Introduction | English text version | Poetics of Ramakian|Murals from the Ramakian | Khon Masks of Thailand | Characters in the Ramakian
| Ramayana (Cartoon version) | Thai Puppets |

hanumanfront.jpg (9097 bytes)

Hanuman’s Journey to Longka

Sukreep busies himself in Keetkin with the mustering of an army for Phra Ram and, because the city has never known war, finds difficulty in raising enough monkeys of the right age and experience to serve as quartermasters, in the armoires, and as sergeants at arms, let alone staff officers and generals. Consequently he sends to his neighbor and ally, the great Chompoo, who willingly agrees to serve with Phra Ram and undertakes to help make up the deficiencies in Sukreep’s muster.

While all this preparation is going on, Phra Ram orders a reconnaissance party to make itself ready to penetrate Longka’s walls to discover what has happened to Nang Sita and, if possible, to let her know that her rescue is being prepared. Sukreep, as commander in chief of the army, appoints Hanuman, Chompoopahn and Onkot to lead this party on its hazardous mission.

Hanuman is entrusted with two tokens by which Sita will know that they truly come from Phra Ram, the first Phra Isuan’s ring, taken from the dying Sadayu, the other her breast cloth, which she dropped on the way to Longka.  Hanuman accepts them but offers the opinion that they might just as well have been found by the demons and respectfully asks Phra Ram if there is any more intimate token that will put at rest the doubts Nang Sita might have about their authenticity.

So Phra Ram surrenders the most personal memory that he shares with Nang Sita.

"Remind her of the first glance we two exchanged in Mitila town, when our eyes met and we saw love bloom like forest flowers after the rain. Tell her of this, and she will know you come from me," he says.

And with that, the reconnaissance party sets forth.

For some days the reconnaissance party pushes on through the echoing forest towards Longka. One evening the monkeys come to the Bohkoranee Pond, on whose banks flowers grow in such profusion that no one who lingers nearby can escape falling into an enchanted sleep.

Beneath the lotus-starred surface of the pond lurks Baklan, a creature banished from heaven for his drunken lewdness during a celestial banquet and condemned to serve a term as the demon watchman of the pond. Seeing only the loveliness of the place and knowing nothing of its dangers, the monkeys choose to spend the night there. After a frugal meal of fruit and the practice of martial exercises under the direction of the zealous Hanuman, the monkeys dispose themselves about the bank and drop into a profound slumber.

At midnight, Baklan comes to the surface of the pond and sees the sleeping monkeys. With murder in his heart, he creeps onto the bank and seizes Ongkot. As the monster attempts to crush him, Ongkot gradually wakens from his heavy sleep and realizes with some difficulty that he is being attacked. Throwing off his deadly languor, the son of Palee grapples with the monster, beats him to his knees, and seizes his sword. Strong as he is, Baklan is no match for Ongkot and is quickly reduced to begging for mercy, whimpering in astonishment, "Such a little monkey and yet so strong."

"Little monkey indeed," shouts Ongkot angrily. "I’ll have you know you’re dealing with no less than a soldier of Phra Narai, you watery oaf."

Baklan is overjoyed to hear these words, for, when sentencing him for his misconduct, the celestial judge had said that his banishment should end when he was beaten in a conflict with a warrior of Phra Narai. He hastens to explain this to Ongkot, throwing himself at his feet. Palee’s son recognizes the ring of truth about the story and performs the appropriate ceremony for returning the earthbound Baklan to heaven - that is, he strokes the monster’s back from nape to tail and up he rises into the dark night air.

During their long journey to Longka, the monkeys one day come on a city in the jungle. A moat surrounds it, and its thick stone walls are surmounted by sturdy turrets. Beyond the walls, the roofs of a fine palace can be seen, and yet the gate is unguarded and the streets appear to be empty. Reconnoitering this deserted and eerie city with caution, Hanuman and Ongkot are astonished to encounter a lovely creature, a woman of more than earthly beauty, in front of one of the palace gates. With great respect, Hanuman puts some questions to her and learns that the city is called Mayan. She gives her name as Butsa Malee and explains with some embarrassment that she has been its sole inhabitant since Phra Isuan banished her thirty thousand years ago for certain indiscretions. Having said so much, the divine creature suddenly slips past them into the palace grounds, bolting the door in their faces.

Not in the least deterred by this, Hanuman tells Ongkot to wait for him, vaults over the palace wall, and pursues the lady into the palace.

Hanuman catches up with his graceful quarry in a large and splendid audience chamber. "Not so fast, my pretty," he says familiarly. "There are things I want to talk to you about."

Annoyed and perhaps a little alarmed at the monkey’s persistence, Butsa Malee adopts a haughty tone. "It is true that I have been away from the heavenly court for some time now," she says, "but even so I doubt if it has become the custom for maidens of good breeding to consort with common monkeys. Kindly leave this palace immediately and go back to the forest where you belong."

"Common monkey!" says Hanuman indignantly. "You are speaking to Hanuman, the darling of the gods, the scourge of the demons."

Butsa Malee laughs at this. "Hanuman, you puny imposter, has four heads and eight arms. Phra Isuan told me that he can fly in the air and exhale stars with every breath. And by virtue of his powers, he is supposed to end my term of banishment and send me back to heaven. No more of your lies. Off with you, before you receive the punishment you deserve."

Immediately he hears this, Hanuman transforms himself into his celestial double and, leaping into the air, breathes suns, moons and stars into the audience chamber.

Overcome by astonishment and terror, Butsa Malee flees into her inner chamber, with Hanuman, who has reverted to his terrestrial form, pursuing her. There, using all his wiles, the personable monkey closes with the flustered maiden, charms away her fears with sweet words and soft caresses, and in a very short time enjoys her love.

After this delightful interlude, Hanuman - never one to lose his wits in such a situation - asks Butsa Malee how best to get to Longka. She tells him, adding, "On the way you will come to a stream, where my sister, the angel Suwanna Malee lives. When you meet her, promise me you will do one thing."

"Anything, my love," says Hanuman.

"She too has been banished from heaven, to live on earth for a term. When you meet her, treat her as you have treated me and release her from her mortal bondage."

Hanuman, not in the least averse to such an undertaking, assures her that he will do so. He leads Butsa Malee from the palace and, after performing that appropriate ceremonies, casts her up into the air. Transformed into a radiant young goddess, Butsa Malee soars upwards and is readmitted into the heavenly court.

After many more adventures, Hanuman and his companions reach the snow-capped mountains of Hematiwan, which stand on the coast of the mainland opposite the island of Longka. They climb the mountain and near the summit come on the great bird Sampatee crouched featherless and shivering within a cave. Hanuman greets the bird and tells him of the noble death of his brother Sadayu.

Sampatee weeps to hear this story. Then, in his turn, he tells the monkeys why he is in the cave and how he lost his feathers.

"Long ago," he says, "when I was much younger and my brother was little more than a fledgling, our mother left us for a time, having warned me to watch carefully over Sadayu and see he came to no harm. For a time, all was well, but then Sadayu grew restless and, while my attention was elsewhere, flew out of the nest and high above the forest trees. There, for the first time, he caught sight of the orb of the sun spinning through the heavens and, taking it to be a golden fruit, flew high into the sky, meaning to pluck and eat it. Just in time to save him from the anger of Phra Artit, the Sun God, I saw what had happened and flew above him, guiding him back to safety while protecting him from the god’s hot darts. He reached the nest unharmed, but Phra Artit’s curse seared every feather from by body, and I was condemned to live in this cave until Phra Ram’s army passes."

To the bird’s joy, Hanuman informs him that they are a reconnaissance party from Phra Ram’s army. With Sampatee’s permission the three generals seat themselves on his back, and at once the bird’s splendid plumage is restored. He stretches out his powerful wings, launches himself into the wind, and with the three monkeys riding on his back swirls up high into the sky. From there he indicates, far across the ocean, the bulk of the blue hills of Longka, their destination.

They return to the Hematiwan Mountains. Hanuman instructs his brother's generals to wait for him there. Sampatee flies back to Phra Ram’s army to bring him the news of their progress, while the Son of the Wind soars up into the air and, after a backward glance at the mainland, flies out over the ocean in the direction of Longka.

Just off the coast of Longka, cradled in the billows of the ocean, lies the hideous she-demon Pee Sua Samut. She is the guardian of the island, appointed by Totsagan himself, and, on seeing Hanuman, her eyes smoldering like coals and her great teeth clash. She springs up into the air, swinging her club and roaring.

The little monkey sees that works will be useless. Holding tightly onto his sword he enters her open mouth. Like a bumblebee in a cauldron, he flies round inside her head, and then in a flash, he is down in the demon’s stomach. A quick slash of his blade and out he tumbles, none the worse for his adventure. Pee Sua Samut, without even knowing what has happened, collapses lifeless into the reddening waters, food for the fishes.

Hanuman wipes his sword nonchalantly. "So much for that," he says to himself, flying on.

Upon arriving at the island of Longka, Hanuman decides against going direct to the demon city and lands instead on the Solot Hills, where the hermit Nart lives. Having taken on the appearance of an ordinary woodland monkey, Hanuman approaches the hermit and greets him diffidently. He spins him a likely story to account for his leaving the forests of the mainland and then says with an assumed frankness, "To tell the truth, I’ve heard that Longka is a place where one can advance oneself and at the same time have some fun. I must say, I hope to get a position with the demon king and perhaps earn myself a wife." The hermit laughs at the ingenuous monkey and tells him that if he has dealings with the demons of Longka, he will be lucky to escape with the hide on his back. As to winning a wife - well, he just roars with laughter at the very idea. Still chuckling to himself, the hermit tells Hanuman he may put up for the night at his nearby meditation cell, and advises him to change his mind about going to the demon city before the new day dawns.

More than a little nettled at the old man’s tone, Haunman decides to play a trick on him. Waiting until Nart is asleep, Hanuman enlarges his body and then calls out plaintively, "Wise one, here’s a fine state of affairs. I appeal to your generosity as a host, and what do I get? A cell so miserably small that it almost crushes me to death." Nart, astonished at the size to which the monkey has grown, gets out his book of incantations, picks out an appropriate spell, and enlarges the cell. No sooner has he settled to sleep, however, than Hanuman again increases his size and again calls out, "My good hermit, how can I be expected to get any rest in this miserable box?" And once more, Nart enlarges the cell. But when Hanuman tries the trick for a third time, and shatters the cell like and eggshell, the old man calls down a torrent of icy rain that soaks Hanuman’s pelt and makes his teeth shatter furiously. Outsmarted, the monkey apologizes to the old man, and, mollified, Nart kindles a magic fire to dry him out. They then retire once more and sleep the rest of the night through.

Hermit Nart gets up before dawn and goes down to the pool to wash and prepare himself for meditation. Remembering the trouble his guest has given him during the night, he throws his stick into the pool and changes it into a leech. Chuckling to himself, he goes away. Hanuman is up with the lark. Down he goes to the pool and ducks his face under the water to give it a good wash. The leech fixes itself to his chin, and the Son of the Wind discovers that all his efforts to remove it are in vain. In a panic he rushes to the hermit, throws himself at his feet and implores the old man to have pity on him. Nart takes hold of the leech, mutters a spell and - presto, there is the stick in his hand. He smiles down at Hanuman. "Let that be a lesson, my good monkey," he says.

Hanuman takes his leave of the hermit and flies off, somewhat chastened, to the city of Longka.

                                                                         arrowleft.gif (507 bytes)    homearrowCLR.gif (8072 bytes)    arrowright.gif (509 bytes)