Sri Hanuman Jayanti
April 25, 2013
Hanuman, the 'Vanara' (monkey) God that aided Lord Ram in his expedition against evil forces, is one of the most popular idols in the Hindu pantheon. Believed to be an avatar of Lord Shiva, Hanuman is worshiped as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance and devotion. Hanuman's tale in the epic Ramayana*, where he is assigned the responsibility to locate Lord Ram's wife Sita abducted by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka — is known for its astounding ability to inspire and equip a reader with all the ingredients needed to face ordeals and conquer obstructions in the way of the world.
Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Hanuman and is widely venerated throughout India. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the Shukla Paksha**, during the month of Chaitra (the Chaitra Purnima). This year the festival date is April 25.
Hindus believe in ten avatars of Lord Vishnu among a multitude of gods and goddesses. One of Vishnu's avatars is Lord Ram, who was created to destroy Ravana, the evil ruler of Lanka. In order to aid Lord Ram, Lord Brahma commanded some gods and goddesses to take the avatar of 'Vanaras' or monkeys. Indra, the god of war and weather, was reincarnated as Bali; Surya, the sun god as Sugriva; Brihaspati, the preceptor of the gods, as Tara, and Pavana, the god of wind, was reborn as Hanuman, the wisest, swiftest and strongest of all monkeys.
The Origin of Hanuman: Sage Brihaspati had an attendant called Punjikasthala, who was cursed to assume the form of a female monkey — a curse that could only be nullified if she would give birth to an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Reborn as Anjana, she performed intense austerities to please Shiva, who finally granted her the boon that would cure her of the curse.
When Agni, the god of fire, gave Dasharath, the king of Ayodhya, a bowl of sacred dessert to share among his wives so they may have divine children, an eagle snatched a part of the pudding and dropped it where Anjana was meditating, and Pavana, the god of wind delivered the drop to her outstretched hands. After she took the divine dessert, she gave birth to Hanuman. Thus Lord Shiva incarnated as a monkey, and was born as Hanuman to Anjana, by the blessings of Pavana, who thus became Hanuman's godfather.
The birth of Hanuman released Anjana from the curse. Before she returned to heaven, Hanuman asked his mother about his life ahead. She assured him that he would never die, and said that fruits as ripe as the rising sun would be his food. Mistaking the glowing sun as his food, the divine baby leapt for it. Indra struck him with his thunderbolt and hurled him down to earth. But Hanuman's godfather, Pavana carried him to the nether world or 'Patala'. As he departed from the earth, all life gasped for air, and Brahma had to beg him to return. In order to appease him they conferred a lot of boons and blessings on his foster child that made Hanuman invincible, immortal and super powerful.
Hanuman selected Surya, the Sun god as his preceptor, and approached him with the request to teach the holy scriptures. Surya agreed and Hanuman became his disciple, but had to face his constantly moving guru by traversing the sky backwards at equal pace, while taking his lessons. Hanuman's phenomenal concentration took him only 60 hours to master the scriptures. Surya considered the manner in which Hanuman accomplished his studies as his tuition fees, but when Hanuman requested him to accept something more than that, Surya asked Hanuman to assist his son Sugriva, by being his minister and companion.
On Tuesdays and in some cases, Saturdays, many people keep fast in honor of Hanuman and give special offerings to him. In times of trouble, it is a common faith to chant the name of Hanuman or sing his hymn ("Hanuman Chalisa") and proclaim "Bajrangbali Ki Jai" — "victory to thy thunderbolt strength".
The character of Hanuman teaches us of the unlimited power that lies unused within each one of us. Hanuman directed all his energies towards the worship of Lord Ram, and his undying devotion made him such that he became free from all physical fatigue. And Hanuman's only desire was to go on serving Lord Ram. Hanuman perfectly exemplifies 'Dasyabhava' devotion — one of the nine types of devotions — that bonds the master and the servant. His greatness lies in his complete merger with his Lord, which also formed the base of his genial qualities.
Hanuman met Lord Ram and his brother Lakshman while Lord Ram was in exile in the jungle, and searching for his wife Sita who was abducted by Ravana. Their quest brought them near Pampa Lake at the foot of Mount Risyamukha, where the monkey king Sugriva and his ministers were hiding. Sugriva, who was being persecuted by his brother Bali, suspected that Lord Ram and Lakshman might have been sent by Bali to slay him. To find out the truth, Hanuman approached them in the guise of a Brahmin.
Hanuman's initial words highly impressed Lord Ram , and made him comment: "None can talk this way without mastering the Vedas. He has such a flawless countenance, a wonderful accent, and a captivating way of speaking. He has the ability to move even an enemy..." After he revealed his identity as the prince of Ayodhya, Hanuman fell prostrate before him in respect of the Lord. Ram picked him up and embraced him. There began the story of Hanuman, which is inextricably interwoven with Lord Ram, and dealt with in detail in Valmiki's Ramayana* and the Tulsidas' Ramacharitamanas***.
Hanuman introduced Lord Ram to Sugriva, and began his massive search for Sita. Finding out her whereabouts, he consoled Sita, and burnt down the city of Lanka. Hanuman then brought Lord Ram to Lanka, fought the battle against Ravana with his simian army, and vanquished the demons. Hanuman's greatest feat was saving the life of Lakshman by fetching the life-giving herb "Sanjivani" from the Himalayas. He flew fast towards the Himalayas, but unable to recognise the right herb, picked up the whole mountain on his hand and flew back to Lanka, just in time to save Lakshmana. Thereafter Hanuman served Lord Ram forever.
* An ancient Sanskrit epic poem forming an important part of the Hindu faith and ascribed to sage Valmiki who is regarded as India's first poet. It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters
like the ideal father, ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife
and the ideal king.
** In the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated in the month of Margazhi (normally comes between Dec 15 and
Jan 14). There it is believed that Hanuman was born on Moola Nakshatra,on the new moon day (amavasya) in the month of Margazhi.
In Odisha, the Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated on the first day of Baisakha month as per Oriya calendar (normally comes on April 14 or 15). There it is also celebrated as new year for all Oriyas (i.e. Maha Vishuva Sankranti).
In Andhra, Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated on the tenth day of Bahula paksha or Krishna paksha in the month of Vaishaka.
*** Tulsidas also known as Goswami Tulsidas (1497/1532) was a Hindu poet-saint, reformer and philosopher renowned for his devotion to the Lord Ram.. He was a composer of several popular works but he is best known as the author of the epic Ramcharitmanas, a retelling of the Sanskrit Ramayana in the vernacular Awadhi - an Eastern Hindi Language.
On Sri Hanuman Jayanti, a special homa will be performed at Amma's Penisula Ashram in India. For more details about sponsorship, please click here.
(Please note, sponsorships must be received no later than 3pm CST, April 23.)
Om Hum Hanumate Namah
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