Meet a God: Hanuman

There is something about the animal aspect Gods that seem easier to relate to and feel comfortable with. I wonder why that is. Ganesha is so beloved and Hanuman is as well.

I’m not sure whether one can really call Hanuman himself a God. He is said to be an incarnation of Shiva, so I guess he’s a God in the sense that Krishna and Rama were Gods (human manifestations of Vishnu). The God Vayu of the wind was instrumental in his birth and so he is considered to be the brother of Bima from The Mahabharata whose father was Vayu.

The really moving thing about Hanuman is his intense focus on devotion. He adored Lord Rama. My mother would always tell me that Hanuman said (to paraphrase), “In the physical world I am Lord Rama’s servant; in the subtle world Lord Rama and I are the same.”

 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 Rama, 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 Rama. Hanuman perfectly exemplifies ‘Dasyabhava’ devotion — one of the nine types of devotions — that bonds the master and the servant. —

One of the most beautiful stories about him is this one (version from Wikipedia):

Shortly after he is crowned Emperor upon his return to Ayodhya, Rama decides to ceremoniously reward all his well-wishers. At a grand ceremony in his court, all his friends and allies take turns being honoured at the throne. Hanuman approaches without desiring a reward. Seeing Hanuman come up to him, an emotionally overwhelmed Rama embraces him warmly, declaring that he could never adequately honour or repay Hanuman for the help and services he received from the noble Vanara. Sita, however, insists that Hanuman deserved honour more than anyone else, and Sita gives him a necklace of precious stones adorning her neck.

When he receives it, Hanuman immediately takes it apart, and peers into each stone. Taken aback, many of those present demand to know why he is destroying the precious gift. Hanuman answers that he was looking into the stones to make sure that Rama and Sita are in them, because if they are not, the necklace is of no value to him. At this, a few mock Hanuman, saying his reverence and love for Rama and Sita could not possibly be as deep as he implies. In response, Hanuman tears his chest open, and everyone is stunned to see Rama and Sita literally in his heart.

There are many depictions of Hanuman tearing open his chest to show Rama and Sita in his heart.

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Hanuman is a deeply lovable deity. It is easy to find him in many temples in the tableaux with Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana. He is supposed to be immortal and so there continue to be sightings of him.

One interesting tidbit I saw on Wikipedia was this: “Shani promised Hanuman that those who prayed to him (Hanuman) would be rescued from the painful effects of Saturn, which in Hindu astrology, is said to produce malefic effects on one’s life when one is afflicted ‘negatively’ with Saturn.” Interestingly, my fiance tells me that Saturn is acting right now in astrology and he believes it is having a difficult effect on me.  I wonder if his study of astrology lines up with Hindu astrology. Either way, I think it couldn’t hurt to pray to Hanuman!

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  • Stephanie Ellison

    Andrea, thank you for clarifying something for me. You say that there are three paths to God (or the Self, as I see it) – knowledge, devotion, and service. It looks like I have been following along the path of Service, since I am unable to do the path of devotion, and I am not yet able to follow the path of knowledge, as I do no know enough, yet.