finally ended. Maricha would eventually reappear in Rama’s life, but that story happens quite a few years later.

Thus, even at the very young age of 13 years, Prince Rama clearly showed the world what he was capable of on a battlefield with a bow and his arrows.

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This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. We give out creative writing topics each weekend for Indian bloggers.

Today’s prompt was that post had to include the line one thing that they did not know was that they were being watched and that is the reason this phrase has been specifically highlighted in the post.

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This post has been picked as one of Blogadda’s WoW posts of the weekend.

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Free giveaway of compilations


I just thought I will make things a little easier for all my mythology readers. I have compiled the Seven sins referred to in the Ramayana and Navarasas in the Mahabharata series as two separate compilations and have provided the download links in the post below.

Please note since WordPress allows only PDF files to be uploaded I have links only to the PDF versions here. Please leave behind a comment if you require any other versions of these compilations and I shall try and oblige you.

Click on the images below, download the PDF files and enjoy reading these stories again.

Seven sins in the Ramayana
Seven sins in the Ramayana
Navarasas in the Mahabharata
Navarasas in the Mahabharata

Brotherly love


Bharata falling at Rama's feet and requesting him to come back to Ayodhya
Bharata falling at Rama’s feet and requesting him to come back to Ayodhya

During the beginning of his long exile, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana made their home in a forest hut in a region called Chitrakut. With the help of Guha, the king of the Nishada tribe, they had managed to build a reasonably functional home in the forest and were living in peace when they were visited by Bharata.

Bharata had come all the way from Ayodhya to deliver the sad news of Dasaratha’s demise to Rama and also to request him to come back to Ayodhya and take back what was rightfully his, the throne of Ayodhya and become its King.

Rama, bound by his duty to honor the promise made his father to Kaikeyi refuses to do so and exhorts Bharata to go back to Ayodhya and rule it justly, fairly and gracefully.

Despite multiple attempts by Bharata to convince him, Rama remained unconvinced and finally orders his brother to leave the hut.

After a while when Rama was inside the hut, Sita came up to him, “Rama, you seriously need to speak to Bharata, he said he was leaving an hour ago, but he’s still standing in the doorway.

Rama was moved to tears by his brother’s love, affection and devotion towards him. Despite the fact that he was being crowned the King and would enjoy all the trappings of a luxurious life, Bharata’s love for his elder brother and devotion towards him moved Rama very much.

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This post has been written for the Today’s Author Write Now prompt for October 25, 2013 where the post had to include the line “He said he was leaving an hour ago, but he’s still standing in the doorway.

Ravana’s pride


I am taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – 1st to 7th September 2013.

This post is the seventh and last of a series of trying to correlate the Seven Sins to characters and incidents referred to in the Ramayana.

Read Post 1 – Kumbhakarna’s sloth

Read Post 2 – Surpanakha’s lust for Rama

Read Post 3 – Vali’s greed

Read Post 4 – Kumbhakarna’s gluttony

Read Post 5 – Sita’s wrath

Read Post 6 – Manthara’s envy

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Please note that there are various versions of this great epic and therefore my post might contradict with what you have heard or read of this particular incident in the Ramayana. This is only an attempt to map the seven deadly sins to incidents or behavior of particular characters in the Ramayana in a given situation and I have taken liberties with my own interpretations of the same. No offense is meant to any version of this wonderful epic.

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HanumanBurningLanka

The capital city of Lanka was the pride of Ravana’s empire. One version of its description seems superhuman even by modern day standards. The central palace complex was a massive collection of several large looming towers and huge structures that were more than a few square kilometers in area. Legend has it that most of these buildings were built with marble, ivory and other precious metals found in the era. Tales of Lanka, its beauty and grandeur were told by people far and wide in those days and Ravana took immense pride in his capital city which was the crowning jewel of his vast empire.

After Ravana had kidnapped Sita and kept her hostage in the city of Lanka, Hanuman, Rama’s faithful friend volunteered to fly over the Indian Ocean to Lanka to ensure that Sita was safe and sound. When he flew there, he also marveled at the grandeur and the beauty of the city. After locating Sita in the Ashoka Vana and informing her that her husband Rama was on his way to rescue her, he decided to toy with Ravana for a while.

He allowed himself to be captured and demanded an audience with Ravana himself. Since Lanka had never before seen a vanara such as Hanuman, Ravana granted him an audience. When he heard that Hanuman was an envoy of Rama, Ravana was furious and asked his soldiers to set the vanara’s tail on fire. Hearing this, Sita prayed to Agni, the God of Fire and requested him not to harm Hanuman.

Consequently although his tail was on fire, Hanuman was not hurt nor did he feel a thing. Using his magical abilities, he then proceeded to escape from Ravana’s soldiers and hopped from one building to another in the city of Lanka setting fire to each of them with his tail. In a matter of a few minutes, he had managed to set ablaze the whole of Lanka.

Thus, Lanka which had prompted the sin of pride in someone as pious as Ravana was reduced to ashes in a matter of a few hours due to the antics of a mischievous monkey-man.

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Image courtesy: Google Image search