LOVE, SERVE and REMEMBER
A Hanuman Story for Ram Dass
Music: Hanuman Chalisa by Bhagavan Das
(Soon to become a multi-media Apple ibook)
Several years ago I met Ram Dass at a small gathering in Marin
and told him this story.
He said that he had never heard parts of it before (about the ring)
and I promised to send it to him.
Here is that 'ring' with a few drops of water
and much gratitude for the wonderful role he played
in the life of the world this time around.
I always remember his love and delight
and am so thankful for his sharing heart and mind.
He was like the Rishi at the bottom of the ocean
who helped me to Love, Serve and Remember.
So, now for that story about Hanuman
I bow to Hanuman, the son of the wind,
that great devotee of Rama,
destroyer of demons, whose body shines like a beacon
guiding the path of those who love God.
You overflow with mercy and wisdom
and you have recognized what is greatest in all the worlds.
When the war against Ravana was over,
Lord Rama, Sita and his closest devotees
entered the great Pushpaka chariot to set out for Ayodyha.
When that great chariot rose in the air and began to fly out over the ocean,
Rama, wishing to show his favor to those who had helped him,
gave to Hanuman a ring.
When he gave Hanuman the ring, the monkey closely scrutinized it,
turning it over and over,
squeezing it in his strong hands and biting it with his sharp teeth.
And then, as everyone watched these strange actions,
they were surprised to see Hanuman
toss the ring over the side of the flying chariot
where it promptly fell into the sea below.
Vibhishana, the good brother of Ravana, scolded Hanuman and said,
“Monkey, I thought you a great devotee of Rama
but this is something I do not understand.
How can you so easily discard this gift of a ring
given to you from the Lord?”
Hanuman turned his brilliant gaze towards Vibhishana,
“My dear friend, of what value is that ring?
Did it have the name of Rama inscribed upon it?
I looked very closely and it was not there.
"Did it have the name of Rama inscribed within its hard exterior?
I bit it and it would not yield even to my teeth.
"I am a monkey, I want only what is real and of practical use.
"I decided it to be useless and I have rid myself of it”.
Vibhishana was amazed at the reasoning of Hanuman
and asked him the following question,
“O great and Mighty Monkey.
I do not doubt your great devotion to Lord Rama.
My mind still reels when I think of your great acts
and my heart swims in feelings of bhakti-born-bliss
when I consider your feats of service to our Lord,
please allow me this question
in which I beg of you to clarify my mind;
If anything that does not have Rama inscribed upon it
is useless to you,
then why do you not walk into fire?
"Why do you not throw your body off this chariot
into the vast ocean below?”
Hanuman, appearing strong and beautiful, turned to Vibhishana.
Looking him full in the face,
he placed both of his hands above his heart
and then smiling and uttering the name 'Rama,'
dug his nails into his chest and ripped it open.
A brilliant splendor poured forth from Hanuman's open chest
and Vibhishana's hair stood on end as his eyes welled up with tears.
There, within the body of Hanuman,
Vibhishana saw Lord Rama and Sita effulgent in their glory
and on every fiber of Hanuman's tissue was written the name
Vibhishana cried out,
“O wonderful Monkey, you have given me such great happiness.
I have seen the glory of a lover of God.
You have clarified my mind and brought happiness to my body and emotions.
I understand the truth on which a devotee lives
and how to value what is given to one in life.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
At this moment, Hanuman heard his name
being called by Lord Rama
and immediately found himself looking at the feet
of his joyful friend and Lord.
Rama looked with great love upon his devotee
and a smile passed over his face.
He spoke, “My dear friend and good monkey.
You have again thrown my ring into the ocean.
This time I wish you to bring it back and give it to me.
Please do it now.”
The Pushpaka chariot was halted in the air
and Hanuman dove over the side of that wonderful vehicle
and flew quickly,
heading back to the point where the ring fell into the ocean.
Then, he plunged into the ocean below
where he swam down and down for a long time.
After a while, he began to make out what looked like
a mountain range under the sea
and as he approached he saw an ancient Rishi
sitting upon the slope of one of the mountains,
plunged in Samadhi.
As Hanuman approached, he made obeisance to the sage inwardly.
The sage, still and unmoving and by thought alone,
communicated his greeting to Hanuman.
“O son of Vayu.
Obeisance to you who are the intimate of Lord Rama.”
“How do you know who I am?” asked Hanuman
“O’ Monkey, I know not only who you are but what you seek.
Although I sit here beneath the ocean,
I am aware of much through the siddhis of attention and samyama.
You come at the command of Lord Rama
seeking the ring which you threw out of the Pushpaka chariot.”
“Yes, yes, yes it is true” the delighted Hanuman said.
“I have been commanded by Rama to retrieve it
from where it fell and to return it to him.
As you seem to know everything,
can you tell me where it may have fallen?”
“Look around you Hanuman. The ways of karma become more obvious
to those who are observant.”
Hanuman gazed around him at the mountains
that the Rishi was sitting on
and the valleys and peaks and small hills
and noticed something
that caused every hair on his body to stand up in a thrill.
Everywhere he looked the mountains were made out of rings,
just like the one he had thrown off the chariot!
The Rishi was sitting on a mountain made of rings!
There seemed to be nothing but rings!
Hanuman, in mindless awe,
bowed again to the Rishi in front of him and humbly asked,
“O great Rishi, my mind is stunned,
how do I know which ring is the one
that I threw off the Pushpaka chariot?
How will I ever find the proper one to bring back to Rama?”
And the Rishi answered,
“All these rings which you see before you,
spread out like so many small pebbles on the banks of the Ganges;
All these rings are those that you have thrown off the Pushpaka.
in countless lives, in numberless incarnations,
you have been the devotee of Lord Rama.
In countless lives, in numberless incarnations,
you have showed your heart to Vibhishana in the chariot.
In countless lives, in numberless incarnations,
you have been the son of Anjali, the friend of Sugriva.
You have leaped the ocean
and found Sita in the
Ashoka grove on Lanka,
you have brought the Himalayan mountain
with its life-giving herbs
to save Rama and Lakshman.
In countless lives
you have helped Lord Rama defeat Ravana.
You have come here before looking for this ring.
I have been sitting here since beyond the end of the universe.
My delight has been the pastimes and play of the Lord.
I have seen you many times before O Monkey.
I remember all these things, you remember them not.
Take any ring; they all belong to Rama
as does every thought and every feeling of the heart.”
The Rishi fell silent
and Hanuman was again thrilled to see the great wonder of God.
He felt the mountains swim in an ancient memory of bliss.
He sought out the nearest ring in front of the feet of that Rishi
and bowing before him, took it back to the surface of the ocean
where he burst into the sky and flew back to the Pushpaka chariot.
There, he placed the ring into the waiting hands of Lord Rama
and filled with great mantras
of praise, delight , happiness, wonder, righteousness,
wisdom, power, bliss and peace.
As Hanuman offered Rama the ring,
some water fell onto Rama’s foot from Hanuman's hair
and they looked into each other’s eyes
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
To the glory of the Lord I bow down again and again
Bhagavantau Punah Punah