One of the outstanding figures that enter the holy pages of Ramayana and strides across like a colossus is Hanuman. His matchless character, heroic deeds and towering spirituality made Swami Vivekananda remark, 'You have now to make the character of Mahavira Hanuman your ideal. See how at the command of Ramachandra he crossed the ocean. He had no care for life or death! He was a perfect master of his senses and wonderfully wise. You have now to build your life on this great ideal of personal service. Through that, all the other ideals will gradually manifest in life. Obedience to guru without questioning, and strict observance of Brahmacharya this is the secret of success. As on the one hand Hanuman represents the ideal of service, so on the other he represents leonine courage, striking the whole world with awe. He has not the least hesitation in sacrificing His life for the good of Rama. A supreme indifference to everything except the service of Rama, even the attainment of the status of Brahma and Siva, the great Gods! Only the carrying out of Rama's behest is the one vow of his life! Such wholehearted devotion is wanted.'
Hanuman is the embodiment of the four Yogas. His will, emotions, intellect and actions were perfectly refined and grounded in spirituality. This is the mature all-round character development that Swami Vivekananda placed before all seekers of God. Hanuman, an ancient ideal, is therefore highly relevant to modern man.
Sri Hanuman is said to be an incarnation of Siva. Brihaspati, the guru of the gods, had an attendant by the name of Punjikasthala. She was cursed to assume the body of a female monkey. The curse was to be removed on her giving birth to an incarnation of Siva. She was born as Anjana. She lived a life of chastity and purity. With her husband Kesari (so named on account of his being as brave as a lion), she performed intense austerities for many years, and worshipped Siva. Pleased with her devotion, Siva granted her a boon that He would be born to her.
Dasaratha was the king of Ayodhya. He performed a sacrifice in order to have progeny. As a result, he got sacred pudding to share among his wives. Thus were born Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, and Satrughna. By divine ordinance, a kite snatched a fragment of that pudding and while flying over the forest dropped it where Anjana was engaged in worship. Vayu, the deity of wind, delivered that pudding to the outstretched hands of Anjana. She immediately swallowed it. Hanuman was born to her as a result.
After the birth of Hanuman, Anjana was released from the curse. She wished to return to heaven. Hanuman asked his mother what his future would be and how he was to earn his living. She assured him that he could never be destroyed, and said that fruits as ripe as the rising sun would form his food. When he saw the glowing sun he thought that was a fruit his mother referred to. Being divine in nature, he made a leap, and started flying towards it. Rahu, one of the gods presiding over the planets, saw this. He was exclusively enabled to harass the sun, thus causing eclipses to it. He complained to Indra, the king of gods, of this new threat to his power. Indra struck Hanuman with thunderbolt, his weapon, wounding his chin and causing him to fall down to earth. Vayu carried Hanuman to the nether regions. When Vayu, the wind-god departed from the earth all life was endangered. Brahma and all the other gods went to him and begged him to return. In order to appease him they conferred great boons on the baby Hanuman. The Blessings of all the gods made Hanuman invincible.
Hanuman mentally chose Surya, the Sun god, as his guru. Surya accepted him as his disciple. But there arose a problem. Sun is always on the move across the sky. It was not possible for him to stop his journey for the sake of teaching Hanuman. For, if he stops the world-would be in chaos. But Hanuman was so mighty that he said that he would travel with Sun with the same speed. Thus Hanuman traversed the sky and at the same time concentrated fully on his lessons. Within a short period he mastered all the scriptures. Surya considered the manner in which Hanuman accomplished his studies as sufficient Dakshina, the tuition fees. But Hanuman pressed him to accept more. Surya then asked him to assist his son Sugriva, who was living at Kishkindha, by being his minister and constant companion.
Hanuman met Rama while the latter was in banishment. He was with his brother Lakshmana, and was searching for his wife Sita, who was abducted by the Rakshas Ravana. Their search had taken them to the vicinity of the mountain Rishyamukha. There Sugriva was hiding from his brother Vali, with his ministers. Sugriva was suspicious that they might have been sent by Vali to kill him. Hence, he sent Hanuman to ascertain whether they were friends or foes. Hanuman approached them in the guise of a Brahmin. His first words to them were such that Rama immediately said to Lakshmana, 'None can speak thus without mastering the Vedas and their branches. Nor is there any defect in his countenance, eyes, forehead, brows, or any of his limbs. His accents are captivating. Even an enemy who has his sword uplifted will be moved. Indeed, success awaits the king whose emissaries are so accomplished.'
When Rama revealed His identity, Hanuman fell prostrate before him and Rama picked him up clasped him to his bosom. Thereafter the story of Hanuman is inextricably interwoven with that of Rama, and is exhaustively dealt with in the Ramayana.
To summarize Hanuman introduces Rama to Sugriva: goes off in search of Sita; discovers and consoles her in Lanka; burns the city and kills many demons; brings together Vibhishan and Rama; returns to Lanka with Rama, features very prominently in the battle that ensues between Rama and Ravana; saves the life of Lakshmana by bringing the Sanjeevini, the life giving herb, from the Himalayas; and serves Rama forever.
Hanuman finds a place in the Mahabharat, the other epic, too. He helped the Pandavas in the battle of Kurukshetra by positioning himself on the flag of Arjuna's chariot stabilising and protecting it.
Hanuman is said to be Chiranjeevi, one who lives eternally. He serves, protects and inspires the servants of God. Saints like Tulsidas had the vision of God through the grace of Hanuman.
With the dust of Guru's Lotus feet, I clean the mirror of my mind and then
narrate the sacred glory of Sri Ram Chandra, The Supreme among the Raghu
dynasty. The giver of the four attainments of life.
Knowing myself to be ignorant, I urge you, O Hanuman, The son of Pavan! O
Lord! Kindly Bestow on me strength, wisdom and knowledge, removing all my
miseries and blemishes.
Oh Hanumanji! You are the emanation of 'SHIVA' and you delight Shri Kesari.
Being ever effulgent, you and hold vast sway over the universe. The entire
world propitiates. You are adorable of all.
You are intensely greedy for listening to the narration of Lord Ram's life story and
revel on its enjoyment. You ever dwell in the hearts of Shri Ram-Sita and Shri
Now bringing you back...
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