Hanuman the Monkey God


Hanuman, aided Lord Rama in his expedition against evil forces, is one of the most popular idols in the Hindu pantheon. Hanuman is worshiped as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance and devotion. Hanuman's tale in the epic Ramayana - where he is assigned the responsibility to locate Rama's wife Sita abducted by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka — is known for its astounding ability to inspire and equip a reader with all the ingredients needed to face ordeals and conquer obstructions in the way of the world.

The Birth of Hanuman

Vrihaspati had an attendant called Punjikasthala, who was cursed to assume the form of a female monkey — a curse that could only be reversed if she would give birth to an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Reborn as Anjana, she prayed to please Shiva, who finally granted her the boon that would cure her of the curse. When Agni, the god of fire, gave Dasharath, the king of Ayodhya, a bowl of sacred dessert to share among his wives so they may have divine children, an eagle snatched a portion of the pudding and dropped it where Anjana was meditating, and Pavana, the god of wind delivered the drop to her outstretched hands. After she took the divine dessert, she gave birth to Hanuman. Thus Lord Shiva incarnated as a monkey, and was born as Hanuman to Anjana.

Hanuman's Childhood

The birth of Hanuman released Anjana from the curse. Before she returned to heaven, Hanuman asked his mother about his life ahead. She assured him that he would never die, and said that fruits as ripe as the rising sun would be his food. Mistaking the glowing sun as his food, the divine baby leapt for it. Indra struck him with his thunderbolt and hurled him down to earth. But Hanuman's godfather, Pavana carried him to the nether world or 'Patala'. As he departed from the earth, Brahma had to beg him to return. In order to appease Pavana he conferred blessings on his god child that made Hanuman invincible, immortal and super powerful.

Hanuman's Education

Hanuman selected Surya, the sun god as his preceptor, and approached him with the request to teach the scriptures. Surya agreed and Hanuman became his disciple, but had to face his constantly moving guru by traversing the sky backwards at equal pace, while taking his lessons. Hanuman's phenomenal concentration took him only 60 hours to master the scriptures. Surya considered the manner in which Hanuman accomplished his studies as his tuition fees, but when Hanuman requested him to accept something more than that, the sun god asked Hanuman to assist his son Sugriva, by being his minister and compatriot.

The Power of Devotion

The character of Hanuman teaches us of the unlimited power that lies unused within each one of us. Hanuman directed all his energies towards the worship of Lord Rama, and his undying devotion made him such that he became free from all physical fatigue. And Hanuman's only desire was to go on serving Rama. Hanuman perfectly exemplifies 'Dasyabhava' devotion — one of the nine types of devotions — that bonds the master and the servant. His greatness lies in his complete merger with his Lord, which also formed the base of his genial qualities.

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