Overcoming obstacles in our spiritual journey|Lessons from Hanuman’s journey to Lanka

Today we sing paeans in glory of Hanuman for his extraordinary service to Lord Rama. It was Hanuman who crossed the gigantic ocean and searched Mother Sita and later burned the entire city of Lanka. But there was a time when Hanuman did not believe that he has the ability to perform such heroic deeds.

In search of Mother Sita, when the monkey warriors of Sugriva saw the vast ocean then they all felt disheartened. Sampati, the brother of Jatayu, informed them that Sita is in Ravana’s Lanka. And Lanka is 100 yojanas i.e. around 800 miles from the shore. Everyone wondered how they can reach there.

Angad, the prince, said that he can go Lanka but is doubtful of returning back. Other monkeys had no ability to cross the ocean. And while the discussion was going on Hanuman was silent. He too was agreeing with all that it is not possible for them to go to Lanka and find Sita. Everyone felt disheartened.

Dealing with self-doubt

At that time, Jambavan, the mighty bear king who was quite old at that time told Hanuman about his real strengths and capabilities. He motivated, guided and persuaded Hanuman to do this gigantic task. Jambavan’s words instilled confidence in Hanuman. He understood and realized his god gifted talent and decided to do this herculean task.

From this incident we understand that how we need a guru in our life. Many times, we may not know our own capabilities. Like Hanuman we may also doubt our abilities. But a guru knows that the Lord has bestowed upon each soul talents which can be positively used. 

We see that how Srila Prabhupada identified potentials in devotees and engaged them in the service of Krishna. These devotees helped Srila Prabhupada in spreading Krishna consciousness movement all over the world and did so many wonderful things for Krishna.  We may not be blessed enough to have the power of Hanuman but if we follow the guidelines of guru then we too can do great service for the Lord.

Beware of comfort zone

In our spiritual journey many times there are possibilities of getting distracted. Distractions are not just the sufferings which we encounter in our spiritual life, but it is the material pleasures which comes in our way.

Hanuman on his way to Lanka was greeted by a mountain, Maināka. With pleasing words Maināka requested Hanuman to rest for a while on his peaks. “You must be tired, and you have to travel a lot. So, just relax for a while and then resume your journey.”

Lord Rama and Mother Sita were separated, and Hanuman’s service was to unite them. So, how can Hanuman relax! He thanked Maināka for his kind words. He respectfully touched the mountain and without relaxing continued with his journey. 

Srila Prabhupada too never relaxed. When at 70 everyone prefers to lead a retired life, he was travelling all over the world preaching the message of Krishna. He was getting up in the middle of the night and writing books. And it is because of his books that today millions of people are practicing devotion to Krishna all over the world.

Like Hanuman and Srila Prabhupada, we should never become slack in our devotional life. We should not get into comfort zone. We are fortunate that we now know that the purpose of our life is to always serve Krishna. So, we should use every moment of our life in Krishna’s service.

Avoiding unnecessary distractions

With all his might Hanuman was flying towards Lanka.  He was completely focussed, and he wanted to reach the city of Ravana as soon as possible. But his journey was interrupted by Surasa, the mother of the Nāgas.

She assumed the form of a Rākṣasī and came in front of Hanuman.  “I have been blessed by Brahma that anyone who comes to my way will have to enter into my mouth. You cannot escape me. Now, I am going to eat you.”

Hanuman said, “Sure, I will fulfil your desire. But now I am on a mission to serve Lord Rama. First let me find Mother Sita.  And after that I will return back and then you can eat me.”

Surasa exclaimed, “No. I will devour you now.”

She opened her mouth and increased its size to eight miles. Hanuman then increased his size to sixteen miles. Surasa expanded her mouth to 20 miles, Hanuman too expanded himself. She again grew in size but now Hanuman reduced himself to the size of a thumb. He then quickly entered her mouth and came out. 

Hanuman said, “By entering your mouth I have respected the benediction of Brahmaji and have also fulfilled your desire. So, now let me continue with my journey.”  Surasa was pleased with the intelligence of Hanuman. She blessed him saying that you will be successful in your mission.

Hanuman teaches an important lesson to us that we should not get into any unnecessary confrontations with others in our devotion journey. We should not get into ego clashes because that will impede our journey. Instead, we should be humble and get out of any unpleasant situation so that we can focus on pleasing the Lord with our service.

Kill envy to advance spiritually

Hanuman continued with his journey. He was moving with the speed of Garuda. Gandharvas, Yakṣas, Vidhyadharas and other celestial beings were watching Hanuman’s prowess and were praising him. But suddenly Hanuman felt that someone is trying to pull him down.  As he looked down, he saw a Rākṣasa woman called Simhika. She was trying to seize Hanuman’s shadow.  

While doing so, she opened her terrific mouth to swallow Hanuman. And hanuman fearlessly entered her mouth. The demigods in the sky were in shock. Simhika was delighted. But her happiness was short lived because Hanuman whose body is as hard as diamond quickly ripped apart her body and burst out of it.

The fearsome Simhika fell dead in the sea. And the fearless Hanuman continued with his journey and finally reached Lanka.

Simhika represents envy. Just like Simhika tried to arrest the progress of Hanuman, similarly, envy arrest our progress. Just like Hanuman destroyed Simhika, similarly, we should completely destroy envy.


Hanuman reached Lanka, found Mother Sita, burnt Lanka and later assisted Lord Rama in his war with Ravana. In Ramayana, we see that Hanuman never got distracted and always served Lord Rama. Similarly, we should never allow any material distractions or attractions to come between us and the Supreme Lord.

And with enthusiasm (utsāhāt), confidence (niścayāt) and patience (dhairyāt), we should always serve the Lord. Nectar of Instruction 3

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