As Hanuman was flying through the air to Lanka in search of Mother Sita many obstacles came his way.
The first one was Mount Mainaka. Mount Mainaka came out and the personification of that mountain told Hanuman, it is a long way please rest for some time here. Hanuman considered this to be an obstacle. Lord Krishna explains in Bhagavad-Gita that there are two enemies on the path of Bhakti – Egoism and Lethargy. For just a moment Hanuman touched the mountain and said I am honoring your offering.
Then another demoness of the name Surasa appeared and wanted to test Hanuman if he was really the one who could enter the fortified city of Lanka and perform this impossible mission. Surasa appeared from the sea and told Hanuman that she has a benediction from Lord Brahma that no one can cross this ocean without being eaten by her. So she opened her mouth to eat Hanuman. Hanuman increased his size, in response Surasa widened her mouth. After her mouth was very wide open, Hanuman very cleverly took a very small size and went into her mouth and came back. He then said to her, “I have honored the benediction of Brahma. You have eaten me so now please give me permission to go.” Surasa was pleased by his cleverness and she blessed him.
Surasa represents the obstacles of egoism. She kept trying to be bigger and bigger than Hanuman. Our tendency is we want to be bigger; we want to be better than others, i.e. ahankar. Bhagavad-Gita Chapter 3 verse 27 states:
prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah
ahankara-vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate
Those who are bewildered by the three modes of material nature think themselves to be the doer of the activities. If we think we are the doer of our activities then the inclination is to be envious of people who do more or to be arrogant towards people who do less. Either one spoils the spirit of true devotion.
Lord Sri Krishna is the strength of the strong, the intelligence of the intelligent, the ability in man. If we honestly and earnestly consider ourselves to be instruments of the grace of God in our work then there is no possibility of ego.
How to overcome this mountain of false ego that is within us and all around us, Hanuman showed us. He took a very small position. Lord Caitanya taught us gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah, when we feel ourselves to be the servant of the servant of the servant and feeling ourselves to be unqualified and grateful for whatever grace that Lord Sri Krishna has given us. We take shelter in that spirit of humility then we can be carried by the grace of the Lord beyond this ocean of ahankar, ego.
As Hanuman was flying a rakshari named Simhika checked his movement by grabbing his shadow. Then she came before him to devour him but Hanuman took a tiny form and went right into her body and cut her body open. She fell down dead in the ocean.
Hanuman taught us that we can face these obstacles on the path of devotion by taking humble position. Hanuman’s humility was not cowardly. He was a hero, he was full of courage, he was full of enthusiasm, he was full of determination. Some people think when you become humble you become weak. Just the opposite, when you become real humble you are divinely empowered.
Simhika represents envy. Just like she grabbed down Hanuman’s shadow, which represents darkness, similarly envious people try to focus their attention and grab on to the negatively of others, the darkness of other people and even if there is no darkness in other people you see darkness because it is in you.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said, one sees faults in other people because we are honey-combed with so many faults ourselves. A great devotee does not see the negativity in a person out of envy or pride but in spirit of helping that person come out of that, just like a doctor to a patient. One of the great obstacles in devotional service is when we find satisfaction, we find relief, we think we are pushing ourselves to a higher position when we hold on to the shadow, the dark side of another, which means fault finding. Hanuman overcame that obstacle and taught us how to do so. We have to rip out the very root cause of that envy from our hearts and we can do so by taking shelter of the Lord and His holy names:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare