One day Valmiki came to know that the great Hanuman too had penned the adventures of Rama, engraving the story with his nails on rocks. His curiosity was aroused and he traveled to the Himalayas where Hanuman was residing in order to see this version. The monkey warrior was no doubt an eyewitness to many of the incidents, but was he a poet? He questioned Hanuman about the rumor that he had composed his own Ramayana. Hanuman carried him and placed him on a ledge from which he could read the narration. Valmiki kept reading and reading, scanning the cliffs from top to bottom, climbing and descending now and again in order to see well. Sometimes he laughed loudly and at times his eyes brimmed with tears. Valmiki was overwhelmed by the sheer power and depth of devotion of the amazing narrative. It was truly a lofty work, inspired by great love. After finishing the story Valmiki gazed for a long time into the distance. Joy and sorrow flitted over his face. He was joyous at having had the chance to read such an exquisite work of art and sad because it obviously overshadowed his own work. Hanuman politely asked him the reason for his sorrow. “O best of sages! Is something wrong? Does the poetry have many faults?” Valmiki turned to him and said, “It is indeed a marvelous bit of work. Every image, every word is alive and pregnant with devotion. There is not and never can be an equal to it. My version, which I created with such pains over a period of twelve years, is no match for the magnificence of your work and will therefore be despised.” For a moment Hanuman was dumbstruck. Then he said, “Is that all that is bothering you?” He promptly tore the slabs on which he had scribbled the poem on the mountain and piled them on one shoulder. He placed the aged saint on another shoulder and flew to the ocean. When they reached the middle Hanuman called loudly, “May these be an offering to my Lord.” With these words, he threw his own version into the sea, where they raised huge waves before disappearing into the depths of the sea. Valmiki watched speechless, overcome with shame and guilt. “It would have been better,” he thought, “if he had thrown me into the sea and saved that wonderful story.” But Hanuman seemed unperturbed and cheerful. He returned the sage to his own hermitage in a trice. “Please don’t worry about this,” he said. “It was just something I did to while away the time!” The Ramayana is a story of tyaga, or renunciation, and this aspect of Hanuman’s personality is considered to be far more important than his rhetorical skills. Selfless and compassionate, his loyalty was always to his master and not to any particular telling of the tale, and he willingly drowned his own masterpiece in order to spare a poet’s wounded pride. This was the first and greatest Ramayana, called the Hanumad Ramayana, which like the original Veda, was lost and preserved only in fragments. Hanuman bowed to Valmiki, who blessed him and said prophetically, “O Son of Vayu, in another age I will take birth again and devote myself to your service. I will sing your praises and teach others to do so. I will retell the story you have told, using the language of the common man so that everyone may understand it.” Hanuman smiled and said, “Victory to Lord Rama!”