Agni, the god of fire,
blessed him with immunity to fire. Surya, the sun god, gave him the power to
change the size of his body. Yama blessed him with good health and immortality.
Vishwakarma, the divine architect, offered a boon that he would be safe from
all objects of his creation. Invincible and immortal are the words primarily
associated with him. He is Hanuman.
Hanuman is one of the many
deities of the Hindu tradition. He is regarded as the monkey-general of a
mythic monkey kingdom, known as Kiskindha. In Hindu tradition, Hanuman is most
commonly known for his role in the Ramayana [A Sanskrit epic
featuring the characters of Rama, Sita, Hanuman, and Laksmana], in which he is a great ally to Rama
and Laksmana [Rama is the central character of the Ramayana epic;
Laksmana is his brother who accompanies Rama during his banishment from his
The Ramayana describes
how Hanuman was devoted to Rama and willingly set off to Lanka [Many people
believe Lanka to be the location of today’s Sri Lanka] to search for Sita. Rama
is unable to go himself; he had been expelled from the city for his 14-year
exile. Earlier in the Ramayana, Rama had said
that “everywhere, even among the animals, can be found good creatures that
follow the ways of righteousness, that are brave and provide a sure place of
refuge”. This statement fits the description of Hanuman, for he is a loyal and
virtuous being, and he is willing to endure the risk of crossing into Ravana’s
land to save Sita. Hanuman
does find Sita, but she refuses to return with him because of her loyalty to
her husband. She is unwilling to touch another man, and believes that it is
Rama’s duty (dharma) to save her himself.
Penguin Ramcharitmanas (Set of 3 Volumes)
Hanuman also demonstrates a
few great powers that are useful in his role in the Ramayana epics.
In the Sundarakanda [5th book of
the Ramayana], Hanuman
becomes a major character, with a talent for jumping extremely far distances.
This is demonstrated in his jump between Mount Mahendra to Lanka’s Mount
Trikuta His duality as a monkey-hero is demonstrated in this leap between the
two territories and his search for Sita. Hanuman’s essential presence in the
story is indicated by “the fact that the poet devotes nearly two hundred verses
to the description of his jump”. Hanuman further demonstrates his unique powers
by his ability to change his size at will, for example during Hanuman’s leap to
Lanka “he takes on a size that is said to be immeasurable. As he flies along,
his shadow on the sea below is said to measure ten leagues in breadth and
thirty in length”.
Hanuman Presents Rama's Ring to Sita Surrounded by Rakshasis
Hanuman demonstrates that
his moods are constantly changing. “In some ways parallel to Hanuman’s vast and
sudden changes in size are his sharp swings of mood throughout the first half
of the Sundarakanda”. Hanuman begins his journey to Lanka with lots
of enthusiasm and optimism, but when faced with difficulties he “lapses into
gloomy thought”. After finding Sita, Hanuman decides to cause mayhem in Lanka.
Ravana sends his forces after Hanuman, but all are unsuccessful in restraining
the monkey. Ravana finally sends out his son, a powerful warrior, Indrajit, who
soon realizes that he too is unable to kill Hanuman. However, he was able to
acquire a “divine weapon of the god Brahma” which was able to impede any
further destruction caused by Hanuman. The Ramayana never
directly says that Hanuman was immortal, but
“Both accounts of his birth,
one in the Kiskindhakanda and one in the Uttarakanda,
indicate that his is to be no ordinary life span. In the former, Jambavan
reports that Indra had conferred on him the great boon of being able to choose
the moment of his death. In the latter Brahma foretells that he will be
The Inimitable Stance Of The Warrior
According to Goldman,
Hanuman is presented in a “dual nature”. He is represented as a monkey with
monkey instincts, but is also represented as a hero in the way that he is
continually attempting to save someone. His continual changing in size
emphasizes this duality. He can appear in a gigantic size, representing his
heroic/divine qualities. Or he can shrink down to a size that is smaller than
the average human. The dual-nature of Hanuman can be compared with Rama’s
“[If] the liminal nature of
the avatara and the particulars of its associated boon-motif
account for the ambiguity of Rama’s nature as a god-man, then the same factors
would appear to determine the ambivalent status of Hanuman as both god and
Hanuman’s behaviour, and his
powers are the result of his parentage. He is the “mind-born” son of Vayu, the
wind god, and Anjana. It is said that he can move with the swiftness of the
wind as a result of his family line. In the Sundarakanda, it is
said that his father helps him leap between the two kingdoms on his search for Sita.
The Holy Sundarakanda
Although the Ramayana is
the text through which Hanuman gained his popularity, it is not the only epic
in which he has appeared. In the Mahabharata, in the Kadali
Forest Hanuman meets his half-brother Bhima; the two are both sons of the wind
god, Vayu. The two met when Hanuman was sleeping over a path on which Bhima was
travelling. Bhima requested that Hanuman move out of the way so that he could
pass. Hanuman replied by asking Bhima to move his tail to one side. Bhima, though
the strongest of the Pandava Brothers, could not budge Hanuman’s tail. Hanuman
then introduce himself to Bhima in the form that he took while crossing the
ocean to Lanka.
Bheema and Hanuman
Hanuman is a widely worshipped deity in India; “his images are smeared
with the sacred colour vermilion, to denote the estimation in which he is held,
and the universal admiration of his devotion as a model faithful servant”. He
is looked up to, and is admired for his faithfulness to Rama. He went to rescue
Sita a woman that he had never met, nor seen before, without any thought for
his own well-being. Located in Delhi is the Sri Hanuman Maharaj (Great Lord
Hanuman) temple, a building made of white marble dedicated to Hanuman.
“According to many Hindus, the popularity of Hanuman—who in narrative often
expands his physical from—has itself been steadily expanding in recent decades.
Certainly, its iconic manifestations have been growing, as groups of prominent
patrons vie with one another to erect larger and larger murtis of
the great monkey in highly visible locations”. “He [Hanuman] exemplifies both ‘sakti and bhakti’—briefly
‘power’ and ‘devotion’”. For this reason, he is widely admired, and well-liked.
41" Large Wooden Panchamukhi Hanuman Ji | Handmade
Hanuman is also widely popular because of his deviant childhood.
Hanuman’s childhood stories appeal to many people because of its human-like
quality. As a child he ascends towards the ‘rising sun’ in an attempt to grasp
it. However, the god Indra sees this as a threat and sends him plummeting back
down, breaking Hanuman’s jaw; hanu means jaw, giving Hanuman his name.
Hanuman’s father Vayu then threatens the entire cosmos. To make up for what
happened to Hanuman, each deity grants him with a unique boon, giving him his
particular powers that are useful in his adventures during adulthood.
Hanuman played a key role in the Ramayana and other
stories featuring him. He is widely well known in Hinduism, and by many other
people around the world. Hanuman’s incredible dedication is what makes him an
ideal character to respect and support.
Lutgendorf, Philip. “Monkey in the Middle: The Status of Hanuman in
Popular Hinduism.” Religion 27.4 (1997): 311-332.
Monier-Williams, Monier (2003) Hinduism and its Sources Munshiram
Manoharlal Publishers, New Delhi.
Nagar, Shantilal (2004) Hanuman: Through the Ages Vol.
2. India: B.R. Publishing Corporation.
Regier, Willis G. “The Ramayana of Valmiki. Volume
4. Kiskindhakanda.” The John Hopkins University Press. 112.5
(December 1997): 994-998.
The Ramayana of Valmiki: An Epic of Ancient India (1999) Vol. V Sundarakanda.
Trans. R. P. Goldman & Sally J. Sutherland-Goldman. Princeton: Princeton
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