Hanumana has become a very popular figure among Hindus due to his devotion for Rama, whom many Hindus consider the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. However, we have to keep in mind that Ramayana took place in the Vedic period, a time when the concept of Vishnu having incarnations was alien to the Vedic people. In fact, I have written a previous article showing that the Vishnu we all worship with its incarnations is a post-Vedic construct:
Since the Vishnu worshiped in the Vedic period did not have incarnations, it is not possible for Rama to be an incarnation of Vishnu. This blows away the claim of many Hindus that Hanumana had devotion towards Rama due to Rama’s divinity as an incarnation of Vishnu!
So the major question that arises is what was the reason for Hanumana’s devotion to Rama. In this post, I will attempt to answer this question, keeping Hanumana and Rama as human figures, the way they were intended to be in the original Ramayana!
In Sundara Kanda, Hanumana often clarifies where his bhakti for Rama comes from. Below, in separate sections, I will explain where Hanumana’s bhakti for Rama comes from…
Reason 1: Bhakti due to the master-servant relationship of Rama and Hanumana.
When Hanumana finds Seetha in Lanka, he worries that his form of a Vanara will scare her, and that she will scream, thereby alerting the rakshasiis in the vicinity, who will charge to attack him (Hanumana)… So for a moment, he thinks of going back without interacting with Seetha. But Hanumana decides against it, thinking of the consequences. He says:
रामः च यदि पृच्छेन् माम् किम् माम् सीता अब्रवीत् वचः |
किम् अहम् तम् प्रतिब्रूयाम् असम्भाष्य सुमध्यमाम् || ५-३०-१३"If Rama enquires of me as to what words did Seetha speak about him, what can I say to Rama without speaking now to this Seetha, the slender-waisted lady?"सीता संदेश रहितम् माम् इतः त्वरया गतम् |
निर्दहेत् अपि काकुत्स्थः क्रुद्धः तीव्रेण चक्षुषा || ५-३०-१४"To me returning in haste from here without carrying Seetha's message Rama may get irritated and burn me up with his pungent eyes."
From this text, it is evident that Hanumana considered Rama his master and himself a servant of Rama. This explains the fear of Rama’s anger shown by Hanumana in these verses!
Furthermore, after Hanumana successfully meets and interacts with Seetha, he destroys the Ashoka Grove. Many Rakshasiis note this and report it to Ravana. Ravana then sends armed forces to deal with Hanumana. Hanumana then says the first six verses to the warriors that approach him. The last three verses are said to Ravana, after Hanumana is made unconscious by Indrajita and brought to Ravana’s sabha:
जयत्यतिबलो रामो लक्ष्मणश्च महाबलः |
राजा जयति सुग्रीवो राघवेणाभिपालितः || ५-४२-३३"Long live the mighty Rama and the powerful Lakshmana! Long live the King Sugreeva, protected by Rama!"दासोऽहम् कोसलेन्द्रस्य रामस्याक्लिष्टकर्मणः |
हनुमान् शत्रुसैन्यानाम् निहन्ता मारुतात्मजः || ५-४२-३४"I am Hanuma, the destroyer of the army of adversaries and the son of wind-god. I am the servant of Rama, the king of Kosala Kingdom, who is unwearied in action."अस्त्रविज्जयताम् रामो लक्ष्मणः च महाबलः |
राजा जयति सुग्रीवो राघवेन अभिपालितः || ५-४३-८
दासो अहम् कोसल इन्द्रस्य रामस्य अक्लिष्ट कर्मणः |
हनुमान् शत्रु सैन्यानाम् निहन्ता मारुत आत्मजः || ५-४३-९
न रावण सहस्रम् मे युद्धे प्रतिबलम् भवेत् |
शिलाभिः तु प्रहरतः पादपैः च सहस्रशः || ५-४३-१०
अर्दयित्वा पुरीम् लन्काम् अभिवाद्य च मैथिलीम् |
समृद्ध अर्थो गमिष्यामि मिषताम् सर्व रक्षसाम् || ५-४३-११"Long live Rama, skilled in archery and the powerful Lakshmana! Long lie the King Sugreeva, protected by Rama! I am Hanuma, the destroyer of the army of adversaries and the son of wind-god. I am the servant of Rama, the king of Kosala kingdom, who is unwearied in action. Even a thousand of Ravanas will not be matching equally with me, who is capable of striking with thousnads of rocks and trees in battle. Here, before the eyes of all the demons, I will annihilate the City of Lanka and after offering salutation to Seetha, I will go back duly completing my task."राजानम् द्रष्टु कामेन मया अस्त्रम् अनुवर्तितम् || ५-५०-१७
विमुक्तो अहम् अस्त्रेण राक्षसैः तु अतिपीडितः |
केवचिद्राजकार्येण सम्प्राप्तोऽस्मि तवान्तिकम् || ५-५०-१८With a desire to see you the king, I surrendered to the missile. Soon after bound by the demons, I was indeed released from the missile. I came to your presence, prompted by some mission of Rama."दूतोऽहमिति विज्ञेयो राघवस्यामितौजसः |
श्रूयताम् चापि वचनम् मम पथ्यमिदम् प्रभो || ५-५०-१९"O, Lord of demons! Know me to be a messenger of Rama who is possessing I am unlimited splendour. I am telling you a beneficial word. Listen to it."सत्यम् राक्षसराजेन्द्र शृणुष्व वचनम् मम || ५-५१-३८
रामदासस्य दूतस्य वानरस्य विशेषतः |"O king of demons! Listen to my truthful words coming as it is from the lips of this servant of Rama, his messenger and particularly of this monkey."
As we can see in these verses, Hanumana praises Rama by saying “long live Rama”. He also addresses himself as the servant of Rama and says that he came to Lanka on Rama’s mission, suggesting that Rama is his master. Furthermore, he says that Rama is the protector of Sugriva and that Rama has “unlimited splendor”, thereby highlighting Rama’s prowess and warrior-like qualities! I will expand on this point in the next section. However, what has been established in this section is that Hanumana was a servant of his master Ravana, and that was one of his reasons for his bhakti towards Rama.
Reason 2: Bhakti due to the prowess of Rama and Rama’s warrior-like qualities
Once Hanumana was made unconscious by Indrajita and brought to the sabha of Ravana, he tells Ravana:
सर्वान् लोकान् सुसम्हृत्य सभूतान् सचराचरान् || ५-५१-३९
पुनरेव तथा स्रष्टुम् शक्तो रामो महायशाः |"The renowned Rama is capable of totally destroying all the worlds together with its five elements, along with its animate and inanimate things and also to create yet again all the worlds in like manner as before."देवाश्च दैत्याश्च निशाचरेन्द्र |
रामस्य लोकत्रयनायकस्य |
स्थातुम् न शक्ताः समरेषु सर्वे || ५-५१-४४"O king of demons! Either celestials or demons or Gandharvas the celestial musicians or Vidyadharas a king of super-natural beings or Nagas the semi-divine serpents or Yakshas the semi divine beings-all of them are not able to stand before Rama the lord of the three worlds."ब्रह्म स्वयमुभूश्च तुराननो वा |
रुद्रस्त्रिणेत्रस्त्रिपुरान्तको वा |
इन्द्रो महेन्द्रः सुरनायको वा |
त्रातुम् न शक्ता युधि रामवध्यम् || ५-५१-४५"Either Brahma the self-existing god with four faces or Rudra with three eyes and the destroyer of Tripura (the city built of gold, silver and iron in the sky, air and earth, by Maya for the demons and burnt by Shiva), or Mahendra the god of atmosphere and sky as also the lord of celestials would not be able to protect the one to be killed by Rama in battle."
In the second verse above, Rama is addressed by Hanumana as the “lord of the three worlds”… In the context of the other verses posted above, it seems that Hanumana does not consider Rama the Supreme Lord, but instead a great warrior that has the power to conquer all three worlds, hence the title “lord of the three worlds”.
Anyways… From these verses of Hanumana, we can clearly see that Hanumana’s bhaktifor Rama is a result of Rama’s prowess… Hanumana also shows similar bhakti for Ravana when he sees Ravana seated in his sabha:
अपश्यत् राक्षस पतिम् हनूमान् अतितेजसम् |
विष्ठितम् मेरु शिखरे सतोयम् इव तोयदम् || ५-४९-१४Hanuma saw Ravana with a great splendor, sitting on the throne, looking like a rainy cloud on the peak of Mount Meru.स तैः सम्पीड्यमानो अपि रक्षोभिः भीम विक्रमैः |
विस्मयम् परमम् गत्वा रक्षो अधिपम् अवैक्षत || ५-४९-१५Though tortured by the demons that Hanuma, of terrific prowess, experiencing a great surprise, looked attentively at Ravana.भ्राजमानम् ततो दृष्ट्वा हनुमान् राक्षस ईश्वरम् |
मनसा चिन्तयामास तेजसा तस्य मोहितः || ५-४९-१६Seeing the glittering Ravana, the king of demons, Hanuma was bewildered by his splendor and thought in his mind as follows:अहो रूपम् अहो धैर्यम् अहो सत्त्वम् अहो द्युतिः |
अहो राक्षस राजस्य सर्व लक्षण युक्तता || ५-४९-१७"What figure, what courage, what strength, what splendor and what amalgam of auspicious marks, alas, this king of demons has!"अस्य क्रूरैर्नृशम् सैश्च कर्मभिर्लोककुत्सितैः |
सर्वे बिभ्यति खल्वस्माल्लोकाः सामरदानवाः || ५-४९-१९
अयम् ह्युत्सह्ते क्रुद्धः कर्तुमेकार्णवम् जगत् |"By his cruel and violent acts despised by the world, all people including gods and demons indeed remain frightened of him. If enraged he is indeed capable to turn the entire world into a single ocean."इति चिन्ताम् बहु विधाम् अकरोन् मतिमान् कपिः |
दृष्ट्वा राक्षस राजस्य प्रभावम् अमित ओजसः || ५-४९-२०Seeing the power of Ravana the king of demons, who possessed an unlimited vigour, the intelligent Hanuma formulated many kinds of thoughts in this way.
Although Hanumana developed some bhakti for Ravana due to Ravana’s supernatural prowess and beauty, the bhakti was not able to develop properly as Ravana was following unrighteousness, according to Hanumana, and was against Rama:
यदि अधर्मो न बलवान् स्यात् अयम् राक्षस ईश्वरः |
स्यात् अयम् सुर लोकस्य सशक्रस्य अपि रक्षिता || ५-४९-१८"Had this lord of demons perhaps not strong in unrighteousness, he would have been a protector of even the world of celestials together with Indra the lord of celestials."
Reason 3: Bhakti due to sensual love of Hanumana for Rama
From the text I provided above, it should be obvious that Hanumana was quite impressed by the manly warrior-like qualities of both Rama and Ravana. It was as if he fell in love with both Rama and Ravana seeing their masculine, warrior-like qualities… He was in love with these masculine characteristics that he always strived to achieve, but remained unsuccessful in achieving.
He therefore comes across as a more feminine character, when compared to the masculine Rama. He was the character that enjoyed being dominated by the masculine Rama.
According to Valmiki Ramayana, Hanumana did have sensual love for the more dominant, masculine Rama. When Hanumana meets Seetha in Lanka, she asks for a description of Rama’s appearance:
कीदृशम् तस्य संस्थानम् रूपम् रामस्य कीदृशम् |
कथम् ऊरू कथम् बाहू लक्ष्मणस्य च शंस मे || ५-३५-४"Of what kind was the appearance of that Rama and of Lakshmana? Of what kind was their form? How were the thighs? How were the arms? Tell me."
Then Hanumana gives a lengthy description of Rama’s appearance. Two of the most important verses Hanumana says in the description are as follows:
चतुष्कलश्चतुर्लेखश्चतुष्किष्कुश्चतुःसमः || ५-३५-१८"He has three folds in the skin of his neck and belly. He is depressed at three places (viz. the middle of his soles, the lines on his soles and the nipples). He is undersized at four places (viz. the neck, membran virile, the back and the shanks). He is endowed with three spirals in the hair of his head. He has four lines at the root of his thumb (denoting his proficiency in the four Vedas). He has four lines on his forehead (indicating longevity). He is four cubits high (96 inches). He has four pairs of limbs (viz. the cheeks, arms, shanks and knees) equally matched."दश पद्मो दश बृहत् त्रिभिः व्याप्तो द्वि शुक्लवान् |
षड् उन्नतो नव तनुः त्रिभिः व्याप्नोति राघवः || ५-३५-२०"Rama has ten lotus-like limbs (viz. the countenance, the mouth, the eyes, the tongue, lips, palate, breasts, nails, the hands and the feet). He has ten ample limbs (viz. the chest, the head, the forehead, the neck, the arms, the heart, the mouth the feet, the back and the ears). He is spread through by reason of three (viz. splendour, renown and glory). He is doubly pure (on father's and mother's side). He is elevated in six limbs (viz. the flanks, the abdomen, the breast, the nose, the shoulders and the forehead). He is small, thin, fine or sharp in nine (viz. the hair, the moustaches and the beard, nails the hair on the body, the skin, the finger-joints, the membrum virile, acumen and perception). He pursues religious merit, worldly riches and the sensuous delight in three periods (viz. the forenoon, midday and afternoon).
As we can see here, Hanumana describes Rama as having an undersized, thin, fine, sharp penis. Now the main question is that how Hanumana would have been able to see and feel Rama’s penis in such detail, so as to describe its size, shape and texture. It would not have been possible unless Hanumana was having an intimate, sensual relationship with Rama, or was fantasizing Rama's penis. This also explains why, in Hanumana’s description of Rama, he is in awe of Rama’s beauty:
Furthermore, in verse 5.34.30, Hanumana very subjectively, likens Rama to Kamadeva, thereby showing his sexual attraction towards Rama!विपुल अंसो महाबाहुः कम्बु ग्रीवः शुभ आननः |
गूढ जत्रुः सुताम्र अक्षो रामो देवि जनैः श्रुतः || ५-३५-१५"O princess! Rama is a broad shouldered and a long-armed man. He has a shell-like neck. He has a handsome countenance. He has a hidden collar-bone. He has beautiful red eyes. His fame is heard about by people."दुन्दुभि स्वन निर्घोषः स्निग्ध वर्णः प्रतापवान् |
समः सम विभक्त अन्गो वर्णम् श्यामम् समाश्रितः || ५-३५-१६"He has a voice like the sound of a kettle-drum. He has a shining skin. He is full of splendour. He is square-built. His limbs are built symmetrically. He is endowed with a dark-brown complexion."
So, the third reason why Hanumana had bhakti for Rama was because of the sensual relationship he shared with Rama. He was more of a feminine personality that looked up to the more dominant, masculine Rama. In addition to his feelings of awe for Rama's masculinity, his feminine characteristics can be seen in the way he enjoys his gossip with Seetha when meeting her in Lanka. It almost seems as if two females are conversing from Sundara Kanda Section 30-40 instead of a male Hanumana and a female Seetha. That being said, Hanumana had an inferiority complex due to this feminine nature in him, and always aspired to have a more dominant, masculine personality like Rama had. The inferiority complex can be seen in the need to make vain boasts of his prowess-based accomplishments in Lanka to his fellow Vanaras, after he met Seetha. This unsatisfied, gender imbalance in Hanumana also led him to exert violence (in an attempt to show his manliness) on youthful Rakshasii females in Lanka, and on old men like Dadimukha, whose shoulders Hanumana had broken in a fit of rage!