“His voice is like a kettledrum in sound. He has glowing skin and is very powerful. He is square-built and has symmetrically proportioned limbs. He is endowed with the shyama complexion.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.16)
dundubhi svana nirghoṣaḥ snigdha varṇaḥ pratāpavān |
samaḥ sama vibhakta ango varṇam śyāmam samāśritaḥ ||
samaḥ sama vibhakta ango varṇam śyāmam samāśritaḥ ||
Here Shri Hanuman continues in his description of the characteristics of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His incarnation form of Shri Ramachandra, the moon of the Raghu dynasty, the husband of Sita, the beloved eldest son of King Dasharatha, the life and soul of Lakshmana, and the worshipable object for countless pious souls appearing in this world past, present and future.
Sita requests and Hanuman obliges. Hanuman has seen Rama directly. He has both met Rama personally and understood His features. A person may sit in an advanced mathematics class and hear everything that is spoken, but if they are not versed in the subject matter to some degree, they won’t really know what is going on. In a similar manner, if a person is not qualified, if they are heavily under the influence of the illusory energy known as maya, even the direct vision of God in the flesh standing before them will have little effect.
Hanuman describes something about Rama’s voice. In God there is all opulence. In every category you can think of, He has greatness. If you’ve decided that it’s time to ask your sweetheart to marry you, you might visit a few jewelry stores to pick out a ring. You want one with luster and beauty. The vision should somehow convey the feelings you have inside. It should be impressive to anyone who sees it.
If you’re after knowledge, you consult someone, either directly in person or indirectly through their recorded words, who is considered wise. You want wisdom to come through. The same goes for other categories of opulence, such as wealth, fame and renunciation. You go to where the opulence is.
The reference to the voice touches on strength. Rama is God in the avatara of a warrior prince. The prince is part of the kshatriya occupation. The root meaning to the Sanskrit word is “one who protects from injury.” Not everyone in the world is nice. World peace is a great idea in concept, but singing about it won’t bring it about any sooner. Neither will pleading to the aggressors. The bad character who attempts to use deadly force can only be stopped by a more powerful force on the other side.
“According to Vedic injunctions there are six kinds of aggressors: 1) a poison giver, 2) one who sets fire to the house, 3) one who attacks with deadly weapons, 4) one who plunders riches, 5) one who occupies another’s land, and 6) one who kidnaps a wife. Such aggressors are at once to be killed, and no sin is incurred by killing such aggressors.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 1.36 Purport)
Rama is the strongest force of defense. He is both potent and pious. This is the desired combination. With great strength comes great responsibility. Rama is the most responsible person. He is the embodiment of dharma. So is His wife, Sita Devi, whom He referred to one time as a sadharma-charini, or partner in His dedication to religiosity.
“My dear beautiful wife, what you have said is befitting the occasion and also indicative of the greatness of your family heritage. You are dearer to Me than My life, for you are My companion in the performance of religious duties.” (Lord Rama speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 10.21)
Rama’s strength is not limited to His arms and legs. His voice conveys strength as well. It is like a kettledrum. There is gravity in His voice. People take notice straight from the sound. His voice resonates, a feature that suits His preferred occupation well.
The same resonance exists in Rama’s words. As an example, the scene of the above referenced verse. Rama asked Hanuman to find Sita, who had gone missing while the couple were living in the forest of Dandaka. He asked Hanuman nicely. He didn’t have to press. From His qualities alone, Hanuman was won over. Lakshmana, the younger brother of Rama, followed the Lord due to the same reason.
“I am His younger brother, Lakshmana by name. Due to His transcendental qualities, I have taken up service to Him, as He is grateful and very knowledgeable.” (Lakshmana speaking to Hanuman about Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 4.12)
Rama’s words were so strong that they empowered Hanuman to bravely cross over the ocean and infiltrate the enemy city of Lanka unnoticed. They were so strong that they helped Hanuman to give comfort to Sita through Rama-katha, or discourses about the Supreme Lord.
The kettledrum-like voice is there in the pages of the Bhagavad-gita, which is a conversation between a warrior and a charioteer. In that instance the warrior is Arjuna, who is a devotee. His chariot bears the flag of Hanuman; so Rama’s messenger is there again. Rama is also there, in His original form of Shri Krishna, the beautiful, blackish youth from Vrindavana.
“The emblem of Hanuman on the flag of Arjuna is another sign of victory because Hanuman cooperated with Lord Rama in the battle between Rama and Ravana, and Lord Rama emerged victorious. Now both Rama and Hanuman were present on the chariot of Arjuna to help him.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 1.20 Purport)
In the Gita, Krishna speaks words of wisdom to Arjuna. Those words resonate since they are replete with the unmatched spiritual potency found in the Supreme Lord. Further proof of the resonance of Rama’s voice is in the continued study and propagation of the Bhagavad-gita and its principles by bona fide teachers, those who follow in the line of devotion practiced by Hanuman, Arjuna and other great personalities. Rama’s voice is the most powerful, and those who are fortunate enough to be swept away by that sound never again lay their feet in the turbulent waters of the material ocean.
In God every opulence to find,
Beauty, strength and wisdom in mind.
Potency in voice’s sound,
Like a kettledrum to resound.
In instructions to Hanuman there,
Empowered to go to Sita where.
Also in words to Arjuna bewildered,
From gravity troubled soul delivered.