The spiritual son of Lord Vayu, the God of air, Pavan Putra Hanuman, is revered by Hindus worldwide and hugely worshipped over an Indian Subcontinent. Lord Hanuman is one of the leading characters of the epic poem “Ramayana,” a great devotee of Lord Rama and one of the Chiranjivi (Immortal).
Hanuman is also mentioned in the Mahabharata, Puranas, and in several later texts: Ramacharitamanas, Hanuman Chalisa, and Bajrang Baan. Hanuman, the son of Anjana and Keshari and the son of the wind god Vayu, personifies inner self-control, faith, and devotional service manifestation.
Hanuman Name Etymology
There are several versions regarding the origin and meaning of “Hanuman.” His name likely reflects this brave warrior’s immeasurable power of knowledge and sublime wisdom. He appears as a battler with the greatness of knowledge or a wise warrior.
According to one version, the name consists of two words: “Hanu” – ‘jaw’ and “Man” – ‘visible,’ respectively; the name can be interpreted as “one who has a prominent jaw.” Another version is that his name comes from the words “Han” – ‘destroyed, defeated’ and “mana” – ‘pride’; thus, the name means ‘one who destroyed pride in himself.’
Multiple Names of Lord Hanuman
In the Vedic pantheon, the gods, as a rule, have many names, each of which carries the essence of some noble trait or attribute or symbolizes one of the deeds of the deity. Hanuman also appears under various names:
- Pavanasuta or Maruti: son of the wind God Vayu
- Mangalamurti: The personification of Mars “Mangala” – the name of Mars in Vedic astrology; “murti” – ‘face, image.’
- Anjaneya: Son of Anjana
- Kesari Nandan: Son of Kesari
- Panchamukha Anjaneya: Five-faced Hanuman
- Bajrang Bali: One possessing indestructible strength, one who cannot be broken. It consists of the words: “vajra” – “lightning, arrow, indestructible”; “anga” – ‘part of the body, limb’; “Bala” – ‘strength, courage, power.
- Vira, Mahavira, Mahabala: The personification of the extraordinary strength and courage
- Chiranjivi: ‘Immortal,’ in various versions of the Ramayana, it is stated that Rama blessed Hanuman with immortality; he will remain on earth as long as the memory of the glorious deeds of Rama is alive.
- Kurupsundar: Having an unsightly appearance but inner beauty: “kurup” – “ugly,” “Sundar” means “beautiful.”
- Kamarupine (“rupine” – ‘visible, in a visible form’; “kama” – ‘desire’): He can change at will, decrease to the size of an atom and increase to unlimited limits.
Hanuman is associated with the Mind
Sri Hanuman, a deity appearing as a monkey king, is symbolically associated with the mind. The monkey is a metaphor for the restless mind, constantly in chaotic movement from one thought to another. Therefore, Lord Hanuman is also the personification of the mind, taken under control and dominated by the spirit.
Hanuman, A True Devotee of Sri Ram
The figure of Hanuman is full of stories and legends that have made Hanuman the archetype of the perfect devotee, “bhakta,” a symbol of attitude, honesty, strength, and faith but also the protector of cities and villages, wrestlers, and acrobats.
As mentioned in the Ramayana of Valmiki, He is also popular for his profound knowledge of grammar, Vedas, and all sciences, whose character teaches us the unlimited power that lies untapped within each of us.
Sage Valmiki added that Lord Hanuman dedicated his life to worshiping Lord Sri Rama, and his unchanged devotion freed him from all physical exhaustion. Hanuman’s only desire was to continue serving Sri Rama.
Substantiation (Siddhis) of Hanuman
In Ramayana, Hanuman was depicted as a true devotee of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita. The images of Sita and Rama in his open heart symbolize the features and qualities of an open and harmoniously developed Heart chakra (Anahata). The heart is the center responsible for selfless service, bhakti, devotion, love, compassion, and unrelenting willingness to help.
Hanuman has siddhis that give him the following supernatural abilities:
- Ability to take the form of a very small size (Anima)
- Reach incredible heights and sizes (Mahima),
- Ability to gain limitless weight and become heavy and immovable by anyone (Garima)
- Become weightless and able to move through the air – levitate (Laghima), Take any desired form ( Prakamya),
- Achieve everything desired and, through the use of willpower, move instantly from one place to another (Prapti),
- Gain power over any creatures (Vashitva), and
- Ability to subdue oneself (Ishatva).
Panchmukhi Hanuman (Five Faced Hanuman)
Lord Hanuman is depicted as having five faces in Ramayana; therefore, he is also known as Panchmukhi (five faces). In this form, he delivered Rama and Lakshmana from the underworld (Patala). His heads are turned in different directions and carry five different energies:
- Head of a lion – Narasimha – means victory over dark forces, courage, and overcoming a sense of fear;
- The Head of Hanuman himself – symbolizes victory over enemies, the destruction of sins, filling one’s life with pure thoughts and good deeds;
- The Head of the eagle – Garuda – personifies victory over obstacles, protection from evil spirits;
- Head of the boar Varaha – brings prosperity and abundance;
- The Head of the horse – Hayagriva – endows with wisdom and knowledge.
Hanuman and Lord Rama
Hanuman, the incarnation (avatar) of Lord Shiva, was born to help Rama in his mission to establish virtue (dharma) on earth. Furthermore, it teaches humanity about the depth of bhakti and how to be the perfect devotee.
Hanuman had the Ram Naam – Rama Mantra even before he met Rama. He performed Rama’s mantra recitation (Japa) and meditation (dhyana) in every free moment. He had not met Rama, but he knew of his greatness and the value of the Rama mantra and was steadfast in his loyalty to the name.
Hanuman met Rama during his exile in the jungle when Rama was searching for his abducted wife, Sita. Hanuman saw him as the God of the universe. His love and devotion to the name of Rama were so deep that he could perceive reality.
Later Sri Hanuman and his monkey army aided Rama and his brother Laxman in defeating the Demon King, Ravana. There is a chapter named Sundara Kanda in Ramayana of Valmiki, the only chapter where the principal focus is Karya Siddhi Hanuman. Sundara Kanda can be summarized as Hanuman – Inspiring Tales featuring numerous Sri Hanuman adventures.
Hanuman Jayanthi is celebrated twice a year. The first Jayanti signifies the birth of Lord Hanuman, and the second one worships the divine powers possessed by Karya Siddhi Hanuman, which gave him numerous victories over the bad entities. A fresh red or yellow colored cloth is offered for Sri Hanuman during Hanuman Puja. Hanuman Jayanthi is celebrated in the month of Chaitra in North India, whereas in other parts, it is observed at Krishna Pachya of Kartik month.
Hanuman Temples and Statues
Hanuman is featured in almost all Hindu temples of Shri Rama. There are many specific Hindu temples where only Sri Hanuman is worshipped. A 1,500-year-old temple in Karachi, Pakistan, is one of the oldest Hanuma temples with a natural statue of 5 faced Sri Hanuman. Namakkal Anjaneyar temple of South India is one of the significant pilgrimage destinations near the Hindu Monkey King. A 75-foot (23 m) statue in the Hanuman Vatika temple of Rourkela has also attracted religious and scenery tourists in the region.
Modern times and the impact of Hanuman Ideology
- The Ramayan saga with the friendship of Shri Rama and Sri Hanuman is even explained in Rama Thagyin, A Burmese version of Ramayana, published by Aung Phyo in 1775.
- Guru Gobind Singh, the creditor of Dasam Granth, was so influenced by Hanuman Natak in the 17th century that he began writing the greatness of Lord Hanuman. The Sodak community in the 19th century confirmed this fact. The written notes and hymns became an important aspect of Sikh tradition.
- Batara Guru of the 9th century is the supreme god of Indonesian Hinduism. He is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva, while other suspect him to be an early human ancestor. As Lord Hanuman is an incarnation of Sri Mahadeva and resembles human ancestors (monkey king), they both are believed to be interlinked.
Hanuman is the personification of the faithful, perfect believer, whom no one can surpass. Such devotion can only be striven for. It is believed that without the protection of Hanuman’s supernatural powers, it is impossible to gain the mercy of Rama. Hanuman, like Shri Rama, is the ideal of righteousness. The worship of Hanuman eliminates all difficulties on the path of man.