Who Tried To Swallow Hanuman?

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The Ramayana, an epic Indian poem, enthralls readers with tales of valor, devotion, and cunning strategies. One such episode involves Hanuman, the mighty vanara (monkey god) renowned for his strength and loyalty. On his quest to locate Sita, kidnapped by the demon king Ravana, Hanuman faces formidable obstacles on his journey to Lanka. but one particular encounter stands out for its fantastical nature and symbolic significance: the attempt to swallow him whole. But who tried to swallow Hanuman? And how did Hanuman overcome this seemingly impossible challenge?

There are two mythical creatures Simhika and Surasa who tried to swallow Hanuman, each in their unique way. Lets us Understand their roles and the intricacies of these encounters which sheds light on Hanuman’s character.

The Shadowy Menace: Simhika and the Deception of Illusion

During his flight across the ocean, Hanuman encounters Simhika, a rakshasi (demoness) disguised as a gigantic shadow lurking beneath the waves. Using her magical powers, she attempts to ensnare Hanuman by swallowing his shadow, effectively trapping him. Aware of the danger, Hanuman employs a clever strategy. He expands his size, forcing Simhika to grow larger as well. Observing her vulnerability in this stretched form, he shrinks himself down and allows her to “swallow” him. From within, Hanuman unleashes his immense power, ripping her apart and emerging victorious.

Simhika’s character carries several interpretations:

  • The dangers of illusion: Simhika is often seen as a manifestation of illusion and deception. Her attempt to swallow Hanuman’s shadow symbolizes the potential for us to be misled by appearances and lured away from our true path.
  • The power of inner strength: Hanuman’s victory over Simhika showcases the importance of inner strength and resourcefulness. Even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, one can overcome them through wit and unwavering determination.
  • The cyclical nature of existence: Some suggest Simhika represents the cyclical nature of birth and death. By entering and escaping her, Hanuman signifies the cyclical journey of the soul.

The Cosmic Guardian: Surasa and the Test of Righteousness

Further along his journey, Hanuman encounters Surasa, the colossal mother of the Nagas (serpents). Bound by a divine decree, Surasa declares that whoever crosses her path becomes her food. In contrast to Simhika’s deceitful tactics, Surasa acts within the confines of her duty.

The encounter unfolds in two prominent interpretations:

  • The battle of size: One version depicts a cosmic battle of size. As Surasa expands her mouth to consume him, Hanuman counters by growing increasingly larger. This contest showcases their divine powers and emphasizes Hanuman’s ability to transcend limitations. Finally, he shrinks himself to a minuscule size, slips through her mouth, and emerges unscathed, respecting her vow while ensuring his progress.
  • The negotiation of Dharma: In another interpretation, Hanuman persuades Surasa to let him pass through logic and understanding of Dharma (righteousness). He explains his mission of rescuing Sita and emphasizes the importance of his task for upholding Dharma. Recognizing the righteousness of his cause, Surasa allows him passage.

Surasa’s role holds various symbolic meanings:

  • The guardian of Dharma: Surasa embodies the concept of Dharma, ensuring proper order and balance in the cosmos. Her attempt to stop Hanuman exemplifies the challenges one faces while pursuing righteousness.
  • The test of knowledge and reason: In the negotiation version, Hanuman’s success represents the power of knowledge, reason, and persuasion in overcoming obstacles.
  • The interconnectedness of the universe: Both interpretations highlight the interconnectedness of the universe and the importance of respecting the roles of different beings within it.

Beyond the literal meanings, the encounters between Hanuman and these guardians add depth and complexity to the Ramayana. They offer timeless lessons about navigating challenges, staying true to one’s path, and respecting the interconnectedness of life.


Q: Why did Simhika and Surasa try to stop Hanuman?

A: Simhika likely acted out of her demonic nature, while Surasa was bound by her divine duty as a guardian.

Q: How did Hanuman defeat Simhika?

A: He outsmarted her by utilizing his ability to change size and unleashed his inner strength from within.

Q: How did Hanuman pass Surasa?

A: Depending on the interpretation, he either outsmarted her with wit and logic or overcame her through a cosmic battle of size.

Q: What are the symbolic meanings of these encounters?

A: They represent various themes like overcoming deception, utilizing inner strength, respecting Dharma, the power of knowledge, and the interconnectedness of the universe.

Q: What can we learn from these stories?

A: They teach us valuable lessons about facing challenges, using our strengths wisely, upholding righteousness, and understanding the intricacies of the world around us.

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