Story of Hanuman
(New Discoveries, Vol. 3, pp. 543-54.)
[A bhakti-yoga class delivered in New York, Monday morning, January 20, 1896]
There is a story of Hanuman, who was a great worshipper of Râma. Just as the Christians worship Christ as the incarnation of God, so the Hindus worship many incarnations of God. According to them, God came nine times in India and will come once more. When he came as Rama, this Hanuman was his great worshipper. Hanuman lived very long and was a great Yogi.
During his lifetime, Rama came again as Krishna; and Hanuman, being a great Yogi, knew that the same God had come Backagain as Krishna. He came and served Krishna, but he said to him, “I want to see that Rama form of yours”. Krishna said, “Is not this form enough? I am this Krishna; I am this Rama. All these forms are mine”. Hanuman said, “I know that, but the Rama form is for me. The Lord of Jânaki (Janaki is a name of Sitâ.) and the Lord of Shri (Shri is a name of Laksmi.) are the same. They are both the incarnations of the Supreme Self. Yet the lotus-eyed Rama is my all in all”. This is Nishtha – knowing that all these different forms of worship are right, yet sticking to one and rejecting the others. We must not worship the others at all; we must not hate or criticize them, but respect them.
The elephant has two teeth coming out from his mouth. These are only for show; he cannot eat with them. But the teeth that are inside are those with which he chews his food. So mix with all, say yea, yea to all, but join none. Stick to your own ideal of worship. When you worship, worship that ideal of God which is your own Ishta, your own Chosen Ideal. If you do not, you will have nothing. Nothing will grow.
When a plant is growing, it is necessary that it should be hedged round lest any animal should eat it up. But when it has become strong and a huge gigantic tree, do not care for any hedges – it is perfect in itself. So when just the seed of spirituality is growing, to fritter away the energies on all sorts of religious ideas – a little of this and a little of that: a little of Christianity, a little of Buddhism, and, in reality, of nothing – destroys the soul.
This [acceptance] has its good side; and in the end we will come to it. Only do not put the cart before the horse.