Difference between revisions of "Talk:Hanuman: Valour, Wisdom, Humility, and Devotion"

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'''By A P N Pankaj'''
    hanūmataḥ ko’bhyadhiko’sti loke.
Who, in the world, is superior to Hanuman in valour, energy, intelligence, prowess, character, charm, discernment, composure, dexterity, vigour, and fortitude?<ref>Valmiki Ramayana, 7.36.44.</ref>
Blessing Valmiki, the ''ādikavi'' (first  or foremost among poets) Brahma, the Creator, had prophesied that ‘as long as mountains stand on earth and rivers fowed, the story of Ramayana (narrated by Valmiki) would remain current in all the worlds’: ''Yāvat-sthāsyanti girayaḥ saritaśca mahītale; Tāvad-rāmāyaṇakathā lokeṣu pracariṣyati'' (1.2.36–7).
Today, ages later, this story abides; and as its integral part lives Hanuman and his legend, actualizing 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.’<ref>Mahabharata, 3.147.37; Adhyatma Ramayana,6.16.12–14; Ananda Ramayana, 1.12.141–5.</ref> So, Hanuman lives incognito among us as one of the eight ''cirañjīvins''<ref>The other seven are: Ashvatthama, Bali, Vyasa, Vibhishana, Kripacharya, Parashurama, and Markandeya.</ref>, immortals, listening to ''rāmakathā'', the story of Rama, wherever it is sung.
Down the millennia, the story of Ramayana and of Hanuman has continued to flow and flower in a myriad forms—through epics and Upanishads, Itihasas and Puranas, legend and folklore, history and hearsay; through paintings, dance forms, and folk art; through feature flms and animations; in small villages as well as busy metros; in artless rural ''rāmlīlās'' and sophisticated urban stage plays; in temples, auditoria, and improvised ''paṇḍāls''; through the narrations of simple storytellers, professional ''kathāvāchakas'', erudite pandits, spiritual  leaders, and even child prodigies; in India, Cambodia, Thailand, Java, Sumatra, Bali, 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.Brahma’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 of love for Rama.
== Origin and Epithets ==
According to some versions of the Ramayana, Hanuman was born with bejewelled earrings.<ref>See the Telugu Ranganatha Ramayana, 4.3; PadmaPurana, ‘Patala Khanda’, 112.135; the Tamil Kamba Ramayana, 4.2.35; and the Malay Seri Rama. </ref> He is also described as being born with ''mauñjī-mekhalā'', a three-string girdle of ''muñja'' grass.  In Tulsidas’s ''Hanuman Chalisa'', Hanuman is ‘adorned with earrings, holy thread, and ''muñja''’.
''Hanu'' means ‘chin’ and the suffix ''mat'' denotes ‘possession’, and implicitly ‘excellence’ or ‘superiority’, ''atiśāyana''.  ‘Hanuman’ would thus mean ‘the one with  excellent  chin’. According to Sanskrit lexicographers, letters in this name denote the following: ''ha'', Brahma, Shiva, bliss, sky, water; ''nu'', worship, praise; ''mā'', Lakshmi, Vishnu; and ''na'', 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 Anjaneya, the son of Anjana; as the ''aurasa'' (born of oneself) child of the wind god, he is Maruti or Pavanasuta, and as the ''kṣetraja'' (wife’s ofspring by a duly appointed person) son of Kesari—one of the senior  leaders of the monkey army—he is Kesari-nandana.<ref>Valmiki Ramayana, 4.66.30. See Manu Smriti, 9.159–60 for the twelve types of sons listed by ancient Indian lawmakers </ref> Punjikasthala, an apsara, was born as a monkey due to Brihaspati’s curse. Vayu, the wind god told her: ‘You would have a strong and intelligent son because I have touched you with my mind (''manasāsmi gataḥ''). He would be full of courage, energy, strength, and valour (''mahā-sattvo mahā-tejā mahā-bala-parākrama''), and my equal in fying and leaping.’ <ref>Valmiki Ramayana, 4.66.18–20.</ref>
Bhavabhuti, in his ''Mahaviracharita'', and Bhatti, in his ''Bhattikavya'', give ‘Vrishakapi’ as one of Hanuman’s names. In Nilakantha’s ''Mantra Ramayana'' a  treatise interpreting  several Vedic mantras  as alluding to the Ramayana story—Hanuman fnds mention. Nilakantha believes that Vrishakapi, the ‘man-ape’ associated with Indra and Indrani in the Rig Veda, is none other than Hanuman.<ref>See Rig Veda, 10.86; and Shanti Lal Nagar, Hanumanin Art, Culture, Thought and Literature (New Delhi: Intellectual, 1995), chapter 3 </ref> In Hanuman’s fgure, says A A MacDonnell,  ‘perhaps survives a reminiscence of Indra’s alliance with the Maruts  in his confict with Vṛtra and of the god Saramā who, as Indra’s messenger, crosses the waters of the Rasā and tracks the cows. Saramā recurs as the name of a demoness [in Rāmāyaṇa] who consoles Sītā in her captivity. Te name of Hanumat being Sanskrit, the character is probably not bor-rowed from the aborigines.’ <ref>A A Macdonell, A History of Sanskrit Literature(Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1962), 262–3. </ref>
Camille Bulcke,  the Belgian missionary and author of ''Ramkatha'', disagrees:  ‘In the Vedic  lit-erature, Hanuman  is not mentioned  anywhere. … Te word Hanuman  is probably  the Sanskrit version of a Dravidian word and  it means “man-  monkey”.  ’  <ref> Camille Bulcke, Ramkatha: Utpatti aur Vikas(Prayag: Prayag Vishwavidyalaya, 1999), 85.</ref>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 ''āṇa-mandi'' or ''āṇa-manti'', ''aṇa'' meaning man and ''manda'', monkey (92). Swami Vivekananda says,  ‘By the “monkeys” and “demons” are meant the aborigines of South India.’<ref>The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, 9 vols (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1–8, 1989; 9, 1997),4.70.</ref>In the Bud-dhist Jatakas, 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  ‘Mahakapi Jataka’ clearly reminds us of Hanuman.<ref>See Hanuman in Art, Culture, Thought and Literature, chapter 21.</ref> Te ''Shunya Purana'', an eleventh-century Buddhist text by Ramai Pandit, records that ‘when Madana, wife of Harisha Chan-dra, entered the Buddhist fold, she saw Hanuman protecting the southern gate of the shrine.’ ‘Eventu-ally, the popularity of Hanuman which he gained for his performance in ''Ramayana'' made the Buddhists patronise him’ (ibid.).
In the Jain scriptures, Hanuman is the biological son of Anjan, daughter of Mahendra, the king of Mahendrapur. She is married to Pavananjaya. Hanu-man  is the  lord of Vajrakuta, a part of Manusho-ttara Mountain. ‘He fell from an aerial chariot on a hill which was smashed  into smithereens. He thus earned the sobriquet “Sri-shaila”. He rendered yeoman’s service to Rama in the  latter’s war with Ravana.’<ref>Jinendra Varni, Jainendra Siddhanta Kosha (New Delhi: Bharatiya Jnan Pith; 2000, 2002), 1.346;3.464, 475; 4.529.</ref>
In the ''Adhyatma Ramayana'', Hanuman tells An-gada: ‘We are all celestial attendants of Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha [Vishnu’s celestial abode]. When he incarnated himself as man, we too descended as ''vānaras'' (monkeys).’<ref>Adhyatma Ramayana, 4.7.19–21.</ref>In the Oriya ''Rasavinoda'' of Dinakrishnadasa, the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva together appears in the form of Hanu-man. Goswami Tulsidas—‘the greatest of all poets who wrote in the language of the people’<ref>K M Panikkar, A Survey of Indian History (Bombay:National Information and Publications, 1947).</ref>—pays obeisance  to Hanuman  as  ‘Mahadeva’,  ‘Kapali’, ‘Rudravatara’, ‘Vanarakara-vigraha Purari’, which are also appellations of Shiva or Rudra.<ref>Tulsidas, Vinay Patrika, 26.1, 25.3, 27.1.</ref>In a number of Puranas—the ''Skanda'', Bhagavata, ''Narada'', and ''Brihaddharma'' Puranas, for instance—Hanuman has been depicted as Shiva, or his partial incarnation, or as Kapalin, the eleventh Rudra. In the Bengali ''Krittivasa Ramayana'', Sita realizes that Hanuman is Shiva’s incarnation while serving him food.<ref>Krittivasa Ramayana, 6.129.</ref>
In  ''Kamba  Ramayana''  too,  Hanuman  has been described as an incarnation of Rudra.<ref>Kamba Ramayana, 5.13.</ref>Te ''Ananda Ramayana'', the ''Tattvasangraha Ramayana'', and Tulsidas’s ''Hanuman Bahuka'' and ''Dohavali'' also say so. In some versions of the Ramayana Hanuman has been mentioned as Vishnu’s son. Elsewhere—in the ''Ramakatha'' from Indonesia, for instance—he is Rama’s son.
These diferent views notwithstanding; it is un-deniable that both Sita and Rama had great love for Hanuman and openly expressed their gratitude for his services. In the ''Ramcharitmanas'', Sita says:
''Ajara amara gunanidhi suta hohu; 
Karahun bahuta raghunayaka chhohu.''
May you never grow old or die, my son; be a storehouse of virtue, and may Raghunatha be most gra-cious unto you.
And Rama afrms:
''Sunu suta tohi urina main nahin;
Dekheun kari bichara mana mahin.''
On refection, my son, I have come to the conclusion that I can never repay the debt I owe you.<ref>Tulsidas, Ramcharitmanas, 5.16.2; 5.31.4.</ref>
It was mentioned earlier that Hanuman is the son of Vayu from Anjana, hence he is called ‘Vayuputra’. Valmiki and the succeeding narrators also call him by other names with identical meanings: Pavana-suta, Marutatmaja, Gandhavahatmaja, and so on. In South India people especially love to address Hanuman as Anjaneya. In his ''Hanuman Chalisa'', Tulsi-das addresses him as Shankara Suvana, son of Shiva; Kesarinandana, the joy of Kesari; Anjaniputra, An-jani’s son; and Pavanasuta, son of the Wind.
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 diferently, twice  in facteach with some variations. Te frst is a narration by Jambavan to Hanuman and the second by Agastya to Rama:  ‘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 fruit, the baby—as brilliant as the rising sun—leapt into space to catch the sun and went up hundreds of miles without bothering about the unbearable heat of the freball above. Te Sun too, knowing him to be but a baby, was mild on him. … Indra was angry with Hanuman for his audacity, and striding on his elephant, Airavata, struck him with his thunder-bolt, ''vajra''. He fell down (on the Udaya Mountain) and broke his lef chin.’ In Agastya’s version of the story, the damage was greater. Hanuman was al-most dead. Vayu got very angry and stopped blowing. Tere was commotion in the three worlds. Led by Brahma, gods, humans, and demons approached Vayu with a request to resume his function. Brahma revived Hanuman by his touch. Te wind god, now appeased, started blowing again. However, since Hanuman’s chin was broken, and he recovered from this injury, he got the name ‘Hanuman’. Meanwhile at Brahma’s behest, the gods gave him a number of blessings. Tese included the boons of immortality,  immunity against diseases as well as various powerful celestial weapons, matchless strength, and wisdom. Surya, the sun god, ofered to teach himon his attaining the age for studentship.<ref>Valmiki Ramayana, 4.66.21–9, 7.35.22–65, 7.36.1–27.</ref>
There is another episode about his un-channelledenergies as a child. He was always up to some mischief. Tis greatly disturbed the rishis engaged inausterities. Tey cursed him that he would forget about his strength and would remember  it onlywhen reminded by someone (7.36.28–36). Hence on the eve of his leaping across the sea to fnd Sita’s whereabouts, Jambavan 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. Afer spending some years there, Hanuman goes to Kishkindha, as advisedby Rama.<ref>Shantanu Vihari Dwivedi, Bhaktaraj Hanuman (Gorakhpur: Gita Press), 13.</ref>
Te sun god had ofered to become Hanuman’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 fxed on the Sun, Hanuman kept walking backwards in the sky, synchronizing his steps with the Sun’s movement. In this way, he mastered grammar and otheacademic disciplines.<ref>Valmiki Ramayana, 7.36.45; Tulsidas, Hanuman Bahuka, 4. </ref>
== A Versatile Genius ==
In ''Sri Sri Rama Rasayana'', a Bengali version of the Ramayana, we fnd that Hanuman learnt the Shastras  from Rama himself. In the ''Muktika Upanishad'', we see Rama  teaching him Vedanta and explaining him the diferent types of mukti. In ''Rama-rahasya Upanishad'', we have him in a teacher’s role. In the Mahabharata, Hanuman discourses Bhima on the characteristics of the four ''varnas'', and the duties of the king and the people.<ref>Mahabharata, ‘Vana Parva’, chapters 149–50.</ref>In his ''Vinay Patrika'', Tulsi-das salutes him as ‘''Vedantavid, vividha-vidya-vishada, veda-vedangavid, brahmavadi''; knower of Vedanta, profcient in various sciences, authority on the Vedas and their auxiliaries, and an expounder of the lore of Brahman.’  <ref>Vinay Patrika, 26.8.</ref>He is also ‘a ''kalādhara'' [master of arts] par excellence’—a renowned dancer and singer, and a master musician, saṅgītācārya. According to Ka-lindaji, a critic of Sangita Parijata, a work based on Hanuman’s theory of music, there are three principal exponents of music: Hanuman, Shardula, and Ka-hala, Shiva being the lord of music.<ref>K C Aryan and Subhashini Aryan, Hanuman in Art and Mythology (Delhi: Rekha, 1975), 71.</ref> Bulcke enumer-ates seventeen adjectives used by Valmiki and others to eulogize Hanuman’s intellectual genius.<ref>Ramkatha: Utpatti aur Vikas, 539.</ref>
On completing his education with Surya, Hanu-man insisted on ofering his guru-dakṣiṇā, the pre-ceptor’s fee. Surya asked him to serve Sugriva, his son, who was not as strong and powerful as Bali, the chief of the vanaras. Tis brought Hanuman into Sugriva’s service.
Meeting Rama proved to be the high point of Hanuman’s career. Tis was also a turning point in both their lives. According to the Kamba Ramayana, Hanuman displayed his power to Rama by expand-ing his body into a colossal form; and according to the evidence of the Adbhuta Ramayana, Rama showed him his Vishnu form in turn. In the Valmiki Ramayana, however, Hanuman meets Rama in the foothills of Mount Rishyamuka, disguised as a men-dicant at the behest of Sugriva. He had been sent to fnd out what brought the brothers there and, if they were not Bali’s allies, to ofer them Sugriva’s hand of friendship. During this meeting, Rama observes Hanuman’s unusual abilities and tells Lakshmana:
He is the counsellor of the vanara king Sugriva, and has approached me at his behest. … He has mastery over language. … It is impossible for any-one to converse  like him without attaining com-mand over the Rig, Yajur, and Sama Vedas. His profciency in grammar is thorough; he has stud-ied 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. Tere 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 beatifc, 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?  <ref>Valmiki Ramayana, 4.3.26–34.</ref>
Erudition apart, Hanuman has great sensitivity and excellent communication skills. While speak-ing with Rama and Lakshmana, he uses fawless Sanskrit; but he decides against it when he has to introduce himself to Sita in the Ashokavana. He deliberates:  ‘I am a monkey, and  if I  speak San-skrit as the high-bred twice-born do, she may be
scared, taking me to be Ravana in a fresh disguise. How can a monkey speak with her except in a dia-lect?’ He therefore, ‘spoke in a language which must have been the ordinary spoken tongue (mānuṣīm-iha sanskritām)  in either Kosala or Mithila’.<ref>Dewan Bahadur Ramaswami Sastri, Studies in Ramayana (Baroda: Department of Education, 1954), 123. See also Valmiki Ramayana, 5.30.17–19. </ref>In counselling Sugriva, when the latter becomes neg-ligent in his duty towards Rama; in advising An-gada, when he is contemplating suicide and nursing thoughts of revolt against Sugriva; in dealing with Mount Mainaka, and the demonesses Surasa and Simhika while crossing the ocean; and in teaching a lesson to Lankini, or Lanka-lakshmi, the presiding demoness of Lanka, at the city’s threshold, Hanu-man’s tact, 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 flled 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 fnds Sita in a miserable condition—being threatened by Ravana and the attending 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 decision-making abilities.
In recounting the events of Rama’s life to Janaki in  the Ashokavana and  to Bharata  in Ayodhya, Hanu man  becomes  the frst narrator  of Rama -yana. Legend also has  it that the Sanskrit drama Mahanataka or Hanuman-nataka 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 Mahanataka. On coming to know of Valmiki’s apprehension, Hanuman threw those rocks into the sea. Much later, this work was retrieved, albeit in a disfgured and sub-stantially damaged condition, during the reign of King Bhoja, who had it restored by Damodar Mishra, his courtier.<ref> Munnalal Abhimanyu, Hanuman-natakam (Varanasi:Chowkhamba, 1992), 6–7. According to some, it was Vikramaditya who had the work restored. </ref>
Hanuman is not just a prodigious  intellect or a practical mind; he  is  a  virtual  store-house of strength, valour, and versatility. Once he  comes to  know  of  his  immense potential, he  rises  like  a mountain of gold (kanaka-bhūdharākāra), resolves to  fulfil  the mission assigned  to him, and ‘like the unfailing arrow from Rama’s bow, shoots across the ocean’, determined not to rest till his mission is  accomplished.  Single-handed,  he  devastates Ashokavana, decimates the demon-brigade, and kills  their commander Aksha,  the  son of Ra-vana. Although blessed with Brahma’s boon that his missiles would do him no harm, out of respect for the Creator, he allows himself to be chained by the Brahmastra thrown at him by Indrajit. Unfazed, he appears before Ra-vana in his court and interacts with him in the pres-ence of his commanders and courtiers. Neither is he perturbed when his tail is set ablaze; instead, he ‘breaks into laughter, and roars as he touches the sky’. 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: ‘Te task accomplished by you is difcult even for the mighty gods to achieve. I do not know how to repay my debt to you. I offer you all that is mine’; saying so Rama held Hanuman in tight embrace.<ref>Adhyatma Ramayana, 5.5.60–1. </ref>
Besides the major battle where we see Hanu-man’s prowess, we also come across his amazing encounters with demons like Mahiravana and Airavana, and Mairavana. Te Mahabharata records how in his old age Hanuman hum-bled the mighty Bhima. In another epi-sode, Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that the  latter’s chariot was safe as long as Hanuman was resting on its fag; Kapidhvaja—one having Hanuman as insignia on  the  flag—is  one  of Ar-juna’s many epithets.  ‘Te emblem of Hanuman on the fag of Arjuna is an-other  sign of victory because  Hanuman cooperated with Lord Rama … and Lord Rama emerged victorious. Now both  Rama  and  Hanu-man  were  present  on the chariot of Arjuna to help him. Lord Krishna is Rama himself  and wherever Lord Rama is his  eternal  servi-tor Hanuman and  His consort Sita, the goddess of fortune (Lakshmi), are present. Terefore Arjuna had no cause to fear any enemy whatsoever.’<ref>Swami Prabhupada, Bhagavad Gita as It Is (Bombay:Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1989), 50–1. In Hanuman Bahuka, Tulsidas refers to Hanuman’s presence on Arjuna’s chariot and says that his roar created commotion among the Kaurava forces. </ref>
Bulcke records nearly seventy adjectives that have been used to eulogize Hanuman’s valour and strength in the Valmiki Ramayana and other texts.<ref>Ramkatha: Utpatti aur Vikas, 535.</ref>
== Mahavira: An Ideal ==
Two pictures of Hanuman come to our mind, almost simultaneously.  In one, we  see him  ‘with hands folded together in the anjali pose, expression on the face, one of humility and devotion, kneeling on one leg as if receiving benediction from his lord and master Rama’;<ref>Hanuman in Art and Mythology, 21.</ref>and the other: colossus like, with mace in one hand and the Sanjivani hill in the other, striding across the heavens. In Rajasthani paintings, artists celebrate  ‘his humanness, devotion, and humility’ (35);  in Mughal art,  ‘his deeds marked him as heroic, intelligent, dauntless, enterprising, kind, humble and devout servitor …
Te most enchanting and dynamic representation of Hanuman is to be seen in folk style illustrations in small-size manuscripts’ (33, 38).
The mighty Hanuman with phenomenal physical, mental, intellectual, and spiritual powers—is yet a picture of humility  in Rama’s presence. In the words of Sri Ramakrishna, he is established in the belief that ‘as long as I have the feeling of “I”, I see that Tou art the whole and I am a part; Tou art the Master and I am Thy servant. But when, O Rāma, I have the knowledge of Truth, then I realize that Thou art I, and I am Thou.’  <ref>The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, trans. Swami Nikhilananda (Chennai: Ramakrishna Math, 2002), 105. </ref> This is not just an abstract or  intellectual realization. For Ramakrishna, who, taking Hanuman as his  ideal, had himself practised dāsya sādhanā—spiritual practice with the attitude of a servant—Hanuman lives this realization in his practical  life. Ramakrishna says, ‘Hanuman kept the “servant ego” afer realizing God in both His Personal and His Impersonal aspects. He thought of himself as the servant of God.’ Tis is the ‘ego of Devotion’ (500). Tough having all the siddhis or supernatural powers in his possession, he uses them only to accomplish rāma-kārya, 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 sacrifcing his  life for the good of Rama. A supreme indiference to everything except the service of Rama, even to the attainment of the status of Brahma 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.<ref>Complete Works, 7.232.</ref>
And then, Vivekananda adds: ‘Te 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’ (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 Vajranga (or Bajranga): having a frame as hard as the thunderbolt.
Hanuman is also the epitome of wisdom, both mundane and spiritual. As Rama’s messenger, Hanu-man also believes that the best envoy is one who, afer having accomplished the assigned mission, does an extra task, not contrary to the original as-signment.<ref>Bhatti, Bhattikavya (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1952), 8.127. </ref> Tus, 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 inficts considerable damage on the  lives, property, and morale of the rakshasas.
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 frst place, introduced Sugriva to Rama. He counselled Vibhi-shana as a friend and, in the face of opposition from Sugriva and others, facilitated Vibhishana’s refuge in Rama. In doing so, Hanuman acts as both Sugri-va’s and Vibhishana’s guru. Vivekananda says:
Shri Rama was the Paramatman … Sita was the Jivatman, 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 Hanu-man, the Guru or divine teacher, who shows her the Lord’s ring, which  is Brahma-Jnana, the su-preme wisdom that destroys all illusions; and thus Sita fnds the way to be at one with Shri Rama, or, in other words, the Jivatman fnds itself one with the Paramatman (5.415).
Though Hanuman  is content with remaining a servant, he has become a cult fgure. Today he is the most celebrated  ‘devotee-deity’ of India. Sita had blessed him thus:  ‘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 of evil spirits.’  <ref>Ananda Ramayana, 1.12.147–9.</ref>
It is well known that Tulsidas would recite the Hanuman Bahuka to cure himself of his serious arm ailment; and to ward of calamities, he would chant the  ‘Sankata-mochana-stotra’. Today these and the Hanuman Chalisa are chanted in temples and the homes of millions of Hindus in India and abroad, every morning and evening.  ‘Hanuman,
the monkey god and devotee of Rama, grants us the power of higher life-force (Prana) that elevates the mind and increases our devotion.’  <ref>David Frawley, Ayurveda and the Mind: The Healing of Consciousness (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass,2006), 253. </ref>
The worship  of Hanuman  cuts  across  sects and communities: ‘Śrī Vaiṣṇavas worship Garuḍa and Hanumān  alike  as  the mounts  of  Viṣṇu. …  Hanumān  is  also  a  manifestation  of  śakti (śaktirūpa). Te  tāntrikas worship one-headed,
fve-headed and eleven-headed Hanumān for spir-itual attainment.’  <ref>Hanuman in Art and Mythology, 19.</ref>As incarnation of Shiva or the eleventh Rudra, he  is worshipped by the Shaivas. Madhvacharya, the founder of the Dvaita school of Vaishnava philosophy,  called himself  the  in-carnation of Hanuman.  ‘His [Hanuman’s]  image can be seen repeated in stone carvings, masks, ballet performances and the minor arts of Bali, Java, Tailand etc. where the Ramayana is a living force till today’ (20–1).<ref>This work also includes a painting (plate 65) by an unknown seventeenth-century Muslim worshipper of Hanuman from Western India. </ref>
‘Te worship of the Hindu-deities—primarily Gaṇeśa, Skanda, Sarasvati, the Mothers as also Bhairon and Hanumān—has got so much importance in the Jainism of today that the cult of the Tīrthaṅkaras has strongly receded behind it.’  <ref>Helmuth von Glasenapp, Jainism: An Indian Religion of Salvation (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1999),407. </ref>
‘It is certain, at all events, that none of the larger villages of India is without its image of the monkey-king Hanumat and that monkeys are swarming  in many temples and are treated with great forbearance and love.’  <ref>Maurice Winternitz, A History of Indian Literature,2 vols (Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1927),1.478. </ref>
In the corporate world, human-resource experts deliberate on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes, demanded by the diferent jobs in their respective organizations. We began this essay with the sage Agastya enumerating eleven attributes of excellence, and then afrming 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 ‘Yuddha Kanda’:
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 with whom she was most pleased. Sita gave the necklace to Pavanaputra, who was possessed of [such  ‘pearl-like’ attributes as] energy, fortitude, glory, dexterity, efcacy, humility, statesmanship, valour, prowess, and discernment. Hanu-
man wore the necklace and shone like a mountain lighted up by the moonbeams.’  <ref>Valmiki Ramayana, 6.131.78–83.</ref>
Rāmāyaṇa-mahāmālā-ratnaṁ vande’nilātmajam.
Our obeisance to the son of the Wind, a veritable jewel in the great necklace that is the Ramayana.
== References ==
Originally published by Prabuddha Bharata, [https://advaitaashrama.org/pb_archive/2008/PB_2008_October.pdf October 2008 Edition]. Reprinted with permission.

Latest revision as of 20:36, 19 January 2010