Sivana Podcast: What A Burning City Teaches Us About Pride – A Hanuman Story
About this Episode
Living in an egocentric culture, it’s easy to fall into pride. In this episode, we’ll explore how feelings of pride allow an opportunity to examine the deepest motivations behind our actions and come to learn how pride can become an agent of our downfall or an opportunity for growth and deeper connection. We’ll examine the importance of having perspective in one’s life and its necessity in navigating pride, as we dive into the story of the sometimes wild, but always beloved, monkey deity: Hanuman.
Namaste, you’re listening to the Sivana podcast. Join us on an exploration of eastern spirituality, yoga philosophy and conscious living for the New Age. This podcast is a production of sivanaspirit.com, where you can find a large selection of om and yoga clothing, spiritual jewelry and unique fair trade gifts from the Far East. Now here’s your host, Ashton Szabo.
Greetings everyone, welcome to the sivana podcast. I am Ashton Szabo, your host.
Today’s episode is all about having perspective when we encounter pride and our ego. Indian stories recognize this tremendous thing, that is the ego. So we see story after story about various tools and practices and examples of ways to overcome the ego, or perhaps in some respect, move through instead of being moved by the ego.
Our story today is about Hanuman. Hanuman and the water, the burning of lanka. And it’s going to teach us things about pride and about our ego and invite us into a place of perspective, when we encounter the ego, when we encounter pride. Before we begin, we have to contextualize our story a little bit.
The story in particular happens within the larger narrative of the story of the Ramayana, a few basic characters that we want to be familiar with. One is Prince Rama, he is the prince of Ayodhya, he is considered to be an incarnation of the Lord Vishnu, although he doesn’t really know it yet. There’s the Princess Sita, who technically is also an incarnation of Lakshmi. We have King Ravana, king Ravana is a very complex character in that , he’s considered the demon king, but he doesn’t fit the same or typical model of villain as often you find in stories, Ravana is considered a pretty good and capable ruler. He’s a very accomplished yogi, but his his downfall in the contrasts that get played out through the characters throughout the story is his ego and how his ego gets in the way of his decision making and causes his downfall.
So you have these characters, you also have Hanuman which we’ve done episode four on the podcast in the past. He’s the monkey diety, he’s an incarnation of Lundra, of Shiva.
So once upon a time in the story Ravana kidnaps Sita, he sees something that he wants and he just takes it from himself. This is the ego again. As she’s kidnapped and sent away Ravana heads back to Lanka and Rama comes to find that Sita is gone. He goes looking for her, he meets all kinds of characters along the way. One of those characters h,appens to be Hanuman and they’re all out looking for Sita.
So they’re in separate groups, going separate ways and it ends up being Hanuman that finds Sita. There’s a lot of amazing adventures along the way which we’ll get into in other times, in other stories. But Hanuman finds Sita in a garden, locked in the palace in Lanka. He explains to Sita what’s going on, who he is, he shows her a ring that Rama gave him to give to her, to show to her, to prove that it was that Hanuman was truly from Rama and not just a trick of Ravana.
Sita ends up giving Hanuman a comb from her hair, so that then Hanuman can prove to Rama that he’s actually found her, so it’s a token from her. Now, Hanuman getting ready to leave Sita there to go back to find Rama to tell him where she is, decides to allow himself to get captured by Ravana’s forces.
Now Hanuman was a pretty invincible guy, so he’s not really worried about what’s going to happen. He’s going in quite confidently when they bring him into Ravana’s throne room. Ravana with his big ego again, always make sure that he sits above everyone. And when they sit Hanuman low in front of Ravana, Hanuman who has the ability to grow his tail longer starts to grow it out longer and longer and longer so that eventually his tail is so wound up, that he sits above and looks down on Ravana. And this absolutely infuriates Ravana and he just wants to burn Hanuman.
His fire is so kicked up that he just wants to burn him and his advisors suggest against it and tell him like,
“Hey you know, that’s probably not a good idea to burn the messenger”.
He agrees, he says,
“Okay, well I’m not going to burn the whole monkey but I want to burn his tail”
So they start wrapping his tail in a cloth soaked in oil and flammable oil. But as they’re doing this, Hanuman starts growing out his tail longer and longer and longer again. They keep wrapping more and more, getting more cloth and eventually when they decide to light it on fire, Hanuman jumps up and breaks out of his chains. He starts jumping all over Lanka, from rooftop to rooftop, and every time he touches down on the building his tail kind of wraps around and catches it on fire.
So here we have this whole city being burnt to ashes now . Hanuman finally leaps towards the edge of the palace and of the city to leap back over to Mainland, India, he looks back for a moment he sees the burning down of the city, the burning down of the palace, he sees the chaos, he sees the defeat of the city of Lanka of Ravana in a way, And he feels pride, he feels proud of what he did. He’s like
“Yeah, I showed them”.
And he turns back and he jumps, Hanuman’s flying through the air, he starts to get thirsty and is flying, because flying dehydrates you, he looks down and he sees a lake below. So he lands and at the edge of the lake he sees a sage. Sage is just sitting there meditating, Hanuman comes up to him and asked very politely
“Hey, may I have a sip of water, is that okay?”
And the sage looks at him and tilts his head towards the water, whatever as if to say,
So when Hanuman takes his items that he got, his ring, his comb, also versions of the story got a letter from Brahma basically saying like,
“Hey Hanuman burnt down the city of Lanka he did all this”.
So he could show that letter to Rama. He places these three things down next to the sage, who also had a water pot sitting right next to him and he goes down to the water to drink.
Now, right after he started walk down, a little monkey jumps out of the bushes and grab Rama’s ring. He throws it into the sage’s water pot and then disappears into the bushes. Now Hanuman comes back after drinking water and he comes to grab the stuff and he looks around and he’s like,
“Wait, where’s where’s the ring?”
And since the sage is the only guy there, he looks up at him and he’s like,
“Hey, I was just gone for a second here, where’s where’s the ring?”
And the sage looks at him and the tilts his head down as if he’s pointing to the water pot. But Hanuman doesn’t really get this right off the bat, so he’s mimicking the head movement, he’s like,
“What are you doing with the head?”
And the sage keeps doing it trying to point more obviously without saying words, starting to point with his finger like, “look at the water pot.” Hanuman freaks out like,
“What do you keep doing with the head thing? I don’t understand.”
And then finally gets it and he looks in the water pot and he sees a pile of rings in there that he then reaches his hand and starts going through them and they’re all an exact replica of Rama’s ring. And no matter how much he digs in there, there always seems to be more that he’s pulling out. He turns to the sage and he’s like,
“What’s going on? What’s happening here?”
And the sage finally breaks his silence and he explains to Hanuman about that eons, how time expands and contracts and repeats itself in cycles again and again, that there have been countless Hanumans before this Hanuman who have come and stopped at this lake for water after burning down Lanka and then the monkey came and put the ring in the water pot. And there are going to be countless Hanuman’s that are going to stop here and go for a drink of water and a monkey is going to come and throw a ring in a water pot.
We’re so insignificant in the grand scheme of space and time. The ego is so self-important, it thinks that its world is the most important world and it just hits Hanuman so clearly like,
“ Wow! I am so insignificant, I thought it was such a big deal. Like, look at me I did this to this city but I’m so small in the grand scheme of life and it just annihilated his pride.”
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And this is where the contrast comes in with Ravana because Ravana is that representation of the ego, that’s always making choices based on that and never really learns his lesson. Hanuman here, his ego is getting him to feel this pride for burning down Lanka. And he has an experience that triggers this understanding in him. He learns, he grows from it, he recognizes it like,
“Wow, these things are so insignificant.”
That doesn’t mean don’t do them, he continues with the story, he continues with his destiny, in his dharma. It’s not saying the apathetic, it’s just allowing perspective to recognize how small we are in this vast universe. To not get so caught up in our own ego, in our own press release and our own story about ourselves.
This story is providing an opportunity for us, in our own lives to look at those moments when we’re on the ego trip, when we’re caught up in our own story, our own perceptions or our concerns about other people’s perceptions. Allowing the pause and recognition of in many ways insignificance like even if you think about some of the things that the ego is tripping on right now, the things you’re worried about, you’re concerned about will they even matter three months from now? three years from now? ten years from now? like three days, three minutes from now?
Allowing ourselves a little perspective above the muck is helpful in overcoming the ego so much of what we get in this story of the Ramayana is the ways to overcome the ego, the ways to overcome Ravana, and Hanuman here is that example. As the story itself invites an opportunity for all of us to have some perspective on our pride on our ego. To have some breath and space to really observe and contextualize our own ego trip dramas.
So let go, give up the ego and as Hanuman ends up doing, give your work to something larger. It’s not about you, it’s about this larger continuing thing that we are all a part of. So keep doing your work in the world, but it’s not for you, it’s not for the ego, it’s not for the pride, it’s for something larger.
And so Hanuman on his path here is learning that when these things come up to remember that we’re doing it for something larger than ourselves and that will help us to over calm the tendency to get caught up in the ego and that then leads to the destruction that we see then surely see Ravana is succumbing to.
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All right, well that’s it for our story today.
Thank you everyone so much for tuning in and listening. As always thank you Zac Cooper for all the amazing work that you do on the shows.
Thank you sivana for making these shows possible.
Thanks to all the listeners who are going on iTunes and writing reviews and leaving comments. We really appreciate it, I actually have one to read today from Clipper buffer, says
“Stimulating, arousing for the mind. I love stories and your interpretations, that help me to stop and think, to step out of my mind, to re-center my thinking and my position in life. I’m looking forward to more of these rich and fulfilling episodes”.
Awesome Clipper Buffer I am so glad you’re enjoying them. This is something that I really enjoy doing and offering so I’m happy anytime someone else is enjoying them as well.
That’s it for today, I hope you all have a wonderfully present moment. Namaste.
You’ve been listening to the Sivana podcast, to find out more about Sivana, go to sivanaspirit.com or follow Sivana on Facebook at facebook.com/sivanaspirit. For daily inspiration, check out our blog at sivanaeast.com. Be sure to join us next week for a new episode and thank you for listening to the Sivana podcast.
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