As a character, Hanumāna represents a perfect man or education and culture, proficient and efficient, and ever a go-getter. Nothing seems to be impossible for him. To think is to act for him; to conceive is to achieve. Yet, this beautiful characterization, all along with Ramayana, so tenderly, both handled and dandled by the sensitive poet Valmiki, has been deliberately Wrapped up in the outer anatomical shell of a monkey! Any sensitive student of literature will be compelled to pause for a moment to wonder, Was it a monkey? To suggest this question in the mind of the readers, Vālmīki himself describes him as, “Is he a man?” (vã-Nara).
Monkeys represent thoughts, the similarity being that both are restless (cañcala) and unsteady (asthira). Of all thoughts, the very minister of Sugrīva ( suştu grīvam-well reined), now in his exile was Hanumāna, extremely erudite and scholarly. Yet, this thought personality cannot bring out its potential might and beauty, albeit serving as a minister to ‘self-control’. Knowledge and erudition, with moral restraint and physical control, is the highest from the standpoint of material education, and according to the systems of worldly education. Yet, Valmiki demonstrates that all the potentialities inherent can blossom forth only when that Knowledge bows down to Räma, the spiritual essence.
From the moment Āñjaneya meets with Rāma, Rāmāyana distinctly reveals a mysterious unfoldment of great powers, an explosion of inconceivable merits and beauties in that apparently ridiculous and seemingly insignificant form of a monkey. Such an explosion we watch all down the history, demonstrated in a carpenter’s son becoming Jesus, or an equally empty Prince Siddhärtha rising to the status of a Buddha, or an insignificant student of Calcutta University, Narendra, hatching himself out to become the gracious and dynamic Vivekananda.
However Wise and intelligent we may be, even when that wise man has character and self-control, it is not all. Only when these thoughts move, in utter devotion and total loyalty towards Räma ‘That which revels in everything’ that all the inherent potentialities divine can get a chance to blossom forth.
Thereafter, as a loyal servant of Srī Rāma, the personality of Hanumäna unfolds its infinite strength and endless beauty, for all generations to watch, and yet in himself, he remains outwardly a vã-Nara and inwardly a steady and total devotee. Centered in Räma, he acted. For Rāma, he achieved. Rāma’s glory was his only glory. There stands now the puny monkey, larger than life, greater than the greatest, the eternal devotee; his strength, his wisdom, his love, and all his, dedicated totally to Rāma. Thereafter we detect the Supreme expressing through this insignificant-looking monkey, making us all wonder, Is it a man (vā-Nara)? Or Is it a God (vā-deva)?