Today many devotees are celebrating the appearance of Sri Hanuman, the eternal servant of Lord Ramachandra. On this occasion, I remember a beautiful explanation Srila Prabhupada gave on the significance of Hanuman being on the flag of Arjuna’s chariot—and the mood of the Vaishnava:
“Just as nowadays every nation has different types of flags, so Arjuna also had his flag on the chariot . . . The flag was on the top of his chariot, and it was marked with Hanuman, Vajrangaji, who fought for Lord Ramachandra. Arjuna is fighting for Krishna. So, he is following the footsteps of Vajrangaji. Vaishnavism is like that. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. The Vaishnava should follow his previous mahajana, authority. That is Vaishnavism. We don’t manufacture ideas. We simply accept the behavior or the activities of previous acharyas. There is no difficulty.
“In the fighting principle, Arjuna is fighting for Krishna, and he is following the previous fighting acharya, Hanumanji. Therefore he has depicted his flag with Hanuman, that ‘Hanumanji, Vajrangaji, kindly help me.’ This is Vaishnavism. ‘I have come here to fight for Lord Krishna. You also fought for the Lord. Kindly help me.’ This is the idea, kapi-dhvajah. So in any activities of the Vaishnava, they should always pray to the previous acharya, ‘Kindly help me.’ Vaishnava is always thinking himself helpless, and begging help from the previous acharya.
“Just like in Caitanya-caritamrta, you will find the author, at the end of every chapter:
sri rupa-raghunatha-pade yara asa
caitanya-caritamrta kahe krsnadasa
In every line he is thinking of Rupa-Raghunatha, previous acharyas. ‘Let me surrender to the Gosvamis and they will help me how to write.’ You cannot write. That is not possible.
“So this is Vaisnava’s policy. Vaisnava thakura, tomara kukkura, baliya janaha more. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung, ‘My dear Vaishnava Thakura, just accept me as your dog. As the dog works by the indication of the master . . .’ He will give his life. Dog has a good qualification. However strong a dog may be, when the master orders, he will give his life. This is dog—faithful, so faithful to the master. So Bhaktivinoda Thakura is praying, Vaisnava thakura, tomara kukkura, baliya janaha more: ‘My dear Vaisnava Thakura.’ Vaisnava thakura means guru. ‘Kindly accept me as your dog.’ And he describes—I forget the exact language—that ‘I will always try to protect you. As a dog keeps watch, so I will watch so nobody will come to disturb you. And whatever little prasada you’ll give me, I’ll be satisfied.’ That is dog’s qualification. The master is eating, but the dog will never come unless the master gives a little morsel. He is satisfied. He is satisfied.
“So this is Vaishnavism, to follow the previous acarya. This is Vaishnavism.”
(Talk by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on Bhagavad-gita 1.20, July 17, 1973, London)