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Bhakta Hanuman

Hanuman was the Son of Anjanadevi, born as a result of the grace of Vayudeva (the god of wind, also known as Marut). Hence the appellations Anjaneya and Maruti. The blow delivered by Indra, by his Vajrayudha, on his jaw (= hanu) when he was a baby, to check his menacing prowess, left it swollen and hence he came to be known as 'Hanuman,' 'one with a prominent jaw'. He was educated by no less a person than Surya, the Sun-god and acquired immunity from various weapons, as per the boons of the gods in heaven. Once as a child, he incurred the wrath of some sages by his michievous pranks that were too much to bear. They cursed him that he would not remember his strength until someone reminded him about it. This silenced him, preventing him from harassing the hapless sages.

When Sugriva was driven out by Vali from Kiskindha, Hanuman chose to leave the country along with him, even though Vali begged him to stay on, since he knew that dharma was on Sugriva's side. He voluntarily underwent all the hardships for Sugriva's sake.

When Rama and Laksmana arrived at the foot of the hill Rsyamuka, Sugriva deputed him to find out who they were.

His manner of approach reverent and courteous as well as his refined speech impressed Rama so much that he gave vent to his admiration. Convinced of their nobility and greatness Hanuman carried them to Sugriva and eulogised them before him. The attraction of Hanuman for Rama and Rama's special affection for him that sprouted on that first meeting grew to phenomenal proportions and have now become a legend.

When Vali was killed by Rama, and Tara, his queen, was inconsolable with grief, it was Hanuman who succeeded in restoring her mental balance and peace by timely advice with an effective philosophical discourse.

Again, when Sugriva had steeped himself in sensuous pleasures neglecting his duties of the State, it was Hanuman who roused him out of that stupor and advised him to apologise to Rama through Laksmana.

When Sugriva sent four batches of his troops in the four cardinal directions in search of Sita, he sent Hanuman as a leader of the southern batch, since the possibility of finding Sita in the south were the brightest.

Rama too gave his signet ring to Hanuman with the necessary instructions of what to communicate to Sita when found. This clearly shows the faith that they reposed in him.

After reaching the southern shore of the land mass, the vanaras became despondent. Angada, their leader, even spoke of staying back permanently! Hanuman effectively intervened and through his wise counsels successfully prevented what might have resulted in a division of the country of Kiskindha. This shows his farsightedness and loyalty to the cause he had committed himself.

Hanuman crossed the vast ocean with a mighty leap, overcoming all the obstacles on the way. He entered the city of Lanka after vanquishing the demoness Lanka the protectress of the fort-city. He searched for Sita in every nook and corner, especially in Ravana's palace and the harem but was disappointed. That the seeing of the women of the harem in various uncouth postures did not upset his steady mind in any way is a tribute to his brahmacarya or celibate life. Realizing that such a pativrata (a chaste lady deeply devoted only to her husband) like Sita could never consent to be in the palace of an abductor, he started searching for her elsewhere. Finally he found her in the Asoka grove, the pleasure garden of Ravana behind his palace.

Hanuman had to use all his wisdom and tact to establish contact with her and to develop a personal rapport. Once that was done, the rest was easy. He gave her Rama's signet ring and message, and, reassured her of Rama rescuing her very soon. He took the cudamani (crestjewel) from her to be delivered to Rama as also her message.

Hanuman, though his task was fulfilled, did not want to leave, without leaving a mark, a warning shot as it were, to the enemy. So he contrived to meet Ravana and also have a surveillant view of his city by destroying his favourite pleasure garden and killing all the raksasa warriors that came to capture him. Later, wilfully submitting himself to Indrajit's Brahmastra, he succeeded in meeting Ravana in the courtroom of his palace, admonished him severely and advised him to return Sita honourably to Rama or be prepared to face decimation at his hands. Due to Ravana's wrath, when Hanuman's tail was set on fire by his aides, the vanara hero destroyed the city by that very fire. He then triumphantly returned to Rama and Sugriva who immediately started on an invasion of Lanka.

During the war, Hanuman's heroic exploits were many. Even the mighty Ravana could not stand the intensity of his blows!

After the death of Ravana at the hands of Rama and the formal coronation of Vibhisana as the king of Lanka, Sita had to be given the good tidings. This privilege was naturally conferred on Hanuman who did it so successfully and gracefully that Sita was all praise for him. Out of his intensity of devotion to Sita and his sensitivity to her intolerable suffering under the raksasis (demonesses) Hanuman offered to punish them severely. The offer, however, was rejected outright by Sita, the compassionate mother of all.

Along with Vibhisana and Sugriva, Hanuman also went to Ayodhya to attend the coronation ceremony of Rama. When the Puspaka-vimana, the divine aircraft, alighted in the hermitage of the sage Bharadvaja, it was again Hanuman's prerogative to act as the messenger of Rama to Bharata, then living at Nandigrama. In this he endeared himself to Bharata almost instantaneously.

After the coronation, Rama gave a priceless necklace to Sita giving her the freedom to grant it to anyone she deemed fit. Again, it was none other than Hanuman who received the gift.

 


 

The Iconographic Genesis of Shiva

The Mystery of Hanuman

Having both Shiva and Vayu as his illustrious fathers, he was no ordinary child. Hanuman was restless, spirited, energetic and inquisitive. He was obviously endowed with awesome strength and the scriptures abound in tales expounding on his remarkable feats. Once for example he mistook the sun for a ripe fruit (monkeys are naturally lured by red ripe fruits), and rushed towards the sky in an attempt to grab it. On his way however he saw Rahu the dragon making his way to devour the sun and thus cause an eclipse. Mistaking him to be a worm, the restless Hanuman dashed towards Rahu and attempted to catch hold of him. Rushing for his life, Rahu sought shelter in the refuge of Indra, the lord of the skies. Indra picked up his deadly thunderbolt, mounted his white elephant named Airavata and made off in search of Hanuman, seeking to restrain his seeming impudence. aken aback by the child's spirited and playful defiance, Indra stuck at Hanuman with his thunderbolt, and the wound thus inflicted hurtled him speedily down to the earth. His father Vayu immediately sprung to his rescue and caught him in mid air. The sight of his beloved son lying helpless in his arms infuriated the wind-god. He drew in a mighty breath and sucked away all the air from the cosmos.  Read more ...

 


The Forms of Shiva in Visual Arts

Shri Hanuman - Biography of a Masterful Servant

 
This redeemer of scripts is the protector of common folks. He is invoked by common masses also for redeeming them but more often to protect them from everything untoward. His images are installed and worshipped invariably as the protector and patron deity having power to ward off misfortune. He is Kherapati, the patron deity of ‘khera’ – village, and Ghatoria, the protector of ‘ghats’ – valleys, to include river-crossings, descents, ascents, forts and village boundaries. As Balaji, he keeps evil spirits and maladies away and exorcises ghosts and ills from within. His name by itself has the status of the ‘mantra’ – hymn, which, being commemorated, dispels evil, evil spirits, ghosts : ‘Bhuta pishacha nikata nahin abein’ – ghosts and evil spirits dare not come around. As Bajaranga – with body made of ‘vajra’, or Bajrangabali – having ‘vajra’-like strength, he presides over gymnasiums and wrestlers’ rings infusing into wrestlers’ bodies his own might, and in the bodies of gymnasts and acrobats, his own agility and swiftness. Read more ...

 

 


Lord Shiva as Nataraja

Shri Hanuman Commemorating Rama’s Name

 
This sublime image, rendered in oil using the timeless idiom of votive art endowed with the power to transcend the devotional mind beyond the cob-webs of this world into the realm of spiritual experience, represents the monkey god Hanuman turning beads in the course of commemorating the name of Rama, his Master and the Lord of all three worlds. The most humble divinity acclaiming to perpetually draw his strength from his Master, and to have not a grain of it of his own, Hanuman is the most potent redeemer in adversities and a great protector against enemies and all dangers, even sickness and death.
 
 Read more...
 
 
 
 
 

Panchamukha Hanuman

Panchamukha Hanuman Temple Wood Carving

 
Unlike most other multi-faced manifestations of various deities that assimilate repeats of their own faces, however great their symbolic breadth, or diverse dispositions or states of mind that they represented, the faces that the image of Panchamukha Hanuman assimilates belong to five absolutely different animal domains believed to incarnate Lord Vishnu, not symbolically conceived but each with a distinct identity, distinct anatomy and a body of well sustained independent myths. Symbolically the Panchamukha image of the monkey god Hanuman manifests the accumulated ‘good’ that the animal world ever accomplished through its various species and assisted divine endeavour to sustain the creation and maintain order. Except a blend of human anatomy defining the rest of the figure and adding mythical dimensions the faces that Hanuman in his Panchamukha form assimilates belong to five animal species, namely, Vanar – monkey, Varaha – boar, Hayagriva – horse-faced, Narsimha, a half-man-half-animal form, and Garuda – the great bird associated with Lord Vishnu in his various incarnations : all trans-human divinities in the Vaishnava line.
 
 
 

Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman

Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman

 
 
In rendering this image of Rama, and of course, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, Kailash Raj has used the best iconographic diction and the truest idiom of the Rama’s imagery, especially as it prevailed around 1780 to 1810 AD at Kangra, a Pahari art School : a highly simplified background, elegantly modeled figure with moderate height in fascinating blue, sharp features, serenity on face, simple ‘pitambara’ – yellow antariya, a maroon sash and modest ornamentation … In image-quality, treatment of theme, rhythmically poised figures revealing Himalayan hills’ like sky-line, colours’ contrast and divine simplicity the painting is simply outstanding. Read more...
 
 
 
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