Hanuman Nataka (critical study)

by Nurima Yeasmin | 2015 | 41,386 words

This page relates ‘Hanumannataka: Title of the Play’ of the English study on the Hanuman-nataka written by Shri Damodara Mishra in the 11th century. The Hanumannataka is a Mahanataka—a fourteen-act Sanskrit drama dealing with the story of Rama and Hanumat (Hanuman) and presents the events in the lifes of Rama, Sita, Ravana and Hanuman (the son of Anjana and Vayu—the God of the Winds) based on the Ramayana story.

Part 1: Hanumannāṭaka: Title of the Play

The play Hanumannāṭaka belongs to the class known as the Mahānāṭaka in Sanskrit literature. So far the title of the play is concerned, it can be assumed that traditionally it is said that the play was composed by Hanumat and it was engraved on a piece of stone. In that case the title may be explained as “hanumatā kṛtāṃ nāṭakaṃ = hanumannāṭakam”. Of course, there is hardly any play in Sanskrit named after its author. It may be applicable in the case of the Hanumannāṭaka also. If this supposition is accepted, the title should be explained in another way. In the play, it is found that Hanumat plays an important and significant role, so far the main dramatic event is concerned. In other words, it is Haumat upon whom the theme of the play owes a lot. The title of the play may thus be explained as: ‘hanumantam adhikṛtya kṛtaṃ nāṭakam:hanumannāṭakam. It appears more justifiable to accept the second alternative as the mere plausible explanation of the title of the play.

It may be added in this connection that the character of Hanumat is an integral part of the Rāma story. The son of Añjanā and the god Vāyu, comes to be known as Hanumat, i.e. a person with a cheekbone (hanuḥ asti asya iti Hanumat; the form hanū is also found to be in use in many a place). The background of this particular name is that as a little boy, the son of Añjanā and Vāyu attempted at dislocating the Sun with the supposition that it was a fruit. Noticing the audacity of the boy, Lord Indra struck the boy with his thunderbolt causing thereby fracture on the left cheekbone of the boy and as such he came to be known as Hanumat;[1] (hanū here standing for bhagnahanū). The suffix matup in this context may be treated as being added in the sense of censure (nindā)[2].


Footnotes and references:


tadā śailāgraśikhare vāmahanurabhajyata
tato hi nāmadheyaṃ te hanumānitikīrtītam. Rāmāyaṇa, Kiṣkindhākāṇḍa, 66.24


cf. bhumanindāpraśaṃsāsu nityayoge’tiśāyane
saṃsarge’stivivakṣāyāṃ bhavanti matubādayaḥ.

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