In praise of Hunuman -


||om tat sat||

In praise of Hanuman

"Kritam Hanumata karyam" says Sri Rama.

"Tvayyeva Hanuman asti balam buddhi parakramah" says Sugriva.

Such is the awe-inspiring part played by Hanuman!

From the time he steps into the story counseling Sugriva not to be concerned about the two Naras - Rama and Lakshmana -who entered their area in the forest , to the time he takes leave of Sri Rama as a confirmed Ramabhaktha, devotee of Sri Rama, his exploits are surely mind boggling and in fact more so in Sundarakanda. No wonder that the popular adage goes: 'Sundare Sundarah Kapih', and it summarizes the inner beauty of Hanuman with all the accomplishments that beautify his inherent character in Sundarakanda.

In the very first meeting with Sri Rama, whom Hanuman approaches in the guise of a recluse, Sri Rama instantly recognizes the greatness of Hanuman. Sri Rama says to Laxmana:

नानृग्वेद विनीतस्य ना यजुर्वेद धारिणः
नासामवेद विदुषः शक्यमेवं प्रभाषितुम्।
नूनं व्याकरणं कृत्स्नं अनेन बहुधा श्रुतं
बहु व्याहरतानेन न किंचिदपशब्दितम्॥

"To converse in the way, he (Hanuman) does is impossible, unless he studied Rigveda thoroughly, memorized Yajurveda along with its meanings, and acquired knowledge of Samaveda. Surely the entire range of grammar has been studied by him in many ways, as is clear from the fact that nothing has been wrongly worded, even though he has spoken voluminously."

The very first impression so created by Hanuman is maintained throughout the great epic, Ramayana, as reflected in his marvelous articulation either in addressing others or himself (or in fact the reader!). Steadfast devotion to his duty, and the confidence he projects in his handling of any task, however arduous, can be noticed in all his actions.

Right from the beginning to the end, this impression of a wise and knowledgeable Hanuman is reflected in several situations like when he consoles bereaved Tara, when he informs Swayamprabha of the search party's mission, when he attempts to dissuade Angada from fasting to death, or when advises Ravana to do the right thing. Very rightly for the task of searching for Sita, Sugriva says "There is no one equal to Hanuman!"

न भूमौ न अन्तरिक्ष्ये व न अंबरे न अमरालये|

Continuing further Sugriva says:

त्वय्येव हनुमान् अस्ति बलं बुद्धि पराक्रमम्।

"In you alone O' Hanuman reside the three qualities — strength, wisdom and prowess!"

Even with all these inherent qualities, it does seem that Hanuman himself is unaware of his capabilities and needs to be prodded to undertake the impossible! This is evident when Jambavan addresses Hanuman to undertake the arduous task of crossing the ocean. Indeed, there is a hidden Hanuman in everybody who needs to be prodded, to make him take up those seemingly impossible tasks.

Sundarakanda starts with Hanuman all set for the arduous task of jumping across the ocean in search of Sita. Hanuman announces his determination in no uncertain terms:

सर्वथा कृतकार्योऽहं एष्यामि सह सीतया।
आनयिष्यामि वा लंकां समुत्पाट्य सरावणम्॥

"In every way I shall complete my task and come back with Sita or otherwise I shall uproot Lanka with Ravana and carry it all the way here '. Proclaiming his goals, Hanuman proceeds to accomplish the same.

In crossing the ocean Hanuman displays the three qualities "Balam, Buddhi, and Parakramah" as stated by venerable Sugriva.

The first arduous task was that of jumping across the ocean. As he proceeds across the sky, Valmiki says ...

ततापि नहि तं सूर्यः प्लवन्तम् वानरोत्तमम्।
सिषेवेच तदा वायुः रामकार्यार्थ सिद्धये॥

"The sun god does not scorch him ... the wind god ministers him with gentle and soothing breeze ..."

Actually for Hanuman who was so steadfast on completing the task assigned by Sri Rama , "Raamakaryardha Siddhaye", neither the sun nor the wind could detract him from his goals. This is clearly reflected in his response, when Mainaka invites him to rest for a while:

दुष्करं कृतवान् कर्म त्वमिदं वानरोत्तम।
निपत्य मम शृंगेषु वीश्रमस्व यथासुखम्॥

To this, Hanuman's answer focuses on his own determined goals "I have taken a vow not to stop in the middle of my task". A determination that can only be emulated!

प्रतिज्ञा च मया दत्ता न स्थातव्यम् मिहान्तरे।

At the next obstacle Suarasa, Valmiki says about Hanuman:

तद्दृष्ट्वाव्यादितं त्वास्यं वायुपुत्रः सुबुद्धिमान्।

The emphasis is on "Vayuputrah subudhiman", namely Hanuman the intelligent. He overcomes Surasa, sent by Devas to test him, with his intelligence.

However, while dealing with the next obstacle of Simhika, a demon, he uses his well-known prowess to kill her.

Much in line with the first impression of Sri Rama about Hanuman as a man of great knowledge and speech, one sees Hanuman go through a thoughtful reflection at every stage like his thoughtful entrance into the fortress Lanka, -

लक्ष्यालक्ष्येण रूपेण रात्रौ लंकापुरी मया।
प्रवेष्टुं प्राप्तकालं मे कृत्यं साधयितुं महत्॥

While searching for Sita he mistakenly thinks of Mandodari as Sita for a while. But then he quickly corrects himself.

न रामेण वियुक्ता सा स्वप्नुमर्हति भामिनी।
भोक्तुं नाप्यलंकर्तुं न पानामुपसेवितुम्॥

"In separation from Rama, Sita is not likely to sleep, eat, wear ornaments or drink..."

Many a time we see Hanuman swing between moods despondency and of strong self-belief. The moral is 'we may go through seas of desperation, and yet one must strive and continue to achieve the ultimate goals'.

When he fails to find Sita anywhere, Hanuman goes through a train of thoughts. Then he works out his course of his action:

अनिर्वेद श्रियो मूळं अनिर्वेदः परं सुखं।
अनिर्वेदोहि सततां सर्वार्थेषु प्रवर्तकः॥
करोति सफलं जंतो कर्म यत् तत् करोति सः।
तस्माद् अनिर्वेद कृतं यत्नं चेष्टेहमुत्तमम्॥

"I ought not yield to despair ...I must continue the search ... Whatever happens, I must not give up the hopes of success." Worthy of emulation, is his mantra for success ...

When he approaches Sita in Lanka, his thinking process was on the crescendo; and in his speech, it was always the right words in the right place:

अवस्यमेव वक्तव्यं मानुषं वाक्यमर्थवित्॥

"Must speak in the language of the common man," apt to the situations. Otherwise, one may suspect a monkey speaking the language of Brahmans.

As he engages himself in convincing Sita about his bonafides, Sita asks him to describe Rama. In his answer, the eloquence of Hanuman shines through:

रक्षिता जीव लोकस्य स्वजनस्याभि रक्षिता।
रक्षिता स्वस्य वृत्तस्य धर्मस्य च परन्तपः॥

"He (Rama) is the protector of all beings, of his people, of Dharma, and of good conduct". In fact, the lines he speaks of Rama essentially reflect the attributes required in a man entrusted with Governance.

When he proposes to carry Sita on his shoulders back to Rama, looking at his small monkey frame, Sita says:

तदेव खलु ते मन्ये कपित्वं हरियूथपा।

"Your proposal is precisely monkey-like!" This insult does not put off Hanuman and he proceeds to show here the true dimensions of his real self and wins her confidence. Small people with smaller minds and larger egos too often get diverted from their real goals when confronted with even minor affronts. Hanuman demonstrates that perseverance is the hallmark of a person focused on his goal.

Having achieved the purpose of locating Sita, Hanuman realizes that he will have to return to Lanka again with Sri Rama to battle Ravana. He decides to do a little more to test the capabilities of the enemies. He hits upon an idea to get their attention. He destroys the Asoka grove where Sita is held. He proclaims loudly that he is the follower of Rama and nothing can stop him.

जयत्यति बलो रामो लक्ष्मणस्य महाबलः।
राजाजयति सुग्रीवो राघवेणाधिपालितः॥33||
दासोsहं कोसलेंद्रस्य रामस्या क्लिष्टकर्मणः।
हनुमान् शत्रुसैन्यानां निहंतामारुतात्मजः॥34||
न रावण सहस्रं मे युद्धे प्रतिबलं भवेत्।
शिलाभिस्तु प्रहरतः पादपैश्च सहस्रशः॥35||
अर्दयित्वा पुरीं लंकां अभिवाद्य च मैथिलीम्।
समृद्धार्थो गमिष्यामि मिषतां सर्वरक्षसाम्"॥36||

These four slokas constitute the famous "Jaya Mantra". Tradition has it, that these ought to be chanted, whenever one is embarking on a venture and desires victory!

While confronting Ravana in the Raj Sabha, Hanuman again brings out his skills as a learned one advising Ravana to return Sita to Rama and make peace as no one can defeat Rama. When Ravana orders that Hanuman's tail be torched, he turns that into an opportunity the enemy potential and burn down Lanka. Yet, concerned about the safety of Sita, he realizes the dangers of thoughtless action propelled by anger.

कृद्धं पापं न कुर्यात् कः कृद्धो हत्यान् गुरूनपि।
कृद्धः परुषया वाचा नरः साधून् अधिक्षिपेत्॥

"In anger one may even kill elders and may insult pious souls in harsh tones." And then he says, 'He alone can be called a 'man' who can do away with the anger that has sprung up in his heart'.

On his return from Lanka Hanuman turns a narrator par excellence that he is, while recounting the whole episode from the time he left the Vanaras on the Mahendra Mountain, till his return to the same place.

When Sugriva hears that the Vanaras on their return destroyed "Madhuvan", Sugriva was sure of their success!

दृष्ट्वा देवि न संदेहो न चान्येन हनूमता।

"Without a doubt Sita has been located, and surely by no other person than Hanuman." Such is the belief in Hanuman.

The Yuddhakanda highlights Hanuman's great valor and his importance to the Vanara army. When the Brahmaastra released by Indrajit disables even mighty Sri Rama and Lakshmana along with scores of others, Vibhishana and Hanuman set about locating survivors on the battlefield. They then find injured Jambavan. A semiconscious Jambavan's first question to Vibhishana was about the welfare of Hanuman! A perplexed Vibhishana ask Jambavan as to why he is inquiring about Hanuman instead of Sri Rama the Lord or Lakshmana his brother. The reply is as illuminating as it can be:

अस्मज्जीवति वीरेति हतामप्यहतं बलं।
हनुमत्युज्ज्युहिता प्राने जीवन्तोऽपि हता वयम्॥

"If Hanuman is alive, we are all sure to be saved. But, if he is no more, we are as good as dead even if we are alive".

That then is the importance of Hanuman.

Praise for Hanuman comes straight from the depths of his heart as Rama says: "What any other man cannot think of or even conceive this Hanuman has actually performed for me!"

कृता हनुमता कार्यं सुमहद्भवि दुष्करं।
मनसादपि यदन्येन शक्यं धरणी तले||

Sita concurs with Rama. When Rama asks her to give the garland of pearls the one who has all the qualities described,

प्रदेहि सुभगे हारं यस्य तुष्टासि भामिनी।
पौरुषं विक्रमो बुद्धिः यस्मिन्नेतानि सर्वशः॥

"Give it to him in whom these qualities shine ..." she presents the garland of pearls to Hanuman.

When the time came to take leave, Hanuman says, "0' Rama! Please bless me so that my affection for you never diminishes. Do not allow me to think of anything else or divide my attention between you and any other person. I want to live if your great name flourishes amidst humanity. Let me be, for ever and ever, your humble devotee." Sri Rama says:

यावत् रामकथा वीरा चरिष्यति महीतले ।
तावत्शरीरे वत्स्यन्ति प्राणा मम संशयः॥

"As long as my story is told and retold amongst men, so long shall your Kirti (fame) form part of it."

And so, it is!!

Om Tat Sat