The most universal of all Hindu gods.
From Jammu to Tamil Nadu, from Gujarat to Manipur, Hanuman is the only one who is ever present.
Some areas worship Rama, some Krishna, some Vishnu, some Ganesha, some Shiva, some Santoshi, some Durga, some Kali.
But everyone worships Hanuman.
Hell, even if you are not a Hindu, you know of at least two Hindu gods- the elephant god Ganesha and the monkey god Hanuman.
Hanuman is one of the eight Chiranjivies or immortals of Hindu mythology
Ashwathaama Balirvyaaso Hanumanshcha Vibheeshanaha
Krupaha Parshuramascha Saptaitey Chiranjivinaha
Saptaitaan Samsmareynnityam Markandeymathaashtamam
Jivedvarshshatam Sopi Sarvavyadhivivarjit
The above lines means that by daily remembering these 8 immortals (Ashwatthama, King Bali, Ved Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibhishan, Kripacharya, Parashuram and Rishi Markandaya) one can be free of all problems and live for 100 years. These are also called as 8 great warriors.
We all know Hanuman from the Ramayana.
We know how he brought a mountain to save Laxman, how he burnt down Lanka, how he tore open his chest to reveal Ram Sita etc.
But about pre-Ramayana?
Not many know, especially in Bengal as the Communists frowned upon all manners of Hindu religion.
In fact my friend the hardcore commie Saikat Chakraborty maintains that Hanuman is a fascist Sanghi. He claims that we should not heed any of this superstitious stuff and instead focus on the teachings of Marx and Mao.
However, I am not a Commie fascist.
I believe in knowledge and spreading knowledge. I also love mythology.
So let me tell you about Hanuman’s birth and childhood.
Here’s an account of the origins of Hanuman.
Sup with the name?
As usual, when it comes to Indian myths, there are different versions and theories
- From the Sanskrit words Hanu (“jaw”) and -man (or -mant, “prominent” or “disfigured”). The name thus means “one with prominent or disfigured jaw”. Apparently,
- From the Sanskrit words Han (“killed” or “destroyed”) and maana (pride); the name implies “one whose pride was destroyed”.
- From Jain texts that mention that Hanuman spent his childhood on an island called Hanuruha, thus his name.
- From from the proto-Dravidian word for male monkey (ana-mandi), which was later Sanskritized to “Hanuman”.
Sup with his birth?
Mother: Anjana, an apsara. She was cursed (a frequent occurrence in all myths) and was thus born on earth. She was informed that redemption will only happen if she gives birth to a son.
Father: Kesari, the son of Brihaspati; he was the King of a place named Sumeru.
So sup with the whole son of Vayu/Marut (wind god) thing?
Anjana prayed to Shiva for 12 years to get a child. Pleased, Shiva granted the boon.
So far so good.
Now comes Vayu.
Myth 1 – By Shiva’s direction, Vayu transferred his male energy to Anjana’s womb.
Myth 2 – When Anjana was worshiping Shiva, King Dasharatha of Ayodhya was also performing the ritual of Putrakama yagna in order to have children. As a result, he received some sacred pudding (payasam) to be shared by his three wives, leading to the births of Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna. Vayu waved a kite that snatched a fragment of that pudding and delivered the falling pudding to the outstretched hands of Anjana, who consumed it. Result – Hanuman.
Myth 3 – Narada, infatuated with a princess, went to his lord Vishnu. He asked Vishnu to give him hari mukh (as beautiful as Vishnu) so that the princess would garland him at swayamvara. Vishnu instead bestowed him with the face of a vanara. Unaware of this, Narada went to the princess and naturally, was humiliated. Narada, unable to bear the humiliation, cursed Vishnu, that Vishnu would one day be dependent upon a vanara. Vishnu replied that what he had done was for Narada’s own good, as he would have undermined his own powers if he were to enter matrimony. Vishnu also noted that Hari has the dual Sanskrit meaning of vanara. Upon hearing this, Narada repented for cursing his idol. But Vishnu told him not to repent as the curse would act as a boon, for it would lead to the birth of Hanuman, an avatar of Shiva, without whose help Rama (Vishnu’s avatar) could not kill Ravana.
Myth 4 – Hanuman is the son of Shiva and Mohini, where Mohini is the female form of Vishnu. The resulting energy was stored in sacred form. When Anjana and Kesari worshiped Shiva for a son, Shiva asked Vayu to place the energy inside Anjana’s womb.
Sup with his powers?
As a child, believing the sun to be a ripe mango, Hanuman pursued it in order to eat it.
At the same time, Rahu was chasing the sun as well and he clashed with Hanuman (eclipse).
They clashed and Hanuman thrashed Rahu and went to take the sun in his mouth.
Beaten, battered and humiliated, Rahu approached Indra, king of Gods, and complained that a monkey child stopped him from taking on Sun, preventing the scheduled eclipse. This enraged Indra, who responded by throwing the Vajra (thunderbolt) at Hanuman, which struck his jaw. He fell back down to the earth and became unconscious. A permanent mark was left on his chin.
This upset Vayu, (god of Air) Hanuman’s father figure. He went into seclusion, withdrawing air along with him. As living beings began to asphyxiate, Indra withdrew the effect of his thunderbolt. The devas then revived Hanuman and blessed him with multiple boons to appease Vayu.
- Brahma gave Hanuman a boon that would protect him from the irrevocable Brahma’s curse. Brahma also said: “Nobody will be able to kill you with any weapon in war.” From Brahma he obtained the power of inducing fear in enemies, of destroying fear in friends, to be able to change his form at will and to be able to easily travel wherever he wished.
- From Shiva he obtained the boons of longevity, scriptural wisdom and ability to cross the ocean. Shiva assured safety of Hanuman with a band that would protect him for life.
- Indra blessed him that the Vajra weapon will no longer be effective on him and his body would become stronger than Vajra.
- Varuna blessed baby Hanuman with a boon that he would always be protected from water.
- Agni blessed him with immunity to burning by fire.
- Surya gave him two siddhis of yoga namely “laghima” and “garima”, to be able to attain the smallest or to attain the biggest form.
- Yama, the God of Death blessed him healthy life and free from his weapon danda, thus death would not come to him.
- Kubera showered his blessings declaring that Hanuman would always remain happy and contented.
- Vishwakarma blessed him that Hanuman would be protected from all his creations in the form of objects or weapons.
- Vayu blessed him with more speed than he himself had.
- Kamadeva also blessed him that the appeal of sex will not be effective on him.
Sup with him and Sugriva?
Hanuman figured that Surya, the Sun God, was an all-knowing teacher. So, he raised his body into an orbit around the sun and requested Surya to accept him as a student.
Surya refused. He explained that he always had to be on the move in his chariot; thus it would be impossible for Hanuman to learn well. Undeterred, Hanuman enlarged his form, with one leg on the eastern ranges and the other on the western ranges, and facing Surya again pleaded. Pleased by his persistence, Surya agreed.
Hanuman then learned all of the latter’s knowledge. When Hanuman then requested Surya to quote his “guru-dakshina” (teacher’s fee), the latter refused, saying that the pleasure of teaching one as dedicated as him was the fee in itself. Hanuman insisted, whereupon Surya asked him to help his (Surya’s) spiritual son Sugriva.
Thus, Hanuman became Sugriva’s minister.
So there you have it.
An account of Hanuman, one of the greatest gods there is.
The only thing left to say is