Prabuddha Bharata is a monthly journal of Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896.Its Editorial Office is located at the Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, (District Champawat), Uttarakhand. It is published from Advaita Ashrama, 5, Dehi Entally Road,Kolkata.
In the October, 2008 issue of the above journal, I had contributed an article on Sri Hanuman.
In a few installments here, starting today, I am posting that article and hope my FB friends would find it interesting (and perhaps a bit educative also).
HANUMAN: Valour, Wisdom, Humility, and Devotion.
गाम्भीर्यचातुर्यसुवीर्यधैर्यैर् हनूमत: कोsभ्यधिकोsस्ति लोके।।
Who in the world, is superior to Hanuman in valour, energy, intelligence, prowess, character, charm, discernment, composure, dexterity, vigour and fortitude ?
(-Valmiki Ramayana vii.36.44.)
Blessing Valmiki, the आदिकवि (first or foremost among poets), ब्रह्मा, the Creator, had prophesied that ‘as long as mountains stand on earth and rivers flow, the story of Ramayana (narrated by Valmiki) would remain current in all the worlds’ :
यावत्स्थास्यन्ति गिरय: सरितश्च महीतले।
तावद्रामायणकथा लोकेषु प्रचरिष्यति।।
Today, ages later, the story abides, and as its integral part lives Hanuman and his legend, actualising the boon that he had sought from Sri Rama :
‘ I am never satisfied with repeating thy name. Therefore, I wish to remain always on this earth repeating thy name. May this body of mine remain as long as thy name is remembered in this world.’
(-Mahabharata iii.147.37; Adhyatma Ramayana vi.16.12-14; Ananda Ramayana i.12. 141-45.)
So, Hanuman lives incognito among us as one of the चिरञ्जीवीs, immortals, listening to रामकथा, the story of Rama wherever it is sung.
(The other seven are: अश्वत्थामा, बलि, व्यास, विभीषण, कृपाचार्य, परशुराम and मार्कण्डेय. )
Down the millenia, the story of Hanuman has continued to flow and flower in a myriad forms-through epics and Upanishads, Itihaasas and Puranas, legend and folklore, history and hearsay; through paintings, dance forms, and folk art; through feature films and animations; in small villages as well as busy metros; in artless rural रामलीलाs and sophisticated urban stage plays; in temples, auditoria, and improvised pandals; through the narrations of simple storytellers, professional कथावाचकs, erudite पण्डितs, spiritual leaders and even child prodigies; in India, Cambodia, Thailand, Java, Sumatra, Baali, Myanmar, Mauritius, Fiji, Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname, Siberia, Mongolia, Malaysia and, lately, the West –and people listen : men, women and children; the illiterate and the learned, sceptics as well as sentimental devotees.
Brahmaa’s blessings could not have been truer!
Somewhere in this crowd-perhaps among the simplest folks, listening reverentially to the Ramayana-sits Hanuman: his head bent, folded hands raised to the forehead in salutation, and eyes moist with tears :
यत्र यत्र रघुनाथकीर्त्तनं
तत्र तत्र कृतमस्तकाञ्जलिम्।
मारुतिं नमत राक्षसान्तकम्।।
ORIGIN and EPITHETS
According to some versions of the Ramayana, Hanuman was born with bejewelled earrings.
(See Telugu Ranganath Ramayana iv.31; Padmapurana, Paataalkhanda,112.135; the Tamil Kamba Ramayana, 4.2.35 and the Malay Seri Rama.)
He is also described as being born with मौञ्जी-मेखला, three string girdle of मुञ्जा grass. In Tulasidasa’s हनुमान् चालीसा, Hanuman is ‘adorned with earrings, holy thread and मुञ्जा.
Hanu means ‘chin’ and the suffix mat -मत्- denotes ‘possession’, and, implicitly ‘excellence’ or ‘superiority’ – अतिशयेन. हनुमत्-हनुमान्- would thus mean ‘the one with excellent chin’. According to Sanskrit lexicographers, letters in this name denote the following :
‘ ह’ stands for ब्रह्मा, शिव, bliss, sky, water; ‘नु’ for worship, praise; ‘मा’ for लक्ष्मी, विष्णु and ‘न’ for heroic strength. The name would thus suggest the presence of the attributes and distinctive characteristics of these deities and elements-all in one person.
Hanuman has several other appellations. He is आञ्जनेय, the son of अञ्जना; as theऔरस (born of oneself) child of the wind god, he is मारुति or पवनसुत, and as the क्षेत्रज (wife’s offspring by a duly appointed person) son of केसरी – one of the senior leaders of the monkey army – he is केसरी नन्दन
(Valmiki R.iv.66.30. See Manusmriti 9.159-60 for the twelve types of sons listed by ancient Indian lawmakers.)
पुञ्जिकस्थला, an apsara, was born as a monkey due to बृहस्पति’s curse. वायु, the wind god told her; ‘You would have a strong and intelligent son because I have touched you with my mind : मनसास्मि गत: . He would be full of courage, energy, strength, and valour – महासत्त्वो महातेजा महाबलपराक्रम: , and my equal in flying and leaping.
(- Valmiki R. iv.66.30)
Bhavabhuti, in his महावीरचरित, and Bhatti, in his भट्टिकाव्य give वृषाकपि as one of Hanuman’s names. In Nilakantha’s मंत्ररामायण- a treatise interpreting several Vedic mantras as alluding to the Ramayana story- Hanuman finds mention. Nilakantha believes that वृषाकपि, the ‘man-ape’ associated with Indra and Indraani in the ऋग्वेद is none other than Hanuman.
(See ऋग्वेद x.86; and Shanti Lal Nagar, Hanuman in Art, Culture, Thought and Literature; New Delhi, Intellectual, 1995, chapter 3).
In Hanuman’s figure, says A A Macdonnell, ‘perhaps survives a reminiscence of Indra’s alliance with the Maruts in his conflict with वृत्र and of the god सरमा who as Indra’s messenger crosses the waters of रसा* and tracks the cows. सरमा recurs as the name of a demoness ( in Valmiki Ramayana) who consoles Sita in her captivity. The name of Hanumat being Sanskrit, the character is probably not borrowed from the aborigines.
(-Macdonell, A.A. :A History of Sanskrit Literature (Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass; 1962. p. 262-3.
* रसा= The lower regions/ the earth)
Camille Bulcke, the Belgian missionary and author of रामकथा, disagrees. ‘In the Vedic literature, Hanuman is not mentioned anywhere… The word Hanuman is probably Sanskrit version of a Dravidian word and it means ‘man-monkey’.
(-रामकथा, उत्पत्ति और विकास;प्रयाग विश्वविद्यालय, 1999, para 85).
Bulcke also mentions the names of various family lines and castes of aborigines in the Chota Nagpur and Singhbhum regions of Central India who trace their lineage to Hanuman. According to him, the name ‘Hanuman’ is a Sanskrit synonym of आण् मन्दि or आण् मन्ति, आण् meaning man and मन्द monkey.
( Ibid,para 92)
Swami Vivekananda says,
‘By the “monkeys” and “demons” are meant the aborigines of India’
(- The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda,9vols, Calcutta, Advaita Ashrama. Vol.4, p.70)
HANUMAN: Valour, Wisdom, Humility, and Devotion
3rd December, 2021
In the Buddhist Jatakas(जातकs), though Hanuman is not mentioned by name, allusions to him as a monkey are aplenty, and reference to the Bodhisattva’s incarnation as a colossal monkey in the महाकपि जातक clearly reminds us of Hanuman.
(-See Hanuman in Art, Culture and Literature, Chapter 21). The शून्य पुराण, an eleventh century Buddhist text by Ramai Pandit, records that ‘when Madanaa, wife of Harisha Chandra, entered the Buddhist fold, she saw Hanuman protecting the southern gate of the shrine*’. ‘Eventually, the popularity of Hanuman which he gained for his performance in Ramayana made the Buddhists patronise him’. (Ibid).
(cp. हनुमान् चालीसा of Tulasidas : राम दुआरे तुम्ह रखवारे।)
In the Jain scriptures, Hanuman is the biological son of Anjanaa, daughter of Mahendra, the king of Mahendrapur. She is married to the lord of वज्रकूट, a part of मानुषोत्तर Mountain. ‘He fell from an aerial chariot on a hill which was smashed into smithereens. He thus earned the sobriquet “श्री-शैल”.He rendered yeoman’s service to Rama in the latter’s war with Ravana’.
(-Jitendra Varni, जैनेन्द्र सिद्धान्त कोश.New Delhi, Bharatiya Jnan Pith;2000,2002/1.1346;3.464,475;4.529)
In the Adhyatma Ramayana, Hanuman tells Angada, ‘We are all celestial attendants of Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha (Vishnu’s celestial abode). When he incarnated himself as a man, we too descended as Vanaras (monkeys).
(-Adhyatma Ramayana, 4. 7.19-22.)
In the Oriya रसविनोद of Dinakrishnadasa, the trinity of ब्रह्मा, विष्णु and शिव together appears in the form of Hanuman. Gosvami Tulasidas-the greatest of all poets who wrote in the language of people* – pays obeisance to Hanuman as
‘महादेव’, ‘कपाली’, ‘रुद्रावतार’, ‘वानराकार-विग्रह-पुरारी’, which are all appellations of Shiva or Rudra**.
(*K M Panikkar, A Survey of Indian History, Bombay, National Information and Publications,1947; p.215)
(** Tulasidas, Vinay Patrika, 26.1, 25.3, 27.1)
In a number of Puranas- स्कन्द, भागवत, नारद and बृहद्धर्म for instance – Hanuman has been depicted as Shiva or his partial incarnation or as कपाली.
In the Bengali कृत्तिवास रामायण, Sita realizes that Hanuman is Shiva’s incarnation while serving him food.
(-कृत्तिवास रामायण, 6.129.)
In कम्ब रामायण too, Hanuman has been described as an incarnation of Rudra.
The आनन्द रामायण, the तत्त्वसंग्रह रामायण and Tulasidas’s हनुमान् बाहुक and दोहावली also say so. In some versions of Ramayana , Hanuman has been mentioned as Vishnu’s son. Elsewhere-in the Ramakatha of Indonesia, for instance, he is Rama’s son.
These different views notwithstanding, it is undeniable that both Sita and Rama had great love for Hanuman and openly expressed their gratitude for his services. In रामचरितमानस, Sita says :
अजर अमर गुननिधि सुत होहू।
करहुं बहुत रघुनायक छोहू।।
‘May you, O son, never grow old or die, and may Raghunatha be most gracious to you’.
And Rama affirms :
सुनु सुत तोहि उरिन मैं नाहीं।
देखेउ करि बिचार मन माहीं।।
‘ On reflection, my son, I have come to the conclusion that I can never repay the debt I owe you.’
(-Ramacharitamanas, 5.16;21, 5. 31;4)
It was mentioned earlier that Hanuman is the son of वायु from अञ्जना, hence he is called वायुपुत्र. Valmiki and the succeeding narrators also call him by other names with identical meanings : पवनसुत, मारुतात्मज, गन्धवहात्मज, and so on. In South India,
people especially love to address Hanuman as आञ्जनेय. In his Hanuman Chalisa, Tulasidas addresses him as शंकरसुवन, son of Shiva, केसरीनन्दन, the joy of Kesari; अंजनिपुत्र,Anjani’s son, and पवनसुत, son of the Wind.
THE WONDER CHILD
As a child Hanuman was quite a prankster. We have seen that, according to a Jain scripture, when he fell on a rock, it was the rock that was damaged. Valmiki tells the story differently, twice in fact -each with some variations (for the narrator in each case is different). The first is a narration by जाम्बवान् to Hanuman and the second by अगस्त्य to Rama :
‘In जाम्बवान्’s version, ‘as a baby, crying out of hunger when his mother was away, he happened to see the rising sun, like a mass of red hibiscus. Taking it to be a fruit, the baby-as brilliant as the rising sun- lept into space to catch the sun and went up hundreds of miles without bothering about the unbeatable heat of the fireball above. The Sun too, knowing him to be but a baby, was mild on him…. Indra was angry with Hanuman for his audacity, and astride his elephant, ऐरावत, struck him with his thunderbolt, वज्र. He fell down (on the उदय Mountain) and broke his left chin’. In अगस्त्य’s version of the story, the damage was greater. Hanuman was almost dead. वायु got very angry and stopped blowing. There was commotion in the three worlds. Led by Brahmaa, gods, humans and demons approached वायु with a request to resume his function. Brahmaa revived Hanuman by his touch. The Wind god, now appeased, started blowing again. However, since Hanuman’s chin was broken, and he recovered from this injury, he got the name
‘ह नु मा न्’. Meanwhile, at Brahmaa’s behest, the gods gave him a number of blessings. These included the boons of immortality, immunity against diseases as well as various powerful celestial weapons, matchless strength, and wisdom. Surya, the sun god, offered to teach him on his attaining the age for studentship.
(-Valmiki R.iv.66.21-9; vii.35.22-65; vii.36.1-27.)
There is another episode about his un-channelled energies as a child. He was always up to some mischief. This greatly disturbed the ऋषिs engaged in austerities. They cursed him that he would forget about his strength and would remember it only when reminded by someone ( Ibid vii.36.28-36) . Hence on the eve of his leaping across the sea to find Sita’s whereabouts, जाम्बवान् had to remind him of his strength.
In another story from his childhood, Shiva comes to Ayodhya in the guise of a juggler along with Hanuman to see the child Rama. Rama takes a fancy to the monkey and befriends him. So Shiva leaves him with Rama. After spending some years there, Hanuman goes to Kishkindha, as advised by Rama.
(-शान्तनु विहारी द्विवेदी : भक्तराज हनुमान्, गोरखपुर, गीताप्रेस; पृष्ठ 13.)
The Sun god had offered to become Hanuman’s tutor. When the latter approached him , Surya put a condition. Since Surya had to keep moving, Hanuman would have to keep walking with his face towards the Sun. Hanuman accepted the condition. With his book open in his hands, his eyes fixed on the Sun, Hanuman kept walking backwards in the sky, synchronising his steps with the Sun’s movement. In this way, he mastered grammar and other academic disciplines.
HANUMAN: Valour, Wisdom, Humility and Devotion
9th December, 2021.
A Versatile Genius
In श्री श्री राम रसायन, a Bengali version of the Ramayana,we find that Hanuman learnt the शास्त्रs from Rama himself. In the मुक्तिकोपनिषद्, we see Rama teaching him वेदान्त and explaining him different types of मुक्ति. In रामरहस्योपनिषद् we have him in a teacher’s role.
In महाभारत, Hanuman discourses भीम on the characteristics of the four वर्णs, and the duties of the king and the people.
(-Mahabharata, Vana Parva, Chapters 149-50.)
In his विनय-पत्रिका, Tulasidas salutes him as वेदान्तविद्, विविधविद्याविशद, वेद-वेदाङ्गविद्, ब्रह्मवादी- knower of Vedanta, proficient in various sciences, authority on the Vedas and their auxiliaries, and an expounder of the lore of ब्रह्म(36.4). He is also कलाधर-msster of arts par excellence- a renowned dancer and singer, and a master musician -सङ्गीताचार्य. According to Kalindaaji, a critic of सङ्गीतपारिजात, a work based on Hanuman’s theory of music, there are three principal exponents of music : Hanuman, शार्दूल and कहल, Shiva being the lord of music.
(- K C Aryan and Subhashini Aryan, Hanuman in Art and Mythology; Delhi, Rekha,1975, p.71).
कामिल बुल्के in his रामकथा, enumerates seventeen adjectives used by Valmiki to eulogize Hanuman’s intellectual genius.(p.539)
On completing his education with Surya, Hanuman insisted on offering him गुरु-दक्षिणा, the preceptor’s fee. Surya asked him to serve सुग्रीव, his son, who was not as strong and powerful as बाली, the chief of Vanaras. This brought Hanuman into Sugriva’s service.
MEETING RAMA :
A turning point
Meeting Rama proved to be the high point of Hanuman’s career. This was also a turning point in both their lives. According to the कम्बरामायण, Hanuman displayed his power to Rama by expanding his body into a colossal form; and according to the evidence of the अद्भुत रामायण, Rama showed him his विष्णुरूप in turn.
In the Valmiki R., Hanuman meets Rama in the foothills of ऋष्यमूक पर्वत, disguised as a mendicant at the behest of Sugriva. He had been sent to find out what brought the brothers there and, if they were not Bali’s allies, to offer them Sugriva’s hand of friendship. During this meeting, Rama observes Hanuman’s exceptional abilities and tells Lakshmana :
सचिवोsयं कपीन्द्रस्य सुग्रीवस्य महात्मन:।
तमेव काङ्क्ष्यमाणस्य ममान्तिकमुपागत:।।
अभिभाषस्व सौमित्रे सुग्रीवसचिवं कपिम्।
वाक्यज्ञं मधुरैर्वाक्यै: स्नेहयुक्तमरिंदम।।
नासामवेदविदुष: शक्यमेवं प्रभाषितुम्।।
नूनं व्याकरणं कृत्स्नमनेन बहुधा श्रुतम्।
बहु व्याहरतानेन न किंचिदपशब्दितम्।।
न मुखे नेत्रयोर्वापि ललाटे च भ्रुवोस्तथा।
अन्येष्वपि च गात्रेषु दोष: संविदित: क्वचित्।।
उर:स्थं कण्ठगं वाक्यं वर्तते मध्यमे स्वरे।।
उच्चारयति कल्याणीं वाचं हृदयहारिणीम्।।
अनया चित्रया वाचा त्रिस्थानव्यञ्जनस्थया।
कस्य नाराध्यते चित्तमुद्यतसेररेरपि।।
एवंविधो यस्य दूतो न भवेत् पार्थिवस्य तु।
सिध्यन्ति हि कथं तस्य कार्याणां गतयोsनघ।।
(A careful reading of these words, of the poet and uttered by SriRama himself- rendered below in translation- reflect not only Hanuman’s outstanding abilities, they also have a message for us. What are the qualifications of a studious, learned and a gifted person ? How does he use his speech and what are the qualities of his pronunciation and diction ? Is his body-language in harmony with his speech? Do words come from his mouth in a pleasant manner, neither overbearing nor too casual ?
In fact, this statement of Valmiki is worth emulating by us if we wish to be good learners, speakers, and conversationalis.
The passage also speaks of Sri Rama’s qualities of a good listener and perfect observer. He has not missed a single word uttered by Hanuman, its purport and significance; he has carefully noted his body language and gestures et al and shared them comprehensively with Lakshmana.
While reading it, we may avail of an opportunity to introspect and see whether there is scope for some learning for us.)
‘He is the counsellor of the Vanara-chief Sugriva, and has approached me at his behest…. He has mastery over language… It is impossible for anyone to converse like him without attaining command over the Rig, Yajur, and Sama Vedas. His proficiency in grammar is thorough; he has studied it many times over. And though he has spoken so much, he has not uttered a single word out of place or irrelevant to the context. There was no grimace on his face, eyes, forehead, or brow, nor any inappropriate gesture from any other part of his body. His diction is neither expansive nor elliptical; neither too slow nor too fast. The thoughts in his heart, escaping his throat, are expressed in a medium tone. His language is cultured, attractive and beatific, and his manner, neither gushing nor tardy… How can the objectives of a king, who does not have such an illustrious emissary, ever be accomplished ?”
HANUMAN: Valour, Wisdom, Humility and Devotion.
Sensitivity, Communication Skills and Character
Erudition apart, Hanuman has great sensitivity and possesses excellent communication skills. While speaking with Rama and Lakshmana, he uses flawless Sanskrit; but he decides against doing so when he has to introduce himself to Sita in Ashokavana. He deliberates,
‘I am a monkey, and if I speak Sanskrit as the high-bred twice-borns do, she may be scared, taking me to be Ravana in a fresh disguise. How can a monkey speak with her except in a dialect ?’
He, therefore, ‘spoke in a language which must have been the ordinary spoken, though clear tongue (मानुषीमथ संस्कृताम्) in either कोसल or मैथिल.’
(-Dewan Bahadur Ramaswami Sastri : Studies in Ramayana, Baroda, Department of Education1954.p123.
Also see Valmiki R. :
अहं तु त्वतितनुश्चैव वानरश्च विशेषत:।
वाचं चोदाहरिष्यामि मानुषीमिह संस्कृताम्।।
यदि वाचं प्रदास्यामि द्विजातिरिव संस्कृताम्।
रावणं मन्यमाना मां सीता भीता भविष्यति।।
वानरस्य विशेषेण कथं स्यादभिभाषणम्।
अवश्यमेव वक्तव्यं मानुषं वाक्यमर्थवत्।।
In counseling Sugriva, when the latter becomes negligent in his duty towards Rama; in advising Angada, when he is contemplating suicide and nursing thoughts of revolt against Sugriva; in dealing with the Mount Mainaaka, and the demonesses Surasaa and Simhikaa while crossing the ocean; and in teaching a lesson to Lankini or Lanka-Lakshmi, the presiding demoness of Lanka, at the city’ threshold, Hanuman’s tactical skills and physical strength are on display.
The excellence of his character is also noteworthy. In the course of his search for Sita, when he walks into Ravana’s harem and sees his mistresses in various states of undress, he is filled with contrition for invading their privacy. His spiritual wisdom and diplomatic skills are simultaneously expressed in his discourse to Ravana in the latter’s court. In the Ashokavana, when he finds Sita in a miserable condition- being threatened by Ravana and the demonesses- his reaction of empathic pain on the one hand and his deliberation over the pros and cons of the next course of action highlight both his humanness and critical decision making abilities.
Authorship of Ramakatha
In recounting the events of Rama’s life to Janaki in the Ashokavana and to Bharata in Ayodhya, Hanuman becomes the first narrator of Ramayana. Legend has it that the Sanskrit drama महानाटक or हनुमन्नाटक was authored by Hanuman and inscribed by him on the rocks of a mountain. When Valmiki read it, he was both delighted and worried : delighted because of the sheer exquisiteness of the work and worried because he felt that his Ramayana might lose its pre-eminent status once people read महानाटक. On coming to know of Valmiki’s apprehension, Hanuman threw those rocks into the sea. Much later, this work was retrieved, albeit in a disfigured and substantially damaged condition, during the reign of King Bhoja, who had it restored by Damodara Mishra, his courtier.
(-Munnalal Abhimanyu, Hanuman-natakam. Varanasi, Chowkhamba, 1992,p.6-7. According to some, it was Vikramaditya who had the work restored.)
A Storehouse of Strength, Valour and Versatility
Hanuman is not just a prodigious intellect and a practical mind; he is a virtual storehouse of strength, valour and versatility. Once he comes to know of his immense potential, he rises like a mountain of gold (कनकभूधराकार सरीरा-मानस, v.16;4), resolves to fulfil the mission assigned to him, and ‘like the unfailing arrow from Rama’s bow, shoots across the ocean (जिमि अमोघ रघुपति कर बाना। एही भांति चलेउ हनुमाना।।-v.1;4)’, determined not to rest until his mission is accomplished. Single handed, he devastates Ashokavana, decimates the demon-brigade, and slays their commander Aksha, the son of Ravana. Although blessed with Brahmaa’s boon that his missile (ब्रह्मास्त्र) would do him no harm, out of respect for the Creator, he allows himself to be chained by it when Indrajit (Meghanaada) hurles it at him. Unfazed, he appears before Ravana in his court and interacts with him in the presence of his commanders and courtiers. Neither is he perturbed when his tail is set ablaze; instead he ‘breaks’ into laughter as he touches the sky-अट्टहास करि गर्जा कपि बड़ लागि अकास।।
Gratitude of all
He earns the gratitude of practically all the major characters on Rama’s side – Sugriva, Vibhishana, Lakshmana, and Vaidehi. Rama himself declared his indebtedness to him more than once : ‘The task accomplished by you is difficult even for the mighty gods to achieve. I do not know how to repay my debt to you. I now offer to you all that is mine,’ saying so, with tears flowing down his eyes, Rama held Hanuman in tight embrace” :
हनूमंस्ते कृतं कार्यं देवैरपि सुदुष्करम्।
उपकारं न पश्यामि तव प्रत्युपकारिण:।।
इदानीं ते प्रयच्छामि सर्वस्वं मम मारुते।
इत्यालिङ्ग्य समाकृष्य गाढं वानरपुङ्गवम्।।
सार्द्रनेत्रो रघुश्रेष्ठ: परां प्रीतिमवाप स: ।…..
Besides the major battle where we see Hanuman’s prowess, we also come across his amazing encounters with Mairavana, Airavana and Mahiravana. The Mahabharata records how in his old age Hanuman humbled the mighty भीमसेन. In another episode, Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that the latter’s chariot was safe as long as Hanuman was resting on its flag : कपिध्वज-one having Hanuman as insignia on the flag – is one of Arjuna’s many epithets.
‘The emblem of Hanuman on the flag of Arjuna is another sign of victory because Hanuman cooperated with Lord Rama… and Lord Rama emerged victorious. Now both Rama and Hanuman were present on the chariot of Arjuna to help him. Lord Krishna is Rama himself and wherever Lord Rama is, His eternal servitor Hanuman and His Consort Sita, the goddess of fortune (Lakshmi) are present . ‘Therefore Arjuna had no cause to fear any enemy whatsoever’.
(-Swami Prabhupada, Bhagavad Gita as It Is. Bombay : Bhaktivedanta Book Trust,1989; p.50-1. In Hanuman Baahuka(5), Tulasidas refers to Hanuman’s presence on Arjuna’s chariot and says that his roar created commotion among the Kaurava forces.)
कामिल बुल्के records nearly seventy adjectives that have been used to eulogize Hanuman’s valour and strength in the Valmiki Ramayana and the other texts.
(-रामकथा, उत्पत्ति और विकास, 535)
MAHAVIRA: An Ideal and more.
Two pictures of Hanuman come to our mind almost simultaneously. In one, we see him ‘with hands folded together in the अञ्जलि pose, expression on the face, one of humility and devotion, kneeling on one leg as if receiving benediction from his Lord and Master Rama'(-Hanuman in Art and Mythology,p.21), and the other : Colossus like, with mace in one hand and the Sanjeevani hill in the other, striding across heaven. In Rajasthani paintings, artists celebrate ‘his humanness, devotion and humility’ (Ibid,p.19). In Mughal art, ‘his deeds mark him as heroic, intelligent, dauntless, enterprising, kind, humble and a devout servitor… The most enchanting and dynamic representation of Hanuman is to be seen in folk style illustrations in small-size manuscripts (Ibid p.33,38).
The mighty Hanuman-with phenomenal intellectual and spiritual powers – is yet a picture of humility.
In the words of Paramahansa Sri Ramakrishna, Hanuman is established in the belief that ‘as long as I have the feeling of “I”, I see that Thou art the whole and I am a part; Thou art the Master and I am Thy servant. But when, O Rama, I have the knowledge of Truth, then I realize that Thou art I, and I am Thou.’
(-The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna; trans. Swami Nikhilananda.p.105, Chennai, Ramakrishna Math,2002.)
This is not just an abstract or intellectual realization. For Sri Ramakrishna, who, taking Hanuman as his ideal, had himself practised दास्य साधना-spiritual practice with the attitude of a servant- Hanuman lives this realization in his practical life. Sri Ramakrishna says, ‘Hanuman kept the “servant ego” after realizing God in both His Personal and Impersonal aspects. He thought of himself as the servant of God’. This is the ego of Devotion (Ibid,p.500). Though having all the सिद्धिs or superordinary powers in his possession, he uses them only to accomplish रामकार्य, Rama’s mission.
Swami Vivekananda says :
‘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 to the attainment of the status of Brahmaa and Shiva, the great World gods ! Only the carrying out of Sri Rama’s best (behest) is the one vow of his life ! Such whole hearted devotion is wanted.’
(-Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol.7, p.232).
And then Vivekananda adds : The Damaru and horn have to be sounded, drums are to be beaten so as to raise the deep and martial notes, and with “Mahavira(Hanuman),” “Mahavira” on your lips… the quarters are to be reverberated'(Ibid p.233)
If,as Vivekananda wanted, our young men must possess ‘muscles of iron and nerves of steel,’ there could be no better role-model than Hanuman, the वज्राङ्ग(बजरङ्ग/बजरङ्गी) : having a frame as hard as the thunderbolt.
EPITOME of WISDOM
Hanuman is also the epitome of wisdom, both mundane and spiritual. As Rama’s messenger, Hanuman also believes that the best envoy is one who, after accomplishing the assigned mission, does an extra task, not contrary to the original assignment.
(-Bhatti, Bhattikavya,8.127. Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 2006).
Thus, while in Lanka, not only does he trace Sita’s whereabouts, he also warns Ravana and tries to persuade him to give up his evil designs, discovers Vibhishana as a potential ally, and inflicts considerable damage on the lives, property and morale of राक्षसs.
In the role of Sugriva’s minister, Hanuman tries diplomatically to bring him back to his senses when he, drunk with power and passion, forgets his duty to Rama. It was Hanuman who, in the first place, introduced Sugriva to Rama. He counselled Vibhishana as a friend and, in the face of opposition from Sugriva and others, facilitated Vibhishana’s refuge in Rama. In doing so, Hanuman acts both Sugriva’s and Vibhishana’s guru.
Vivekananda also says :
‘Shri Rama was the परमात्मा… Sita was the जीवात्मा, and each man’s or woman’s body was the Lanka… Sita thus imprisoned and trying to unite with her Lord, receives a visit from Hanuman, the Guru or divine teacher, who shows her the Lord’s ring, which is ब्रह्मज्ञान-the supreme wisdom- that destroys all illusions; and thus Sita finds the way to be at one with Shri Rama, or in other words, thus जीवात्मा finds itself one with परमात्मा’
(lbid, Vol.5, p.415)
A CULT FIGURE
Though Hanuman is content with remaining a servant, he has become a cult figure. ‘Today he is the most celebrated “Devotee-Deity” of India. Sita had blessed him thus :
वनदुर्गपर्वतेषु सर्वदेवालयेषु च।
नदीषु क्षेत्रतीर्थेषु जलाशयपुरेषु च।
त्वन्मूर्ति पूजयिष्यन्ति मायया विघ्नशान्तये।
भूत-प्रेतपिशाचाद्या नश्यन्ति स्मरणात्तव।।
‘People will worship your image to get out of trouble-in towns, gardens, cities, villages, homes,cow-sheds, pathways, temples, forests and places of pilgrimage; on hills, near rivers and ponds;in orchards and basil-clusters, under bo and banyan trees. Just by remembering your name, they would succeed in warding off evil-spirits’.
It is well-known that Gosvamiji would recite the हनुमान्-बाहुक to cure himself of his serious ailments :
घेरि लियो रोगनि कुरोगनि ज्यों,
बासर जलद घनघटा धुकि छाई है।
बरषत बारि पीर जानिए जवासे जस,
रोष बिनु दोष, धूम-मूल, मलिनाई है।।
करुनानिधान हनुमान महाबलवान,
हेरि हंसि हांकि फूंकि फौजें तैं उड़ाई हैं।
खायो हुतो तुलसी कुरोग राढ़ राकसनि,
केसरी किसोर राखे बीर बरियाई है।।(35)
पांय-पीर, पेट-पीर, बाहु-पीर, मुंह-पीर,
जरजर सकल सरीर पीरमई है।
देव,भूत, पितर, करम, खल, काल, ग्रह,
मोहि पर दवरि दमानक सी दई है।।
हौं तो बिन मोल ही बिकानो, बलि, बारे ही तें,
ओट रामनाम की ललाट लिखि लई है।
कुंभज के किंकर बिकल बूड़े गोखुरनि,
हाय रामराय ! ऐसी हाल कहूं भई है।।(38).
“Diseases and portents as the evil company have besieged me from all sides just as thundering, water-laden clouds attack जवासा-plants to destroy them. In their wrath, they rain pains on me with no fault of mine. They are born of the dark, evil omens. But if, O Hanuman, the abode of compassion, you who had effortlessly vanquished the formidable enemy-forces with your fleeting glance, had not perforce saved me, these demoniac diseases would have chewed me like coarse grass”.
“Aching feet, aching stomach, aching arms, aching mouth- all my body has become one abode of pains. Gods, ghosts, manes, fate, evils, time, planets, all have trained their guns on me. Since childhood, I have surrendered myself as your slave without seeking recompense and have inscribed Rama’s Name as my saviour on my brow. O Lord ! is it possible that the servitors of कुंभज (महर्षिअगस्त्य) should sink in a pond of the size of a cow’s hoof ?”…
And to ward off calamities, he would chant संकटमोचन स्तोत्र. Today his हनुमान् बाहुक, संकटमोचन स्तोत्र and हनुमान् चालीसा are chanted in temples and the homes of millions of Hindus (and of the other religions also), every morning and evening.
‘Hanuman the monkey-god and devotee of Rama, grants us the power of higher life-force (प्राणशक्ति) that elevates the mind and increases our devotion.
(-David Frawley : Ayurveda and Mind, The Healing of Consciousness; p.253. Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass)
Across Communities and Sects
The worship of Hanuman cuts across sects and communities : ‘श्रीवैष्णवs worship Garuda and Hanuman alike as the mount of Vishnu…
Hanuman is also a manifestation of Shakti (शक्तिरूप). The तांत्रिकs worship one-headed, five-headed and eleven-headed Hanuman for spiritual attainment’.
(-Hanuman in Art and Mythology, p.19).
As incarnation of Shiva or the eleventh Rudra, he is worshipped by the Shaivas.
श्रीमध्वाचार्य, the founder of Dvaita school of Vaishnava philosophy, called himself the incarnation of Hanuman.
‘His(Hanuman’s) image can be seen repeated in stone carvings, masks, ballet performances and the minor arts of Bali, Java, Thailand etc. where the Ramayana is a living force till today.'(Hanuman in Art and Mythology p.20-1)
(-This work also includes a painting(plate 65) by an unknown seventeenth-century Muslim worshipper of Hanuman from Western India).
‘The worship of the Hindu deities -primarily गणेश, स्कंद(कार्तिकेय), सरस्वती, the Mothers(षोडश मातृकाs) as also Bhairon and Hanuman-has got so much importance in the Jainism of today that the cult of the तीर्थंकरs has strongly receded behind it.
(-Halmuth von Glasenapp : Jainism, An Indian Religion of Salvation,p.407(Motilal Banarsidass, 1999)
‘It is certain, at all events, that none of the larger villages of India is without its image of the monkey-king Hanuman and that monkeys are swarming in many temples and are treated with great forbearance and love.’
(Winternitz, Maurice : A History of Indian Literature, 2vols. Vol.1, p. 478, University of Calcutta,1927.)
In the corporate world, human resource experts deliberate on the knowledge, skills and attitudes, demanded by the different jobs in their respective organisations. We began this essay(Part1) with the sage अगस्त्य, enumerating eleven attributes of excellence, and then affirming that there could be no better example than Hanuman of a person in whom all of these are well-integrated.
We may conclude this article with an earlier episode from the युद्धकाण्ड of Valmiki Ramayana(vi.131.78-83)
“Sri Ramachandra gave Sita a pearl necklace, glittering like the moonbeams, along with bright garments and beautiful ornaments. Sita looked at them and then gave them to Hanuman. Next, removing her own necklace she looked repeatedly at the assembled Vanaras as well as at her husband. Rama, understanding her intent, told her to give that to the one who with whom she was most pleased. Sita gave the necklace to पवनपुत्र, who was possessed of (such pearl-like attributes as) energy, fortitude, glory, dexterity, efficacy, humility, statesmanship, valour, prowess, and discernment. Hanuman wore the necklace and shone like a mountain lighted up by the moonbeams” :
सीतायै प्रददौ रामश्चन्द्ररश्मिसमप्रभम्।
अरजे वाससी दिव्ये शुभान्याभरणानि च।।
अवेक्षमाणा वैदेही प्रददौ वायुसूनवे।
अवमुच्यात्मन: कण्ठाद्धारं जनकनन्दिनी।।
अवैक्षत हरीन् सर्वान् भर्तारं च मुहुर्मुहु:।
तामिङ्गितज्ञ: संप्रेक्ष्य बभाषे जनकात्मजाम्।।
प्रदेहि सुभगे हारं यस्य तुष्टासि भामिनी।
तेजो धृतिर्यशो दाक्ष्यं सामर्थ्यं विनयो नय:।।
पौरुषं विक्रमो बुद्धिर्यस्मिन्नेतानि नित्यदा।
ददौ सा वायुपुत्राय तं हारमसितेक्षणा।।
हनुमांस्तेन हारेण शुशुभे वानरर्षभ:।
चन्द्रांशुचयगौरेण श्वेताभ्रेण यथाचल: ।।
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Obeisance to the S O N of W I N D, a veritable jewel in the great necklace that is the R A M A Y A N A.