Lord Hanuman symbolizes the qualities of an ideal devotee of God. The letters of his name can be interpreted as:
H = Helpfulness (kindness)
A = Adoration (devotion)
N = Naturalness (sincerity)
U = Understanding (knowledge)
M = Modesty (humility)
A = Allegiance (loyalty)
N = Nishkama-karma (selfless work in service of God)
Who is Lord Hanuman?
Lord Hanuman was born in Anjaneri (now a hilltop temple). Anjaneri is near Triambakeshwar, Nasik - a pilgrim village in Maharashtra State.
He is the son of Anjani and Maruti, born with the blessings of 'Vayu', the wind god (also called Pavan). He is considered to be an avatar (incarnation) of Lord Shiva.
He is one of the seven Chiranjivis and the only learned scholar who knew the nine Vyakaranas. He learned the shastras from Suryadev, the sun god. He is well versed with the Vedas and other sacred books.
He has exhibited astonishing physical strength and worked many miracles. His valour, wisdom, knowledge of the scriptures and superhuman strength attracted everybody who came near him. He had extraordinary skill in warfare. He is the chosen messenger of Lord Rama and the minister & messenger of Sugreeva. Lord Hanuman is fast - the most agile and oriented god.
Hanumanji is the symbol of Devotion and Service.
Like Krishna, Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu whose elevated character and righteous actions are designed to inspire men to divine consciousness. In liberating his consort Sita from the demon Ravana (symbol of material illusion), Rama is greatly aided by the brave Hanuman.
Hanuman was the chief of the armies of Sri Ramachandra and took a
prominent part in the war against Ravana, the king of Lanka, in the
Indian epic poem Ramayana. Hanuman helped restore Sita Devi back to
Sri Rama. Recognizing Godhead beneath the human disguise, Hanuman
consecrates himself wholly to service of Rama.
Hanumanji is known by many names as Anjaneya, Anjani Putra,
Bajarangbali, Hanuman, Mahaveer, Marutinandan, Pavanputra etc.
Hanuman, worshipped for his strength, valor, agility, is a man of
During the war, when Lakshmana was injured seriously, Sushena, the surgeon/physician of the monkey army, dispatched Marutinandan to bring herbal medicine, Sanjeevini, from the far-off Sumeru Mountain in the Himalayas, before sunrise. Flying over the Himalayas and unable to identify the particular herb fast, Hanuman uprooted and carried the entire mountain in time to save the life of Lakshmana along with the rest of the Vanar army. Hanuman was blessed by Sri Rama with immortality (chiranjeevi) at the end of the war.
Hanuman was a bachelor (brahamachari) and is worshipped in all the temples of India. Every temple of Sri Rama contains an icon of Hanuman. Worship of Sri Rama is complete only with the worship of Hanuman. There are various temples dedicated solely to Lord Hanuman also. Sant Tulsidas composed the 40 stanzas of Hanuman Chalisa in praise of Hanuman.
The worship of Hanuman 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. Students pray to him for intelligence and soldiers for
strength. In olden days, there used to be temples of Hanumantha, at
the gates of forts. The gymnasium of wrestlers invariably have his
His presence in Ramayana
Lord Hanuman's role in the Ramayana is such that anyone who knows Lord Hanuman or has heard about him - knows if not all but a few instances of his presence in Lord Rama life, or the Ramayana in other words.
We have here, but a few of those instances for you to know about.
Meeting Ram and Lakshman
His flight over the Ocean
Hanumanji in Lanka
Return to Ayodhya
Meeting Ram & Lakshman
Hanumanji was an excellent ambassador, and the minister of Sugreev, the Vanar King of Kishkinda. It was in this capacity that he first met Rama and Sita.
Vali was the elder brother of Sugreev, and due to some misunderstanding there was a rift between the two brothers, Vali and Sugreev. Sugreev was banished from the kingdom and his loyal and faithful ministers too left with him and had to stay covertly in the forest. When Ravan, the king of Lanka, by force, took Lord Rama's consort Sita away, Lord Rama and his brother set out to search for her. Seeing Shri Ram and Lakshman wandering in the forests, Sugreev was fearful that his brother Vali had sent them to kill them. He thus sent Hanumanji as his ambassador to find out the purpose for Shri Ram and Lakshman's presence in the forest. Such was the nature of Hanumanji that when he approached Shri Ram and Lakshman, he realized that they were noble persons and could not be deceivers. He spoke to them in a soft and pleasing manner with great respect. This impressed Shri Ram and he turned to Lakshman, and said to him "Even an enemy with his sword drawn would be pacified by such words. If a ruler has such a messenger, his efforts will always be successful".
Hanumanji took Shri Ram and Lakshman on his shoulders to Sugreev. He had great hopes that they could help make Sugreev king again. This proved to be true, when during a war with Vali, Shri Ram hit him with an arrow leading to his death and replacing Sugreev to the throne.
Sugreev had promised Shri Ram that he would spare no effort in finding Sita. He has sent Hanumanji, Angada (his nephew), Jambavantha (a wise old minister) and his Vanar army in search of Sita. Hanumanji took with him a ring given by Shri Ram which was to be shown to Sita so that she could be sure that the messenger were sent by Shri Ram. After a long period of searching, they came to know that Ravan, the king of Lanka, had kidnapped her. The next problem faced by them was that to reach Lanka they had to cross an ocean (presently the Indian Ocean between India and Sri Lanka). The whole party was perplexed as to how they could cross this ocean in the absence of a bridge. Faced with this difficulty, Hanumanji got discouraged and went and sat apart from the others, quietly contemplating the situation.
Each of the warriors stated how far they could jump but none came close to being able to cover this distance. Then the old Jambavantha consoled them all and said "Hanumantha is the only great hero who can leap over the sea and come back". As per the curse pronounced upon Hanumantha in his childhood, he would be unaware of the extent of his strength until someone reminded him of it. Jambavantha now praised his strength and ability. He said, "No other living creature has your strength, wisdom and intelligence. Why are you sitting quiet, not knowing yourself? You can certainly jump over the ocean".
His Flight over the Ocean
As Hanumanji became aware of his own powers, great enthusiasm welled up in him. Standing up, he began to grow. As his companions continued with their praises, Hanumanji's stature continued to grow. Soon he became tall enough to leap across the ocean. He then bowed to the elders, and promised to find Sita and return with news of her as soon as possible.
The Gods too were astonished at Hanumanji's strength and wanted to test it. They hence sent a spirit from the serpent world, Surase, to obstruct his journey. She appeared as a Rakshasi (demon) and threatened to swallow Hanumanji. She told him that he could proceed no further without entering her mouth. Her mouth was big enough to swallow Hanumanji, big as he was. At this Hanumanji grew even bigger. Seeing this Surase's mouth too grew wider. Realizing that this would never end, Hanumanji suddenly shrank himself to the size of a thumb, entered her mouth and jumped out. He then stood before her and beseeched her saying he had entered her mouth and was now out of it even, surely she should let him go now. Pleased with his intelligence, Surase let him go. Now ahead, Hanumanji could see Lanka at a distance. His joy knew no bounds, and he returned to his normal size in order to enter Lanka undetected.
Hanumanji in Lanka
Lanka was the "City of Gold". Its beauty was wondrous. But Hanumanji looked not once at it, and went about his all-important task of searching Sita. He entered the palace of Ravan, the king, but could not find Sita anywhere within the palace. He then thought of searching in the garden "Ashokavana". It was there that Hanumanji found Sita. He showed her the ring that Shri Ram had given her, and assured her that they would soon be coming to take her back. Sita gave him the choodamani, the jewel she wore in her hair, so that he could show it to Shri Ram.
Having completed his mission of finding Sita's whereabouts, Hanumanji then decided to get an estimate of Ravan's strength and even give him a warning.
He started to destroy the gardens around the palace. Seeing this the guards came running to capture him but he destroyed them all. Upon hearing this, Ravan sent his son Indrajit to capture Hanumanji himself. Indrajit fought with Hanumanji for something and then shot the "Brahmashtra". Wanting to show respect for the weapon of Lord Brahma, Hanumanji allowed himself to be caught and tied up by it.
The Rakshasa guards (demons) were delighted and took him to the palace to King Ravan.
Hanumanji warned Ravan that if he wanted to save himself and his kingdom he should return Sita to Shri Ram. This angered Ravan and he ordered to rakshasas to kill Hanumantha. But his brother Vibheeshana interceded and reminded Ravan that it was against principles to kill an enemy's messenger.
So instead of killing him, Ravan then asked that his tail be burned in order that Shri Ram would understand the power he was dealing with. Hanumanji's tail was hence wrapped up in cloth, oil poured over it, and then put on fire. Hanumanji's anger grew and he leapt up and freed himself of the ropes tying him He then jumped all over the city, burning down all the houses and buildings in the Golden City. Very soon the whole city was ablaze.
Suddenly, Hanumanji realized that Sita was in the Ashokvana. He flew back to check that it was safe, took Sita's blessings and left to fly back across the ocean.
In Kishkinda, Shri Ram was anxiously awaiting news of Sita. When Hanumantha returned and gave him the jewel given by Sita, his joy knew no bounds. He praised Hanumanji saying he had done what no one else could do. He called Hanumanji an excellent messenger and embraced him fondly.
War for Mata Sita
With the quest of rescuing Sita, Shri Ram, Lakshman and the Vanar army marched towards Lanka.
In Lanka, after Hanumanji's departure, Ravan's brother Vibheeshana tried to reason with Ravan, explaining to him the truth of Hanumanji's words. But Ravan would not listen to reason and stubbornly stood to his ground. Wishing to side with the truth, Vibheeshana left Ravan and Lanka and surrendered to Shri Ram. However, there is much confusion and disagreements within Shri Ram's companions whether Vibheeshana should be accepted or not. It was Hanumanji's opinion of Vibheeshana that swung the argument in his favor, and Shri Ram accepted him and his followers.
The Vanar army started to build a bridge across Lanka, it was to be seized. The War between Shri Ram and Ravan began.
Part way through the war, Ravan began to realize that he could not compete and hope to win against Shri Ram's army. He had lost his sons, and all the brothers who had fought in the war. He then sent for Ahi Ravan, his brother who was the king of the Nether world. Ahi Ravan agreed to help him fight against Shri Ram and Lakshman. In the middle of the night, he assumed the form of Vibheeshana and reached the place where Lord Ram and Lakshman were sleeping. Hanumantha was standing guard at this cave. Seeing Ahi Ravan, he took him to be Vibheeshana and allowed him to enter the cave. Ahi Ravan quietly took Shri Ram and Lakshman and carried them to his kingdom. He then started to make preparations for sacrificing them. At dawn, when Hanumanji came to know of this deceitful doing, he at once proceeded to the Nether world. He took a tiny form and seeing an opportunity, killed Ahi Ravan. He then took Shri Ram and Lakshman back to Lanka.
During this war, Hanumanji's strength and valor were sky-high and a great help to Shri Ram. He crushed many rakshasas, and even Ravan marveled at this strength.
Indrajit, Ravan's son, was one of the bravest members of the Ravan army. He once shot the Brahmashtra, a missile with the power of Lord Brahma, the God Of Creation. The entire army of Vanars fell down unconscious. Lakshman also fainted. Hanumantha also faltered for a moment, but then recovered. Jambavantha, the old minister, was semi-conscious. He told Hanumantha that he was the only one who could save them now. He asked Hanumanji to go to the Sumeru Mountain in the Himalayas and get the medicinal herb Sanjeevani. This herb would restore the army once again.
Hanumantha flew off to the Himalayas immediately and went in search of the herb. However, being in a hurry he was unable to distinguish it, and instead, shacking the whole mountain free, he lifted it up and flew back with it to Lanka.
Such was the power of the herb, that when Hanumanji flew over the war ground with the mountain, the very smell of the herb restored all the unconscious warriors. However, as Ravan's dead had been thrown into the ocean, at his instructions, no one rakshasa was revived by the herb.
Having achieved his purpose, Hanumantha flew back and replaced the mountain.
The war ultimately came to an end, bringing with it victory for Shri Ram. Hanumanji played a very important role in this war and victory would have been doubtful had it not been for him.
Return to Ayodhya
Now Shri Ram's exile of fourteen years had come to an end. He was to
return to Ayodhya but was skeptical whether about how Bharat would
react to his returning, as he was now the king of Ayodhya. Wishing
to know about Bharat's reaction to his upcoming return, Shri Ram
asked Hanumanji to go to Ayodhya and find out how Bharat felt.
Hanumanji assumed the shape of a man, and went to Ayodhya and informed Bharat of the Shri Ram's arrival. Bharat was beside himself with joy and insisted on rewarding Hanumanji for giving him such glad news.
Shri Ram hence returned to Ayodhya and was crowned with great splendor. Hanumanji too returned with them and stayed with Shri Ram. Sita remembering all the help that Hanumanji had given them presented him with a necklace of pearls as a token of appreciation. Hanumanji accepted the gift with great respect and then began to break the necklace and examine the pearls. Amazed at his action, everyone inquired as to what he was doing. Hanumanji replied, "I value the necklace that you have given me as it has come to me through your holy hands. But I want to find out whether any of the pearls contain my beloved Lord Rama's name. For if they do not have my Lord's name then they are of no use to me ". Sita asked him whether he kept Lord Ram within him. To his Hanumanji tore open his heart and showed it to Shri Ram, Sita and the others. They all found Lord Rama accompanied by Sita in the heart of Hanumanji.
Another instance states that once Hanumanji saw Sita wearing Sindur (vermilion). When asked why she had the sindur on her head, Sita replied that she put it for the safekeeping of Lord Ram. Immediately, Hanumanji went and rolled himself entirely in sindur. On seeing this Shri Ram asked him the meaning of this. He replied " Ma Sita told me that she wears sindur on her head for your safety. I am also wearing sindur for the same." At this Lord Rama gave him the ashirwad (blessing) that any devotee who will offer you sindur will cross all hurdles.
When Shri Ram ascended to his supreme abode, Hanumanji also wished to go with him. But Shri Ram asked him to remain in this world and attend all the assemblies of men where discourses on his deeds were held and heard, and help his devotees in cultivation devotion. Lord Rama told him that he in every Ram temple he would be present. Shri Ramji gave him the boon of everlasting life, immortality (Chiranjeevi) and is today present amongst us. He is everywhere. Those who believe in him can behold him and receive his blessings.
Hanumanji is renowned for his courage, patience and undaunted spirit. He gave up his life in the service of his Lord. He had not a tinge of selfishness in this mind. All his actions were offerings unto Lord Rama.
When asked how he managed to leap across the ocean, his words were
"By the Glory of Lord Rama's name"
No one reached the pinnacle of Dasya Bhavna like Hanumanji. Where Shri Ram is there is Hanumanji and where Hanumanji is there, there Shri Ram is present. Even today many people believe that if the Ramayana is being read anywhere Hanumantha stands there unseen and sheds tears of joy.
Glory to Hanumanji, the blessed devotee of Lord Rama, the mighty hero, undaunted warrior and learned Brahmachari. Glory to his Lord, Shri Ram.
The world has not seen anyone else like him, and never shall see anyone like him in the years to come.
Lord Hanuman - Childhood
Shri Hanuman was born of Anjani and Maruti with the blessing of 'Vayu', the wind god. Because of this he is also known as Anjaneya and Marutinandan.
According to the Dravidian system, his birth was in the Dhanu month on Amavasya at the time of the Mool Nakshatra star. However the Aryans believe him to be born at 4 o'clock in the morning on the 8th of the Lunar month Chaitra on a Tuesday, considered to an auspicious day.
From his birth onwards, he exhibited extraordinary physical strength and worked many miracles. There are various instances in the scriptures about his childhood.
Once as a child, looking at the sun Anjaneya thought it was a fruit. He flew up to eat it, and swallowed the sun. The universe plunged into darkness. Angered by his action, Lord Indra attacked Anjaneya with his 'Vajrayudha' (dangerous weapon). Anjaneya was hurt on his chin (known as 'Hanu' in sanskrit). This is how he got the name Hanuman, which is his most commonly used name. Seeing his son hurt, the wind god Pavan was very upset and threatened to withdraw 'Pranvayu' (life giving air - oxygen) from the Universe. Terrified by this threat the gods came to appease 'Vayu'. They each conferred a boon upon the little Hanumanta. He was blessed with courage, superhuman strength and valour.
Another fable related to Hanumantha's childhood relates to his strength. As a child, Hanumantha was mischievous and this resulted in a Rishi putting a curse on him. The curse was that even though Hanumanji had superhuman strength, he would not remember this until another individual reminded him of it. It was hence that when the time for crossing Lanka arose, only when Hanumanji was reminded of his ability to fly across the ocean that he remembered the same.
Lord Hanuman in Mahabharat
Hanumanji has been mentioned in another great epic, The Mahabharat.
The monkey slowly looked at Bhima, and requested him "I am very old and can't even move, just push my tail to one side and you move on ahead"
Bhima was full of contempt for the monkey, but tried to push the tail away with his mace (Gadha) but it wouldn't budge. Try as he would, he could not get the tail to shift. It was then that Bhima realized that this was no ordinary monkey and with folded hands begged his pardon.
On another occasion, when Arjun met Hanumantha, he said "Rama need not have asked the monkeys to build a bridge to Lanka. If it were me, I would simply have made a bridge with my arrows"
Hanumanji replied that a bridge of Arjun's arrows would not be strong enough to carry his weight let alone the whole Vanar army.
This developed into a challenge. It was decided that if Hanumanji managed to walk across the bridge then Arjun would have to jump into the fire, and if Arjun won then Hanumanji would have to bless Arjun during the war with the Kauravs by adorning his flag.
Arjun built a bridge with his arrows. No sooner did Hanumantha step one foot on it than it broke into pieces. Arjun got ready to jump in to the fire.
At that very minute, Lord Krishna appeared and asked for the bridge to be re-built. When it was done, he touched it with his divine hands as if to test it, and then asked Hanumanji to step onto it. This time around, even when Hanumanji danced heavily on the bridge, it did not break. Hanumantha kept his promise and entered Arjun's banner.