Seven life and career management lessons to be learnt from Lord Hanuman
In the annals of Hindu mythology, Lord Hanuman — The Monkey God, is one of the most popular and widely worshipped Gods. Hindu devotees from all walks of life: the Young and the Old, Men and Women, the Hale and the Sick, the Strong and the weak: all worship him devotedly.
The name ‘Hanuman’ in Sanskrit means ‘The one with the disfigured jaw’. There are also a host of other names He is known by namely Bajrang Bali, Chiranjeeva, Anjaneya, Maruti, Deenabandhave, Kaalanabha, Mahadhyuta, Manojavaya, Pavana Putra, Rama Doota, Rama Bhakta and many others. Lord Hanuman conjures an image of supreme mental and physical strength, high intellect, unflinching loyalty, devotion, simplicity and purity in all forms. People who are in deep distress and in need of courage and faith turn to Him for strength.
There are many interesting stories surrounding the birth of Hanuman. In Some scriptures, it is written that He is an incarnation of Lord Shiva, sent to earth as a monkey to fulfil a destined purpose. He was born the son of Anjani Devi, a celestial nymph and Lord Vayu (the God of the Wind). Hanuman was blessed with supreme strength, intellect and a host of other boons. There are numerous stories of His exploits which have been told and retold over the centuries; but one never tires of hearing them again and again.
There is this story about Hanuman and the Sun. The story goes as such. When Hanuman was a kid, Anjani Devi, Hanuman’s mother would wake up some time before dawn to collect fruits and flowers. Usually she would do her chores and reach home before little Hanuman rose from his slumber. But one fine day, she was held up for some reason and could not make it home in time. Little Hanuman awoke and was surprised to not see His mother with Him. He cried out loud for His mother. But she was nowhere nearby to respond. Feeling hungry, He searched the house for foo but could find none. He then stepped out of His house and saw the Sun rising, bright and orange in all it’s glory.
In His hunger, He mistook the Sun to be a tasty fruit and leaped up to grab it. Though His first attempts were unsuccessful, He reached out again and again to grab it. Lord Indra, The Lord of Swargaloka (Heaven) watched these attempts by the monkey with great concern. Having no clue of the Monkey’s divine origins he was worried sooner or later that the Monkey would grab the Sun and the whole world would be plunged into darkness. So he hit Hanuman with his divine weapon, the Vajra. So powerful was the blow that Hanuman at once fell down senseless on the Earth, His Jaw broken and His cheeks swollen. Hence the name Hanuman (the one with the broken jaw).
Vayu, the God of the Wind saw this attack on His Son and was beside Himself with fury. He berated Indra for using such a powerful weapon on a small and defenceless child, on His Son. Indra, upon knowing that the Monkey was Vayu’s son immediately rushed to the Wind God and begged for his forgiveness. But Vayu wasn’t placated. In His anger, He stopped blowing across the Earth and disappeared with His Son into Paatalloka (the Netherworld).
With no air to breathe, life on Bhoomiloka (the Earth) became unbearable. All Animals got suffocated and plants were unable to bear fruit. Indra and the other Gods rushed to Bramha (the creator) and begged Him to rectify the situation. Bramha and the other Gods in tow then rushed to Vayu and requested him to flow on earth again, which He did. Indra then begged Vayu for his forgiveness and reversed the effect of the Vajra on Hanuman. Little Hanuman immediately awoke and was surprised to find Himself in the Netherworld with all the Gods surrounding Him.
The Gods sang His praises, for He was no ordinary child. And one by one, they blessed Him with divine powers.
Bramha blessed Him to be invulnerable from harm from any weapon, and also blessed Him to be able to change His form at will, and travel wherever He chooses.
Indra blessed Hanuman with a boon that made His body stronger than the Vajra or any other celestial weapon.
Agni, the Lord of Fire blessed Hanuman to be invulnerable to harm from fire.
Varuna, the Lord of the Ocean blessed Hanuman to be invulnerable to harm from Water.
Yama, the Lord of Death and the Netherworld blessed Him with good health and immortality.
Surya, the Sun God blessed Him with the power to change the size of His body at will.
Finally, Vishwakarma, the divine architect blessed Hanuman to be safe from all objects of his (Vishwakarma’s) creation.
But the story does not end here. After receiving these boons, Hanuman become more naughty than ever, confident that no one could challenge Him. His pranks grew more and more naughty and daring. But one day, He happened to upset a wise sage(a Rishi) who cursed Him to forget all His boons and His strength. These boons would only work when a friend would remind Him of it.
But among all his exploits, He is best known for His role in the Ramayana. He played a pivotal role in this holy Indian epic and His strength and powers provided invaluable support to Lord Rama.
His life and deeds are mentioned in detail in the Sundarakanda, the fifth book of the Ramayana epic.
Lord Hanuman is the perfect epitome of courage, character, devotion and virtue. His life, deeds and character are high benchmarks for us to emulate. Indeed, there are many great lessons we can learn from the Mighty One.
Through this article, I have made a humble attempt to list out a few lessons we can learn from His life and use them to gain success, happiness and satisfaction.
Lesson #1: Absolute and selfless devotion to a cause
It is well known that Lord Hanuman was a totally selfless devotee of Lord Rama. Many images of Lord Rama show Hanuman at his feet. It was this devotion and undying love which earned him the respect of Rama and the other Gods.
There is a famous story which goes as thus: Goddess Sita once gifted Hanuman a necklace strung with precious pearls. Hanuman inspected each pearl thoroughly and then threw aside the necklace, much to the surprise of Sita and all those present. Upon being asked why, He replied that the pearls; precious as they were, did not contain any trace of Lord Rama in them. And anything or everything which was not associated with Lord Rama was useless to Him.
In the same way, be totally and selflessly devoted to your cause, your career and your ultimate goal. Give your utmost to it. But do it not for selfish means but for a satisfaction of a job well done: for the benefit of your team and your organisation. And like Hanuman, discard or cast aside anything which does not add value to your career in the short or long term, no matter how lucrative or attractive it may look to be. Continued dedicated and selfless commitment to your profession will reap rich dividends in the long run. Sooner or later, your work will surely be recognised and rewarded. The good that you give away will surely come back your way.
Lesson #2: In times of adversity, you will find your true strength
It is mentioned in the Ramayana that after Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, Hanuman along with Angad, Jambavanth and other members of the Vanaraa clan set out on the search for her in the southern direction. Not a stone did they leave upturned in their search.
They searched day and night, high and low, deserts and mountains, forests and valleys until they finally reached the sea shore at the southern tip of the mainland. Disappointed that they were unable to locate Sita and not wanting to return to Rama empty handed, they decided to end their lives then and there. But just in the nick of time, they were informed by the wingless vulture Sampathi that Sita had been kidnapped by Ravana, the Lord of Lanka.
The Vanaras and Jambavanth were elated on hearing the news. But their joy was short lived. The Kingdom of Lanka lay a hundred Yojanas across the sea. And they did not possess any physical means to cross over to Lanka. At this moment Jambavanth remembered that Hanuman was blessed with super human strength and could easily jump across to Lanka by enlarging His form. The only problem was that Hanuman Himself was not aware of His great powers due to the curse placed on Him by the sage in His childhood. Therefore, Jambavanth gently reminded him of the boons He had received from the Gods and requested Him to make the superhuman jump to Lanka. Hanuman was hesitant at first, but after realising that it was the only way to reach Lanka for now, He accepted and then discovered that He could increase His form to gargantuan proportions. Roused by His newfound abilities, He made the legendary leap to Lanka. The rest of the story is known.
In the same manner, all of us have some incredible hidden powers within us. But they stay hidden as we are mostly unaware of them. As humans, we tend to stay well within our comfort zone, avoid challenges and thereby do not get a chance to exercise these powers. It is only when we are pushed into adversity do we realise our true strength and potential. The truth is that we are capable of doing incredible things, if we have the strength and the courage to not give up. So do not despair. When you are in deep distress and adversity, remember that this is a test placed on us by God, who wants us to come out of our shell and realise our inner strength and power.
Lesson #3: Keep yourself surrounded with good company
It has often been said that a person is recognised by the company he or she keeps: and not without good reason. Lord Hanuman was fortunate to have good and able minded friends and well wishers as company.
Just like how Lord Jambavanth encouraged Hanuman and reminded Him of His great powers in the time of great emergency, in the same manner you will need true friends and well-wishers who will encourage you and pull you up during tough times. True friends are your source of strength. They always wish for your well-being and will pull you up during your tough times. False and sycophantic friends will only crave your company for their own selfish benefits and will not hesitate to abandon you when things are not going well.
Lesson #4: Change your attitude and behaviour as the situation demands.
When Hanuman needed to make that huge jump over to Lanka, He changed His form to assume gargantuan proportions. After He reached Lanka, He wanted to sneak inside Raavana’s palace to search for Sita without attracting undue attention (though he could have very well fought and defeated all the palace guards single handed). Therefore, He changed His size to become as small as a common monkey so as to go through undetected.
After meeting Sita, He was discovered and thereby ensued a great fight between Him and the demons(Rakshashas). So valiantly did He fight that the Rakshasha’s found it impossible to contain Him. Driven by desperation, Ravana ordered his son Meghnaadha(Indrajit) to let loose the Brahmastra (the most powerful weapon in the universe - created by Lord Brahma himself), in an attempt to subdue the troublesome monkey. Meghnaadha complied. Hanuman could have well resisted the weapon, as He was given a boon (by Lord Brahma himself) to be invulnerable to harm from any celestial weapon in the Universe. But He knew that resisting the weapon would be like an insult to Brahma himself. So, with humility He allowed the weapon to subdue Him.
After His capture, He was brought before Raavana. Hanuman showed no remorse, nor any fear for His actions. This infuriated the Demon King who ordered the Monkey God’s tail to be set ablaze, so as to teach Him a lesson. Raavana did not know that Hanuman was invulnerable to fire. But Hanuman chose to keep quiet about it. The reason was that Raavana and his men were planning to parade Hanuman all across Lanka in front of the people. Hanuman chose to comply as he himself wanted to examine the city’s geography and take a look at vantage points which could be useful later, during the great war with Lanka.
The demons of course, were totally unaware of Hanuman’s intentions and paraded him across the kingdom, thinking that they had won a great victory. When Hanuman thought that He had seen enough, He suddenly broke free from His bonds, and with His fiery tail set the entire kingdom of Lanka ablaze.
This teaches us that we should not be overtly boastful of our powers and our capabilities and behave as the situation demands. Wisdom lies in knowing when to show your true strength and when not to. Excessive and unrequited show of your strength, especially against those who cannot fight back will brand you as a bully and will make people lose their respect for you. Humility on the other hand, is a virtue which helps us earn people’s trust and respect. But when the time and occasion arises, do not hesitate to show your true mettle.
Lesson #5: Strive to be in complete control of your senses at all times.
Lord Hanuman was a celibate and always had supreme control over His senses. Though He was blessed with boons which made Him invincible, He always used them to serve other people and never for His own selfish gain. He was never overtly proud of His own strength, never lusted for power, Kingdoms and wealth. He seldom came under the sway of emotions and anger and took rational thoughtful decisions, even in times of high duress. He also showed utmost respect to all people, especially women. He therefore, earned the respect and admiration of all his friends and mainly that of Lord Rama.
Strive to be in complete control of your all your thoughts, emotions, desires and words. A person who loses self-control can be easily manipulated and controlled by persons serving their own selfish needs. A person who strives to keep control of himself or herself does not make irrational decisions in haste to repent them later. Furthermore, such a person earns the respect and admiration of the people around him or her. Therefore, strive to be in control of yourself at all times. Furthermore, respect begets respect. Only if you respect people will you be respected back.
Lesson #6: Think of unconventional and innovative solutions for solving problems
During the war against Ravana in Lanka, Lakshmana was grievously wounded. To save His life Hanuman needed to obtain the precious Sanjeevani Booti (herb) from a mountain high up in the Himalayas. He proceeded without delay. Upon reaching the mountain, He remembered that in His haste to procure the herb, He forgot to ask how it looked like. Flying back again to enquire would be a waste of precious time. Lakshmana’s life was hanging by a thread and every second of delay would push Him(Lakshmana) closer to death.
He therefore decided not to delay any further and without further ado actually uprooted, lifted and carried the entire mountain all the way to Lanka. Though unconventional, it worked out as the medics were able to create the medicine in time, thereby saving Lakshmana’s life.
In the same manner, when you’re faced with a challenging situation and conventional methods do not work do not hesitate to think of unconventional methods to solve problems no matter how absurd or impossible they might look to be. Look to be innovative and creative, as this will set you apart from the crowd. It’s worth it if it gets the job done.
Lesson #7: Strive to live a simple life in the service of others.
Lord Hanuman and Raavana both possessed supreme mental and physical powers. Both had been granted boons from Lord Brahma which made them invincible. But both had totally opposite natures. Raavana used his powers to satisfy his own ambition. His greed and lust for power grew more and more to such an extent that they overpowered his soul and led to his ultimate destruction.
Hanuman on the other hand spent His entire life in the service of Lord Rama. Though He had great powers, He had no lust for material wealth and luxuries. He was totally and selflessly devoted to Lord Rama and answered to no-one else. This earned Him the undying love and gratitude of Lord Rama and His kinsmen along with everlasting respect and immortality.
We can choose to live our life in two ways, either to satisfy our own greedy ambition and lust for power. The problem is that we will not know where to draw the line. This relentless pursuit for wealth and power will overpower our soul one day and will be the cause of out ultimate destruction. But this does not mean that we should stop our pursuit of wealth. We should pursue our ambitions by all means, but look to earn fame and wealth using the right path, by the means of virtue, by doing good to others and serving them. This will earn us people’s respect and no-one will grudge you your fame and wealth.
Thus, we have seen what powerful lessons we can draw from Lord Hanuman’s life. Though we cannot be like Him (it is impossible for any mortal human being to do so), we should strive to emulate His deeds in our daily life. Then and only shall we live satisfying lives and gain everlasting peace, respect and happiness.
Jai Bajrang Bali!
Jai Shri Ram!