Hanuman, the mighty ape that aided Lord
Rama in his expedition against evil forces, is one of the most popular idols
in the Hindu pantheon. Believed to be an avatar of Lord
Shiva, 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 Necessity of a Simian Symbol
Hindus believe in ten
avatars of Lord Vishnu
among a multitude of gods
. One of Vishnu's avatars is Rama, who was created to destroy
Ravana, the evil ruler of Lanka. In order to aid Rama, Lord
commanded some gods and goddesses to take the avatar of 'Vanaras'
or monkeys. Indra, the god of war and weather, was reincarnated as Bali; Surya,
the sun god as Sugriva; Vrihaspati, the preceptor of the gods, as Tara, and
Pavana, the god of wind, was reborn as Hanuman, the wisest, swiftest and strongest
of all apes.
Sing & Listen to the Hanuman Hymn or Aarti
The Birth of Hanuman
The story of the birth of Hanuman goes thus: Vrihaspati had an attendant called
Punjikasthala, who was cursed to assume the form of a female monkey — a
curse that could only be nullified if she would give birth to an incarnation
of Lord Shiva. Reborn as Anjana, she performed intense austerities 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 part 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, by the blessings of Pavana,
who thus became Hanuman's godfather.
Download Hanuman Chalisa, MP3 Aartis & Bhajans
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, all life panted for air, and Brahma had to beg him to return.
In order to appease him they conferred a lot of boons and blessings on his foster
child that made Hanuman invincible, immortal and super powerful.
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.
View Hanuman Photo Gallery
Worshiping the Monkey God
and in some cases, Saturdays
many people keep fast in honour of Hanuman and give special offerings to him.
In times of trouble, it is a common faith among Hindus to chant the name of
Hanuman or sing his hymn ("Hanuman
") and proclaim "Bajrangbali Ki Jai" — "victory
to thy thunderbolt strength". Once every year — on the full-moon day
of the Hindu month of Chaitra (April) at sunrise — Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated
to commemorate the birth of Hanuman. Hanuman temples are among the most common
public shrines found in India.
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
Next Page: Hanuman in the Epics