Book: Armies of Hanuman by Ashok Banker (Ramayan series book-4)

“The mortal (Rama) stood on the sloping mound, unmindful of the rain and damp, his two constant companions standing to either side. Bow lowered but strung and ready, arrows fitted to the cord. Even the relentless rain had not unravelled his matted locks, bound tightly above his head in the spiralling bun of a forest exile.”

— Chapter 1, Kaand 1, Armies of Hanuman

That is the start of this book, where Rama, Sita and Lakshman wait to battle the last bunch of rakshasas in the Jansthana forest.

Cover Armies of Hanuman

TitleArmies of Hanuman
SeriesVolume-4 of the 8 volume Ramayana series
AuthorAshok Banker

NOTE: Please read the comments on the whole series here , as the reviewer’s opinions on the series are expressed there.

The Story in Book-4

The high-level storyline in this part of the series:

Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana are towards the tail-end of their thirteen year exile. Together with a rag-tag bunch of ex-outlaws and other exiles, they wage a final battale and manage to get the forest of Janasthana rid of all remaining rakshasas. They return to Chitrakut to spend the rest of the days of their exile and start preparing for their return to Ayodhya.

In Lanka, Mandodari, as a caretaker ruler, manages to get some order. However, with Suphanaka’s help, Ravana is liberated from limbo and takes charge of rebuilding Lanka according to his own vision. Towards the later part of the book, Ravana abducts Sita on his Pushpak vimana, using trickery, asura sorcery and brute force.

Rama and Lakshmana start their journey to Lanka on foot and and on their way meet Hanuman, his king Sugreeva and a whole kingdom of vanars. Rama does a deal with Sugreeva, helps Sugreeva regain his throne from the usurper Bali, and in return gets an army of vanars to accompany them to Lanka.

Interesting parts

The first 80 odd pages of the book comprise an enthralling battle between Rama’s army (of around 350-400 outlaws and exiles) and the last bunch of around 1800 rakshasas. Through guerilla tactics, the ‘mortals’ trick the rakshasas to follow them to a booby trapped part of the forest. In the first round of the battle, the rakshasas lose around one fourth of their strength with minimal loss to Rama’s group of guerillas. This forces the rakshasas to regroup (literally). Clusters of fifty Rakshasas join together to form new beasts called ‘berserkers’.

“It was large and malformed, its enormous flank seething and writhing with movement that was beyond the capacity of even the most muscled rakshasa…”

Chapter 7, Kaand 1, Armies of Hanuman

While reading the part of Sita’s abduction, I kept hoping that Sita would defeat Ravana or stall him till Rama and Lakshman come back – though I have heard/ read the epic so many times; including this book (three times). Hats off to Ashok Banker in building the suspense. Here is a passage from the confrontation between Sita and Ravana, while the abduction is in progress:

“She smiled slowly, a cold, angry smile of her own. ‘Or you could let me have my sword and see if you can best me in a single combat'”.

Chapter 17, Kaand 2, Armies of Hanuman

NOTE: Please read the comments on the whole series here , as the reviewer’s opinions on the series are expressed there.

Here is the full list of the series with links to the reviews and online bookstores:

Book 1Prince of Ayodhya
(reviewed here)
Book 2Siege of Mithila
(reviewed here)
Book 3Demons of Chitrakut
(reviewed here)
Book 4Armies of Hanuman (reviewed here)
Book 5Bridge of Rama
(reviewed here)
Book 6King of Ayodhya
(reviewed here)
Book 7Vengeance of Ravana
(reviewed here)
Book 8Sons of Sita (reviewed here)

If you have not yet read any of the books in the series, go for the first one right away! You will not regret it.

Your comments are welcome!

Author: Rajesh Naik

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