Hanuman would hear a soft sound from inside the cave on the outskirts of Kishkindha. It was so faint that sometimes Hanuman thought he had imagined it, but the sound was relentless. So he thought to investigate. Closing his eyes, he focused in on the sound with his preternatural hearing, it was barely discernible but there was no doubt that the sound called to his very soul. Hanuman needed nothing else to follow the sound to its source. The sound stirred his heart and brought tears to his eyes. Gripping the rain slicked branches and jumping as quickly as he could, Hanuman followed that feeling he felt deep within him.
He arrived at the cave which was the residence of Rama and Lakshman. The two brothers made their home in the cave reiterating to the Vanara community that when they were exiled, they promised that the wouldn't enter any inhabited city. This cave would be perfect for them. They would be close enough for Sugriva and the other Vanara generals to hold council with them should they need it, but they would be far enough outside the city to keep their promise intact.
Hanuman knew that the sound was coming from within the cave, but as he looked around he saw no one. Lakshman, with his stern demeanor and fixed determination was often guarding the entrance to the cave, making certain that his elder brother wasn't disturbed, but as Hanuman ventured closer to the entrance of the cave, he could see that, even through the sheets of rain that came down like curtains, that Lakshman wasn't there. But the sound continued, a humming, an echoing, which sounded quiet, but created such a raucous within Hanuman's Soul that it nearly brought him to his knees.
Fighting against the urge to collapse under the powerful weight of that sound, Hanuman took timid, slow steps forward. He didn't bother shielding himself from the constant monsoon rains. Hanuman could hardly think about himself at all. His entire focus was consumed with finding out the source of this relentless sound. The sound created an almost tangible force which pushed back against Hanuman from the inside out, but he persisted. One foot in front of the other. The mouth of the cave was like a dark gaping hole, and Hanuman could hardly see anything anything inside, but once he reached the mouth of the cave, gripping the rocky edge of the entrance with a hand to steady himself, he could see dim light from deep within.
Hanuman forgot all thought As he stepped inside the quiet sanctuary of the cave. The sound he heard all the way from deep within the jungle was more potent. Concentrated. Thick almost like wading through nectar. Hanuman was rocked by the sound. He felt bliss and despair in equal parts and wondered how it was possible. He had never felt anything quite like this. On one hand he knew his emotions were not his own and he wanted to compose himself, but on the other hand, he prayed that this sound would never stop. He had learned all of the Vedas. He had learned music from the goddess Saraswati herself. But nothing he had learned had ever sounded like this. Even just the echo put all of his education to shame. One foot in front of the other. He ventured deeper into the cave, following the sound, the pull on his soul and the dim light which was steadily growing brighter.
Although the the sound did not grow louder, it's potency increased, the closer Hanuman got. When he saw the source of this pull, he dropped to his knees, the pressure too great on him. There were two large torches, burning brightly on either side of a makeshift throne of rocks. But Hanuman knew that wasn't the source of the light which had made it's way all the way to mouth of the cave. The light came from the effulgence of Sri Rama who sat on his rocky throne, eyes closed in deep meditation, completely oblivious to Hanuman's presence.
Rama sat, one leg pulled under him. His wooden sandals on the ground of the cave in front of him. His body looked relaxed, but Hanuman knew this wasn't the case. One strong hand was pressed to his heart his signet ring glinting in the flickering light of the torche, and the other rested against his bent knee, holding a mala upon which his fingers massaged sacred beads, and pushed them past, one by one, while he chanted a sacred mantra. It was the sound of that mantra which had called to Hanuman and dragged him here by the heart. That mantra however, was unlike any Hanuman had ever heard any of the sages chant. It was merely Sri Rama's voice uttering a name.
"Sita...Sita...Sita...Sita..." His deep voice reverberated throughout the cave and the echo was originally what Hanuman heard. Over and over again, Sri Rama called out to his beloved, and the sound beat against Hanuman's heart, until he felt his hands touch the sandy floor of the cave. He hadn't realized, but he was nearly collapsing under the weight of the sound, and the barrage of emotions coming from the lord. Rama's eyes were closed, but tears streaked, unchecked, down his handsome, dusky face. His matted hair, thirteen years long was piled on top of his head, tied into a great bundle with the rest of his black locks trailing down his back so that he almost resembled Lord Shiva the lord of the ascetics. As Hanuman was gazing at his Lord, it was very clear that Rama was praying to his own supreme personality, but his goddess was Sita Devi, his queen, the heart of his very heart. He had installed her deity within his mind and now he worshipped her with the constant recitation of her name. The sound was simultaneously sweet and heartbreaking.
Hanuman's fingers dug into the soft earth of the cave floor and found it muddied. It wasn't until that moment that he knew he himself was crying. His tears flowed and for a moment, Hanuman allowed himself to be carried away by a tidal wave of sound. He was dragged under a rip tide of separation and he swayed, and knew he was drowning in Sri Rama's sorrow. He didn't care what happened anymore, he didn't want to come out of that great, vast ocean. His lord was in great pain. What use was his life? He could do nothing to help, and his helplessness paralyzed him. Hanuman, the great monkey warrior and son of the wind God himself, crumbled in the presence of Sri Rama's misery. His forehead touched the soft sand of the cave floor and the valiant Vanara sobbed softly.
"Rama, Sri Rama..." He murmured, but nothing could help his mounting agony, made worse by the fact that he knew and understood that what he felt was nothing compared to Sri Rama's torment. He was ready to give up his life. There was nothing else he could do.
"Hanuman?" The sound of the deep, soft voice dragged him from his haze of despair. Hanuman shook with the strength that it took to lift himself, and raised his eyes to the sound of the one voice which could reach him. Lakshman stood at the side of Rama's sitting place. His grim face said that he knew exactly why Hanuman had been weeping, and the grave set of his eyes told Hanuman that Lakshman was not immune to his brother's suffering either.
"Come." Lakshman merely nodded at the Vanara, but Hanuman felt his weight slide from him as though Lakshman had pushed it away with his very own hands. Suddenly, he found it easier to breathe, easier to move. But although dulled, his grief left a lasting impression within him that Hanuman knew he would never forget for as long as he lived. As Hanuman stood on shaky, weak legs, he followed Lakshman back to the mouth of the cave. Once there Hanuman found that he didn't have quite as much strength as he though. He who had been blessed with the strength of Indra's invincible thunderbolt, trembled and sank to his knees once more. He pressed his hands together and looked up to where Lakshman stood hoping that he could somehow soothe his soul.
"Brother Lakshman, how long as Sri Rama been like this?"
Lakshman gazed out into the heavy rain, his grave face hardly changing. "When has Rama Bhaiyya not been like this? Since she was taken, joy, hope, peace are foreign emotions for my brother. But since the rains began and we were unable to continue our search, he has been here, like this." Lakshman braced one arm on the side of the cave and Hanuman knew that although he carried it well, Lakshman was heart-broken as well. He had heard their entire story from Lakshman himself, and the son of mother Sumitra would never forgive himself for leaving mother Sita alone when he did. Hanuman shook his head. He couldn't get lost in the grief again.
"There must be something we can do. I can't live seeing the lord like this. The hopelessness is too much to bear." Hanuman shuddered with the force of the remembrance of the scene he had witnessed within the cave. He pressed his palms together and looked up into the stern face of Lakshman. A smile almost graced his chiseled features. Almost, and then it was gone. A shadow passed over his face once more and he placed his hands on Hanuman's' shoulders and raised him until he was standing.
"Then, Pavana Putra, we do the only thing we can, and no matter what, we find her, and return her to the Lord." Lakshman gave Hanuman a curt nod. It did not escape Hanuman that Lakshman never said his sister-in-law's name. Hanuman could imagine that if he had, he might have been steeped in the same deep sorrow that his brother had been plunged into. And his first duty was to serve. For the first time since Hanuman heard the sound of the echo, he looked at Lakshman and felt a new emotion enter his heart. It was hope. It bloomed within his heart like a late, timid, fragile flower and took root until Hanuman knew without doubt, that they would find Mother Sita, even if they had to traverse all the fourteen worlds. Hanuman knew in that moment that he would give his life to eradicate the desolation that he felt coming off of Sri Rama in waves. Looking at Lakshman he felt a warmth and a faith that he had only felt speaking with his own guru, Suryadev. He would take brother Lakshman's instructions as his life and soul. He made a silent vow in that moment that he would bring happiness back to Sri Rama.
When I whisper Your name
Would my grief
Come hissing out
As a testimony of
My love for You?
Would it speak to You
Of the countless hours I spend
On my knees
Crippled by the thought
Of losing You?
Would my grief pull You to me
Dragging You through my despair
Until it clung to You
Like the wisps
Of a dream
Once forgotten upon awakening?
Would I be able to stop pretending
To tell You
How I really feel,
When I whisper Your name...