by Jayaram V
Anjaneya or Hanuman is one of the most popular gods of Hinduism. People from
all wakes of life worship him and admire him. As a devotee of Lord
Rama, he has become very popular for his devotion and great
qualities. Like Ganesha he commands respect and veneration from
children and elders alike. Any one who is familiar with the Ramayana,
cannot but appreciate his divine nature and super human personality,
shaped by the strength of celibacy, humility, selflessness,
unsurpassed devotion, determination, fearlessness and an extraordinary
commitment to work for the divine.
His temples are found everywhere in India, in towns and cities, on
the hills, in the forests and most difficult places. Millions observe
fast on Tuesdays and refrain from drinking and smoking as a mark of
respect for him. Sita found in him a friend, a son and a loyal
servant. Impressed by his loyalty and commitment to the cause of Rama,
she blessed him to remain immortal in his existing form till the end
of creation and help the loyal devotees of Rama.
People believe that he is very much active on earth even today.
Wherever the name of Rama is uttered or chanted, Anjaneya
said to go there and become an invisible part of the scene. People
pray to him for courage and confidence, freedom from sorrow and for
protection against evil spirits and bad luck. Hanuman is a terror to
evil forces. Because of his intense purity and devotion they are
afraid to appear anywhere near him.
When people pray to Hanuman, they generally chant the chalisa for
boons and protection. The chalisa is a verse of 40 lines containing
pure adulation. It describes the great qualities and adventures of
Hanuman. It is said that because of his complete humility he would not
stir into action, unless one reminds him of his true greatness and
his divine purpose. Hid devotees therefore chant the chalisa, to
remind him of his greatness and prompt him to wake up from his
devotion and help them. Hanuman's chalisa has become a modern mantra,
more popular, perhaps, than the Ramacharitamanas itself. Many of his
devotees may not know Hindi. But they would chant chalisa with
sincerity and faith.
In appearance Hanuman looks like a well built monkey with the
strength of a gorilla. His gait is very much human, despite of his
monkey features, and he conducts himself admirably, without the clumsy
movements of an ape. Physically he is half human and half monkey. He
probably came from a race that had become extinct. Hanuman lives in
the hearts of people through his exemplary devotion and surrender to
God. Physically he is endowed with unlimited powers. Being the son of
Vayu, the wind god, he has the ability to increase or decrease his
size at will and also fly into the air and travel to far away regions
of the earth and the solar system.
According to the mythology, he was born to Anjana and Vayu. Vayu is a
vedic divinity who is mentioned in several vedic hymns and worshipped
along with Indra, Varuna and Agni. Anjana was originally a celestial
nymph. She was extremely beautiful and agile. Due to some unfortunate
circumstances, she was cursed to become a monkey and live on earth.
She married a monkey called Kasturi with whom she lived for sometime
till she came into contact with Vayu. Hanuman was born to her through
As a child Hanuman earned notoriety by his various acts of mischief
which even annoyed the gods. Once he tried to swallow the sun
believing it to be a fruit. He terrified the demon Rahu by
shocking him out of his stupor. He fought with Indra and was badly
hurt. His connection with Vayu saved him from further disaster. To
cool down his temperament Vayu took him to Kailash and left him
to the care of Lord Siva.
Siva blessed him and endowed him with divine bent of mind and
enormous powers. Nandi, Siva's vehicle and his humble servant, taught
Hanuman all the Vedas and the scriptural knowledge, besides imparting
to him the qualities of humility and egolessness. We understand that
because of these qualities Hanuman does not remember his true powers
and would not stir to action unless someone reminds him, as it
happened before he flew into the air to find Sita.
Knowing his abilities and his dexterity, Sugriva made him his
minister. When Rama reached Kishkindha in search of his estranged wife
Sita, Hanuman saw Rama for the first time. That was a momentous
occasion. It changed his life and the course of Ramayana for ever. In
that one moment Hanuman realized who his true master was and
surrendered to him with his heart and soul. The thought of Rama never
left his mind from then onwards.
In the imagery of Rama, we generally see Hanuman, standing
reverentially on a side, sitting or standing in a humble manner with
his hands joined in reverence. When he is shown alone, he appears in
different ways, sitting cross legged, kneeling, standing or flying. In
all cases we see him holding his weapon, the mace. When he is
shown as flying in the air like a superman, he carries a mountain with
one hand and the mace with the other. In some temples we see very tall
and imposing images of Hanuman reminding us of his immense strength.
is known by many names. When he is cheerful he is called
Prasannanjaneya. When he is in a ferocious mood he is called
Veeranjaneya. When he is in a meditative mood he is called
Dhayananjaney and when he is absorbed in devotion he is called
Bhaktanjaneya. He is called Anajaniputra or Anjaneya because his
mother's name was Anjana. He got the name Vayuputra because of his
connection with Vayu. He is called Kesarinandana, though he was not
actually the son of Kesari, because he was brought up by his step
father. He is called Ramaduta, because he acted as the messenger of
Rama to deliver a message to Sita. He is called Baladhama, because of
his prowess, gnanagunasagara because of his pure qualities and
bhajarangi because of his devotion. There are several other
names. He played his dutiful role as a servant of God in the epic
Mahabharata also. He taught a few lessons in humility to his step
brother Bhima and also agreed to appear as an emblem on the flag of
the Pandavas to boost their morale in their fight against evil.
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