Brief talk about Hanuman
Hanuman belongs to the progeny of Vanaras( monkey-like humanoids). He is worshipped as a Hindu deity symbolic of power and strength. He was the greatest devotee of Lord Rama. Hanuman plays the most important character in the Hindu epic Ramayana. He is often called the eight rudra avatar of Lord Shiva. He is a strict Brahmachari. He is also one of the Chiranjeevi. He also has mention in Mahabharata and several other Puranas. According to legends he is the son of Anjana( apshara of heaven but cursed to be incarnated as a vanara) and Kesari( vanara king). He is the grandson of sage Gautam and his wife Ahalya. Wind god or Vayu Dev is his celestial father. He is often called Pavan Putra. He was born in Anjeyanadri hill in Koppal district. Hanuman Chalisa is the text dedicated to him. He uses mace (gada) as his weapon. Hanuman Jayanti is the festival dedicated to him. He is also known as Maruti.
History: During the ages of Puranas, evidence of his worship is missing. Archeological carvings no proof of his worship is found. Philip Lutgendrof who has done many researches on Lord Hanuman suggests that devotional and worshipping of Hanuman emerged after 1000 years of Ramayana composition in 2nd century CE after Islamic regulation came in India. This emerged after Bhakti movement saints like Samarth Ramdas started worshipping Hanuman as a symbol of security and strength. Lord Hanuman is also a patron of martial arts, acrobatics and even meditation. He is symbolic of self-control, belief, service. He is the inclusive combine of Bhakti and Shakti. According to many scholars the adventures of the heroes are an inspiration from Hanuman. The name Hanuman means unclear. This also means the one who have a disfigured jaw. This bears evidence as during childhood, Hanuman playfully eats the sun thinking it was a mango. In the process he gets hurt and his jaw becomes disfigured. An 11th century figurine of standing Hanuman was discovered in Tamil Nadu. It belonged to the Chola dynasty. According to Bhavartha Ramayana in 16th century CE it is written that Anjani was worshipping Vayu dev. King Dasharatha was also performing Yajna to have children. He received a divine pudding by the consumption of which his queens would have children namely Rama and his brothers. A part of this pudding fell in the forest which Vayu dev transferred to Anjani and Hanuman was born.
Vedas: In the Vedas earlier divine monkey is mentioned quite similar to Hanuman. He has a hymn 10.86 of Rig Veda dedicated to him dated 1500-1200 BCE. It sings the legend of Lord Hanuman in twenty-three verses. This hymn is a verse between god Indra, his spouse Indrani and a lively monkey referred as Vrisakapi and his wife Kapi. The hymn is about the worship of a vanara due to whom Indra dev is getting less worships. In Ramayana and Mahabharata both Hanuman is mentioned. According to some scholars the origin of indigenous tribes in India is from Hanuman. In Bhagwat Purana Hanuman is mentioned as the eight Rudra avatars. Rudra is also a name for Vayu or wind. However in Shiva Purana, he is mentioned as an incarnation of Lord Shiva. According to southern mythologies, Hanuman is the union of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. In 17th century Odia text named Rasavinoda by Dinakrishnadasa mentions that Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva united to take the form of Hanuman.
Tamil extraction: According to F.E Pargiter Hanuman was a Dravidian deity. Hanuman comes from the Tamil word ana–mandi meaning male monkey. It was first called Anumant later Sanskritized to Hanuman. According to Tamil records Aryans came across a Dravidian monkey like deity and later Sanskritized it. However this is disputed by Tamil linguistic scholar Murray Emeneau as in Cankam literature the word mandi symbolizes female monkey but Hanuman is a male god. Further according to him ana–mandi makes no semantic sense in Tamil linguistics.
Modern epoch: In the Vijayanagara temple a number of 14th century Hanuman images and sculptures have been found. Hanuman evolved as a popular deity in Tulsidas’s Ramcharitramanas in 1575 CE. In Valmiki Ramayana, he is mentioned as extremely powerful and devotee of Lord Rama. Through the post-colonial and colonial era Hanuman evolved as a powerful god symbolic of war and devotion.
Powers: According to Valmiki Ramayana, one day Hanuman went to eat the Sun thinking it a ripened mango. Lord Indra hit him due to which he fell unconscious on the ground. This angered Vayu his celestial father and he took away all air from universe. Lord Shiva interfered and cured Hanuman. As a result of this all Gods granted him various boons. Lord Brahma gave him the power to turn down any weapon even Brahmastra. Indra and other deities also gave him powers like body of Vajra and strength of mace. He had exclusive powers. He received the divine mace (gada) of Lord Vishnu. In another legend in the Jain texts, it is suggested that when Hanuman leaped to eat Surya dev, he was burnt to ashes from the heat of the sun. His ashes fell in the ocean. Then his ashes and bones were collected by Gods with the help of fishes. Then the Gods reassembled them. During his childhood, Hanuman pranks some sages who in turn give him the curse to forget all his powers till someone makes him realize. Hanuman forgets all his strengths till Jamuvant makes him realize while finding Sita to take a flight over the ocean. He had to power to resize himself. He burnt down the whole golden Lanka. He played the role of a general guiding his army in the Ramayana battle. During the battle when Rama’s brother Lakshmana go wounded, Hanuman is said to have lifted the whole Dron parvat since he could not understand the right herb. After the death of Ravana, Rama returned to his kingdom where Rama was given many gifts. Among them he gave a gift to Hanuman who in turn threw it remarking that the diamond necklace given by Vibhisana, the then king of Lanka did not contain Rama and sita in it. Hanuman then tore his chest and showed everyone the picture of Ram and Sita in his heart. Thus he evolved as an epitome of devotion. According to another legend after Ramayana, Hanuman continued to live in the forests. One day Bheema who was also Pavan putra came in search of a flower for his wife. Bheema was very boastful about his nature so Hanuman thought of breaking his pride. He slept as a weak monkey underneath a tree. When Bheema asked him to move, he told him to lift his tail. Bheema could not lift it and thus his pride fell. Hanuman embraced his brother and foretold about the battle of Kurukshetra. He blessed Bheema that Hanuman would sit in the flag of Arjuna’s Chariot and hail for Bheema thus weakening the courage of his enemies. Hanuman is an immortal or Chiranjeevi and is believed to be still living on earth helping the humankind. He has immense self control from all vices. He is described as ugly from outside but beautiful from inside. In the Hanuman Chalisa he is described as a complexion of melted gold. It says: Kanchana barana biraja subsea. He is also described as very inventive and brings out new methods to overcome all odds. He is very learned in the Vedas, a poet, a musician and singer par brilliance. He is the remover of all hindrances. He is also a symbol of Marathi nationalism. He is an iconic figure giving power to all.
Alternate texts: In Krittivasi Ramayana the relation between Hanuman and Goddess Kali is mentioned. During the battle of Lanka, Ahiravana (Ravan’s brother) took Rama and Lakshmana to patal lok. He wanted to sacrifice them before Goddess Kali. Hanuman requested the Goddess to help him save his lord. Goddess Kali pleased with his devotion went underground and Hanuman took her place. He then killed Ahiravan. He then made Makardhwaja the king of patal lok who was the son of Hanuman and very powerful. He was born from Hanuman’s sweat which was consumed by a crocodile. He was the gatekeeper of patal lok. Goddess blessed Hanuman to be her dwarpal or gate keeper and hence every incarnation of Shakti has a bhairava and Hanuman on the temple entrance. In Buddhist text Hanuman meets Buddha. He carries messages between Rama and Sita quite similar to Hindu mythology. In China, Japan and Tibet figurines of flying monkey has been found. In Mahakapi Jataka, Hanuman is the greatest bearer of Dharma. In Jain texts Hanuman is described as a demigod and very powerful. In Sikhism Hanuman remains the inspiration of the Khalsa community. The picture of Hanuman in Southeast Asian texts differs and his son is called Macchanu born from his sweat. He is some cases shown carrying the saffron flag of Goddess Durga. According to Parasara Maharishi text Hanuman married the daughter of sun god. The Jetwa clan claims to be descendents of Makardhwaja who was the son of Hanuman. In popular culture many movies and serials have been featured on Hanuman.
Sculptures: Hanuman is a popular deity and is often worshipped with Rama and sita. He is worshipped individually as well. There are numerous temples and sculptures dedicated to him. During 10th century various Indian monasteries bear his inscription. In Undavalli caves of Guntur District wall carvings of hanuman have been found. Important temples of Hanuman are:
- Khajurahu- It is the oldeset known temple dated 922 CE.
- Shri Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir: This is situated in Pakistan and is 1500 years old. It is the natural statue and not artificial. This is also called Sayambhu.
- The tallest among this is 108 foot statue of Lord Hanuman in Shimla.
- Chitrakoot in Madhya Pradesh features a Panchmukhi statue of Lord Hanuman.
Hanuman is an iconic figure in Cambodia. He is featured in theatres and is represented with a white mask. In Indonesia he is featured in many dance forms. In Thai culture Hanuman is described as a flirtatious character falling in love with a mermaid. He is also shown as breaking the chastity of Ravana’s wife Mandodari thus breaking Ravana’s protection. In Thailand he is shown as wearing a crown and having armor. He is portrayed as a albino white powerful character with mouth open in action and carrying a trident or trisul.
This was the tale of a Chiranjeevi and the most celebrated Hindu god of power. He is worshipped worldwide as an incarnation of Lord Shiva and also the god of power. Stay tuned for more such informative articles. We will soon be back with more such attention seeking stuffs. Stay safe and take care.