Hanuman Jayanti-The Birthday Celebration of Hanuman
Hanuman Jayanti is one of the biggest festivals of Hindus. This festival is celebrated on the full moon of the month of Chaitra. According to Hindus, Hanuman was born on this day. So, Hanuman Jayanti is observed to celebrate the birthday of Hanuman.
Hanuman is one of the most revered deities in Hinduism. He is the very epitome of all the qualities necessary for a spiritual life – physical and mental strength, power, courage, humility, dedication, devotion and abject surrender to his Lord, Rama. 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 Hanuman would be safe from all objects of creation. With all these boons, Hanuman became a great warrior who played a significant role in the stories of Hindu mythology. In this article, I would like to bring to you the story of god Hanuman, starting right from his birth to his youth and his role in the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other related interesting stories and anecdotes.
There are many stories associated with Hanuman’s birth. Here are a few of them: Once upon a time there was a sage named Gautam in the mountains of Meru. A monkey-couple named Kesari and Anjana lived nearby the hermitage of the sage. Anjana, originally a heavenly maiden, was named ‘Punjikasthala’. Later, she was cursed and transformed into a monkey woman. The reason Anjana was cursed was once when she was wandering on earth, she saw a monkey meditating deeply in a forest. Anjana burst into laughter when she saw the meditative monkey behaving like a saint. She started making fun of the monkey and started throwing stones at him. In fact, the meditating monkey was a sage in the guise of a monkey. At first he was patient with Anjana’s behavior but later he got very upset and cursed her. He opened his eyes that sparkled with anger. With a ferocious voice the sage cursed her to be born as a monkey. When Anjana begged for pardon, the sage calmed down and said that she would regain her original form after she bore a son who would win great renown. Then Anjana began to worship Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was impressed with her prayers and blessed her with a son who would be mighty and immortal. Later, Anjana gave birth to a monkey-faced child and it was named as Anjaneya (meaning ‘son of Anjana’). His birthplace is now known as Aanjan villagein Gumla, Jharkhand, India.
Yet another source claims, Hanuman was born on Anjaneya hill in Hampi, Karnataka. This place is located on the banks of the river Pampa near Rishyamukha mountain. It is also said that Lord Rama and Sugreeva first met at this place. There is still a temple here as a symbol of that place.
A popular version of Hanuman’s birth story is associated with the Ramayana character, Dasaratha. Once King Dasaratha of Ayodhya, was performing a religious Ashvamedha Yajna to have children. Dasaratha was blessed with a divine sweet by Lord Agni that was to be shared among his three wives (Kousalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra). Pawan, the Wind God, under the instruction of Lord Shiva carried a portion of the sweet, gave it to Anjana and blessed her. Anjana soon ate the divine sweet and instantly she could feel the blessing of Shiva. Pawan told her that she would soon be a mother of a son who would possess intelligence, courage, tremendous strength, speed and the power to fly. Her happiness had no ends and she was over-whelmed with joy. Soon Anjana gave birth to a monkey-faced child and they named him as Anjaneya (meaning ‘son of Anjana’).
Anjaneya has been called by many names such as Hanuman, Maruti (Vayu’s other name), Pawanputra, Bajrangbali and so on. In Treta Yuga, he played an important role in the story Ramayana and was a great devotee of Lord Rama and Sita Devi. Hanuman helped Lord Rama to rescue Sita from the clutches of Ravana.
According to another story, once Dashanan Ravana mocked Nandi who was guarding the gate in Kailash, Nandi got angry and cursed Ravana saying, Ravana and his family would be destroyed by the hands of man and monkey. Hanuman, the incarnation of Shiva, came to liberate the earth from the tyranny of the demonic forces, to serve Lord Rama and to spread the name of Rama.
Hanuman is the symbol of strength and power. Even as a child, Hanuman had great powers. In his childhood, he is said to have mistaken the sun to be a huge ripe fruit, which he once took flight to catch hold of, in order to eat it. He decided to get hold of it so that he could play with it. Indra, the king of gods, saw Hanuman leap into the sky and wanted to stop him. He threw his weapon, the Vajra (thunderbolt) at the child. Hanuman fell to earth, wounded. The injury, however, left a permanent mark on his chin and hence the name, Hanuman (derived from the term ‘Hanu’ in Sanskrit).
Hanuman played the most important role in the story of the Ramayana. There are many episodes associated with Hanuman in the Ramayana. As a child, Hanuman was a little mischievous. Occasionally, he snatched away the sages’ belonging and articles they used for performing religious rituals, and in anger they gently cursed him for not being able to remember his own strength and power in future. In the Kiskindha Kanda of the Ramayana story, Jambavantha reminded Hanuman of his strength and power. Then he went in full force to find Lord Rama’s consort, Sita Devi.
Hanuman was a devoted servant of Sri Ramachandra. After the abduction of Sita Devi, Sugriva, the brother of monkey king Bali, became friends with Lord Ramchandra on the initiative of Hanuman. Once Bali kidnapped and imprisoned Sugriva’s wife Ruma. Ramchandra killed Bali and made Sugriva the king of the monkey land. Hanuman brought first the news of the abducted mother, Sita. During Lord Ramachandra’s invasion of Lanka, Hanuman himself killed a large number of demon soldiers, great demonic heroes, and to save the lives of the wounded Lakshmana in battle, he brought up the entire Gandhamadan mountain. Thus Hanuman served Lord Ramachandra with strong devotion. Lord Ramachandra then killed the demon forces and Lankesh Ravana and returned to Ayodhya with his brothers Lakshmana and Sita Devi after 14 years of exile.
Once mother Sita gave a pearl necklace to Goddess Hanuman. Devotee Hanuman saw the necklace, shook it and chewed the pearls with his teeth. When everyone asked Hanuman the reason, Hanuman said- “Where there is no name of Rama – what is the need of it?” Everyone said- “If so – do you have the name Rama in your heart? If there is, show it to us. ” On hearing this, Hanuman tore his chest with his fingernails – everyone saw Lord Ramachandra and mother Sita sitting there.
In the story of Ramayana, during the battle between Rama and Ravana, when Ravana’s son Indrajit was killed, Ravana called his brother Ahiravan for help. Ahiravan, the King of Patala, promised to help Ravana. Vibhishan somehow warned Rama about this. Hanuman was then kept under guard and no one was allowed to enter the house where unconscious Rama and Lakshmana were kept. Ahiravan tried hard to enter the house but was thwarted by Hanuman. Eventually, Ahiravan took the form of Vibhishan and Hanuman let him enter. Ahiravan quickly entered and took away the “sleeping Rama and Lakshmana”.
When Hanuman realized what had happened, he went to Vibhishan. Vibhishan said to Hanuman, “Alas! They were abducted by Ahiravan. If Hanuman did not rescue them quickly and fairly, Ahiravan would sacrifice both Rama and Lakshmana to goddess Chandi. Hanuman then went to Patala. He went there and saw that the gate of the kingdom if Patala was guarded by an animal. He was half Vanara (monkey) and half Makara. Hanuman asked who he was. The creature says, “I’m your son, Makaradhwaja.” Hanuman was confused by his words. Because he is a celibate. The creature explained, “While you were jumping over the sea, a drop of your semen fell into the mouth of a powerful crocodile in the sea. This is the source of my birth.” Hanuman also learned the only way he could kill Ahiravana. This demon’s soul rested in five candles. The only way to destroy him was to extinguish all five candles at the same time. But how was it possible? That is when Hanuman manifested his Panchamukhi appearance, each form facing a different direction. Together, they blew out the candles and brought back the still-unconscious Lord Rama and Lakshamana back to Lanka. Thus, the worshipper of the Panchamukhi Hanuman form is liberated from different fears, negativity, and enemies.
Panchmukhi Hanuman Kavach is one of the most powerful Yantras. By worshipping this Kavach, one can be blessed with success in every walk of life. The Panchmukhi Hanuman Kavach protects an individual from negative energies and influences. It also protects from evil eyes and black magic.
It is said that Hanuman was also present in Dwapar Yuga. At the request of Hanuman, Lord Krishna once appeared to him (Hanuman) in the form of Lord Ramachandra. And it is said that Hanuman is an absolute Vaishnava, a dear devotee of Lord Hari.
Hanuman was also present in the story of the Mahabharata. As a son of Pawan Dev, Hanuman is considered to be the half-brother of Bhima, one of the five Pandavas. Bhima was very proud of his own strength. During the exile of the Pandavas, Hanuman in disguise appeared in front of Bhima pretending to be very weak. In fact, Hanuman’s aim was to teach humility to Bhima. Hanuman lay on Bhima’s path, with his tail blocking the way. When Hanuman was asked to move his tail, Hanuman said that he did not have the strength to move his tail. Then Bhima became suspicious. He asked Hanuman to reveal his true identity. When Hanuman then gave his real identity to Bhima, Bhima understood the matter and embraced Hanuman.
In another story Hanuman met Arjuna, one of the most important character and Pandava brother in the Mahabharata. Once Arjuna went to Rameswaram and met Hanuman as a little monkey. Rameswaram is the place where Ramachandra built a bridge to Lanka to rescue Sitadevi in collaboration with the monkey army in the Treta Yuga. Arjuna wondered why Sri Rama had to take the help of mere monkeys, instead of having constructed a bridge of arrows, made by himself. Hanuman then challenged Arjuna to build a bridge that could only carry Hanuman’s load alone. Arjuna then built a bridge and presented it to Hanuman. Disappointing and embarrassing Arjuna, Hanuman destroyed it in an instant. It is said that Lord Vishnu appeared there and rebuked Arjuna for his arrogance. Arjuna realized his mistake and prayed for Hanuman’s help to make his chariot stable and strong in the battle of Kurukshetra. For this reason, the image of Hanuman can be seen on the flag of the chariot in the battle of Kurukshetra. It is said that three people heard the Srimad Bhagavad Gita directly from the mouth of Lord Krishna. They are Arjuna, Hanuman and Sanjaya (Dhritarashta’s counsel).
The mighty Hanuman is extremely humble. Once he begged Suryadev to accept him (Hanuman) as his (Surya) disciple. But Suryadev informed him that he had to revolve around the whole sky, so he was very busy. Then Hanuman started walking with the chariot of the sun and took lessons from Surya. When the lessons were over, Hanuman wanted to give Gurudakshina to Surya. Surya then asked Hanuman to crush the arrogance of his son (Shani). Hanuman went to Shani and asked him to think differently. Shani was very angry at Hanuman’s words and tried to endanger Hanuman in every possible way. The influence of Shani did not harm Hanuman at all, but Hanuman then continued to increase his size. Hanuman increased his size so much that the tiny Shani could realize his own mistake. Then Shani gave Hanuman the gift that he would worship Hanuman with devotion and he (Shani) would not do any harm to him(Hanuman).
Hanuman Chalisa is the most widely read Hanuman’s prayer. It comprises a set of 40 verses written by Tulsidas. It is said that reciting Hanuman Chalisa on a daily or weekly basis increases the inner strength of a devotee and frees him from any problem.
Another famous ritual in the worship of god Hanuman is Hanuman Aarti. It is performed at the end of Hanuman’s puja (prayer) and bhajan ( devotional song).
Happy Hanuman Jayanti, 2021