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Sri Hanuman

Hari OM

Story-day is for cultural exploration, puraanas and parables and finding out about leading lights in spiritual philosophy.

This week we take a look at Sri Hanuman. This year, हनुमान-जयन्ति/Hanuman-jayanti is celebrated on April 4th, but is being noted today, as that date is also Easter and is therefore being reserved for an article related thereon. Why not next Story-day, which is at least a week closer?  Ah, March 28th this year is reserved for celebrations of Sri Rama… Sri Hanuman, of course, was his most devoted and beloved of courtiers, so it is not at all improper to tell you something of this sainted personality first.

Many who will be reading this will, perhaps, wonder at the purpose of worshiping a monkey (or, for that matter, an elephant…) What needs to be remembered at all times when learning about the various spiritual figures in Hinduism, is that they are all representations of virtues and etiquette and are held up as examples to follow (or in some cases, what not to follow!)

As a baby, this little monkey felt hungry enough to reach for the sun, which he thought was a fruit.  This proved too great an ambition, however, and he was struck on the jaw ( हनु/hanu) by Indra's thunderbolt for his trespass. Hanuman's father, Vayu (the Wind), revenged him by giving colic to all the gods. Indra apologised and as recompense agreed to Hanuman becoming an immortal. This brought with it a variety of super powers; the teenage monkey, as you might expect, rather misused his powers, proving himself pesky and disrespectful to others.  Seeking a solution, the gods prayed to the creator, Brahma, father of them all, for help. Brahma-ji cursed Hanuman such that his powers were diminished and would only come forward again at a time of proper need.
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This they did when Jambavaan, king of the bears, reminded Hanuman of his abilities.  This was during the battle between Sri Rama and his allies and the misguided king of Lanka, Raavana. Hanuman-ji's powers included being able to alter his size from an atom to the greatest of giants; to fly like his father the wind; with strength of many elephants and so on.

These talents and all the virtuous aspects of Sri Hanuman are related in the famous hymn (chalisa). You can listen to and read the transcript/translation on this post.

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We learn most about Hanuman in his association with Sri Rama. His part in the great adventure of the avataar king is that, initially, he was suspicious. Relations between the monkey kingdoms and the humans could be fraught and Hanuman, initially, went as spy on behalf of Sugriiva, king of the tribe, to check out the prince. Rama saw through his disguise however and Hanuman saw the brilliance before him. He devoted himself to the cause and service of Sri Rama. For this, he is often depicted baring his chest, whereupon lies the image of Sri Rama (and sometimes the queen Sita).

It is for his physical prowess and unwavering courage that Sri Hanuman is considered as 'patron saint' for the armed forces of India.  He is called upon when embarking on any new journey, so that the traveller will be protected. Also, many who have physical ailments, will chant the chalisa.

What are the key aspects of Hanuman-ji to be learned? Devotion; absolute faith; alert service; courage; trust; unparalleled honesty.

To carry within us even a fraction of Hanuman-ji's qualities would be great indeed!

Sri Hanuman murti at Chinmaya Mission, Sidhbari,
Himachal Pradesh

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