Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hanuman Ji History In Shapeshifting

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 Shapeshifting:



Hanuman is one of several zoomorphic characters in Indian mythology, but is the only wholly animal figure who is revered as a god today. The mythic texts speak of him as a monkey child of the Wind God, as possessing enormous strength, keen intellect and a mastery over the Vedas and other branches of learning. He is also an unquestioning devotee of Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana, and has the ability to take on any form he wishes.

HANUMAN IN THE RAMAYANA
The first reference to Hanuman in the epic Ramayana is casual - as a "group of monkeys" - and one has no inkling of the large role that he will go on to play in the remainder of the story. Ravana, a demon, abducted Sita, wife of the exiled prince Rama. When Ravana was carrying away Sita in his air-borne chariot, Sita saw some monkeys atop a mountain and threw down her ornaments, hoping that monkeys with ornaments would attract the attention of her husband Rama, who would surely be searching for her in the same forest. Hanuman was one of these four monkeys. This monkey group was instrumental in giving Rama key information about Sita. They helped him build a bridge across the seas, and cross over with a monkey army that successfully stormed the demon stronghold and freed Sita.

Hanuman's role in the battle between Rama and Ravana is huge. He is the one who flies across the oceans (he is Wind's child), locates the exact place where Sita is imprisoned and brings this information back to Rama. While within the demon fort on his quest for Sita, he sets the entire place on fire and warns Ravana about an impending attack unless Sita is returned unharmed.

FROM HIS FATHER, THE WIND GOD, HANUMAN INHERITS HIS MIGHT & SPEED. HE IS ALSO A SHAPESHIFTER WHO CAN INCREASE & DECREASE HIS BODY SIZE AT WILL.
During the Rama-Ravana battle, Hanuman not only kills several demon generals but also brings Rama's brother back to life. How does he do that? Well, it so happens that Rama's brother is mortally wounded by Ravana's son, and the monkey-army-physician opines that the only things that can save the life of the younger prince are four specific herbs that grow on the Himalayan slopes. The catch? The battle is raging on in Lanka, across the southernmost tip of the country while the Himalayas are far up north, and the herbs are needed within the next few hours, before the new day dawns. Hanuman leaps up into the air, flies northwards at lightning speed, and alights atop the Himalayas.  This is where things start to become confusing: the monkey-physician had said that medicine herbs glow in their own light and that it should be easy, therefore, to spot them. What Hanuman sees, however, is an entire mountain aglow with herbs of all kinds, each emitting its own peculiar light. Being unable to identify the exact four herbs that the physician had described, Hanuman uproots the entire mountain and carries it back to the battlefield. The physician gets his herbs, the near-dead prince is brought back his life, and, so strong is the effect of the mountain teeming with a thousand fragrant herbs that other monkeys who had fallen in battle are also healed just by inhaling the medicine-scented mountain air.

Hanuman finds Sita
Hanuman finds Sita

Hanuman is described in the epic as one of extremely pleasant visage, perfect diction, elegant speech, and faultless manners. He is also described as being knowledgeable in the three Vedas. From his father, the Wind God, he inherits his might and speed. He is also a shapeshifter who can increase and decrease his body size at will.

HANUMAN IN THE MAHABHARAT
The Mahabharat is an epic about two branches of a family warring for a throne. One of the princes in the Mahabharat is also a son of the Wind God and it is to him that Hanuman's makes his only appearance in this epic. This prince, named Bhima, was as mighty as the wind and had once wandered into a large banana grove, which he proceeded to randomly destroy. While tearing down fruit and uprooting trees, he saw an old monkey dozing by the wayside, its tail lying right across the grove path. Bhima ordered the monkey to move its tail aside; the monkey opened his eyes and said it was rather weak and if the prince could be kind enough to lift it gently aside he would be grateful. Bhima, not given to either patience or conversations with lesser beings, bent to pick the monkey up by its tail, intending to hurl it across the banana trees. However, to his surprise, try as he might, he could not move even a whisker of the tail. It transpired that the monkey was none other than Hanuman, the mightiest being on earth. "Strength should not be trifled with; neither should it be something to be vain of", or words to similar effect, were what Hanuman told the chastened Bhima.

As a mark of affection to Bhima, Hanuman agreed to reside on the flag of Bhima's younger brother Arjuna's chariot. It is for this reason that Arjuna is called Kapi-dhwaj (kapi = monkey, dhwaj = flag, kapi+dhwaj = ape-bannered). During the final terrible Mahabharat war, Arjun's war cries were amplified by the roar that would emanate from the ape emblem on his flagstaff, driving fear into the hearts of his enemies.

Rama & Hanuman
Rama & Hanuman

HANUMAN IN THE PURANAS
Hanuman is the child of the Wind God and the princess Anjana. He is referred to by his metronymic, Anjaneya, as often as his patronymic, which seems to be the norm in most of the Hindu mythological texts. The various Puranas say that Anjana was married to the monkey chief Kesari. The couple prayed to Shiva for a son, and Hanuman was born to them from an aspect of Shiva, through the agency of the Wind God. Thus, Hanuman has two patronyms: Vayu-putra (Wind's son) as well as Kesari-nandan (Kesari's son).

So why is he called Hanuman then? The story is this: as soon as he was born, Hanuman grew up to a considerable size, jumped about like all monkeys do, and asked his mother what he should eat. Anjana pointed to the rising sun, a sphere of red in the golden dawn, and told him that anything that looked like that (i.e. ripe fruits) was his food. Hanuman mistook the sun itself to be a ripe fruit and leapt up in the air to grab it. The king of gods, seeing a dark streak speeding across the sky towards the sun as if to swallow it whole, was alarmed and hurled his thunderbolt at the flying figure. Whereupon Hanuman roared with laughter and said, "Do you not know, King, that I am unslayable? I am born of Shiva, how can your thunderbolt do anything to me? However, just so the Worlds do not laugh at you, I allow your weapon to scratch my chin". Or, words to that effect. Thus, the honour of the king of gods was retained, the infallible thunderbolt hit its target, the monkey child got his chin disfigured, and came to be known as Hanuman (hanu = chin; man = of, with, bearing, having; hanu+man=he of [broken] chin).

The Puranas also tell us that Hanuman was taught the Vedas and all other branches of learning by Sun God himself, Surya. He learnt his lessons by trotting alongside the Sun's chariot as it moved across the sky.

Hanuman
Hanuman

HANUMAN IN LATER LITERATURE
During the 16th CE, a poet called Tulsidas retold the Ramayana in the vernacular Awadhi language (rather than the academic Sanskrit) and also composed several hymns to the gods. One such hymn, the Hanuman Chalisa, continues to be recited today by thousands of people. This canticle of about 40 verses celebrates all of the qualities that Hanuman came to signify over the centuries: strength, devotion, celibacy, and righteousness. Hanuman became a god.  In an extract from the Hanuman Chalisa,

 
भूत पिशाच निकट नहिं आवै।
महाबीर जब नाम सुनावै॥
नासै रोग हरै सब पीरा।
जपत निरंतर हनुमत बीरा॥
  Demons and ghosts do not come near
If they hear the mighty one's name
Diseases die, sorrows disappear
If one constantly chants Hanuman's name
 
HANUMAN IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Hanuman is worshipped as a god in several parts of India today. It is almost de rigueur to find a small shrine to him in police stations and wrestling clubs across the country, especially in the north. Outside of India, Hanuman is known in countries which were influenced by the Hindu culture such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Hanuman is a recurring figure in the panels and motifs of the Ramayana that adorn the temples that were built over the centuries in India. He is most often depicted with his favourite weapon, the mace. He is also often depicted as flying across the skies, one hand holding aloft the mountain of herbs and the other a mace.

Hanuman Ji History In Finding Sita

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 Finding Sita:


Sunderkand is the story of Lord Hanuman’s journey and his quest to find Mata Sita. Lord Hanuman was oblivious about his power and strength until Jambvant praised him and even made him realize his colossal strength. This is exactly when he decided to start his voyage to search Mata Sita in Ramayan who had been kidnapped by Ravana.

Here, we share everything about Sunderkand, the 5th chapter of Ramayana that talks about the journey of Sri Hanumanji from Kishkinda to Lanka and highlights his knowledge, wisdom, and skill –

sundarkand-story-facts-photos

Image Courtesy: Jaihanumanjipage

Mainak, the Mountain in Sunderkand – The First Obstacle in Hanuman’s Path in the Ocean

According to Hindu mythology, mountains used to fly earlier from one place to another due to certain geographical conditions. However, there came a moment that it was noted that the flying of these mountains led to the killing of many people. This is the time when Lord Indra cut the wings of the mountains. It is during this period Mainak the mountain was hiding in the ocean.


 
When the ocean realized that Hanuman, Lord Rama’s messenger is passing through, he advised Mainak to come out of the ocean so that Sri Hanuman, the messenger of Lord Rama could rest on the mountain. Though Hanuman accepted Mainak’s request, he didn’t rest as he thought it was an obstacle in his journey.

Sursa in Sunder Kand – The Mother of the Nagas Vs Hanuman

Next, the demi-gods, the sages, and the Gandharvas wanted to test the monkey god’s power. They requested Sursa – the mother of the serpents (Nagas) to take the form of a terrible rakshasi to test Hanuman’s knowledge, wisdom, and skill. She met him on his way and said anybody who has to pass through has to pass through her mouth. Hanuman enlarges himself.

Surasa (right) encounters Hanuman, who is depicted thrice – in a large form (left), entering her mouth and exiting from her ear.
Surasa (right) encounters Hanuman, who is depicted thrice – in a large form (left), entering her mouth and exiting from her ear.
Image Source: British Museum Online Gallery [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Seeing Hanuman, Sursa too enlarges herself. Immediately, Hanuman reduces himself to his tiny avatar, enters her mouth and comes out of her nose. Impressed, Mata Sursa blesses him for his mission.

Sinhika, the Demon in Sunderkand

After facing two hurdles in the sky and the ocean, Lord Hanuman meets his third hurdle on the land. However, this time, it wasn’t the Gods but a demon Sinhika who caught his shadow. She even managed to swallow Hanuman but he killed her and proceeded further.

Hanuman’s Encounter With Lankini – The Rakshasi Guard of Lanka

After facing the above three hurdles, the monkey god reaches the Lankan shore. However, he finds a mighty force of demons guarding Lanka. He decides to enter during the night. At night he comes across Lankini (a guard at Brahma’s abode who is cursed by Lord Brahma to guard Rakshasa’s abode. She inquiries Hanuman but he tries to misguide her when she realizes that he is an intruder, she attacks him.

After some time, she realizes that this monkey is no ordinary monkey. She remembers the boon of Brahma,’you’ll be freed from the curse only when a monkey will defeat you in combat and thus bring an end to the age of the Rakshasa.’ Immediately, Lankini asked forgiveness from Hanuman as she realizes that Brahma’s prophecy has turned true.

Hanuman encounters Surasa, depicted in top register. Simhika and Lankini in mid and lower registers.
Hanuman encounters Surasa, depicted in top register. Simhika and Lankini in mid and lower registers.
Image Courtesy: By Andhra Paintings of the Ramayana [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hanuman Meets Vibhishan who tells Him about Sita’s Whereabouts

Hanuman then roams around the Palace of Ravana to find Sita. He then meets Vibhishan who tell him about Sita’s whereabouts. He heads to Ashoka vatika where he sees Ravana threatening Sita to marry him. A demon named Trijata then consoles Sita telling her about her dream which forecasted the end of Ravana’s legacy.

Seeing a very disturbed Sita, Hanuman then drops the ring that Lord Rama had given to him to present before Sita. Seeing the ring, Sita is happy.

The Meeting of Lord Hanuman and Mata Sita in Sunderkand

Hanuman then comes in front of Sita and explains to her how the Lord will be here soon to release her from Ravana’s custody. With Sita’s permission, Hanuman then eats fruit from Ashoka Vatika and also uproots many trees. 

sundar-kand-hanuman-meets-sita-ashoka-vatika-lanka

Image Courtesy: By bazaar art [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

He creates havoc and also kills many demons including Akshaykumara. Next, the demons complain the same to Ravana and he sends his warriors but they all lose in the fight with Hanuman.

Ravan Sends Meghnath to Fight Against the Monkey God Hanuman

Irritated, Ravana then sends his son Meghnath to tackle the monkey god. He is compelled to use Brahmastra against Hanuman and Naagpash to tie him down. Meghnath then takes Hanuman in the court of Ravana. Hanuman suggests Ravana to escort Sita to Lord Rama and live in peace forever. However, instead of listening to Hanuman, a fiery Ravana orders to burn the monkey-god’s tail.

Sunder Kand : Lord Hanuman Burns Lanka

When Ravana orders to teach the monkey a lesson and burn his tail, Hanuman keeps on increasing his size. It is said that lot of cloth and oil was required to burn the tail. Finally, when Lord Hanuman’s tail was set ablaze, he decreased his size and burnt Lanka with his tail. This is how Lanka was burnt in Sunderkand, Ramayana.

Hanuman Meets Sita and Heads Back to Kishkinda

Lord Hanuman then meets Sita and asks her permission to head back to the Lord. She gives him her ornaments to present it to her Lord. Taking it, Hanuman heads back to Kishkinda. He meets Lord Rama and Lakshmana and narrates them the entire story. Next, they conduct a meeting with Sugriv to plan their course of action in order to free Sita from Lanka.

Hanuman-finds-mata-sita-sunderkand

Image Courtesy: By MV Sharma printed by Anant Shivaji Desai [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Both Mandodari and Vibhisan Try to Convince Ravana

Both seeing the damage done by Hanuman, the messenger of Lord Rama, Mandodari tries to convince Ravana by telling him about the effects and after effects but Ravana doesn’t pay any heed to her. He even insults Vibhishan in the court when he tries to make him understand about the consequences. Vibhishan then meets Lord Rama and then requests for his friendship. Rama gladly accepts him as his friend.

Lord Rama Vs Ravana : The Initial Phase in Sunderkand

Sensing possible danger, Ravana then sends his men to spy around Rama. However, Shuka, the messenger his caught by Lakshmana. He then releases him and sends him to Ravana with a letter. This is the beginning of the war between Lord Rama and Ravana.

Yes, the Sunder kand is the story where Lord Hanuman not only finds Sita but also gives Lord Rama the much necessary support to wage his war against the cruel Ravana in Ramayana. 

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