As I visited a Hanuman temple a few weeks ago, I saw an aged person who was climbing the stairs with me. Unexpectedly, I overheard him make a remark to his friend, “I do not have faith in Lord Rama.” To me, something looked inconsistent. I knew that Hinduism gives us the freedom to select our Personal God (ishta-devata) and path and sakama (with a material desire) worship is also allowed. Still, I had never expected to hear this comment in a Hanuman temple. The first question that came to my mind was, “Sir, what brings you to this temple then? Doesn’t your visit to a home of Hanuman, the greatest devotee of Lord Rama, contradict your own statement?” But I kept silent. Later, I saw this person prostrate before his Lord. From a distance, he looked focused in his prayers; he accepted a tilak on his forehead, walked around the deity in admiration, and offered some money in the charity box.
After I left the temple, I kept thinking. I could figure out that gaining Sri Rama’s grace, spiritual or worldly, was irrelevant to his remembrance of Hanuman. His spiritual model of Lord Hanuman was not based on the Ramayana, where the divine play of Hanuman harmonizes the divinity of Rama. He probably needed something from Hanuman or believed in Hanuman’s potential to protect beings from their own bad karma. All of a sudden, I recalled the “missing piece”: Remembrance of Rama is not a prerequisite for adoring Lord Hanuman. On the other hand, as the Hanuman chalisa supports, worshipping Lord Hanuman eventually leads to the development of firm faith in Rama.