Most Widely Worshiped Gods of Hinduism: Hanuman

Lord Hanuman is one of the most widely worshiped Gods of Hinduism. He is a Balbrahmachari (Lifelong celibate) and one of the Chiranjeevi (Immortal). He symbolizes the human excellence of inner self-control, faith, and service to a cause. He is recognized as an essence of devotion, faith, valor, and selfless love. He is an ideal loving devotee of Prabhu-Ramachandra with legendary courage, strength, and powers. He is worshipped not only in India but also in Southeast Asia in different forms.

Birth of Lord Hanuman

As per Hindu mythology, Hanuman was born to mother Anjana and father Kesari. He is also known as the son of the Vayu (Pawansuta). When Anjana was worshiping Lord Shiva, the King Dasharatha of Ayodhya was also performing the ritual of Putrakama Yagna in order to have children. However, he received some sacred pudding (payasam) to be shared by his three wives (Kausalya, Kaikeyi & Sumitra) leading to the births of Ram, Lakshmana, Bharata & Shatrughna. By divine decree, a kite snatched a bit of that pudding and dropped it while flying over the forest where Anjana was engaged in worship. Vayudev, sent it to the outstretched hands of Anjana, who consumed it. As a result, Hanuman was born to her.

Name & fame of Lord Hanuman!

Hanuman is the common name of the vaanar (semi-ape, semi-man) god. But He has many names like -

  • Kesari Nandan, is based on his father, which means 'son of Kesari'.
  • Anjaneya, Anjaniputra, Anjanisuta the meaning of all is “the son of Anjana”.
  • Pawansuta / Maruti, it means – “the son of the wind god”. (Hindu deity Vayu).
  • Bajrang Bali, 'the strong one (bali), who had limbs (anga) as hard as a vajra (bajra)'.
  • Sankata Mochana, the remover of dangers (sankata).
  • Mangalmoorti, “the lord of all heavenly glory”.

Incarnation (Avatar) of Lord Hanuman

Panch-mukhi Hanuman: Only once Hanuman assume a very rare form to kill the demon Ahiravan and that form was Panch-mukhi (5-headed) Hanuman. Ahiravan was the brother of Ravan who had kidnapped Ram & Lakshman and taken them away to the Nether world (Patal Lok). The only way to kill Ahiravan was to extinguish 5 lamps in 5 different directions, which he did with this form. Apart from himself, the 5 faces of Hanuman are Narasimha, Garuda, Varaha and Hayagriva.

The Blessings of Gods for Lord Hanuman

One morning, Hanuman in his childhood was hungry and saw the rising red-colored sun in front of him. Mistaking it for ripe fruit, he attempted to eat it. Indradev (the king of gods) intervened and struck Hanuman with his thunderbolt. It hit on the jaw of Hanuman and he fell to the earth as dead with a disfigured jaw. His father, Vayu (air) became upset and withdrew. The lack of air created immense suffering to all living beings.

The sufferings led Lord Shiva to interfere & resuscitate Hanuman, which in turn provoked Vayu to return to the living beings.

  • As the mistake done by God Indra, he granted Hanuman a wish that his body would be as strong as his Vajra, whereas his Vajra can also not harm him.
  • God Vayu granted a wish for him with more speed than he himself had.
  • God Agni blessed him with a wish that 'Fire won’t burn him'.
  • God Varuna granted a wish for Hanuman that he would always be protected from water i.e., water won't harm him.
  • Yama, the God of Death wished him for his healthy life and free from his weapon Yama Danda (death would not come to him).
  • From Lord Brahma he obtained boons that nobody will be able to kill him with any weapon in war, the power of inducing fear in enemies, of destroying fear in friends, he can change his form at will and he can move easily at any place wherever he wished.
  • Lord Vishnu also granted Hanuman a weapon which is named as 'Gada'.
  • Lord Shiva granted Hanuman the boons of longevity, scriptural wisdom and ability to cross the ocean.
  • He gave him a band (kavach) that would protect him for life.
  • God Surya gave him two boon (siddhis) of yoga namely 'laghima' and 'garima'. With 'laghima' he could attain the smallest form and with 'garima' he could attain the biggest form of life. Hence, these wishes also make Hanuman an immortal who has unique powers and strength.

Curse - The great weakness of Lord Hanuman

Hanuman was naughty in his childhood. Sometimes, he taunted the meditating sages in the forests. Finding his behavior intolerable, the sages placed a mild curse on him by which he became unable to remember his own ability unless reminded by another person. The curse is highlighted in Kishkindha Kanda and Sundara Kanda when Jambavan reminds Hanuman of his abilities and encourages him to go and find Sita.

Hungry Hanuman & Devi Sita

Once Hanuman visited Sita when she was in the cottage of sage Valmiki and expressed his desire to eat the food cooked by her. Sita cooked many delicacies (dishes) and started serving Hanuman. But Hanuman's hunger was insatiable and the entire food of the cottage was coming to an end. Sita then prayed to Lord Ram who suggested her to serve a morsel with a Tulsi Leaf. She did the same and Hanuman's hunger was finally satisfied.

Lord Hanuman – One of the 7 Chiranjeevs (immortals)

According to Valmiki's Ramayana, Hanuman rejected a pearl necklace gifted by Sita saying 'I don't accept anything that does not contain Ram.' To prove himself he ripped his chest to show the presence of Ram in his heart and still he was alive instead of ripping his chest. However, Hanuman is one of the 7 Chiranjeevs (Kripacharya, Parashuram Aswathama, Vyas, Hanuman, Vibhisana & Bali). It is said that he is the immortals who will live till the beginning of the next Satya Yuga.

The battle between Ram (disciple of Vishwamithra) & Hanuman (devotee of Ram)

Due to an unseen cause Ram was ordered by sage Vishwamithra to kill Yayati. Sensing the danger, Yayati went to Hanuman for help (without conveying the story behind Ram & him), who in turn promised that he would save Yayati from any kind of danger. Hanuman did not use any weapon in his battle, instead stood chanting Ram’s name in the battlefield. The arrows of Lord Ram did not have any effect on Hanuman. Lord Ram then gave up and sage Vishwamithra relieved Ram of his word seeing the devotion and courage of Hanuman.

The Death of Lord Ram due to Hanuman’s absence

Ram - Maryada Purushottama, (Lord of Self-Control/ the Perfect Man) was born as the eldest son of Kausalya and Dasharatha. His life and journey are one of adherence to dharma despite harsh tests and obstacles and many pains of life and time. It is said that he knew about his imminent death. He understood that those who take birth in this world have to experience death. He had no fear of Yama – the god of death. 'Let Yama, come to me,' he said. Yama dared not enter Ayodhya as he was afraid of Hanuman who guarded the gates of Ram's palace.

To divert Hanuman's attention Ram dropped his ring through a crack in the floor and asked Hanuman to get it back for him. Hanuman reduced himself to the size of a beetle and entered the crack. Going down Hanuman reached the land of serpents (Naag Lok) and asked Vasuki (the king of serpents) for Lord Ram's ring. The king showed Hanuman a large number of rings all of which belonged to Ram. All the rings were identical.

Hanuman astonished

Vasuki smiled and said, 'This world we live in goes through cycles of life and death. Each life cycle of the world is called a Kalpa. Each Kalpa has four Yugas or quarters as Satya, Treta, Dwapar & Kali. In the second quarter or Treta Yuga, God takes birth in Ayodhya as Ram avatar as a savior of the world. According to Cycle of Life, Ram has to take rebirth ending the Treta Yuga. Ram is timeless and universal and so cannot be fettered to any period or place.” Hanuman understood the entire story of Ring. Thus, Lord Ram wouldn't die as Hanuman wouldn't go down to Naag Lok for searching of his ring. In the absence of Hanuman, Yama enters Ayodhya to claim Ram.

Makara Dhwaja – the son of Hanuman

When Hanuman was on his way back after destroying Lanka, he bathed in the sea to cool himself off. It is believed that while he was doing so a fish or crocodile swallowed some of the sweat from Hanuman’s body and Makara Dhwaja was conceived. Thus, Makara Dhwaja was born to a fish or crocodile. Makara Dhwaja was a loyal soldier of Ahiravan (Ravana’s stepbrother) the ruler of the Nether world (Patal Lok). Hanuman defeated Makara Dhwaja in a duel when Hanuman went to rescue the Ram & Laxmana, who were kidnapped by Ahiravan. However, Ahiravan was killed by Hanuman and then made Makara Dhwaja the king and left with Ram & Laxmana.

Lucky Hanuman & Lord Krishna

Apart from Arjuna, Sanjaya & Barbarika (son of Ghatotkacha), Lord Hanuman is one of the fourth people to have heard the “Bhagwad Gita“ from Lord Krishna and seen the Vishvarupa form of him. According to Narada Purana, Hanuman is an embodiment of the power of Shiva & Vishnu and is a master of vocal music.

The Silent Hero of Mahabharata – Lord Hanuman

During the great battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna entered the battlefield with a flag displaying Hanuman on his chariot. The incident that led to this was an earlier encounter between Hanuman and Arjuna, wherein Hanuman appeared as a small talking monkey before Arjuna at Rameshwaram, where Ram had built a bridge to cross over to Lanka. Upon Arjuna's wondering aloud at Ram's taking the help of monkeys rather than building a bridge of arrows, Hanuman challenged him to build such a bridge alone. Arjuna accepted the challenge.

Hanuman then proceeded to repeatedly destroy the bridges made by Arjuna. Vishnu then appeared before them, reprimanding Arjuna for his pride and Hanuman for making Arjuna feel incompetent.

As an act of regret, Hanuman decided to help Arjuna by stabilizing and strengthening his chariot during the forthcoming great battle of Kurukshetra. Krishna thanked Hanuman to stay with them during the war in the form of a flag on the chariot. Hanuman came in his original form, bowed to Krishna, and flew away. As soon as he left, the chariot turned into ashes. Krishna explained to shocked Arjuna, that the chariot would have burnt a long time back due to the effects of celestial weapons thrown at it during the war. However, Lord Hanuman protected it.

Superiority between Hanuman & Bhima

Hanuman is also considered to be the brother of Bhima as they had the same father, Vayu. During the vanvas (exile) of Pandava, Hanuman appears disguised as a weak and aged monkey to Bhima in order to suppress his arrogance. Hanuman lies with his tail blocking Bhima’s way. Bhima without knowing the identity of Hanuman, tells him to move it out of the way. Disguised Hanuman refuses. Bhima then tries to move the Hanuman’s tail himself but he is unable, despite his great strength. Hence, it is proved that Hanuman is more superior to Bhima.

Maa Vaishno Devi & thirsty Hanuman

Before Maa Vaishno Devi came out of the cave, she was meditating for nine months there in the guard of the cave entrance by Hanuman and his monkey militia. There is a stream called Ban Ganga (Ban literally means an arrow), where Devi used her arrow to take out a stream of water from the hill to quench the thirst of Hanuman when he became thirsty. Once, Hanuman also fought with Bhairavnath before Vaishno Devi asked him to leave Bhairavnath to her.

Why Lord Hanuman is fond of Sindoor (vermilion)?

Once upon a time, Hanuman saw that Devi Sita applied sindoor to her forehead. He asked her what purpose it served to which Devi Sita replied that it was for the well-being and long life of Lord Ram. Then Hanuman smeared his entire body with sindoor for the long life of Lord Ram. It is believed that if you offer sindoor to Hanuman, he grants you whatever you wish for. On the birth anniversary of Hanuman, devotees put sindoor on their forehead and visit Hanuman temples. They feed bananas to monkeys and particularly men keep fast the entire day. Men are allowed to worship, touch the idol and bow down the feet of Hanuman.

Why Women are not allowed to touch Hanuman’s feet?

Maybe the reason is that Hanuman is a bal-brahmachari (unmarried/ celibate) and must not be touched by women for he might be aroused. But there is no question of worshiping any god with touching the idol. If you pray wholeheartedly with devotion, there is no need of touching any idol. God is omnipresent. God has no shape & size. God is infinite. Nevertheless, it is said that God is Antaryami. He is omniscient. As per legend, Hanuman is a celibate, women are not allowed to touch the idol but they can worship the idol.

{Era by era, many religious leaders have claimed to have seen Hanuman over the course of the centuries, especially in 13th century CE-Madhvacharya, 16th century-Tulsidas, 17th century-Samarth Ramdas & Raghavendra Swami, and in 20th century-Swami Ramdas.}

07 July 2022
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