The Tree of Knowledge
Sri Hanuman Jayanti
Sri Hanuman was born of Anjani from Pavana, the wind-god. He was named Hanuman after the name of the city of Hanumpur over which his maternal uncle Parti Surya ruled. Hanuman’s body was hard as a stone. So Anjani named him Vajranga. He is also known by the names “Mahavir” or mightiest hero (because he exhibited several heroic feats), Balibima and Maruti. During his life he worked wonders and exhibited superhuman feats of strength and valour. He has left behind him a name which, as long as the world lasts, will continue wielding a great influence over the minds of millions of people.
He is one of the seven Chiranjivis. He was the only learned scholar who knew the nine Vyakaranas. He learnt the Sastras from the sun god. He was the wisest of the wise, strongest of the strong and bravest of the brave. He was the Sakti of Rudra. He who meditates on him and repeats his name attains power, strength, glory, prosperity and success in life. He was born at the most auspicious hour of the morning of the 8th of the Lunar month, Chaitra, at 4 o’clock on the most blessed day, Tuesday. He had the power to assume any form he liked; to swell his body to an enormous extent and to reduce it to the length of a thumb. His strength was superhuman. He was the terror of Rakshasas. He was well versed in the four Vedas and other sacred books. His valour, wisdom, knowledge of the scriptures and superhuman strength attracted everybody who came near him. He had extraordinary skill in warfare.
Sri Hanuman is worshipped all over India—either alone or together with Sri Rama. Every temple of Sri Rama has the murti or idol of Sri Hanuman. Hanuman was the Avatara of Lord Siva. He is also called by the names Pavanasuta, Marutsuta, Mahavira, Bajrangabali and Pavankumar.
Sri Hanuman was the living embodiment of the power of Ram-Nam. He was an ideal selfless worker, a true Karma Yogi who worked desirelessly. He was a great devotee and an exceptional Brahmachari or celibate. He served Sri Rama with pure love and devotion, without expecting any fruit in return. He lived only to serve Sri Rama. He was humble, brave and wise. He possessed all the divine virtues. He did what others could not do—crossing the ocean simply by uttering Ram-Nam, burning the demon-king’s city of Lanka, and bringing the sanjeevini herb to restore the life of Lakshmana. He brought Sri Rama and Lakshmana from the nether world after killing Ahiravana.
Sri Hanuman never boasted of his bravery and intelligence. He said to Ravana, “I am a humble messenger of Sri Rama. By the command of Sri Rama, I have come here. I am fearless by the Grace of Sri Rama. I am not afraid of death. I welcome it if it comes while serving Sri Rama.”
See how humble Hanuman was! How deep was his devotion to Sri Rama! He never said, “I am the brave Hanuman. I can do anything and everything.” Sri Rama Himself said to Hanuman, “I am greatly indebted to you, O mighty hero. You did marvellous, superhuman deeds. You do not want anything in return. Sugriva has his kingdom restored to him. Angada has been made the crown prince. Vibhishana has become king of Lanka. But you have not asked for anything at any time. You threw away the precious garland of pearls given to you by Sita. How can I repay my debt of gratitude to you? I will always remain deeply indebted to you. I give you the boon of everlasting life. All will honour and worship you like myself. Your idol will be placed at the door of my temple and you will be worshipped and honoured first. Whenever my stories are recited or glories sung, your glory will be sung before mine. You will be able to do anything, even that which I will not be able to!”
Thus did Sri Rama praise Hanuman when the latter returned to Him after finding Sita in Lanka. Hanuman was not a bit elated. He fell in prostration at the holy feet of Sri Rama.
Sri Rama asked him, “O mighty hero, how did you cross the ocean?”
Hanuman humbly replied, “By the power and glory of Thy Name, my Lord.”
Again Sri Rama asked, “How did you burn Lanka? How did you save yourself?”
And Hanuman replied, “By Thy Grace, my Lord.”
What profound humility Hanuman embodied in himself!
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, the great monkey hero, also called Maruti, assists Rama in his battle with Ravana to rescue Sita, who had been kidnapped by Ravana. Hanuman symbolizes the qualities of an ideal devotee of God, which can be represented by the letters of his name, as follows:
- H = Humility and hopefulness (optimism)
- A = Admiration (truthfulness, devotion)
- N = Nobility (sincerity, loyalty, modesty)
- U = Understanding (knowledge)
- M = Mastery over ego (kindness, compassion)
- A = Achievements (strength)
- N = Nishkama-karma (selfless work in service of God)
After his coronation, following victory in the battle with Ravana, Rama distributed gifts to all those who had assisted him in his battle with Ravana. Turning towards Hanuman, Rama said, “There is nothing I can give you that would match the service you have rendered to me. All I can do is to give you my own self.” Upon hearing these words, Hanuman stood by Rama, in all humility, with hands joined together in front of his (Hanuman’s) mouth, and head slightly bent in the pose of service for Rama. To this day, this picture of Hanuman, as a humble devotee of the Lord, is the most popular among the admirers and worshippers of Hanuman.
Again on another occasion, Rama was distributing various gifts to members in the assembly but somehow, He seemed to skip Hanuman. Sita was troubled by this apparent indifference; how could such a loyal one like Hanuman be overlooked on an occasion like this? So, she whispered to Rama that Hanuman should not be forgotten. Rama whispered back that Hanuman was way above material gifts. Sita was not quite satisfied by this reply; so she took out a pearl necklace that she was wearing and offered it to Hanuman.
While receiving the necklace, Hanuman gave it a suspicious look. He then placed the necklace near one of his ears as if to check whether the individual pearls were emitting some sound. He appeared to examine every pearl in the necklace, and once in a while, he would bite a pearl. Sita was shocked by this behaviour. Was Hanuman proving that, after all, he was a monkey? She demanded an explanation from Hanuman for what he was doing.
With great humility Hanuman replied, “Mother, for me the Name of Rama is supreme. An object is worthless if it does not resound with the Name of Rama. Some of these pearls are not emitting the proper sound and so I am chewing them up.” Sita was neither convinced nor amused and tersely remarked, “Pearls do not emit sound.” Hanuman replied, “Everything that is saturated with the Rama Principle will always chant the Name of Rama. Let me demonstrate.”
So saying, Hanuman plucked a hair from his body and offered it to Rama. When Sita took it near her ear, she could clearly hear the chant of Rama’s Name! This was the way Hanuman proved to the world how intense true devotion really is.
There are many who want wealth in return for their services. Some do not want wealth, but they cannot resist name and fame. Others do not want any of these, but they want approbation. Still others want nothing, but they boast of their deeds. Hanuman was above all these. That is why he is recognised as an ideal Karma Yogi and an unsurpassed adept in Bhakti. His life is full of object lessons. Everyone should try his best to follow the noble example of Hanuman. The worship of Hanuman, therefore, symbolizes the worship of the Supreme Lord, for acquiring knowledge, physical and mental strength, truthfulness, sincerity, selflessness, humility, loyalty, and profound devotion to the Lord
On this day special Pujas are performed and offerings are made to Lord Hanuman. Some people have different rituals, such as sacred fire ceremonies. In India particularly, colourful processions fill the streets. People dance, carry idols of Lord Hanuman and some people wear masks and tails to imitate the monkey God. Every celebration is always accompanied by a period of fasting and then a big vegetarian feast.
On this holy day worship Sri Hanuman. Fast on this day. Read the Sri Hanuman Chalisa — a set of prayers glorifying Hanuman. Depending on the devotee, the text is either recited non-stop for 24 hours or sometimes it’s performed a set number of times. Spend the whole day in the Japa of Ram-Nam. Hanuman will be highly pleased and will bless you with success in all your undertakings. Glory to Hanuman! Glory to his Lord, Sri Rama!
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