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.

Bhima and the Saugandhika flowers


Image courtesy: deviantart.com
Image courtesy: deviantart.com

Right from a very young age Bhima had always been very proud of his physical prowess. So much so that his pride bordered on arrogance due to the fact that but for Duryodhana, nobody else in this world could pretty much match up to his physical strength.

One fine day when the Pandavas were in exile, Draupadi was enchanted by the sweet soulful fragrance of a flower. When she asked Bhima about the smell, he told her that it was of the Saugandhika flower. She immediately insisted that he get her some of these flowers so that she could adorn herself with them.

As he was walking in the forest searching for the source of these flowers, he thought he heard someone call out his name in a low tone. At first he dismissed it believing it to be a figment of his imagination. However, he heard it again. This time he was alone in the middle of an empty field, but was certain that he heard someone whispering his name.

Going closer to the source of the sound, he happened to be moving along a very narrow path on which only one person could walk at a time. He then suddenly noticed that his way was blocked by an old monkey which was sleeping right in the middle of the path.

Bhima then asked the monkey to move aside and make way for him. When the monkey did not even respond to him, he was enraged and ordered it to make way for him. To his order, the monkey replied “I am too old and weak to move. Push my tail aside and make way for yourself.

By now Bhima did not even have the patience to argue with this monkey who was wasting his time. He bent down with the intention of pushing the monkey’s tail aside and continue on his quest of finding the flowers. But he could not move the monkey’s tail even an inch. Despite his best efforts, he could not even lift the tail, let alone move it aside. He then realized that this was no ordinary monkey and he then asked “You sir, are no ordinary monkey. Please tell me who you are.

When Bhima asked this question, the monkey mysteriously smiled and then revealed his true form. He was none other than Hanuman, the elder son of Vayu and therefore a brother of Bhima who was also the son of the Wind God. “I am Hanuman, your brother. I have come to warn you that the path that you and your brothers have chosen is perilous and fraught with dangers.

Bhima unsuccessfully trying to lift the monkey's tail
Bhima unsuccessfully trying to lift the monkey’s tail

Hanuman then proceeded to show Bhima where the Saugandhika flowers would be found and then before bidding farewell embraced his brother. The purpose of this embrace was two-fold. While it increased Bhima’s already formidable strength and physical prowess, the second and more important purpose of the same was to help Bhima shed his ego so that his modesty and humility would add even more prowess to his already powerful personality.

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This post has been written for Today’s Author Write Now Prompt for Nov 1, 2013 where the post had to include the phrase he was alone in the middle of an empty field, but was certain that he heard someone whispering his name which is the reason why this phrase has been specifically highlighted in the post.