India is a rich culture with a diversity you can't find anywhere else in the world. Hinduism is the backbone of the cultural identity of India. It is thousands of years old and incorporates the wisdom of sages throughout these centuries.
Hanumana has been revered in India as the supreme devotee of Lord Rama, another prominent god of India. Hanumana is one of the leading characters of the sacred Hindu text, Ramayana. In this article, we are going to talk about various aspects of Hanumana and will try to understand his significance in our culture.
Origin: The first mention of Hanumana can be found in texts as early as Rigveda. In Rigveda, references to a divine monkey could be found. Scholars interpret him as Hanuman.
Hanuman finds a much broader expression in the Puranas. He has been mentioned in several Puranas. Shiva Purana mentions him as an avatar of Shiva. However, the main text for Hanuman remains the Ramayana. He is one of the main characters of this epic. Hanumana has appeared in Mahabharata as well.
Birth story: There are multiple stories related to the birth of Hanuman. However, in every story, Vayu (air) has a significant role to play in his birth. That's why he has even been called pavanputra, which means son of Vayu. Among all the stories, the most popular story of his birth remains as follows:
King Dasaratha was doing great penance for getting sons. Finally, Brahma gave him pudding that Dasaratha gave to his queens to eat. As a result, Ram, Bharat, Laxman, and Shatrughan were born. According to the legend, some pudding was taken away by a kite who dropped it in the hands of Anjana. She too was doing penance for a son. Eating it, she too gave birth to Lord Hanuman.
Significance: Few other gods in Hinduism have enjoyed the same level of popularity as that of hanuman. He has been worshipped for hundreds of years. He holds tremendous significance in our culture. He has certain characteristics that set him apart from all other gods. Let's explore some of them.
The supreme devotee: Hanumana is the epitome of devotion and surrender. There have been few devotees on this land with the level of devotion of Hanumana. Ram is the very breath of Hanuman. He can't even think about His life without His lord.
And Hanuman is not devoted to Rama because he will gain something. That wouldn't have been devotion, that would have been business. Hanumana is devoted to Rama for no reason. Real devotion has no reason. One is just so overwhelmed that devotion and surrender follow as a natural consequence.
There is a very popular story from Ramayana. Impressed with the vigor of Hanuman, Mata Sita gave Him a necklace. However, Hanumana started pulling the pearls out of the necklace and started throwing them after examination. Mata Sita was astonished and asked the reason for this act.
Hanumana said that although He valued the necklace, He doesn't keep anything with him which is devoid of Lord Rama. And He couldn't find the lord in any of the pearls. To this, the assemblymen asked him that he is carrying his body, and where is Lord Rama in that?
To this, Hanumana tore open His chest and showed that Lord Rama along with Mata Sita resides in His very heart. That is the level of devotion of Hanuman.
The immortal Hanuman: You must have heard stories where people have claimed to have seen Hanuman, or Hanuman visiting a particular temple. That is not without a reason.
In Hinduism, it is believed that no one can ever be immortal. But, there are seven people who were granted immortality. And Hanuman is one of them. One other popular immortal being is Ashwathama from Mahabharata.
Possessor of great powers: There is a very popular story from Hanuman's childhood. Once, he mistook the sun as a ripe mango and flew towards it to eat it. Indra came in his way and hit Hanuman on his jaw with his vajra. Hanumana fell dead on Earth.
Vayu became very angry with this action and he sucked all the air from existence. As a result, living beings started suffering. Then Shiva had to intervene and he made Hanuman alive again. Then many gods bestowed their blessings upon Hanuman and He gained many powers.
However, he later started troubling innocent people using his powers. Once he disturbed a meditating sage and the sage cursed Him that he will forget all His powers until someone makes Him remember again.
Later in Ramayana, He remembers His power and uses them to help lord Ram trace Sita and later defeat Ravana.
Summary: Thus, from being a devotee himself, Hanumana has been the subject of the devotion of millions of people. Hanuman is worshipped in various forms. One of the most worshipped forms of Hanumana is in the form of 'Balaji'. The Balaji temple in Rajasthan is the one of the most visited temples of lord Hanuman throughout the country.
Devotion is the very essence of lord Hanuman. In fact, devotion is the most blissful state of any human being. Devotion can't be practiced or forced from outside. It can only arise from within. And once the quality of devotion arises, the very life becomes a living expression of the divine.