Hanuman’s Dream

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Hanuman's Dream

We share this transcreation of Parasuram (Rajsekhar Basu)‘s “Hanumaner Shopno” (Hanuman’s dream) by Arindam Basu. This is taken from the collection of short stories of Parasuram, originally published in Bengali language (ISBN: 81–7157–044–5). The story was published in 1930 in Bengali language. It is a satire on Hanuman and his search for a wife.

Lord Rama ascended the throne of Ayodhya. The state of Koshala became peaceful and the subjects prosperous; thieves, interlopers, and charlatans fled the country as they had no means of making a living anymore. Not a single ill and infirm subject were to be found anywhere in all of Koshala, neither were litigants to spar with each other, and prison cells were empty. Doctors did not have patients anymore, so they started serving the rich, and judges, rather than looking for new loopholes in the law, decided to take it easy.

Lord Hanuman lived in Ayodhya those days. Lord Rama built for him a seven-storied wooden palace in a beautiful banana grove. There the great warrior lived happily amidst his followers.

A few months went by when Hanuman’s followers noticed a change in him that worried them. The people of Ayodhya noticed with worry that the great son of the God of Wind was getting skinnier every day, his physique getting weaker, he was not his usual happy self. Lord Rama summoned the best doctors in his state to treat Lord Hanuman, and they prescribed the best medicines and potions, but alas, to no avail. In despair, the doctors declared that the great Warrior was suffering from a spiritual illness that cannot be cured with medicines. As a last resort, the great sage Vashishtha started an enormous fire sacrifice to pray for Hanuman.

At that point, Queen Sita summoned Hanuman in her chamber and asked, “Pray tell me son, what has afflicted you? Be not hesitant to tell me all as I am like your mother”.

At which our great warrior stroked his left and right cheeks for some time, then lowered his eyes and spoke softly thus, “Mother, if you are indeed keen to hear my secret, then I will have to reveal them to you. A few days ago, my ancestors appeared in my dream. They were dangling their legs perched, as they were, at the peak of Mount Sumeru and with great sadness, I saw, they were stroking their tummies. I asked Sage Vamdev, son of Sage Vashishtha, what this nightmare meant. He told me that it was nothing serious; just that my ancestors were hungry, and I had to boil bananas for offering and had to arrange for giving grants and money to the Brahmins and the nightmare would be over. So I followed Sage Vamdev’s advice, but even after that, my ancestors kept visiting me in my dreams as before. Then it occurred to me that they would not be satisfied with such temporary measures. After all, who will provide for the sacrificial food after my death? At an age most people get married and start families, I wasted my time serving Sugreeva, the great Monkey king. Now, thanks to Lord Rama, Sugreeva has regained his kingdom, and Ravana has been killed, and I too have retired. But now I am at the throe of old age, if I were to marry and start a family now, people would laugh at me. Alas, how will I repay the debts of this life to my ancestors? O Mother, this thought continues to haunt me day and night, in my reverie, I see the sad faces of my ancestors, I cannot eat, drink, sleep, and there is no peace within me”. Having uttered these words, Hanuman was quietly shedding tears.

Queen Sita smiled and said, “O my great warrior son, what is to worry about all these? Be not bothered as to what people will say, get married now and satisfy your ancestors. You are not that old. My venerable father-in-law married the mother of Prince Bharata when he was older than you. I am summoning my bevy of Sakhis, they are all beautiful and belong to good families and they are all well-behaved women. You can marry any of them you like. Oh my Monkey-man, I can assure you there is no woman in all of Ayodhya who will not feel that her life is fulfilled if she were to have you as her husband. And do not be ashamed of you being inferior; on my request, the great Sage Vashishtha will do all the rituals to convert you to a Kshatriya (man of a warrior clan). Or if you do not desire to marry a human, then go to Kishkindhya and marry a Monkey-girl and return to Ayodhya soon: whoever she may be, I will call her as Hanumati and I will induct her in this palace with great love and affection.”

Hanuman was happy upon hearing these words; said he, “Glory to you, O daughter of King Janaka! I do not intend to break away from my glorious tradition of the monkeys; I will marry a monkey and with Lord Rama’s permission, I will soon depart for Kishkindhya”

Hanuman crossed many mountains, rivers, and forests, and ended up in Dandakaranya. It was late in the afternoon, the sun was about to set. The great warrior perched himself on a large Shalmoli (“Sal”) tree and scanned a suitable place to spend the night. Suddenly he saw not too far away a large cottage thatched with leaves. Hanuman descended from the tree and entered the cottage. Inside of the cottage was beautifully decorated. On the ground was spread a deer-skin carpet, heaps of fruits were kept at a corner in the room, in another corner of the room he found a regal dress and a crown, and on one of the walls was hanging a beautiful Veena, the stringed instrument.

Having checked out everything in the room, Hanuman was very happy and said to himself, “A ha! I am sure my heavenly ancestors, being so kind to me, have arranged for me these gifts! To placate them, I will presently wear these garments and will eat these fruits for dinner”. Having said this, Hanuman donned the clothes, put the crown on his head, and looked dapper. Then he sat on the bed and thought, “It is not yet sunset, there is still time for dinner; till then let me play the Veena”.

Our great warrior took great care to remove the Veena from the wall, but as soon as he started strumming, the strings snapped due to force from his strong fingers. Hanuman was very annoyed at this and thought, “this fragile instrument is of no use to a warrior!” Then he donned animal skins and lied down on the bed and was thinking about his future bride.

How will she be? Will she be petite or will she be plump? Will she be fair or will she be ruddy? Will she be loquacious or will she be reticent? Will her voice be soft or loud? As he continued to ponder, he was upset with himself. He said to himself, “Hold on, what am I doing? I have crossed seas, I have burned down the state of Lanka, I have uprooted the Gandhamadan hill! There is nothing unknown to me in the seas, skies, mountains, forests of this world! I am an expert warrior, I can be steady during difficult times, I know all about natures of humans or and gods. Yet strangely enough I know so little about the nature of women! These strange creatures do not have moustache or beard nor are they powerful or as intelligent as men, but look at them! They can nurse babies, which we men cannot! They can laugh and cry for no reason, they crave for trivial jewels and emeralds, rearing babies and collecting trivial things are the only things they care for! How will I behave with such a cute smooth-talking, child-rearing wife? If she is kind to me, shall I lift her on my head? If she disobeys me, shall I slap her on the face to make her obedient? Such provisions do exist in the codes of the monkey world, but what do human codes say?”

As Hanuman was lost in contemplation, a handsome young man arrived at the door of the cottage. He wore expensive clothes, on his shoulder was a long bow, a quiver of arrows hung from his shoulders, and he carried carcasses of ten birds he shot in one hand, and in his other, he held a large honeycomb.

Seeing Hanuman, he angrily retorted, “Hey you little monkey, how dare you put on my royal dress and are lying on my bed? Wait, I am going to kill you now!”

The original illustration from the book Hanuman er Sopno

Hanuman said, “Wow, young man, wait! Impatience is the sign of the unlearned vulgar, a patient man considers consequences before committing an act. I am Hanuman, Lord Rama’s servant, people call me the Great Warrior. Need I say more?”

Upon hearing this, the entrant young man folded his hands together in respect, and said, “A ha! How lucky am I to meet the great Lord Hanuman! O great warrior, please forgive my impertinence! I am the king of the land of Tumba, my name is Chancharik. Please bear with me in my humble abode, for I have nothing to serve you properly. If you ever set your foot in my palace, only then will I be satisfied. O son of Anjani, why are you undressing, you look beautiful in this attire. Here, I am holding up this silver mirror and see for yourself, how beautiful is your appearance. Please permit me to roast these birds for you. Or if you prefer fruits, please try those delectable fruits. O son of the God of Winds, I beseech you not to be cross with me, pray open your mouth, and please allow me squeeze and pour the honey into it. Perhaps you were practicing music, looking at the state of my Veena. Did you mistake it for a bow?”

Hanuman said, “Chancharik, I am happy with how you greeted me, but do not talk too much, for look at my fist, I can pack a strong punch! I am not comfortable in these dresses, you may wear them. Do not rush for my food, we will eat in good time. Your Veena is useless; but be not sad, I will string it with thick cords. May I ask you why have you have made this cottage in this desolate forest? If you are indeed a king as you claim, why do I not see elephants, horses, soldiers, chariots, jesters and fools surrounding you?”

Chancharik replied, “O Great Monkey, I am living here with great sadness in my heart. I am my own protector, I am my own charioteer, I am my own jester. My story is a rather sad one, if you will have the patience to listen. My queen is beautiful and she is a very intelligent woman indeed, but I cannot say she is faithful to me. One time, I was having a little affair with one of her female accoutrements, as it happened, due to my bad luck, she discovered this. For this trivial reason, she has stopped speaking with me and has now resigned to her chamber of fury. To teach her a lesson, I am now living in exile in this forest and making light of my desolation, hunting animals and birds. O son of the great God of Winds, I have determined that one wife is the source of a million troubles. As the scriptures say, there is no pleasure in little, plenty is source of all earthly pleasures. I have heard that the great Sage Lomosh resides in this forest. He has great knowledge about how to keep women under control as he has a hundred wives. I have decided to seek his refuge. Now that you have heard my story, pray tell me why have you left Ayodhya and have come here. Has Lord Rama forgotten everything you did for him and has he not treated you well?”

Hanuman said, “Be careful young man, do not speak ill of Lord Rama. I am going to Kishkindhya, where I will get married there and return to Ayodhya with my newly-wed wife. I must say I really like you, so I will reveal what I have in mind. Chancharik, I am not much aware of the ways of women, the only reason I have taken this vow, and want to get married, is to pay the debts to my ancestors. After listening to your tale of conjugal life, I now have doubts in my mind!”

Chancharik smiled, “O Hanuman, be not afraid. As you have borne the weight of Gandhamadan hill, you will be able to bear the weight of a wife as well. I will teach you all. For now, listen to a few words to the wise. It’s easy if you want to marry only for the sake of begetting a son, but if you want to marry for love, you need to be experienced in the ways of women. Experienced artful people pine that their own wives will be shy, while other women will be flirtatious. I am not aware of the Kingdom of Rama, but you will rarely find such lucky combination in this world. So …”

Hanuman said, “Enough of it Chancharik. Solve your own problems first before lecturing me. It is past sunset, you may arrange for dinner now. Close the door of this cottage for I cannot stand the cold draught from the forest.”

Chancharik closed the door and lighted a lamp as he made dinner. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Someone spoke from outside, “O householder, pray open the door for me, I am your guest, and I am hungry and sick from breathing cold air”.

Chancharik answered the door. A thin, slight mendicant entered the cottage. He had dreadlocks on his head, his long beard reached to his knees, and his body was covered with thick hair.

Chancharik folded his hands together, touched his feet and said, “O sage, one instant looking at you I realise you are the famous Sage Lomosh. We were eager to meet you, perhaps through your yogic vision, you came to know of our alacrity, and being so kind and merciful as you are, you have decided to visit us here. I am Chancharik, the king of Tumba, and this is my good friend the famous great Warrior Hanuman. This king of monkeys is heading to Kishkindhya to get married, but he suddenly has some doubts about the decision. As for me, my situation is not too well either. I have my wife of course, but I am thirsty for variety, as I crave for plenty. O Great Sage, I have heard that you have limitless knowledge about the theory of conjugal life. I am going to roast these jugle fowls for you, and as I do, pray educate and advise us about the ways with women.”

In the mean time, Sage Lomosh picked up a large jackfruit lying in a corner of the room, and he was swiftly picking the kernels and popping them into his mouth. Now he finished his meal, and said, “Son of The God of Winds, may you live ever after, and King of Tumba, may you be attain great victories. I am feeling a little better. For the last eight days I have been without food and have not slept well, I do not have a home anymore, this loincloth is my only possession.”

At this, Chancharik promptly nocked an arrow to his bow and said, “Lord, pray tell me which demon has ransacked your Ashram? Permit me, I will slay the vandal in an instant. Have all your wives been kidnapped? Great warrior, what are you waiting for? Rise, you will have to cross the sea once more; after all, it was never a good idea to spare Vibishana

Lomosh said, “Please be not rushed my son, rather, listen to me. Many years ago, in these Southern lands, there was no rainfall for twelve years. A hundred kings approached me to find a remedy. I conducted a fire sacrifice for them and brought rainfall to their lands. In return, the kings offered me hands of their one hundred daughters; they also arranged for their maintenance. For the princesses, I built one hundred houses in my hermitage”.

Chancharik asked, “Do you not have chambers of fury in your hermitage, Sage?”

Lomosh said, “Well, every house is a chamber of fury. The wretched women argue day and night, they do not perform any household chores, they do not observe any rituals, none of those. Out of affection, I named them as first, second, till about hundredth, but they themselves call each other as mouse, owl, and so on savage anime names, and even call me a bear. I have fled my Ashram out of frustration, leaving them bicker as much as they want. My good king, should you really want a taste of plenty, please visit my hermitage. Mr. Hanuman too can choose whom he wants as his wife. After all, I am not returning there. At this old age, I want peace, and all I want is peace and enjoyment of having one wife.”

Hanuman was perplexed having heard the tale of Sage Lomosh. Then, gaining his composure, he said, “O Sage, please accept my obeisances. Dear friend Chancharik, may your wish be fulfilled. I will need to depart now, I will head towards the kingdom of Sugriva”

Chancharik said, “Come on Hanuman, where will you go in the middle of night? At least, wait till sunrise and then leave for Sugriva’s kingdom!”

Hanuman did not bother to listen to him.

The Monkey King Sugriva was in his garden with his friends — Nal, Neel, Goy, Gobaksha — eating coconuts when Hanuman arrived. Seeing Hanuman, Sugriva spoke in an imperious tone, “Hello there Great Warrior, what brought you here? A you can see, I am now busy in affairs of the state, please excuse me now, I will attend to you once I have more time”.

Hanuman said, “King of monkeys, I have come to you with a special request seeking your help”

Sugriva said, “I do not think Kishkindhya will suit you. Mister Angad has captured all properties you had in the forest, there is no chance of your ever getting them back. As for me, I am going through a difficult time myself, I cannot offer you anything. Pray why did you ever leave Ayodhya? If you return there and ask Lord Rama, he may find a way to help you, after all, Rama is a good man”

Hanuman said, “Be not worried Sugriva, I do not want property or any part of your state. I am well looked after thanks to Lord Rama. I have come here looking for marriage. But I am unsure about these things, so I seek your advice”

Sugriva was happy hearing this and said, “My friend, you have indeed taken a noble decision, there was no need for all that small talk. Why don’t you perch yourself on that tree top and drink some coconut water and cool yourself first? Brother, I always pray for your well-being and we wonder, after all, why brother Hanuman has not yet settled. Do not worry about getting married at all brother, after all, that is a very easy thing to do. See, how I am enjoying myself surrounded by my eighteen thousand wives.”

Hanuman said, “But how do you keep them under control? Don’t they argue with each other? Don’t they hurt you with their words like arrows?”

Sugriva laughed, “They are not able to. I tie up their mouths with banana skins, except when I make love with them. Anyway, there’s nothing to worry. For now, accept one wife, and then gradually increase their numbers. May I suggest you get married with Mrs Tara, as I do not need her anymore. She is wise and elderly. You will be happy if you marry her.”

Hanuman said, “Please do not talk about Taradevi, she elder to me and I respect her”

Sugriva said, “Well then, seems you’ve changed after all these years in Ayodhya. You can try again. South of Kishkindhya is the country of Kichchot. Their king Plobongom has died without leaving any son. Now his daughter Princess Chilimpais ruling the state. This monkey-woman is very beautiful, learned, and intelligent. I sent her a marriage proposal through an emissary monkey but she has rejected my proposal and has sent back the monkey after trimming off his tail. Friends Nol, Neel, Goy, Gobaksha — they all went with marriage proposals, but all of them have returned being refused with their tails clipped. I have my eyes set on this intrepid monkey-maiden, and I am angry as well, but I do not have the time. Had I the time, I’d have made a campaign and would have brought her here. Now if you can win her over, then I will not feel aggrieved and you will earn your wife as well.”

Hanuman thought for a while and said, “Well, so be it. I will start for Kichchot presently.”

Hanuman reached the state of Kichchot. The subjects of Kichchot were terrified to see Hanuman’s huge and fearsome appearance and they let him pass. They sent a message to Princess Chilimpa that “O Princess! A huge Monkey has attacked your State.”

Chilimpa said, “Fear not. I have seen many a warrior such as him. Summon him here.”

Hanuman was brought before Princess Chilimpa in a beautiful garden. Princess Chilimpa sat there with her friends. She wore red coral earrings, and she held a bunch of bananas in her hands. Hanuman was impressed and thought, “Sugriva was indeed correct. She is truly beautiful, I am so excited and if I cannot win her over, my life is a failure.”

Chilimpa smiled and said, “O valiant man, why have you entered my state without permission? Who are you, where have you come from, and what do you want? Tell me without fear.”

Hanuman answered, “O daugher of Plobongom, I am Hanuman, the servant of Lord Rama. I have come from Ayodhya, I want to marry you and return with you to Ayodhya. I too, offer you no reason to fear.”

Hearing Hanuman’s words the friends of Chilimpa laughed out loud. Chilimpa said, “Hanuman, you have shown no less impertinence. Tell me what qualities do you possess that you have the temerity to ask for my hand?”

Hanuman said, “I am the servant of Lord Rama who went to the forests to fulfil his father’s promise, who killed Ravana, who has dark skin and his eyes are like lotus in bloom, who has all virtues beyond attainable by ordinary people.”

Chilimpa said, “Are you proposing my marriage with Rama?”

Being embarrassed, Hanuman bit his tongue and said, “My master is monogamous. The daugher of King Janaka, Sita, is his wife, she is beautiful and incomparable. I have come to propose for myself.”

Chilimpa said, “Then tell me about yourself.”

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Hanuman said, “It goes against my nature to speak about myself, but I have heard from the learned ones that there is no harm in self-praise before enemies and the loved ones. Hence listen to what I have to say. I have crossed the sea, I have uprooted the Gandhamadan hill, I have captured the Sun god, look at this blister; I have killed seven hundred thousand demons, I have slapped Ravana on his head, I have chomped on his chariot, see my broken tooth.”

Chilimpa said, “O great warrior, I am impressed with your valour. But women do not just want valour in men. What other qualities do you have? Do you know dance and music? Can you write poetry?”

Hanuman said, “Dear Chilimpa, one time I attempted to dance and sing after Ravan was slain, but Nol, Neel, and others taunted me, so I stopped. The son of Sumitra, Lakshman, then told me, ‘Son of the God of Wind, be not angry. Whatever you do is dance, whatever you say is song, what you leave unsaid is poetry, ordinary people cannot understand.’”

Chilimpa bit on the bunch of bananas she held in her hand, and said, “O son of the God of Wind, what do you know of love? What kind of hero are you? Are you calm and open minded or are you calm but arrogant, or are you quiet, or are you suave? How will you satisfy me, how will you pacify me? If I ask for an expensive pearl necklace, how will you get it for me? If out of anger I do not eat, what will you do?”

Hanuman thought, “this erudite monkey-maiden has now put me in a spot. How will I answer her? Anyway, I will not be bashful”. Having thought so, he replied, “O beautiful lady, my heart has leaped upon seeing you, this is the first thing about love for me. But worry not, the lord of Kishkindhya is like my elder brother, he will teach me all about love; then the king of Tumba, Chancharik, he too, will teach me. If you want pearl necklaces, I will ask for it from Janaki; if you do not eat, I will force you to eat with my iron like fingers. Do not waste anymore time, my love, come with me. Mother Sita has named you as Hanumati and she is eagerly waiting for you in Ayodhya.”

Chilimpa stroked Hanuman’s cheeks with her fingers and said in a sweet voice, “O my barbarian, my imbecile old boy, you know nothing about love. Rather go to Kishkindhya and send Sugriva here.”

In desperation Hanuman said, “Oh you cruel woman, why are you disappointing me after raising such high hopes? I will not let you go!” Having said this, he extended his arm towards Chilimpa.

Chilimpa loudly laughed and clapped. Suddenly two monsters of Monkey figures emerged from deep within the forest and captured Haunman. Chilimpa said, “Aranga and Atanga, this Monkey is too audacious; clip his tail and drive him away.”

Then the great Hanumana called upon Pravanjana and within an instant, his body became enormous, and the ropes were snapped, and he kicked Aranga and Atanga out to the sea. Three times the Great Warrior let out cries of “Oop, Oop, Oop”, then grabbed Chilimpa’s hair, and shouted, “Sri Ram” and leaped into the sky.

Hanuman was flying at the speed of tempest in the sky. The gods in the skies told him, “Oh son of the God of Wind, nice to see the days of your celibacy coming to an end, may you be happy!”, the goddesses of the ten directions rushed to him and said, “Son of the God of Wind, slow down for a moment, for we are eager to see the face of your newly-wed”. Hanuman let out a war cry, and everyone fled.

Chilimpa implored with Hanuman, “Oh Great Warrior, please let go of my hair, it hurts. Rather carry me on your shoulder or on your chest.”

Hanuman yelled, “Say nothing!”

The original illustration from the book Hanuman er Sopno

Chilimpa said, “My Love, I am all yours. Could you not understand I was joking with you? I know of none but you!”

Hanuman shouted yet again, “Say no more!”

Hanuman could see Kishkindhya on the ground below as he flew. Sugriva was playing with his eighteen thousand wives in the shallow waters of the Tungabhadra river.

Hanuman let go of his grip, and in reaching an accurate target, the monkey woman swirled in the air and then landed on Sugriva’s shoulder. Hanuman was now lighter and flew twice as fast over Panchavati — Janasthan — Chitrakoot — Prayag — Sringaber and at last landed in Ayodhya.

Sita was surprised to see Hanuman. She said, “What happened son? Why did you not let us know you were coming? I’d have decorated the town, I’d have prepared for music and dance. Where is Hanumati?”

Hanuman dropped his head and said, “Mother! I have not found Hanumati. Instead, I have abducted a monkey-maiden and offered it to Sugriva. Goddess, my heart is so filled with the love of you and Sri Ramachandra that there is no place for wife and children.”

Sita said, “Son, but what about your payment of your ancestral debts?”

Hanuman slapped on his forehead and said, “Damn! I completely forgot about that one! Mother, I seek your blessings so that I attain immortality and in this way, I can provide for the water for my ancestors.”

Sita said, “So be it, son, so be it!”

At that point, Hanuman was satisfied, lifted his arms upwards and thundered, “Hail Sitaram!”

Jai Sita Ram

* The illuatrations used in the article are by Parashuram (Rajsekhar Basu) himself. These illustrations are used in the original Bengali Version

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