Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hanuman Ji History In Origin And Epithets

Lord Hanuman is well known for his extreme devotion to Lord Rama. Lord Hanuman is always depicted in the Indian folklaire as an icon of true devotion and a symbol of the power of true devotion and chastity.
Lord Hanuman's devotion to Lord Rama is symbolic of the devotion of the enlightened individual soul towards the supreme soul.
Many stories from the Indian literature tell the tales of Lord Hanuman protecting devotees of Lord Rama and helping those who seek his either spiritually or otherwise. Swami Tulasidas has written these lines in respect of Lord Hanuman's great character, in praise of his powers and also devotion.

Hanuman Ji History In Origin And Epithets:

According to some versions of the Ramayana, Hanuman was born with bejeweled earrings.[7]. He is also described as being born with mauñjī-mekhalā, a three-string girdle of muñja grass. In Tulsidas’s Hanuman Chalisa, Hanuman is ‘adorned with earrings, holy thread, and muñja’.

'Hanu' means ‘chin’ and the suffix 'mat' denotes ‘possession’, and implicitly ‘excellence’ or ‘superiority’, atiśāyana. ‘Hanuman’ would thus mean ‘the one with excellent chin’. According to Sanskrit lexicographers, letters in this name denote the following:

Brahma, Shiva, bliss, sky, water
worship, praise
Lakshmi, Vishnu
heroic strength.
The name would thus suggest the presence of the attributes and distinctive characteristics of these deities and elements—all in one person.

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Hanuman has several other appellations. He is Anjaneya, the son of Anjana; as the aurasa[8] child of the wind god, he is Maruti or Pavanasuta, and as the ksetraja[9] son of Kesari—one of the senior leaders of the monkey army—he is Kesari-nandana.[10] Punjikasthala, an apsara, was born as a monkey due to Brihaspati’s curse. Vayu, the wind god told her: ‘You would have a strong and intelligent son because I have touched you with my mind (manasāsmi gata). He would be full of courage, energy, strength, and valour (mahā-sattvo mahā-tejā mahā-bala-parākrama), and my equal in flying and leaping.’ [11]

Bhavabhuti, in his Mahaviracharita, and Bhatti, in his Bhattikavya, give ‘Vrishakapi’ as one of Hanuman’s names. In Nilakantha’s Mantra Ramayana—a treatise interpreting several Vedic mantras as alluding to the Ramayana story—Hanuman finds mention. Nilakantha believes that Vrishakapi, the ‘man-ape’ associated with Indra and Indrani in the Rig Veda, is none other than Hanuman.[12] In Hanuman’s figure, says A A MacDonnell, ‘perhaps survives a reminiscence of Indra’s alliance with the Maruts in his confict with Vrtra and of the god Saramā who, as Indra’s messenger, crosses the waters of the Rasā and tracks the cows. Saramā recurs as the name of a demoness [in Rāmāyana] who consoles Sītā in her captivity. The name of Hanumat being Sanskrit, the character is probably not borrowed from the aborigines.’ [13]

Camille Bulcke, the Belgian missionary and author of Ramkatha, disagrees: ‘In the Vedic literature, Hanuman is not mentioned anywhere. The word Hanuman is probably the Sanskrit version of a Dravidian word and it means “man- monkey”. ’ [14]Bulcke also mentions the names of various family lines and castes of aborigines in the Chota Nagpur and Singhbhum regions of Central India who trace their lineage to Hanuman. According to him, the name ‘Hanuman’ is a Sanskrit synonym of āna-mandi or āna-manti, ana meaning man and manda, monkey [15]. Swami Vivekananda says, ‘By the “monkeys” and “demons” are meant the aborigines of South India.’[16]In the Buddhist Jatakas, though Hanuman is not mentioned by name, allusions to him as a monkey are aplenty, and reference to the bodhisattva’s incarnation as a colossal monkey in the ‘Mahakapi Jataka’ clearly reminds us of Hanuman.[17] The Shunya Purana, an eleventh-century Buddhist text by Ramai Pandit, records that ‘when Madana, wife of Harisha Chandra, entered the Buddhist fold, she saw Hanuman protecting the southern gate of the shrine.’ ‘Eventually, the popularity of Hanuman which he gained for his performance in Ramayana made the Buddhists patronize him’[18].

In the Jain scriptures, Hanuman is the biological son of Anjan, who is the daughter of Mahendra, the king of Mahendrapur. She is married to Pavananjaya. Hanuman is the lord of Vajrakuta, a part of Manushottara Mountain. ‘He fell from an aerial chariot on a hill which was smashed into smithereens. He thus earned the sobriquet “Srishaila”. He rendered yeoman’s service to Rama in the latter’s war with Ravana.’[19]

In the Adhyatma Ramayana, Hanuman tells Angada: ‘We are all celestial attendants of Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha [Vishnu’s celestial abode]. When he incarnated himself as a man, we too descended as vānaras (monkeys).’ [20]In the Oriya Rasavinoda of Dinakrishnadasa, the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva together appears in the form of Hanuman. Goswami Tulsidas—‘the greatest of all poets who wrote in the language of the people’[21]—pays obeisance to Hanuman as ‘Mahadeva’, ‘Kapali’, ‘Rudravatara’, ‘Vanarakara-vigraha Purari’, which are also appellations of Shiva or Rudra.[22]In a number of Puranas—the Skanda, Bhagavata, Narada, and Brihaddharma Puranas, for instance—Hanuman has been depicted as Shiva, or his partial incarnation, or as Kapalin, the eleventh Rudra. In the Bengali Krittivasa Ramayana, Sita realizes that Hanuman is Shiva’s incarnation while serving him food.[23]

In Kamba Ramayana too, Hanuman has been described as an incarnation of Rudra.[24]The Ananda Ramayana, the Tattvasangraha Ramayana, and Tulsidas’s Hanuman Bahuka and Dohavali also say so. In some versions of the Ramayana Hanuman has been mentioned as Vishnu’s son. Elsewhere—in the Ramakatha from Indonesia, for instance—he is Rama’s son.

These different views notwithstanding; it is undeniable that both Sita and Rama had great love for Hanuman and openly expressed their gratitude for his services. In the Ramcharitmanas, Sita says:

Ajara amara gunanidhi suta hohu;  
Karahun bahuta raghunayaka chhohu.
May you never grow old or die, my son; be a storehouse of virtue, and may Raghunatha be most gracious unto you.

And Rama affirms:

Sunu suta tohi urina main nahin; 
Dekheun kari bichara mana mahin.
On refection, my son, I have come to the conclusion that I can never repay the debt I owe you.[25]

It was mentioned earlier that Hanuman is the son of Vayu from Anjana, hence he is called ‘Vayuputra’. Valmiki and the succeeding narrators also call him by other names with identical meanings: Pavana-suta, Marutatmaja, Gandhavahatmaja, and so on. In South India, people especially love to address Hanuman as Anjaneya. In his Hanuman Chalisa, Tulsidas addresses him as Shankara Suvana, son of Shiva; Kesarinandana, the joy of Kesari; Anjaniputra, Anjani’s son; and Pavanasuta, son of the Wind.

As a child, Hanuman was quite a prankster. According to a Jain scripture, when he fell on a rock, it was the rock that was damaged. Valmiki tells the story differently, twice in fact, and each with some variation. The first is a narration by Jambavan to Hanuman and the second by Agastya to Rama: ‘As a baby, crying out of hunger when his mother was away, he happened to see the rising sun, like a mass of red hibiscus. Taking it to be fruit, the baby—as brilliant as the rising sun—leapt into space to catch the sun and went up hundreds of miles without bothering about the unbearable heat of the fireball above. The Sun too, knowing him to be but a baby, was mild on him. … Indra was angry with Hanuman for his audacity, and striding on his elephant, Airavata, struck him with vajra, his thunderbolt. He fell down (on the Udaya Mountain) and broke his left chin.’ In Agastya’s version of the story, the damage was greater. Hanuman was almost dead. Vayu got very angry and stopped blowing. There was commotion in the three worlds. Led by Brahma, gods, humans, and demons approached Vayu with a request to resume his function. Brahma revived Hanuman by his touch. The wind god, now appeased, started blowing again. However, after he recovered from this injury, he got the name ‘Hanuman’. Meanwhile, at Brahma’s behest, the gods gave him a number of blessings. These included the boons of immortality, immunity against diseases as well as various powerful celestial weapons, matchless strength, and wisdom. Surya, the sun god, offered to teach him on his attaining the age for studentship.[26]

There is another episode about his unchallenged energies as a child. He was always up to some mischief. This greatly disturbed the rishis engaged in austerities. They cursed him that he would forget about his strength and would remember it only when reminded by someone [27]. Hence on the eve of his leaping across the sea to find Sita’s whereabouts, Jambavan had to remind him of his strength.

In another story from his childhood, Shiva comes to Ayodhya in the guise of a juggler along with Hanuman to see the child, Rama. Rama takes a fancy to the monkey and befriends him. So Shiva leaves him with Rama. After spending some years there, Hanuman goes to Kishkindha, as advised by Rama.[28]

The sun god, Surya, had offered to become Hanuman’s tutor. When the latter approached him, Surya put a condition. Since Surya had to keep moving, Hanuman would have to keep walking with his face towards the Sun. Hanuman accepted the condition. With his book open in his hands, his eyes fxed on the Sun, Hanuman kept walking backwards in the sky, synchronizing his steps with the Sun’s movement. In this way, he mastered grammar and other academic disciplines.[29]