23. aprill, 2024

Hanumān Jayanti

Sri Hanuman is the greatest of all devotees of the Lord. He is a jñani (one in complete knowledge) in the fullest sense of the word.

He has merged with his Lord, Sri Rama, in his own being, and he sees his Lord in everything and everyone. His realization of the truth does not end there. This is the key to understanding Sri Hanuman. He serves Sri Rama in all beings by removing the obstacles to those beings realizing the truth in themselves. He sees that, in fact, there ARE no “other” beings, only Rama. Motivated by love born of Truth that manifests as compassion for beings who believe themselves to be separate, he works tirelessly to remove their suffering.

Hanuman is one of the most beloved figures in the Hindu pantheon of gods called Kimpurushas, mystic beings that are half-human and half-animal. He is the symbol of utter and selfless devotion to his supreme deity, Sri Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, scion of the solar race, the pinnacle of human perfection. Hanuman’s entire strength came through the repetition of the name of Rama, the greatest mantra for this age of Kali, which if chanted with devotion, is said to give liberation from the coils of mortal life. Every temple of Rama has a figure of Hanuman seated at his feet and bowing to him. Wherever the Ramayana is read or recited, a seat is left vacant for Hanuman, since it is believed that he is always present at the reading of the story of his beloved master.

Rama, as an incarnation of the god Vishnu, subdues the demon king Ravana and restores the balance of good and evil on Earth. Ravana represents the monster we can become when we give our baser instincts full reign. By contrast, Rama is seen as the supreme glory of mankind and teaches us how to behave with valor, dignity, compassion, and chilvalry. He is the epitome of a great ruler and husband. His wife Sita is the embodiment of earthly grace, beauty, and virtue. Rama has been described as the sun, or divine consciousness, and Sita as the light of its warming rays on Earth. As Sita says in Valmiki’s Ramayana, 5.21.15, “I am as inseparable from Rama as radiance is from the sun.” Together, they make up the ideal couple and the verses describing their love are some of the most beautiful ever written. Hanuman, son of the wind god, is the breath that unites them. As a lowly simian, he would not be expected to embody total self-control and discipline, and yet by concentration of mind, he accomplishes just that, ever steadfast in helping his lord Rama to defeat the demon king and rescue Sita. He shows the reader that if he too concentrates his mind on the divine and never wavers, he can control his baser instincts and merge with supreme consciousness.

Hanuman is sometimes described as the world’s first Superman and, as such, his stories can be appreciated even by young children. He accomplishes feats of amazing strength, but it is his personal commitment to principles of valor and justice, along with his humble demeanor, that help make him such an admired figure. In India, there exist popular cartoons depicting the many breathtaking feats of Hanuman. However, as stated, the figures of Rama, his wife Sita, the monkey god Hanuman, the demon god Ravana, and others who figure prominently in the Ramayana are all part of a most profound philosophical and religious allegory that can be appreciated on a variety of levels, and this is why these exciting stories have endured through many millennia.

The Sanskrit word sadhana refers to any method by which the aspirant, or sadhaka, can establish contact with the inner realms of being. One of the easiest methods of sadhana is known as japa, or the repetition of the name of God in whatever form we picture him. Hanuman gives us the image of an animal that attained perfection solely by chanting the name of Rama, his personal deity, and of the utter and complete self-abnegation of his interests to that of his Lord and god Rama. Humility and selflessness are measures of our knowledge. The more we know, the more we realize how little we know and how little we can do by ourselves.

As stated, according to legend, Hanuman is the son of the wind god. Air sustains all living beings. One can exist without food, spend days without water, but it is impossible to exist even for a short time without air. Air is life. Therefore, Hanuman is also called Pranadeva, or the God of Breath or Life.

Vaishnavites, or followers of Vishnu, believe that the wind god Vayu underwent three incarnations to help Lord Vishnu. As Hanuman, he helped Rama, as Bhima, he assisted Krishna, and as Madhvacharya (1238–1317), he founded the Vaishnava sect known as Dvaita.

In Hindu symbolism, a monkey signifies the human mind, which is ever restless and never still. This monkey mind happens to be the only thing over which man can have absolute control. We cannot control the world around us, but we can control and tame our mind by ardent discipline. We cannot choose our life, but we can choose the way we respond to it. Truly, Hanuman is symbolic of the perfect mind and embodies the highest potential it can achieve.

The name Hanuman gives a clue to his character. It is a combination of two Sanskrit words, hanan (annihilation) and man (mind), thus indicating one who has conquered his ego. According to yoga, the body is only an extension of the mind. Hence Hanuman, with perfect mastery over his mind, had the most developed body. He is sometimes called Bajarangabali (one whose body is like a thunderbolt and whose movements are like lightning). He is so strong that he can lift mountains, so agile that he can leap across the sea.

His strength is proverbial, and thus he is the patron of physical culture. His image is enshrined in gymnasiums all over India and wrestlers worship him before commencing their practice. The yogasana (yogic position) known as surya namaskara, or salutation to the sun god, is a mixture of all the main yogic postures combined with devotion, and it was composed by Hanuman in honor of his celestial guru, Surya. Vayu, his celestial father, taught him pranayama, or the science of breath control, which he in turn taught to human beings.

The scriptures refer to several events where Hanuman exhibited his power over the celestial bodies, including the sun and Saturn. Hence he gained power over the navagrahas, or nine planets of Hindu cosmology. These planets are Ravi, the sun; Soma, the moon; Mangal, Mars; Buddha, Mercury; Brihaspati, Jupiter; Shukra, Venus; Shani, Saturn; the bodiless, Rahu (the north node of the moon) and the headless, Ketu (the south node of the moon). Their alignment in the astrological chart is supposed to decide a person’s destiny. In many of his images, Hanuman is shown trampling a woman and holding her by her braid. This woman embodies Panavati, or baneful astrological influences.

Sorcerers manipulate cosmic powers to invoke malevolent spirits. People normally call upon Hanuman to protect them from such people. When Ravana invoked two such sorcerers, Ahiravana and Mahiravana, Hanuman invoked the power of Kaali to subdue them. Many practitioners of Tantra worship him because he has many siddhis, or supernatural powers, such as the ability to change his size and the ability to fly, which he gained through his strict brahmacharya (celibacy) and tapasya (austerity). Thus he displays the dual characteristics of bhakti (devotion) and shakti (divine energy).

He is also the patron of Ayurvedic healers, since he played a vital role in saving Lakshmana’s life by bringing him the magic herb from the Himalayas. He later saved Shatrughna’s life with the same herb. Lakshmana and Shatrughna were twins who were also Rama’s younger brothers.

As a warrior, Hanuman has no parallel. He uses both strength and guile to overpower the enemy. This was exhibited many times during the war with the king of the demons, Ravana.

Hanuman was also a master diplomat. He knew how to speak sweetly and make others see his side of the matter without the use of force. Hence, he was the spokesman for Sugriva, the monkey king, when he approached Rama to find out his intentions. Again Sugriva sent him to try and subdue Lakshmana’s anger at his own lapse. Rama sent him as his envoy to Sita twice—once to the island fortress of Lanka carrying his signet ring, and again to fetch her after the war. He also sent him to his brother Bharata to find out his intentions before setting foot in Ayodhya. All those who came into contact with him were most impressed by his diplomatic method of talking and by his beguiling ways.

Strangely enough, he was also a great musician. He had been blessed by the goddess Saraswati and was thus able to play on the lute and sing lyrics in praise of Rama. He was the first to sing bhajans (songs of adoration) and kirtans (songs of praise). His music was an outpouring of his great love for his beloved master and hence even had the power to melt rocks.

Hanuman is the perfect example of a student. He was totally focused, hardworking, humble, determined, and brilliant. He flew to the solar orb in his determination to obtain the sun god, Surya, as his guru. However, he never flaunted his brilliance and scholarship but always sat at the feet of Rama—ever the humble servant.

He was also a hatha yogi since he practiced yogasanas (yogic postures) and pranayama (control of the breath). He was a laya yogi (one who practices the yoga of immolation, dissolving into the Supreme), since he knew how to control his mind with mantras (sacred sounds) and yantras (sacred symbols). Thus, as mentioned, he acquired many siddhis, or supernatural powers.

If yoga is the ability to control one’s mind, then Hanuman was the perfect yogi, having perfect mastery over his senses, achieved through a disciplined lifestyle and as discussed, by a strict adherence to celibacy and selfless devotion. He controlled his mind through absolute faith in the divine. Every event in his life was a gift from his master to be accepted without question. His life is a classic example to be followed by all devotees of God in any form. He shows us how a devotee should spend his or her life so as to reach the Supreme. He symbolizes the pinnacle of bhakti, and Hindus consider him to be the eleventh avatara, or incarnation, of Rudra or Lord Shiva. Once it is said that Narada asked Brahma whom he considered to be the greatest devotee of Vishnu. No doubt the sage was hoping that his name would be suggested. However, Brahma directed him to Prahlada, the king of asuras (demons) for whose sake Vishnu had taken a special avatara as Narasimha (the man-lion). Prahlada, who was himself a great devotee of Vishnu, with characteristic humility told him to go to Hanuman, whom he thought to be the greatest devotee of Vishnu since he chanted the name of Rama constantly.

Hanuman was a perfect karma yogi (one who practices the yoga of action), since he performed his actions with detachment, dedicating everything to Rama, his God. He was totally free from any desire for personal aggrandizement. In the whole of the Ramayana, there is no incident in which he did anything for himself. All his feats were for the sake of others.

Hanuman spent his entire life in the service of others. First he served Sugriva, then Rama. He personifies bhakti through dasa bhava, or the attitude of the servant. This type of devotion is the perfect instrument to destroy the ego. He performed his duties humbly, modestly, and with great devotion. He chose not to marry and have a family of his own so that he could devote himself entirely to the service of others. He never exceeded his orders even when he was capable of doing so. For instance, he could easily have killed the demon Ravana and conquered the island of Lanka on his own, as his mother said, but he refrained from doing so since he wanted to be a true servant and obey his master’s orders.

He is noted for his mighty intellect and is thought to be the only scholar who knows all the nine vyakaranas (explanations of the Vedas). He is thought to have learned the Vedas from the sun god himself. He is the wisest of the wise, strongest of the strong, and bravest of the brave. He had the power to assume any form he liked, to swell his body to the size of a mountain or reduce it to a thumbnail. One who meditates on him will attain power, strength, glory, prosperity, and success in life.

Hanuman is the epitome of wisdom, self-control, devotion, valor, righteousness, and strength. His indispensable role in reuniting Rama with Sita is likened by some to that of a teacher helping an individual soul realize the divine. Rama himself describes Hanuman thus: “Heroism, cleverness, strength, firmness, sagacity, prudence, prowess, and power have taken up their abode in Hanuman.”

Sage Agastya endorses this view and said to Rama, “What you say regarding Hanuman is true, O Raghava! None else is equal to him in might, speed, or intelligence.” He is easily reachable just by chanting the mantra “Rama.”

Hanuman is worshipped on Saturdays and Tuesdays, which are associated with Shani and Mangal, or Saturn and Mars. Both these planets are associated with death and war and known to disrupt human life by their malefic influence.

The two scriptures that are read by all Hanuman devotees are the Sundara Kanda of the Ramayana,  and the forty verses of the Hanuman Chalisa by Tulsidas, the great sixteenth-century poet. And as mentioned earlier, wherever the Ramayana is read, a special seat is always reserved for Hanuman since the belief is that he will always be present at such a reading.

The Hanuman Chalisa declares categorically that there is no blessing that he cannot bestow. Sita granted him the power to bestow the eight siddhis and nine types of wealth on others. However, the greatest boon one can ask of Hanuman is the uplifting of the spiritual qualities that he himself is known for.

Om Sri Hanumate Namah!

Vanamali. Hanuman: The Devotion and Power of the Monkey God (p. 11).