Hanuman as an inspirational Hero

“Mahotsaham maha satvam maha balam maha shaktim maha kayam maha matim!”

The above lines are from Sundara kanda. This is a glorious description of none other than Hanuman by Valmiki. The battle of Hanuman  with the Rakshasa Durdhara( who was deputed by Ravana) in Lanka was the scene which inspired Valmiki to glorify Hanuman by these adjectives.

One will quickly observe that each adjective or quality is preceded by the word ‘Maha’ or great. It is unique in itself to combine so many great qualities in one single individual. But what is of even greater significance in the case of Hanuman is that he has a highly discriminating intellect and wisdom to utilise or exhbit the qualities at the most appropriate time and place. I will try to illustrate this particular aspect with examples of his commedable conduct.

One of the qualities mentioned in the line above is ‘Maha matim’,meaning great intelligence. One can find several instances of his intelligence in Sudarakanda.

The very first instance of the test of his intelligence was when a demoness Simhika tried to obstruct his way while he was crossing the ocean. He had a choice either to engage  in a long drawn out fight or find a shortcut to killing her. He chose the latter strategy since he had little time to fulfill his main mission. Therefore he decided to enter her mouth in a small form  and came out of her in a huge form, killed her in the process and proceeded with his  journey.

As an emissary of Rama,he knew that his mission was highly critical and had a great degree of clarity on the purpose of his mission. His main job was to find Sita, console and comfort her by giving her hope. In addition to this main purpose, it would also be nice to take the opportunity to survey Lanka and assess the strengths of Ravana as part of the preparation for war. When he found and identified Sita under the Ashoka tree,he was really at a loss as to how he should proceed to identify or introduce  himself. He knew that Sita was in distress and in that frame of mind she would suspect him to be a Rakshasa in the form of a monkey. The question before him was how to make Sita listen to him without getting freightened. He knew that was  a highly critical moment of the mission and so he  reflected deeply on  the course of action to be taken. His unwavering  commitment to the task and ability to think practically  was evident in his words when he says that ‘ Even a well planned strategy in the hands of an emissary who is over confident,and self-opionated is bound to fail’. Reflecting thus on the course of action,he thought of a perfect idea – he decided that the only way in which he can capture her attention under the circumstances was to sing in praise of Rama so as to reach her ears and in such a manner that it created confidence in her. Thus sitting on the branch of the tree he begins to narrate the story of Rama. Sita got interested  looked around and found a monkey. Although her initial reaction was one of disbelief,eventually she got convinced and got into a conversation. As further confirmation of his identity as an emissary of Rama,she asked Hanuman to describe Rama’s physical features as well as his qualities. Hanuman took the opportunity to give a glorious description of both His physical features,mental prowess,His knowledge of Vedas and Dharmas,His valour etc. He talked with so much passion that Sita was convinced beyond doubt that he was indeed an emissary of Rama. 

 Even before finding Sita,Hanuman showed great maturity while reflecting on his mission and strategy. On a couple of occasions,he got into deep despair and let his imagination go wild with thoughts of the consequences if his mission were to fail. However,thinking of the grave consequences of his failure itself was enough to motivate him to  use all the powers at his command to make the mission a grand success. Clearly Hanuman himself, in a  grave crisis, got into depression and sorrow like ordinary mortals. But instantly and cleverly used the same depression and fear of the consequences of failure as a motivating factor to add force to his efforts.

As Sita listened to Hanuman  carefully ,she repeatedly wanted to know why Rama was delaying his actions to take her back. At this point he had to give a credible and comforting answer. He said that Rama was so deep in sorrow by separation from her that he was in no position or state to initiate an action plan to bring her back. At the same time Hanuman gave her great hope adding that now that she had been found, Rama would certainly come with the army of monkeys to Lanka and destroy Ravana to take her back. He repeated this message several times because that was what would sustain her hope and ensure her very survival.

Next ,let us turn our attention to what he did after comforting Sita. As part of the mission,he knew that it would be desirable to make an assessment of strength of  Ravana’s Lanka and if possible meet Ravana himself. He hit upon an idea to achieve this purpose. He had to somehow draw the attention of Rakshasas by doing something crazy. Thus he virtually destroyed the Ashokavana and in the process did attract the wrath of rakshsas who started attacking him. And that was the perfect time to exhibit his strength,energy and his ability to assume a huge and terrifying form(‘Maha satvam,maha balam,maha shaktim,maha kayam‘). He did this very convincingly and in the process killed several rakshasas including Akshaya kumara(Ravana’s son)and Durdhara(Ravana’s minister). This led to Indrajit,the great warrior, coming on the scene and  tying him up with Brahma ‘s missile. Hanuman ,in fact ,instantly realised that in accordance with a boon he obtained from Brahma,he could not be tied down by the missile. But very interestingly he pretended as though he had been immobilised by the missile. The reasons are not far to seek: Firsly,he wanted to show his humility and respect to  Brahma the Creator and secondly he knew that he would be dragged to Ravana’s court if he submitted himself to the missile,which would give him a chance to meet Ravana face to face. He would then get an oportunity to advise him as an emissary. Hanuman knows that it is an important role of an emissary to give good counsel to the enemy and prevent war and violence as far as possible.

As expected he got the audience of Ravana. The conversation that followed between the two was really a great example of diplomacy and tactfulness combined with declarations  of principles of Dharma and Satyam on the part of Hanuman on the one hand and ego display by Ravana. The way he introduced himself itself was interesting. He called himself an emissary(‘dhoot)’ of Rama,a servant(dasa) of Rama and a vanara. He ,then eloborated saying that he was also a minister of Sugriva who was the brother of Vali. Hanuman,obviously, wanted to impress upon Ravana that apart from his valour and strength (the taste of which Rakshasa have already seen) he was also associated with Sugreeva and Vali,who were  well known to Ravana(at one time Vali was a terror to Ravana!). To add more credibility to his great association,he also mentioned as a matter of fact that Vali was killed by Rama with just one arrow. This sort of introduction of himself  to Ravana associating himself with great names, was basically to create an interest  in Ravana on what he was going to convey further. This was also intended to create a sort of fear in Ravana’s mind about his enemy’s strengths. Obviously that was not the occasion to show humility – rather a perfect occasion to show off his powerful connections and credentials. And that was what he precisely did. He then made a passionate appeal and offered advice to Ravana which was at once forceful,well meaning,diplomatic,truthful and in accordance with dharma. Diplomacy of presentation was quite evident as he paid great compliments to Ravana for his material,intellectual and spiritual attainments which was made possible by virtue of his austerity and panance. While praising him for his attainments,he also did not hesitate to talk about the glory of Rama,Lakshmana and Sugreeva. He did not mince words in declaring tenets of Truth and Dharma(Righteousness) in support of his advice to return Sita. He  clarified that one has to independently face the consequences of one’s acts of dharma and adharma. Since Ravana seemed to have already enjoyed the fruits of his dharma,Hanuman said that unless he made amends to his acts of adharma(abducting another man’s wife)by returning Sita immediately,he was bound to face its grave consequences. He substantiated this by stating that  Rama & Lakshmana who are themselves  great warriors were supported by very powerful army of monkeys led by Sugriva.

Thus Hanuman’s advice to Ravana contained all aspects of  diplomacy(glorious introduction of himself and at the same time praising Ravana’s great positive qualities),exposition of righteous conduct(references of his speech on dharma & adharma),truth (about glory of his master Rama)and forceful in advising him to act with a sense of urgency in returning Sita. 

When Ravana rejected his advice and ordered his tail to be lit on fire,Hanuman used the opportunity to destroy Lanka with the same fire causing immense damage to Lanka.

After accomplishing his mission succesfully,he got back to meet fellow monkeys first and then Sugriva,Rama & Lakshmana. The manner in which he broke the news of success of his mission was also exemplary. He showed extraordinary skill in conveying his message to his anxious audience. He said  ” Drishta Seeteti–”   (Discovered is Sita). Instead of saying Sita is discovered,he  skillfully used the word ‘Drishta’ before ‘Sita’ in order not to cause any confusion (even for a moment)in the minds of his listeners about success of his mission. 

Finally he showed exemplary humility in talking about the success of his mission to his monkey colleagues . He says ” Raghavasya prabhavena bhavatam chaiva tejasa Sugreevasya cha karyardham maya sarvamanushtitam”.

(Owing to Rama’s prowess and the energy and enthusiasm of all of you I have accomplished the mission that Sugreeva has entrusted to us).  He never took any credit for what he had achieved single handedly. Thus he exhibited great humility where it was indeed necessary and displayed his prowess  and wisdom when  it was badly needed during his stay in Lanka.


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Sudesh was telling about your blog. Interesting read. Keep it up!

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