Mystical tales Children

Expedition interrupted

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar   | Photo Credit: Sreejith R. Kumar

This is the story of how Hanuman made the trip to Lanka in search of Sita.

When Ravana kidnapped Sita, Rama and Lakshmana made friends with Sugriva, the king of the Vanaras(the monkey tribe). They began to search for news of Sita. From Sampati, the brother of Jatayu, they learned that Sita had been taken to Lanka, which lay across the ocean. Since only Hanuman had the power to fly, he was chosen to go to Lanka.

Moving mountains

As he was flying over the water, he found his way barred by a mountain. Surprised, he stopped and the mountain introduced itself as Mainaka, a friend of his father Vayu, the wind god. Mainaka once had wings and flew around the world. But he angered Indra, who cut off his wings. When Mainaka fell to the earth, Vayu helped him find a home under the sea. He invited Hanuman to rest on it. Hanuman, who was in a hurry, told Mainaka that he had to get to Lanka. But, Mainaka would not take no for an answer. So, Hanuman touched down for a minute and flew on with Mainaka’s blessings.

His next obstacle was Surasa, the mother of the Nagas, who wanted to test Hanuman. She appeared before him as a water serpent and threatened to devour him. Hanuman requested her to spare him till he accomplished his mission but Surasa refused. “All who pass this way must enter my mouth,” she declared. So Hanuman challenged her to make her mouth big enough for him to enter and began enlarging his size. Surasa opened her mouth wider and wider till her eyes closed. At that point, Hanuman reduced his size and flew in and out of her mouth in an instant. “Now you must let me go my way since I have entered your mouth and come out alive,” he said. Surasa was pleased with his intelligence and courage, and blessed him with success.

Hanuman continued with his journey. After he had flown many thousands of miles, he felt as if he were slowing down. He couldn’t increase his speed. “Strange,” he thought, “I don’t feel tired. But I am not able to move.” Then he remembered hearing Sugriva telling him about a demoness who devoured unwary travellers across the ocean. He looked down to see that the demon Simhika had gotten hold of his shadow. This was what was holding him back. Hanuman increased his size and Simhika began to open her mouth wider. When she swallowed him, he tore through her stomach and killed her. Having cleared this obstacle too, Hanuman flew on to Lanka.


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Printable version | Jan 13, 2022 6:40:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/expedition-interrupted/article19634869.ece

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