The Ramayana

This is an excerpt from Valmiki's Ramayana, told in English prose by William Buck. The Ramayana is an ancient epic story from India. It is the story of Rama and his brother Lakshmana and their battle with Ravana, who kidnapped Rama's wife, Sita. It is beautiful prose, extraordinary warfare, eternal friendship, and royal intrigue.

Translated by William Buck, illustrated by Shirley Triest, introduction by B.A. Van Nooten.
Copyright (c) 1976 by the University of California.
Reprinted with permission.

This excerpt is at the end of the story, when the war is over, and Rama and his army are standing around. Rama's army were his animal friends — the bears and monkeys. Hanuman is the Monkey King, the supreme bhakta of Sri Rama.

Rama Hanuman

"And Hanuman also will live so long, where is he now," said Rama. Hanuman came bounding down from the sky. He hit the ground with a thud like a thunderstone. He was right close to Rama, smiling at him, laughing and gay.

"Oh, Hanuman!"

"My King!" Hanuman knelt before Rama.

Rama said, "As long as men shall speak of you, you will live on Earth. No one can equal you. Your heart is true; your arms are strong; you have the energy to do anything. You have served me faithfully and done things that couldn't be done."

"It's nothing," said Hanuman. "I am your friend, that's all."

Rama wore a rare golden bracelet set with gemstones on his right arm, a costly irreplaceable ornament inherited from among the wealth of the Solar Kings from ancient days. He said, "Best of Monkeys, take this as my gift," and gave it to Hanuman.

Hanuman snatched the bracelet from Rama and started to turn it over and around in his white furry paws, looking closely at it. Then he bent and broke it. He twisted the gold and pulled out the jewels, and put them between his hard teeth. He bit down on the priceless gems and broke them like nuts, and carefully searched over the pieces, looking everywhere for something.

Rama asked him, "Monkey, at a time like this why are you still difficult?"

Hanuman answered, "Lord, though this bracelet looked expensive it was really worthless, for nowhere on it did it bear your name. I have no need of it Rama. What do I want with anything plain?"

Vibhishana sniffed at that. "Then I can't see what value life has to you. Why don't you destroy your body as well?"

Then with his sharp fingernails Hanuman tore open his breast and pulled back the flesh. And see! There was written again and again on every bone, in fine little letters - Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama ....

Rama put down the grass he held, and with his two hands he pressed together Hanuman's parted flesh, and the wound over his beating heart came together leaving no scar at all, not even one big as a grain of dust, or a tip of hair. Rama drew off his hand his broad gleaming gold ring that said Rama, the ring that Hanuman had carried to Sita. He put it into Hanuman's wet bloodstained paw and gently close the monkey fingers over it.

Who is this monkey Hanuman? Rama has let him loose in the world. He knows Rama and Rama knows him. Hanuman can break in or break out of anywhere. He cannot be stopped, like the free wind in flight.

Hanuman can spot a tyrant, he looks at deeds not words, and he'll go and pull his beard. Disguises and words of talk cannot confuse a mere wild animal. Hanuman's rescue of brave poets in any peril may be had for their asking, and that monkey will break the handsome masks of evil kings.

Hanuman will take your sad tune and use it to make a happy dance. We have seen that white monkey. Strong is his guard. Especially take warning, never harm a free Poet.

The Son of the Wind. The warm dry night wind, and all the trees swaying! I don't care for love and death or loneliness - here comes the high Wind, and what am I ...?"