Some people have a way with words. Their words, which display their intelligence and scholarship, are never designed to hurt others, but to help others. Hanuman was one who belonged to this category, said V.S. Karunakarachariar, in a discourse. He had answers to all the questions that were put to him, and was never at a loss for words.

When Hanuman meets Sita at Lanka, She doubts whether the monkey army will be able to cross the ocean. Can the other monkeys in Sugriva’s army do what Hanuman has done? Hanuman assures Her that he himself is the least powerful of the monkeys, and that there are others in Sugriva’s army who are smarter than he (Hanuman) is.

The occasion demands that Hanuman be careful with his words. He has to give answers that will set Sita’s mind at rest. In fact, Hanuman goes further and asks Sita if he had any special powers, would he have been sent as a mere messenger? A person who is mighty will be given a more important role to play than that of a messenger, he says. His humility also becomes evident in his words. Truly learned people impress with their speech, and their speech is always aimed at other people’s welfare. Never is their speech used to put down others.

The Tamil poet Kambar was another learned man who used his words to help others. A story is told of a poor man, who was anxious to receive a gift from the king by composing a poem. The rule of the land was that even a small grammatical mistake would receive the most stringent punishment. But the poor man was prepared to take the risk. He put together a few sentences, which he picked up from random sources — the nonsense rhymes of children at play, a line from the song of a man drawing water from a well and so on. When Kambar heard the verse, he knew the aspiring poet would be punished. So he decided to save him. Kambar used his knowledge of Tamil to put a positive construction on the poet’s verse, so that it seemed as if the poet was actually praising the king and comparing the monarch to Krishna, Indra, Karna and Yudishtra! The poet was rewarded. Thus, Kambar’s education and speech were pressed into service to save a man and to get him a reward.

Keywords: HanumanRamayana

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