23 October 2016
On seeing Sri Rama and his brother, Lakshmana from the top of Rishyamuka Mountain, Sugriva is frightened mistaking the two for allies of Vali, his inimical and supremely powerful elder brother. When he discusses it in anguish with his counselors, Hanuman, his minister and a Vakya Kovida (an adept in speech), assures him of his safety allays his fears with a rational analysis and set out to find the truth.
Hanuman then assumes the form a mendicant and approaches Sri Rama and Lakshmana. This point onwards, his every move and gesture and the word in this absorbing episode in Kishkindha Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana serves as a manual of Soft Skills, to use today’s nomenclature.
Courtesy is the first requisite in any interaction.
Hanuman first prostrates before the two heroes in the sincere humility.
Then he praises the gloriously looking brothers in Vachana Salkshana Sumanognya, i.e., in mellifluous and enchanting speech. Salakshana is a technical expression used here by Valmiki, the author of Ramayana, to specify a unique quality in Hanuman’s speech Salkshana denotes tonal softness in Phonetics. This word is also a classic example of Onomatopoeia and is said to present in honey or oil when it is decanted in a continuous flow. The mellowing effect of Hanuman’s tone is thus emphasized.
Tone, more than one’s language, creates the first impression.
Hanuman Praises them and pays respect as per the traditional norms.
Traditional grounding is essential for any communicator.
Hanuman appreciates in detail, their physical features, weapons and attire. But all through his eulogy, he never loses track of his objective. He encapsulates every praise with a subtle question as to why such glorious heroes being happen to wander in the remote forest areas. While saying that their resplendent forms are causing fright to the creatures of the jungle and lending charm to a lake sparkling water nearby. Hanuman is implicitly mentioning he knows that the two men are new to the region. He is tacitly hinting at the edge he has over them.
Euphemism is one of the best of the figures of speech for effective communication.
While glorifying their weapons in heavenly adjectives and metaphors, Hanuman is making a sure but disguised query. Why are they, with sage-like attires and glow, holding such lethal weapons?
Questions irritate with their commanding tone whereas inquiries prompt with their curious innocence.
After this Hanuman drops in a straight friendly-sounding question in his narrative “Why are you not answering me Sir, even though I am openly speaking the truth?”
But, in an attempt to preempt them, Hanuman immediately introduces himself and divulges his identity and mission. The sequence in which he presents and details of his mission is the most appropriate way of communicating ideas and intentions to others, given the background of circumstances. This deserves to be analyzed and emulated by one and all.
Hanuman first speaks high about his King, Sugriva and also gives the account of Sugriva’s present plight as a result of having been banished by Vali, his elder brother. Hanuman, here, employs the ‘suggestive approach in his communication. The suggestion is that his king, a very noble soul is undeservingly undergoing a trail of hardships and agony. This description will naturally create a sympathetic feeling in strangers that Hanuman is speaking to.
After saying so, Hanuman introduces himself as Sugriva’s Minister and tells them that his king seeks their friendship.
The concluding part of Hanuman’s narrative reveals yet another potential strategy an ambassador or emissary must adopt. Hanuman ends his speech by revealing his true identity and says that he is capable of changing his forms at will and going to any place that he wishes to go.
One should not project or boast of one’s capabilities, at the first instance before strangers those whose identity, intensions and statures are not fully known.
Diplomacy wins over valor. Diplomacy alone sans valor may even win; but valor without diplomacy can never. But Hanuman, the most Valeant hero of the Indian past, is also the most diplomatic envoy. That’s why a prayer Sloka of Hanuman promises its reader, Vaakpatutvam, robust speaking skills. Even a devotional reminiscence of this master-communicator would bestow the boon of gab on us.
After listening to Hanuman’s speech, Sri Rama with a cheerful countenance tells Lakshmana about Hanuman’s superb powers of articulation. Rama’s Analysis of hanuman’s communication-finesse portrays clearly the hoary foundation practices. It also shows how adept Rama Himself is in the art of communication. The epithets he makes use of the depict Hanuman’s power of articulation convey invaluable messages to any seeker of wisdom.
Rama Tells Lakshmana that this is a minster of Sugriva, the noble souled chief of Vaanaras, whom he was seeking. He tells Lakshmana to speak to hanuman, the Vaakyagna (knowledge in speech) who speaks in melodious utterance. Rama here, depicts the character of Hanuman as a Snehayuktam (‘friendly natured’) and Arindamam (‘foe-trampling’) by juxtaposing two seemingly contradictory terms. This reminds one of Bhartuhari’s famous proverb about great people whose hearts are Vajradapi Kathorani-harder than diamonds when it comes to upholding Dharma and Mruduni Kusumani Cha – softer than flower to their essential nature. Then Rama declares that it is not possible for one to speak in the way that Hanuman has spoken who has not studied Rugveda with a clear understanding of its meaning, not memorized Yajurveda and has no knowledge of Samaveda either. Rama reiterates that entire range of grammar must have been studied by hanuman through exposure to many modes of expression, for not a single error in his choice of words has occurred through he spoke at length. The word Bahusrutham, used profoundly by Rama in this context, holds the secret of perfection in linguistic skill. A scholar in ancient days was referred as a Bahusruthi, one who had ‘listened to many’. This emphasizes the ‘listening skill’, the first of the four main communication skills. Ex: L-S-R-W (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) skills. Listening is said to be vital to achieve the other three skills.
Now Rama incisively presents the impeccable body language of hanuman. No fault of expression or contortion. Rama says, is notices anywhere in Hanuman’s face or eyes in his forehead or eyebrows, or in any of his other limbs.
Saying so, Rama turns his attention to the steady transmission of speech that characterizes Hanuman’s unique capability. He says the speech of hanuman starting from the larynx traveling through wind pipe and throat and emanating in Madhyama swaram (Medial tone) is Avaistaram – precise, Asandigdham-unabiguious, Availambitam-unrestricted and flowing and also Avyatham – unhurt or unaffected. It is moreover healthy with high culture, marvelous, precise, auspicious and all the more Hrudayaharshineem, heart rejoicing.
His speech having been produced from the Three places of (the heart, the throat and the Head). Speech-production, would even make an enemy with an uplifted sword turn favorable. Rama wonders in admiration, as to how the progress of a King’s effort, in whose services no such envoy exists, could meet with success. Rama also declares that an ambassador with such qualities could, with his speech, inspire and get his king’s wishes fulfilled.