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

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'''By A P N Pankaj'''
    hanūmatah 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 girayah saritaśca mahītale; Tāvad-rāmāyanakathā lokesu pracarisyati'' (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 ''pandāls''; 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 ''ksetraja'' (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 gata''). He would be full of courage, energy, strength, and valour (''mahā-sattvo mahā-tejā mahā-bala-parākrama''), and my equal in flying 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 finds 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 Vrtra 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 Rāmāyana] who consoles Sītā in her captivity. The name of Hanumat being Sanskrit, the character is probably not borrowed 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  literature, Hanuman  is not mentioned anywhere. The 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 ''āna-mandi'' or ''āna-manti'', ''ana'' 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 Buddhist 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> The ''Shunya Purana'', an eleventh-century Buddhist text by Ramai Pandit, records that ‘when Madana, 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.).
In the Jain scriptures, Hanuman is the biological son of Anjan, daughter of Mahendra, the king of Mahendrapur. She is married to Pavananjaya. Hanuman is the lord of Vajrakuta, a part of Manushottara Mountain. ‘He fell from an aerial chariot on a hill which was smashed into smithereens. He thus earned the sobriquet “Srishaila”. 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 Angada: ‘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 Hanuman. 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>The ''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 undeniable 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 gracious unto you.
And Rama affirms:
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 thunderbolt, ''vajra''. He fell down (on the Udaya Mountain) and broke his left chin.’ In Agastya’s version of the story, the damage was greater. Hanuman was almost dead. Vayu got very angry and stopped blowing. There 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. 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 ‘Hanuman’. Meanwhile at Brahma’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, ofered to teach him on 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 unchannelled energies as a child. He was always up to some mischief. This greatly disturbed the rishis engaged inausterities. They 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 advised by Rama.<ref>Shantanu Vihari Dwivedi, Bhaktaraj Hanuman (Gorakhpur: Gita Press), 13.</ref>
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 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 other academic 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 find that Hanuman learnt the Shastras from Rama himself. In the ''Muktika Upanishad'', we see Rama teaching him Vedanta and explaining him the different 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'', Tulsidas 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, sangītācārya. According to Kalindaji, a critic of ''Sangita Parijata'', a work based on Hanuman’s theory of music, there are three principal exponents of music: Hanuman, Shardula, and Kahala, Shiva being the lord of music.<ref>K C Aryan and Subhashini Aryan, Hanuman in Art and Mythology (Delhi: Rekha, 1975), 71.</ref> Bulcke enumerates 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, Hanuman insisted on ofering his ''guru-dakshinā'', the preceptor’s fee. Surya asked him to serve Sugriva, his son, who was not as strong and powerful as Bali, the chief of the ''vanaras''. This brought Hanuman into Sugriva’s service.
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 ''Kamba Ramayana'', Hanuman displayed his power to Rama by expanding 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 anyone to converse like him without attaining command over the Rig, Yajur, and Sama Vedas. His profciency 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 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 speaking with Rama and Lakshmana, he uses flawless 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 Sanskrit as the highbred 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 dialect?’ He therefore, ‘spoke in a language which must have been the ordinary spoken tongue (''mānusīmiha 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 negligent in his duty towards Rama; in advising Angada, 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, Hanuman’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, Hanuman becomes the frst narrator  of Ramayana. 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 substantially 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 Ravana. 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 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, 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: ‘The 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 Hanuman’s prowess, we also come across his amazing encounters with demons like Mahiravana and Airavana, and Mairavana. The Mahabharata records how in his old age Hanuman humbled the mighty Bhima. In another episode, Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that the  latter’s chariot was safe as long as Hanuman was resting on its flag; Kapidhvaja—one having Hanuman as insignia on the flag—is one of Arjuna’s many epithets. ‘The emblem of Hanuman on the fag 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.’<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 …
The 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 Thou art the whole and I am a part; Thou 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.’ This is the ‘ego of Devotion’ (500). Though 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 behest is the one vow of his life! Such whole hearted devotion is wanted.<ref>Complete Works, 7.232.</ref>
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’ (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, Hanuman also believes that the best envoy is one who, afer having accomplished the assigned mission, does an extra task, not contrary to the original assignment.<ref>Bhatti, Bhattikavya (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1952), 8.127. </ref> 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 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 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 as both Sugriva’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 Hanuman, the Guru or divine teacher, who shows her the Lord’s ring, which is Brahma-Jnana, the supreme wisdom that destroys all illusions; and thus Sita finds the way to be at one with Shri Rama, or,in other words, the Jivatman finds 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 Vaishnavas worship Garuda and Hanumān alike as the mounts of Vishnu. Hanumān is also a manifestation of śakti (śaktirūpa). The  tāntrikas worship one-headed, five-headed and eleven-headed Hanumān for spiritual 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 incarnation 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>
‘The worship of the Hindu-deities—primarily Ganeśa, Skanda, Sarasvati, the Mothers as also Bhairon and Hanumān—has got so much importance in the Jainism of today that the cult of the Tīrthankaras has strongly receded behind it.’ <ref>Helmuth von Glasenapp, Jainism: An Indian Religion of Salvation (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 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 Hanuman 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, efficacy, humility, statesmanship, valour, prowess, and discernment. Hanuman wore the necklace and shone like a mountain lighted up by the moonbeams.’  <ref>Valmiki Ramayana, 6.131.78–83.</ref>
Rāmāyana-mahāmālā-ratnam 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