Hanuman, Jambavan and potential 🙂 This is one of the most popular blog posts of mine. I was reminded about this yesterday as I saw the episode of Ramayana on TV about precisely this exchange between Hanuman and Jambavan. There are so many life lessons that I pick up everyday in nearly every episode. Am truly glad that Doordarshan decided to re-telecast both Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Some context for yesterday and today morning’s episodes – Rama and Lakshmana become friends with the Vanara King Sugriva. Rama says that they should wait till the monsoon season is over before sending out search parties for finding Seeta. The four months are over and Sugriva assembles all his vanaras and divides them into four search parties to go in the four directions. The South search party has Angad, Sugriva’s nephew and his commander-in-chief as the leader and the group has Hanuman and Jambavan as well. They reach the ocean and still find no trace of Seeta. When they are discussing about how they can’t face Sugriva or Rama having failed in their mission, Jatayu’s brother Sampaati hears about the whole story and says, he can see with his sharp eyes that Seeta is in Lanka. There is a whole side story about Jatayu and Sampaati that again has several lessons, but thats for another day. Immediately the vanara search party starts thinking of who can jump across the ocean to confirm that Seeta is indeed in Lanka.
That’s where Jambavan plays an important role.
Jambavan is varyingly thought of as a sloth bear and as a monkey, but everyone agrees that he is extremely wise and another one of the chiranjeevis, who just lives on. When the vanara search party is discussing about flying across the ocean, Hanuman stands to a corner quietly wondering how this could be done. At that time, the great Jambavan reminds him about his own strength and potential. All the vanaras then remind Hanuman that he ate up the Sun when he was a child thinking it was a fruit and many other feats of his which he had forgotten due to a curse by sage Matang. Hanuman as a mischievous child had disturbed several sages with his powers and sage Matang curses him that he would forget all his potential. When everyone beseeches the sage to take back the curse, he relents and adds a line that Hanuman would get back all his powers when he needs them, if he is reminded about it by someone. Jambavan does just that.
As a manager Jambavan did really well, in identifying Hanuman’s potential and unleashing it. Just applying the same principle at our workplace would change many people’s careers and improve engagement significantly. Jambavan knew more about Hanuman than Hanuman did of himself and the opportunity to find Seeta unleashes his potential fully.
In today’s episode, Hanuman reaches Lanka and meets Seeta at the Ashok Vatika. He then proceeds to wreak havoc on the fruit trees and kills one of Ravana’s sons. Meghnad or Indrajit, Ravana’s son who had won over Indra himself manages to capture Hanuman only after using his “Brahmastra” (the ultimate weapon) as Hanuman gives that weapon the respect it deserves.
Some very important lessons for us to draw from this episode –
- Estimate the enemy power before engaging in a war – Hanuman tells Seeta, that he will snoop around and figure out Ravana’s weaponry and the strength of his army before returning to Rama. In today’s world, its very important to estimate the competitor’s power before engaging in a given industry/product line. One of Michael Porter’s five forces is “Competition in the industry”, which is to figure out the power and strength of the other players in the industry before entering it.
- Demonstrate strength and put some fear in your enemy. Hanuman tells Seeta, that he will create enough trouble while he was alone in Lanka, so that Ravana and his army begin to think that, if just a messenger of Rama was so powerful, how powerful must Rama be ! Brilliant strategy. Fear makes even the mighty warrior to lose his nerve… and a demoralised army can never fight.
- Competence and Character are both required to generate trust. When Seeta is unsure that Hanuman is indeed Rama’s messenger, Hanuman gives her Rama’s ring and then relates the story of how and when she gifted it to Rama. It establishes his credentials. Then Seeta is unsure about his and other vanaras strength and magical powers to fight Ravana’s rakshasas who can take on any shape or size at will. Hanuman immediately takes permission from her and grows immensely in size, then comes back to his normal size at will. He competently demonstrates to Seeta that vanaras are as capable of changing size and shape as the rakshasas. As Stephen M. R. Covey says in his classic book “Speed of Trust” – you need both competence and character to generate trust.
Yesterday was Hanuman Jayanti and amongst the many characters that we read about in Ramayana, his is a very unique character. Lots to learn from him.
Jai Bajrang Bali. Jai Shri Ram.