By editor - 29.10 2020

A monkey born of the elements and aspects of Devas. In the epics of no other country could be found a character that belongs to the animal kingdom who is as powerful, erudite and philosophic as Hanuman.

1) Birth. Many and different are the stories about the birth of Hanuman told in Puranic literature, and they are briefly noted below.

(1) The semen discharged by Siva, whose erotic feelings were excited by the sight of Visnu disguised as Mohini was received by the Saptarsis and deposited in the womb of Anjana and Hanuman was born out of it. (Siva Purana, Satarudrasamhita)

(2) Dasaratha divided among his wives the divine payasa (pudding) got from the putrakamesti yajna which was performed so that he might be blessed with children. Somehow or other a kite snatched some pudding and flew off with it. On its way the pudding fell down from the beaks of the kite on the fingers of Anjana doing tapas in the forest. She ate that pudding and Hanuman was born as the son of Anjana due to the extraordinary powers of the pudding. (Ananda Ramayana).

(3) Siva, once in his fierce and effulgent form (aspect) entered Kesari, the husband of Anjana and had coitus with her. After that Vayu (Wind-god) also had coitus with her. Thus as a result of the sexual act by both the Devas Anjana got pregnant. Later Anjana was about to throw into the valley of the mountain her new-born child as it was an ugly one when Vayu (Wind god) intervened and saved the child. Hanuman was the child thus born of Siva and Vayu. (Bhavisya Purana, Pratisarga Parva) .

(4) Hanuman's actual father was Siva. Ganapati was born to Siva and Parvati as they played in the forest disguised as elephants. After that Siva and Parvati played about in the forest disguised as monkeys as a result of which Parvati got pregnant. Since Parvati did not like the idea of being the mother of a monkey, Siva by his yogic power entrusted the child (in embryo) that was in the womb of Parvati to Vayu (Wind god), who carried it with him hither and thither till it became mature, when it was deposited in Anjana, the monkey woman. The monkey called Kesari was her husband. Thus Hanuman was born as the son of Anjana.

Anjana also has a story of her own. Once upon a time she was the maid-servant called Punjikasthala of Brhaspati. One day she went out to gather flowers when the love-makings of other young women attracted her so much that, without gathering flowers, and her erotic sentiments being aroused much, she returned home and covered Brhaspati with kisses. Brhaspati got really angry with the misbehaviour of his maid-servant and cursed her into a female monkey. She was told that after she had lived for sometime with a monkey-husband she would get a child from the vitality of Siva, after which she would return to him as maid servant as of old. And accordingly Punjikasthala became a female monkey under the name Anjana and lived at Anjana forest with a handsome monkey called Kesari as her husband.

It was while Anjana was doing tapas so that she might become pregnant by Siva that Siva and Parvati played in that forest disguised as monkeys, and Parvati conceived and the child ultimately came out as the son of Anjana.

Even while Anjana was pregnant the child in her womb had much to suffer at the hands of Bali. Hearing from Narada that Siva's son had been born in Anjana's womb Bali feared that the actual birth of such a son would jeopardise his lordship over the monkeys. To ward off the threatened contingency, Bali, as advised by Narada, let in the five metals (gold, copper, iron, tin and zinc) in watery form into the stomach of Anjana. (This is a means of causing abortion). But, the attempt misfired. Instead of the five metals killing the child in Anjana's womb, they became ear-ornaments for it, and Hanuman was thus born with ornaments in his ears. (Kamba Ramayana Purvakanda).

2) Naming and boons. As soon as Hanuman was born Anjana was released from the curse, and she wanted to return to heaven. The monkey child asked its mother what its future would be and how it was to earn its living. She assured him that he would never be destroyed and that fruits as ripe as the rising sun (she pointed the sun out to him) would form his food. And Anjana returned to heaven.

Thinking that the glowing and glittering Sun was food for him to be eaten, the monkey child made just one jump at it (Sun) and quite neared it. But seeing Rahu, bigger than the Sun he jumped at it. Then it was that it saw Airavata and it tried to eat it. And seeing this attempt of the monkey-child, Indra used his vajrayudha (Thunderbolt) against it. The weapon hit its chin and wounded it, and in precarious condition it fell down on earth. Vayu (Wind god) who saw his child falling down wounded carried it off to Patala.

When Vayu (air) quitted the earth everything thereon came to a dead-stop. Living things were on the verge of death due to suffocation. And then Brahma and others went to Patala, comforted Vayu and congratulated the monkey child. On the basis of Indra's vajra having made a scar on its hanu (jaw-bone or chin) the monkey child was named Hanuman by the Devas, who, one by one blessed him as follows:

Brahmadeva: May you live long, so long as Brahma exists.

Mahavisnu: May you live all your life as the greatest devotee of God.

Indra: No weapon of any kind will wound or hit your body.

Agni: Fire will never affect you.

Kala: May not death ever court you.

All the Devas: None will ever equal you in strength and speed. Brahma blessed Hanuman again giving him more physical power than Garuda and Vayu blessed him to have more speed than himself (air). (Valmiki Ramayana, Bala-kanda, Canto 15; Uttararamayana; Kambaramayana, Purvakanda; Adbhutaramayana).

3) Education. Being born of Siva and on account of the Sivasakti in him, Hanuman reached boyhood immediately. To learn the four Vedas and the six sastras he chose Surya mentally as his preceptor, and approached him with the request to be taught the Vedas etc. Surya agreed to have Hanuman as his disciple subject to the condition that the latter would not be permitted to sit with the Balakhilyas in his (Surya's) chariot and study. Hanuman agreed to the condition to learn from Surya walking in front of him. With book opened in his hand and concentrating all his attention on the face of Surya Hanuman traversed the sky and within a short period of sixty hours he mastered all the Vedas and the sastras thoroughly well. Though Surya said that he would consider the great interest Hanuman took in his studies as daksina (tuition fee) Hanuman wanted Surya to accept something more by way of daksina, and Surya said as follows: "If you are so very particular about offering me something more as daksina I shall tell you. My son Sugriva is living on earth with Bali and he is not as strong and powerful as Bali. You be of help to Sugriva as his minister and constant companion."

Happy at Surya's words Hanuman returned to the forest and lived as Sugriva's minister for the rest of his life.

4) Sri Rama's servant. From the day he met Sri Rama after the abduction of Sita by Ravana till Rama's death his story is inextricably connected with that of Rama. (See under Rama).

5) His music. Once in a musical competition Hanuman defeated Narada. (Adbhutaramayana; also see Para 8 under Narada).

6) Sivalinga at Ramesvaram. There is a story in the Yuddha-kanda of Ramayaa connecting Hanuman with the Sivalinga installed in the temple at Ramesvaram. (See under Ramesvaram).

7) Lost his divine power. Once due to a curse of sage Trnabindu Hanuman lost his great strength and vitality. But he would regain the lost power when one reminded him of it. During the search for Sita Hanuman felt it difficult to jump across the southern sea to Lanka due to the above curse. But when Jambavan described to him about his noble origin and powers Hanuman regained his lost power and vitality and successfully jumped across the sea to Lanka. (See Trnabindu II, Para 2) .

8) A fort made of tail. He made a fort of his tail and saved Rama and Laksmana within it. (See Patala Ravana).

9) Hanuman and Sahasramukha Ravana. (See Sahasramukha Ravana).

10) Hanuman and Satrughna. Satrughna, who conducted the horse in connection with the Asvamedha performed by Sri Rama after his return from exile in the forest, fell down unconscious in his fight with King Viramani, and then Hanuman brought a herbal medicine called `Droa' from the Himalayas and with its aid brought back' Satrughna to consciousness. (Padma Purana, Patala Khanda, Chapter 44).

11) Taken captive by Kusa and Lava. The Yajnasva (sacrificial horse) of the Asvamedha yajna of Sri Rama led by a contingent of Rama's army was resting in a tent put up near the hermitage of Gautama when Kusa and Lava together captured the horse. Hanuman, who rushed over to the spot on receiving intimation of the news was bound hand and foot with creepers by Kusa and Lava and dragged to the hermitage. Sita was then in the hermitage brooding over the past, and the repetition of the word 'Rama' by the humiliated Hanuman awoke her from her reverie. She was taken aback to see Hanuman there in that plight and got him released from captivity by her sons. (Kamba Ramayana, Uttarakanda).

12) Old age. Having witnessed Ramavatara (incarnation of Rama) to its very end, Hanuman, who had by now become quite old, spent his days guarding the Kadali forest. Bhima, who happened to go there to collect Saugandhika flowers got defeated in fight by Hanuman. (See Bhima, Para 7).

13) Arjuna's flag-symbol (See under Arjuna 17 B).

14) Idols of Hanuman. When an idol of Hanuman is installed in a temple, he must be represented as holding Vajra in one hand and his feet must seem to tear the ground under them. (Agni Purana, Chapter 51).