“Abandoning his beggar form and reassuming his monkey form, the elephant among monkeys [Hanuman] placed those two heroes on his back and departed.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 4.34)
भिक्षुरूपं परित्यज्य वानरं रूपमास्थितः।
पृष्ठमारोप्य तौ वीरौ जगाम कपिकुञ्जरः||
bhikṣurūpaṃ parityajya vānaraṃ rūpamāsthitaḥ।
pṛṣṭhamāropya tau vīrau jagāma kapikuñjaraḥ ||
“We all celebrate and appreciate Shri Hanuman. At least those of us who know him, who have heard of him, who have been told the stories, who have seen the many images, who have visited the temples – there is so much to love.
“As Hanuman is well-known for his devotion to Shri Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I can’t help but hang on to the memory of deception. This was used in their first meeting. Hanuman was not forthright. You could say that he lacked candor, which is the bureaucrat’s way of saying that he lied.
“More than basic deception, he pretended to be a brahmana. In that regard, he has something in common with Ravana, the king of Lanka. That best of the Rakshasas pretended to be a parivrajaka mendicant in order to pacify Rama’s wife. The ten-headed one, of a hideous actual form, had ill intentions from the start.
“Why should we praise Hanuman if he behaves similar to the Rakshasas? Those fiends from Lanka could change their shapes at will. Why would a supposed saintly person try to imitate that behavior?”
1. They could be assassins deployed by Vali to take out his rival brother, Sugriva.
A wise person understands the reality of duality within the manifest world. That is to say there is no perfect absolute in terms of a prescribed behavior or mindset. For instance, one person may say that to be honest at all times is the only policy. It is the best way to behave.
There are times, however, where honesty will get you killed. It will put innocent people in danger. It will strengthen the bad guys. It will give them valuable intelligence for carrying out their dastardly plots. It will suppress the free exercise of allegiance to the Almighty, which is better known as dharma.
In Hanuman’s case, there was the real risk of invaders to the area. Hanuman was the chief minister to Sugriva, who was previously the king of Vanaras in Kishkindha. Sugriva had a misunderstanding with his brother, Vali, which led to a bitter feud.
Sugriva was on Mount Rishyamukha because it was the only place he was safe from Vali. The two brothers, Rama and Lakshmana, approaching the area could have been sent by Vali. They could have been the exception to the rule, to negate the safety of the area.
2. They could be looking to hunt Vanaras.
If two youths arrive in an area that is foreign to them, and if they are carrying weapons there is no telling what the intention is. The brothers could have been looking to hunt Vanaras. Perhaps they would shoot arrows on sight.
If Hanuman were in his true form at the outset, perhaps the meeting wouldn’t go well. The mission for Sugriva would not be served if Hanuman did not return safely to the top of the mountain. A person should not be naïve or foolish in their endeavors. They should not intentionally suppress intelligence in a false display of allegiance to religious principles.
3. The brothers could be up to no good.
Perhaps the two brothers, who were foreign to the area, had ill intentions. Maybe they were set to do harm. There is the chance that they could consider any person obstructing their path to be an enemy.
By choosing the brahmana’s form, Hanuman took advantage of the general kindness of kshatriyas towards the priestly order. The ruse did not last long, regardless. Hanuman jumped into beautiful Sanskrit poetry in praise of Rama, showing the pure devotion that was always inside him.
Not under illusion to labor,
Working for interest greater.
Hanuman the brahmana form taking,
For peaceful introduction making.
The ruse not lasting long,
Soon into praising song.
Of Sanskrit verses perfect and sweet,
Best way for those brothers to greet.
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