Valmiki Ramayana - Kishkindha Kanda in Prose
Sarga 3

Hanuma, at the behest of Sugreeva, approaches Rama and Lakshmana in the guise of an ascetic. The reason to change his original form to that of a sanyasi is that, the intruders in this area Rama and Lakshmana appear in a self-contradictory personage. By their body built, striking features, wielding armoury they look like kings or emperors. But when it comes to their dress and hairdo, they are almost like hermits. Sugreeva is well aware of political milieu and enemy's tactics, and thus asked Hanuma not to approach them in his original monkey form in earlier chapter. Equally well, Rama and Lakshmana doubt the entry of an ascetic i.e., Hanuma in that guise, into this uninhabited place, and they wait cautiously till Hanuma reveals himself. From here up to Sundara Kanda, Hanuma's words and actions are weighted, and need an in-depth study. In this episode, what all Hanuma says is drawn from scriptures and political science, and what all Rama analyses Hanuma, by way of Hanuma's expressiveness, is relevant to scriptures, i.e., Veda-s. In mythology, Hanuma is taken as the veda vedaanga paarangataH, knower of all Vedas, and their subsidiary scriptures, nava vyaakarana panditaH, scholar in nine schools of grammars, buddhimata variSTaH , cleverest of the clever. He is the supreme scholar, teacher, and the cleverest.

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Mindful of the words of noble-souled Sugreeva, Hanuma took his flight from Mt. Rishyamuka to where Raghavaa-s are. Casting off his monkey's semblance Air-god's son Hanuma attained the persona of an ascetic, for that monkey is incredulous in mind about Raghava-s.

Sugreeva doubted Rama and Lakshmana to be the mercenaries sent by his elder brother Vali, for kings of that nature will always be on hunt for their enemies. Hence he ordered Hanuma not to approach them in his original persona that is of a mighty monkey, c.f. 4-2-24. This is the reason why he chose the form of ascetic, thinking that nobody tells a lie to an ascetic, and thus he wanted to gain information in an ascetic's form, but futile is his effort. Rama or Lakshmana will go on listening to what Hanuma says, without any reply. Hanuma himself is vexed at their silence and he has to come out of his guise to reveal his original form, as at 4-3-19.

Then on nearing Raghava-s that Hanuma voicing softly and well pleasingly like an obedient one, that best monkey befittingly hailed, greeted and praised those two valiant ones. The best Vanara Hanuma spoke soft-wordily, as desired by Sugreeva, to those candidly resolute ones, on making reverent obeisance to both of them.

"You two look like kingly saints, or deities by your build, ascetics with blest vows, but with ideal complexions... how come you arrived at this countryside scaring the herds of animals and other inhabitants of this forest...

"You mighty ones you are watching the trees grown on the banks of Pampa from all over, and owing to your presence on these banks you make this river Pampa with its propitious waters to shine forth... but you with your golden hue appear as courageous ones, yet you sigh over repeatedly, you wear jute-cloths, yet you look mighty shouldered... who are you that distress all the beings in this forest...

"Dauntless, bold and brave are you with sharp glances of lions, wielding bows like that of Indra's bow you are the real enemy destroyers... glorious, splendid, and even impetuous you appear like Sacred Bulls... elephant's trunks are your arms... and you foremost among men are self-resplendent... This lord-like mountain is effulgent with your effulgence, you two look as kingdom-worthy, or worthy divinities, but how you have reached this countryside now...

"Eyes of yours are like fine lotus petals, are you superhuman... nay, you wear tufts and braids, are you some undaunted human ascetics... nay, you look clonal, are you from some world of gods... nay, you are on earth, does this earth have a chance to receive Sun and Moon on her by her fortune... nay, are you some broad-chested deities in human form... lion-shouldered, very vehement and vigorous like Sacred Bulls... who you might be...

"Also lengthy are your hands, and spherical are your shoulders similar to clubs... they are worthy for decoration with every kind of ornament, for what reason they are undecorated...

Here in the verse plural number is used for hands, aayataaH, baahavaH, parighaaH, whereas so far, dual number, dvivachana is used to describe any two. The ancient commentators take this as many hands, more than two, as opposite to other dual numbered wording. For this it is said that since Lakshmana is a right hand to Rama, Hanuma sees a three-handed god in Rama. But Hanuma is talking to both Rama and Lakshmana; there shall be two deities with two hands each. The accepted phenomenon is that, Hanuma as a true devotee has seen the fourhanded Vishnu in Rama. This is according to Govindaraja. Next, the arms of Rama are of protective nature to the friendly ones. aayaataaH, lengthily ones - they can be stretched to any extent, and on the other hand, anything can depend on them, as in yopaam aayatanam veda... and this su vrittaaH, round like the serpent's hoods, or body builder's clubs, is to tell that no one can near them. Thus, the spherical universe can depend on the spherical shoulders of Rama. Thus Hanuma is reminding Rama of his wild-boar incarnation where the whole world is lifted on his snout from waters. The word parighaH, is to say that those spherical shoulders can remove difficulties of those who adore them. The parighaH in simple terms means, clubs, bludgeon, or ancient dumbbell unlike the present day dumbbells of gym, but the word is deciphered to be pari gha fully, removing, or fully, falling to one's lot. That is, here these shoulders are mighty to eliminate Vali and these hands if shook by Sugreeva in friendship, Sugreeva's miseries will be removed completely.

"I deem that each of you are the choicest one to protect the earth adorned with Mt Meru and Vindhya range, and with all her oceans and forests... And these awesome bows are polished with odd things are smooth, and they are brightening like the gilded Thunderbolt of Indra. Full with hazardous, life terminating, fiery snake like sharp arrows are these quivers, admirable in their appearance... Dazzling are these amply wide, broad and gilded swords like the snakes just released from their moults...

"When I have been talking to you this way, what for you don't speak up... one named Sugreeva, somebody virtuous and worthily one among monkeys is expelled by his brother Vali, and he is roaming all over the world sorrowfully...

A monkey cannot be teased this far, for it will show its teeth, if exceeded. Hanuma is vexed with their silence. So far he has been talking all flattering words, which he has drawn from many scriptures, i.e., scriptures. Their apparels and hair tufts are like those of sages and hermits, along with their self-contradictory resemblance as would-have-been emperors, and their mighty weaponry, and every other thing he said are the quotes from lakshana shaatra, the scripture that prescribes the qualities of great emperors. This is what the other two listeners are assessing about the questioner also. In the midst of this unpopulated thick forest, some ascetic comes in, talks at length, that too without offence to the scriptures, is the doubt of those two brothers. This particular questioner is not definitely any ascetic or sage, because he is roaming in deep forests, rather than around some villages where he may get some charities. And also that, generally ascetics will talk, only when they are talked to, but this one with some purpose behind, is almost pestering to reveal the identity of the intruders. Hence the brothers took Hanuma to be another demon or anyone sent by somebody, for they already knew about the Vali-Sugreeva episode. Apart from this, Rama is following his own Imperial protocol of assessing the person approaching on his own, who is talking like this one, and who has high knowledge of all the scriptures. This analysis, Rama gives to Lakshmana after a few more verses. For now, Hanuma had to yield to high resistance from those two brothers, and is going to reveal himself, with a come-what-may attitude.

"Delegated by that great soul and the king of important monkeys Sugreeva, I have come here and by name I am Hanuma, another Vanara... He that righteous Sugreeva is desiring friendship with you two, and know me as a monkey and his minister, the son of Air-god... I had to come here from Mt. Rishyamuka in an ascetic's form only to appease that Sugreeva, and I can wend my way by my will, and wear any guise as I wish..." Hanuma said so to those brothers. Saying thus to those valorous Rama and Lakshmana, Hanumaan, the sententious wordsmith, spoke nothing further.

Hearing all those words said by Hanuma, that illustrious Rama is well pleased facially, spoke to his brother Lakshmana who is standing at his side.

Again Rama is following his imperial protocol. As an emperor he does not enter into any direct conversation with envoys or ambassadors. Later Rama asks Lakshmana to conduct the dialogue with Hanuma. This is said to have another reason. Because Lakshmana is another wordsmith, equalling Hanuma by way of his knowledge in scriptures, Rama assigns that duty to Lakshmana. Now Rama's analysis of this envoy's knowledge, thereby gauging his master's virtuousness, is made know to Lakshmana in the following verses.

"He is the minister of that noteworthy soul and king of monkeys, Sugreeva... whom alone I cherish, but he himself has drew nigh of me, on his own... Soumitri, with this minister of Sugreeva, the knower of sententiousness and a pleasant worded one, and one with friendliness you exchange pleasantries with that enemy destroyer Hanuma...

The word arindamam meaning 'to the enemy destroyer' is to pertain to Lakshmana as oh, enemy destroyer, because Rama has not yet concluded on Hanuma's epithets. In Chaukambha version, in Gorakhpur version and in Eastern versions it is arindama , in vocative case only, but Baroda and Tokunaga versions and some more have this as arindamam, objective case. Similar usage can be found in this chapter at 4-3-36, vaajyaj~naH, vaakyaj~nam etc.

"Nay...the non-knower of Rig Veda, or the non-rememberer of Yajur Veda, or the non-scholar of Saama Veda... can possibly, or truly speak this way...

From hereon Rama's analysis of Hanuma is depicted. In Rig Veda every letter has too many phonetically deflected variations, in many ways to mean many things. It is practically impossible to contain that knowledge, unless the recitalist has complete control over it. Hence the word, viniita , 'well trained' is used. In Yajurveda many anuvaaka-s or passages occur recursively, with different utilisation. Remembering not to mix one with the other is a difficult process. Hence the recitalist has to have enormous remembrance. In Saamaveda the pitch and duration of the rendering is of high importance, as such it requires a scholarly bent to control vocal notes. The three words, vinaya, schooling; dhaaraNa, remembrance and vedana knowledge are required to each of the above Veda-s. Atharva Veda, on the other hand, has no recital performance other than the above. Hence, it is said, is not quoted by Rama. Hanuma said 'you two are eligible to rule the earth' as at 4-3-15, which tantamount to the quote brhamaa vaa idam ekaeva agra aasiit... from Rigveda aitereya. Next he said that you are deities inhuman form at 4-3-13, which has its bearing on the Yajurveda quote ajaayamaano bahudhaa vijaayate... Then Rama is said having lotus-petal like eyes, at 4-3-11, taking clue from cChandogya of Saamaveda, myathaakapyaasam punDariikam evaakshiNii.... Hence these utterances of Hanuman are said to have direct base in the Veda-s.

"Definitely grammar is severally and comprehensively learnt by him... and though much is said by him not a single word has gone amiss of verbiage...

Earlier Vedic knowledge of Hanuma is analysed. Now his knowledge of grammar, the essential part of Vedic learning is analysed. Without the knowledge of subsidiary scriptures of Veda-s, like, vyaakarana, nirukta, sikhsha,chandas , the study of Vedas and its ancillaries itself is futile. Reading and reciting the Vedic hymns is of no use in practical life, for the knowledge learnt thereon is to be implemented in society. A simple recitalist is known as chaa.ndasa orthodox fellow, while the user of that knowledge for the good of society is vyavahaarta practical fellow. Hence Hanuma is implementing the grammar and training received originally as a Vedic scholar, because he is a practical one.

"On his face or eyes, or on forehead or brows, or on other faculties of expression no fault is found...even at the least...

Now the behavioural niceties of a Vedic scholar are being analysed. The siksha part of Veda-s imposes certain rules while reciting the hymns. There will be some paaTaka athama-s, Reciters, the worst. The following verse elucidates the skills of such worst reciters.

giitii shiighrii shiraH kampii tathaa likhita paaThakaH |
anarthaj~no'lpa kanNThaH ca ShaT ete paaThakaadhamaa ||

giitii= stretching; shiighrii= quickening the pace; shiraH kampii= head, one who nods; tathaa= thus; likhita paaThakaaH= written-text readers; anartha j~naH= unknowing the meaning; alpa kaNThaaH= weak-voiced; Sat ete= six, of these; paaThaka athamaaH= reciters, the worst.

1] Undue stretching, 2] quickening the pace, 3] nodding the head 4] reading by seeing written texts without memorising 5] unknowing the meaning, 6] weak-voiced, are thus the six sorts of worst reciters of Vedic hymns.

"Unexpanded, un-doubtful, un-delaying and non-dissonant is the tenor of his speech, and it comports in his chest or throat in a medium tone...

After elucidating the reciters, the worst, now the recitation, the worst is being analysed.

shankitam bhiitam udghuShTam avyaktam anunaasikam |
kaaku svaram shiirShagatam tathaa sthaana varjitam |
visvaram virasam caiva vishliShTam viShamaanvitam |
vyaakulam taalu bhinnam ca paaTha doShaaH cartur dashaH ||

shankitam= doubting; bhiitam= fearing; udghuSTam = shouting; avyaktam= unclear; anunaasikam= nasal; kaaku svaram= shrieking; shiirsha gatam=high-pitched; tathaa= like that; sthaana varjitam= placed, improper; vi svaram=melody-less; virasam= rude; eva= also, like; vishlishtam= torn apart; vishama anvitam= negatively meaning; vyaakulam= chaotic; taalu bhinnam=labiovelar; paaTha doshaaH= all, reading, mistakes.

Reading scriptures with 1] doubting, 2] fearing, 3] shouting,4] unclear, 5] nasal, 6] shrieking, 7] high-pitched, and like with 8]improper sounds placement, 9] melody-less, 10] rudely, and also 11] letters torn apart, 12] rendering negative meaning, 13] chaotic, 14] labiovelar, are the fourteen reciting mistakes.

"He has orderly refinement in speech that is remarkable and un-delaying, and he speaks propitious words that are heart-pleasing...

Best reciters will render phonetics as below, as contained in siikhsha of Veda-s:

maadhuryam akSharavyaktiH pada cchedaH tadaa tvaraa
dhairyam laya samanvitam ca ShaT ete paaThakaaH guNaaH

maadhuryam= sweet-voiced; akshara vyaktiH= syllables, enunciated; pada cChedaH= parting of words; tathaa= likewise; tvaraa= quickness; dhairyam= confidently; laya samanvitam= rhythm included; SaT ete paaTHagaa gunNaH= are the six abilities of the reciters.

With sweet voice, enunciated syllables, properly parting the words, quick and confident, and rhythm included are the six best qualities of best reciters.

"His speech is generated in three places is enthralling... and whose heart is it that is disenchanted, even that of an enemy after raising his sword at him, on hearing his speech...

Three places to generate speech are urashi at chest, shirashi at head, kanTha at throat. A real speqker of his mind has to generate his speech in these three areas, without rendering any lip service. Again this is the rule of Vedic siksha namely the training.

"Oh, faultless Lakshmana, if this sort of envoy is not there to a king, really how can that king accomplishes his ways and means... Should a king have this kind of work accomplishers with a variety of virtues, all his objectives will be achieved impelled by such an envoy's words..." Rama thus said to Lakshmana.

When said thus by Rama, wise-worded Lakshmana spoke to that monkey and the minister of Sugreeva, namely Hanuma, the son of Air-god, who is equally a wise-worded one.

"The virtues of that great soul Sugreeva are known to us, oh, scholarly monkey, we for our part are in search of that lord of fly-jumpers Sugreeva alone... As you communicated the words of Sugreeva, oh, gentle Hanuma, by them and by your words we indeed wish to do accordingly...

On observing that operative sentence of Lakshmana the monkey Hanuma is gladdened, as seen from his composure, and kept his mind at ease at the prospective victory, and then he wished to materialise the pact of friendship between Rama ad Sugreeva, at the earliest.

- - - .

A Note on Verses

The research scholars point out that these many verses are not there in some ancient manuscripts and only the following verses are available. Even the tailor-made Baroda edition ends at verse 4-3-27. The above aspects of Rama's analysis etc., is available in the Eastern and Gorakhpur and other untailored manuscripts. There is an extensive commentary on these so-called extra verses, rendered in a rare commentary Dharmaakuutam dating back to 1600's, and even in earlier commentaries. The verses found in ancient manuscripts are said to be this one and half stanzas:

tataH sa~ncintya manasaa raamo lakShmanam abraviit |
sacivo'yam kapiindrasya sugriivasya mahaatmanaH ||
tam aabhaaShasva soumitre mat samiipam uupaagamat |
vaakyaj~nam madhuraiH vaakyaiH satyaj~nam pavanaatmajam ||

Taking clue of the last foot, namely vaakyaj~nam etc., and to glorify Hanuma through the tongue of Rama, these verses from 4-3-28 to 4-3-35, are said to be crafted later, without throwing light on when and where. Rama is going to give aachaarya , Teacher status to Hanuma to educate the innate soul - Seetha in Lanka - about the Almighty. So, to receive that status, according to Vaishnavaite stipulates, a guru should possess certain qualities like:

aacaaryo veda sampanno viShNu bhakto vimatsaraH |
mantraj~no mantra bhaktaH ca sadaa mantraarthaH shuciH |
guru bhakti samaayuktaH puraaNaj~no visheShataH |
evam lakShaNa sampanno guru ityabhi dhiiyate ||

A teacher is to be well-equipped with all Veda-s, a devotee of Vishnu, always purified by hymnal purity, devotion to his own teacher, knower of mythologies, in particular, and one who is endowed with these qualities alone is called the Guru.

And Hanuma is one such according to popular belief, though not from the viewpoints of researches. It is therefore unclear whether the modern day researchers are right or the ancient commentators.

- - -

Thus, this is the 3rd chapter in Kishkindha Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India.

© 2000, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao [Revised : March 04]

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