Journal of Vaishnava Studies



How to Cite

E.H.Rick Jarrow. (2022). Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 12(2), 77–104. Retrieved from (Original work published May 11, 2022)


Hanumån plays the most important and curious of messenger roles in the Råmåyana of Vålmîki. Bypassing formal categories, his energetic and resourceful character brings diverse realms of experience together and performs a series of healing functions in ways that have rarely been recognized. His delivery of Råma’s message becomes a paradigm for similar flights, flights filled with rhetorical significance, and the messenger role itself takes on archetypal dimensions. For the düta, the “messenger,” enables the exiled parties, Råma and Sîtå, to make contact and foreshadows the possibility of reunion and return.
How exactly does the düta in the Råmåya∫a perform the special function of a medium or mediator between corresponding worlds: the "human" world of Ayodhyå and the “demonic” world of Laõkå—and all that they
represent? What is the nature of his “message bearing,” and why does the image of Hanumån leaping over the sea become such a lasting icon in the Indian religious imagination? This paper considers such questions by focusing on Vålmîki’s depiction of the Son of the Wind’s “sea voyage” in the Sundarakå∫∂a of the Råmåya∫a. More than an example of an “Eliadeian magical flight” (although Eliade’s early work on shamanism will naturally serve as a jumping-off point), Hanumån’s voyage to Laõkå reveals various
interrelated dimensions of the messenger role that deserve to be explored for their associations and affinities with one another and with the greater contexts of "message bearing."

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