Hanumanji is believed to have met Shri Ram for the first time at the time of Kishkinda Kand of Tulsidas’ Ramayana. It is in this scripture, that Hanumanji is described as the ‘Messenger of God’. His qualities as a speaker, messenger of the king are described eloquently by Valmiki and Tulsidas in Kishkinda Kand of both their versions of Ramayan.
Ravana had abducted Sita and Shri Ram was heading south in search of her. His pursuit brought him to Rishyamuka Hill. In ancient times rishis practiced their spiritual disciplines here, and that’s how the hill got its name. On this hill lived an exiled king of Vanars, Sugriva, with his ministers and counselors. The king and his ministers got extremely terrified on seeing Shri Ram and his brother Lakshamana approaching the hill. They became restless, so much so that Sugriva felt he was about to fait. They thought that the brothers were emissaries sent by Bali, who was brother of Sugriva who had taken over the throne of Sugriva illegitimately. Hanuman alone spoke out and called upon all to be fearless.
In Valmiki’s Ramayan, at this point we see the fearless characteristic of Hanumanji. When his leader and advisors were completely paralyzed with fear and helplessness, he took charge of the situation. He is not reluctant to speak candidly with Sugriva and to caution him about the way in which fear could distort his decision-making capacity. Sugriva, as the leader of his tribe, should have gone out to meet Rama and Lakshmana to know their purpose and intention. However, fear took over him and the responsibility fell to Hanumanji, who never shirked from his responsibilities.
Disguised as a brahmachari, Hanuman approached the brothers, bowed respectfully and questioned them. “Who are you heroes, one dark, the other fair of hue, who roam the woods disguised as ksatriyas? Treading the hardground with your soft feet, why are you wandering in the forest? Though you have delicate, charming and beautiful limbs, why have you exposed yourself to the intolerable sun and stormy wind of these wild regions? Are you two of the three gods (viz. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) or are you the two divine sages, Nara and Narayana? Or are you the first causes of the world and lords of all spheres, manifested in human form to carry souls across the ocean of existence and relieve the earth of its burdens?
This is the very first occasion in Tulsidas’ Ramayana where Hanumanji firstappears and speaks. He is introduced as having tremendous observation powers. From the tenderness of their feet to the fact that their physical features not resembling those of who make forests their home or are continuously exposed to the intolerable sun and wild winds, Hanumanji observed all that about Shri Ram and Lakshmana in just one glimpse. His discerning nature immediately tells him that there is something far more profound here than meets the eye. In fact, as his words reveal, he intuits a divine presence in the brothers, but is not yet certain of their identity.
Rama’s first impressions of Hanuman were all positive. He was struck by Hanuman’s skill with words, his total devotion to duty and by his confidence to perform the most difficult tasks. Today, many ministers of government are eloquent speakers, but incapable of action. Ram observed, Hanumanji is both eloquent and skillful. He is well-versed in the Rig-Veda, and conversant in Yajur and Sama Vedas. He has studied grammar thoroughly. Though he spoke at length, it had no error. His speech has fullness, depth, assurance and distinction; his voice issues from his breast in clear unmodulated tones… making him the gifted ‘Messenger of God’
After Hanumanji finished speaking, he fell silent. Shri Ram looked at Lakshmana and spoke. His answers were brief and to the point. He said, “We are the sons of Dasaratha, the king of Kosala. We came to forest to serve our exiled time in obedience to our father’s commands. We are brothers and our names are Ram and Lakshamana. We came here with my wife, Sita. Ravana the demon king has abducted her and we came here in her pursuit. Now tell us about yourself, o holy Brahman.”
After Shri Ram finished speaking Hanumanji immediately recognized Him as Lord and fell at his feet. It was the fruit of his entire life of spiritual discipline and orientation towards God. It was the culmination of his spiritual quest. The discovery was indeed the fulfillment of his heart’s desire. Like Hanumanji found and recognized the Lord in his own time, so must we in our lifetimes. However, we are bound by the shackles of our own interests and desires which direct our thoughts and efforts and hence digress us from the path of God. Hanuman found Rama because he was looking for God and his Lord – Ram responded to that quest. Hanuman’s seeking and longing for God was so intense that it just took the voice of Rama to awaken him into a state of God-awareness.
There is another wonderful way of interpreting the fact that Hanuman recognized Rama as God through His words. The spoken word here represents the word of the scripture or the guru, the revelation through which the nature and presence of God is recognized. The words of the scripture are a means, inspired by God, for enabling us to know him.