In the Ramayana, one of the two Indian epics that rival the Greek Illiad and Odessey, there lies a story involving the monkey god Hanuman. Many yogis know (and tremble in fear) at the yoga pose which is named for this deity, Hanumanasana, otherwise known as the splits. Hanuman is known for his unwavering devotion to Rama, an Indian king who also happens to be the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu (one of the three “heavy-s” in the pantheon of Indian mythology). To save Rama’s mortally wounded brother Laksmana, he leaps to the Himalayas from the South of India to find an herb. When Rama’s wife Sita is captured by the demon Ramana and spirited away to Sri Lanka, he leaBlogps across the gulf of Mannar to find her.
I had heard these stories a few different ways, each praising the selflessness and utter devotion of Hanuman. And yet, the story of him leaping across to Sri Lanka to save Sita always bothered me. In it, he finds her and gives her Rama’s ring, so that she know she can trust him. He offers to liberate her, and bring her back to Rama, but she refuses, stating that only Rama can save her. He returns to Rama without her.
It’s at this point that I shake my head. If I was Hanuman, I’d be pissed. I just jumped across a VERY large body of water to save my friend’s wife, and she sends me away! I would have felt unappreciated at the very least. But Hanuman takes it all in stride, leaps back across to report her whereabouts to Rama like it was no big thing.
Now, obviously, my responses are human, filled with the needs of having to be acknowledged, appreciated and even praised. The piece I was missing was this concept of devotion. To truly love something so deeply, that those petty emotional needs do not even arise. Is that even possible in this mortal form? Surely, only the sages or rishis have felt this… and then I became a Mother.
Parenthood changes many things within a person, but mainly, it changes your perspective and frame of reference. You are truly devoted to your children, and you act selflessly, without question, when it comes to their well being. You take the tantrums, the meltdowns and milestones all in stride, like Hanuman leaping across the ocean. When my youngest yells at me that he “can do it by myself” and makes us 15min late to an appointment because it took 20 tries to get that shoe on, you smile at his accomplishment, even if your aid was turned away. You learn to hold space for them to find their own way.
Toward the end of the story of Hanuman within the Ramayana, Sita, now rescued, gives Hanuman a pearl necklace for his devoted service. He takes it and proceeds to destroy it, crushes the pearls looking for something. When Sita asks him what he is doing, he tells her that he is looking for Rama in the pearls, and if he is not in them, then the token is meaningless. Sita then asks Hanuman if he has Rama within himself, and Hanuman answers her question by opening up his chest, revealing Rama’s name inscribed on every muscle and organ, as well as an image of Rama and Sita within his heart.
When my kids are pushing boundaries, insisting on doing things for themselves, even if it would be easier and faster for me to help them, I find myself becoming Hanuman. I hold them in my heart.