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At the Feet of The Mother

Multiple Levels of Reality in Mahabharata and Ramayana

An answer to the questions of reality of Hanuman and other heroes of the Ramayana and Mahabharata much depends upon what we call Reality. To the mind tied to the senses there is only the material plane and physical reality is the only Reality. In that case not only spirituality but all high aspirations, idealism, nobility has little meaning. However the seers of the Ramayana and Mahabharata saw the world as a multi-layered reality, each with its unique properties and possibilities. They also knew how these different dimensions interact and intersect with each other opening new possibilities for earthly life and humanity.

There are at least three levels of reality in great epics. First, there is a real story centred around an actual event centred around the main characters and personality. Secondly there are occult realities and beings and forces of other worlds and hidden dimensions that are seen entering the human scene and the earthly play. The third and most important element in them is the spiritual Reality which gives the other two (physical and occult) their true significance.

Hanuman is a beautiful amalgam of all the three. Hanuman is a divine being assuming the vanara form to assist the evolution from the animal man to the human proper. He is a symbol of bhakti and sewa, devotion and service to the Divine that makes one invincible and strong beyond measure. By engaging in rigorous tapasya Hanuman had prepared himself as the centre and instrument of a great transition. His superhuman feats are the manifestations of certain powers that come to hath yogis. We can see these partial manifestations in other characters such as Vali, Angad, even Ravana, Meghnad and Kumbhkaran. But in Hanuman we see the spiritual element most prominently as the bhakta and servitor of the Divine and that is the real significance of his story.

Such dimensions of these fascinating stories help them endure so long, and they continue to enchant the readers. The analytical rational mind which is dependent heavily upon the senses may not comprehend but the eye of faith and the deeper intuitive sense in us understands.

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