After Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya from exile, a group of sages started arguing about the superiority of the Lord’s Name over the Lord Himself.
Many learned opinions were given, yet they failed to arrive at any conclusion. So they approached sage Narada, who requested a few days’ time to answer their question. Pondering deeply, sage Narada thought it best to seek Hanuman’s help, who agreed readily.
Sage Narada told Hanuman, “Make some mischief that will enrage Lord Rama’s guru sage Vishvamitra so much that he will command Lord Rama to punish you. Then leave the rest to me.”
Hanuman at once got to work. As anticipated, sage Vishvamitra became furious and told Lord Rama, “Tomorrow morning you must punish Hanuman for the wrong he has done. In front of the sages and the people, you will aim your powerful arrows at him, so that all who witness this will learn a lesson as to what happens when one annoys the guru.”
Lord Rama was surprised and dismayed at his devoted servitor Hanuman’s conduct. But his allegiance to his guru was absolute. So he accepted sage Vishvamitra’s instruction and returned to his palace with a heavy heart.
Meanwhile, sage Narada told Hanuman to chant Lord Rama’s name when Lord Rama aimed his arrows at him. The next day dawned, and all the sages and the people gathered next to river Saryu to witness the punishment to be meted out to Hanuman. Steeling himself, Lord Rama aimed straight at Hanuman’s heart and let fly his first arrow.
The arrow headed swiftly at Hanuman, but swerved harmlessly at the very last moment. Standing with his eyes closed, Hanuman kept chanting Lord Rama’s name. And one after the other, the arrows aimed at Hanuman missed him and flew in different directions.
A deep silence settled over the assembly. With all arrows spent, Lord Rama looked at his guru. Sage Vishvamitra now ordered him to shoot the divine weapon Brahmastra which never misses its target. At this point, sage Narada intervened: “O great sage, you are pre-eminent among the gurus. By forgiving Hanuman, you can lay a shining example of a compassionate preceptor.” Sage Vishvamitra listened to this advice and forgave Hanuman.
Sage Narada now addressed all the sages gathered at the river. Had they not received the answer to their question? Thanks to Hanuman’s peerless faith, they unanimously agreed on the ultimate power of the Lord’s Name.
— the harbinger