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Lord Hanuman: The Chosen Messenger

In the epic Ramayana, there is one hero who is at once endearing, valorous, intelligent, humble, and the very epitome of devotion and loyalty. He, the life-breath of Lord Rama, is none other than Hanuman. Brihaspati, the preceptor of  gods, had an attendant by the name of Punjikasthala. She was cursed to assume the form of a female monkey. The nature of the curse was such that it would be removed only when she gave birth to the incarnation of Lord Shiva. In accordance with the curse, she was born as Anjana, the wife of Kesari (named for being brave as a lion). As Anjana, she performed intense austerities to appease Lord Shiva. Pleased with her devotion and piety, Lord Shiva granted her the rare boon of being His mother.

The birth. Dashratha, the King of Ayodhya, was given the sacred payasa (pudding) by Agni Deva (The God of Fire) in response to his plea for children. The payasa was of a divine sort and with its blessings, Lord Rama, along with Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna incarnated in the family of Dashratha. In accordance with divine will,  a portion of the payasa was snatched by a bird. On its way, the bird dropped the pudding. Pavana Dev (The God of Wind), delivered this pudding in the hands of Anjana Devi, who was then engaged in worship. As a result of this, Lord Shiva incarnated as Hanuman. As Pavana Dev was instrumental in this birth, he is also known as the god-father of Hanuman.

On Anjaneya’s (another name for Hanuman) birth, Anjana was freed from her curse and was immediately restored to her heavenly form. As she was leaving, Vayu Putra (the son of wind) questioned her about his future. She assured him that he would never be destroyed and that fruits as ripe as the rising sun would be his food. Thinking that the glowing sun was his food, the divine child leapt across the sky. As he was nearing the sun, the planet Rahu, who was well-known for causing troubles, complained to Indra about a child trying to eclipse the sun. Hanumanji had almost devored the sun, when Indra (the King of Devas) struck the child’s jaw with a thunderbolt, causing him to fall earthward. Pavana Dev was infuriated on learning of the treatment his god-son had received. He immediately retreated with Hanuman to the nether region. As wind departed from the earth, all the creatures were unable to breathe. In order to pacify Pavana Dev, all the gods and goddesses conferred great boons, including the boon of immortality, on baby Hanuman. The blessings of all the divine dieties made Hanuman invincible and more powerful than any other being.

The Curse. As a young child, Hanuman was as naughty as other children, with the exception that his naughtiness was often accompanied by an exhibition of his vast powers. Hanumanji could throw moutains as if they were mere pebbles, could swell to the size of the universe, and could perform feats that no being could ever dream of. In childish pranks, he would create whirlwinds and disturb the penance of sages. In fear of his great powers, the sages, in collaboration with Lord Brahma (the creator), devised a plan. They cursed Hanuman to forget his powers; his powers were to be restored to him only on meeting Rama.

Education. Anjaneya mentally chose the Sun God as his preceptor. He reverently approached the divinity with a request to learn scriptures. Surya, the Sun God, agreed but pointed to the fact that it was not possible for him to stop his journey across the sky as that would cause chaos in the world. Hanumanji, the ocean of intelligence, however did not see this as a problem. He assumed a mighty form and concentrated on his lessons while traversing backward. In a record time of sixty hours, Hanumanji had mastered all the scriptures. Pleased with the progress of his divine disciple, Surya declared the period of preceptorship as complete. On being pressed for accepting fees, Surya requested Hanumanji to assist his son, Sugriva, the Monkey King, as a minister and constant companion.

At the feet of Rama. As Hanumanji was passing his days   (Image credit: with Sugriva, he once met Lord Rama, when the latter was in a period of exile and was searching for Mother Sita, who was abducted by Ravana. During their search for Sita, Rama and Lakshmana visited the vicinity of Pampa Lake situated at the base of the mountain Risyamukha. Sugriva, along with his ministers was hiding in this region in fear of his brother, Bali. When Rama and Lakshmana arrived, Sugriva suspected that they were sent by his enemy Bali. To ascertain their intent, Sugriva sent Hanuman in the guise of a brahmin. Lord Rama immediately recognized the brahmin as his chosen devotee, Hanuman. Hanuman too reverentially clasped Rama’s feet and was overjoyed.

Rama dispatched the monkey army, headed by Hanuman, to search for Sita. In order to find Mother Sita, Hanuman had to cross the Indian Ocean. For the sake of his master, Hanuman assumed a mighty form and leapt across the entire Indian Ocean, as if in child’s play. On reaching Lanka, he created havoc in the demon city, uprooted trees, destroyed demons, consoled Mother Sita, and burnt the entire city of Lanka. Undaunted by the demon hosts, Hanuman returned in the service of his master with a message from the divine mother.

In the days that followed, there was a most terrifying war between Lord Rama and the demons. Hanumanji played a major role in this war and destroyed the demons, as if they were mere flies. His exploits in the holy war are so expansive that millions of books have not been able to recite his glory in all completeness. On one occasion Lakshmana, Rama’s younger brother, was wounded by a poisonous spear, rendering him unconcious. The antidote to this injury was a certain herb that could be found only in the Himalayan region. Hanumanji flew from Lanka to the Himalayas in search of the herb; on reaching the Himalayas, he located the mountain but could not find the right herb. In order to save time, he lifted the entire mountain and brought it to Lakshmana’s rescue. It was with Hanuman’s help that Rama overcame the terrifying demons of Lanka and ultimately succeeded in rescuing Mother Sita. Mother Sita was so pleased with his loyalty that she blessed him with infinite powers.

His devotion. There has never been a devotee as devoted, and dear, to the Lord as Anjanyea. Ceaslessly chanting Rama’s name, Hanuman accomplished the most impossible of feats. His devotion was so great that the Lord himself used to feel indebted to him. Hanuman’s entire life is an offering to his master. Once Hanuman witnessed Mother Sita wearing the sacred saffron mark on her forehead. He immediately questioned her about the practice. The mother indicated that she wore the mark so that her husband would enjoy a long and healthy life. Hanumanji immediately smeared his entire body with saffron powder. When Rama questioned Hanuman about this, he responded saying that if the mother’s little mark could give Rama a long life, smearing the same all over his body would give Rama a much, much longer life. Anjaneya’s devotion brough tears to the Lord’s eye.

There is another incidence that demonstrates Hanuman’s devotion. On returning from Lanka, Rama was distributing gifts to all His subjects, to the exception of Hanuman. Mother Sita questioned this discrimination. The all-knowing Lord responded saying that to Hanuman, these gifts were too trivial. He sought only the Lord and nothing else. Not satisfied at this, the mother gifted Hanuman with a pearl necklace. Immediately, Hanumanji started biting the pearl into pieces and discarded them as if they were mere pebbles. All those witnessing the incidence were dumbfounded and scolded Anjaneya for wasting the precious necklace. To their questions, Hanuman responded that he was trying to find his Rama in those pearls and without his presence those pearls were mere dust to him. To illustrate, Hanumanji immediately tore his chest and to the astonishment of all present, they saw in his heart the images of Rama and Sita, along with Lakshmana.

Hanumanji’s role was not restricted to the Ramayana period. He was as active during the Mahabharata and even assisted Krishna and Arjuna in the war against evil forces. He is so pure and powerful that evil forcess flee at the very sound of his name. When Lord Rama was departing to His divine realm, he asked Anjaneya to stay back and protect His devotees. Hanmanji, in place of liberation, chose the boon of staying on earth till the name of God is chanted. Hanumanji is still actively assisting pure devotees of God.

Lord Hanuman symbolizes strength and victory and it is said that wherever there is Hanuman, there is victory.

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