Sri Hanuman is the epitome of unwavering and unstinted support and service to Bhagwan Rama. He had surrendered his mind, body and soul to Sri Ram. Sri Hanuman is the best example for the self-less devotion and His level of Bhakthi is incomparable. His compassion towards His devotees and the devotees of Sri Ram cannot be described merely in words. In this article, the stories related to the life of Sri Hanuman are narrated.
Service to Sri Ram
It was Sri Hanuman who had found out where Sri Seetha Devi was kept in hostage by Raavan. Till then, Bhagwan Ram was clueless as to Sri Seetha’s whereabouts.
Sri Hanuman had helped Sri Ram and Sri Lakshman in building the bridge to crossover to Sri Lanka. When Sri Lakshman passed out due to the effect of Indrajith’s weapon, Sri Hanuman had brought Sanjeevi hill for treating Sri Lakshman.
During the final war with Ravan, Bhagwan Ram was about to fight by standing on the ground while Raavan was in his chariot. Sri Hanuman had lifted Sri Ram on His shoulders and adjusted His height accommodating Sri Rama’s position equal to Ravan.
Apart from all these, the services done by Sri Hanuman to Sri Ram cannot be merely measured in words. The complete submission by Sri Hanuman is unparalleled and incomparable.
Sri Hanuman is called Chiranjeevi. He lives in all the places where Sri Rama is thought and Sri Rama’s name is chanted.
There are several legends pertaining to the birth of Sri Hanuman. A few of them are narrated in this article.
Sri Hari and Narada
This legend is said to pertain to Sri Vishnu Puran and Narada Puran.
Once, Sage Narada visited Vaikunt to have the darshan of Sri Narayana. Sri Vishnu asked him the purpose of his visit. Narada told that he was besotted with a princess and was intent on marrying her. He said that he wanted to attend the swayamvar organized in that respect.
Narada requested Sri Vishnu to make him to look as beautiful as Him. He asked for a ‘Hari mukh’. Sri Vishnu had granted the face desired by Him.
Narada duly attended the Swayamvar. The Princess looked at Narada and burst out laughing. The entire gathering was in mirth. Narada was intrigued. He saw in the mirror and found that he was granted a monkey face.
Narada got furious at being played at.
He came back to Vaikunt and asked Sri Ranganath as to why He did that. His rage was so severe that on seeing Sri Purushothama, he immediately cursed Him, “you have humiliated me by giving me a monkey face. May you be dependent on a monkey face”.
Sri Achyutha soothed him and explained, “You have asked for Hari-mukh. Hari also has the meaning of ‘vanara’. You are a sage. What you have felt about the girl is only an infatuation. I know that it would pass soon. For your level of spirituality, you cannot be confined to family life. So, I have only saved you from committing anything foolhardy.”
Narada had cooled down by then. He repented at his hasty curse. He instantly apologized to Sri Hari.
Sri Narayana’s remarks
Sri Narayana said, “You are a pious sage. Even if you repent, your curse cannot be revoked. I will put your curse to good use when I take Rama Avathar. I will be blessed to have the assistance and help of Vanaras.”
Thus, the appearance of Sri Hanuman was already pre-decided.
Sri Vayu Puthra
Sri Hanuman is called as Sri Vayu Puthra which means, ‘’the son of Vayu”. As per the legend, Anjana and her husband Kesari were praying to Bhagwan Shiva who was in the form of Sri Rudra. They were worshipping seeking progeny.
Dasharatha, the emperor of Ayodhya was conducting a putra kameshti yagna seeking progeny. At the end of the Yagna, the sweet prasad named payasam had emerged. As ordained, the prasad had to be consumed by the three wives of Dasharatha namely, Kousalya, Kaikeyi and Sumithra. Hence, Dasharatha had divided the prasad amongst his wives.
At that time, a kite flew in at Dasharatha’s place. It had dipped itself on a portion of the prasad and flew away. It went above the place where Kesari and Anjana were praying. With the help of the wind (vayu), the prasad stuck to the kite had fallen in the hands of Anjana. She took it.
Due to the effect of the prasad, Kausalya gave birth to Sri Rama. Kaikeyi’s son is Sri Bharatha. Sri Lakshmana and Sri Shathrugna are the children of Sumithra.
As Anjana also partook a portion albeit a small quantity, she too was blessed with the progeny. Her son was Sri Hanuman.
As Sri Hanuman was born with the support given by vayu, He is called as Vayu Putra.
There is also a belief that Bhagwan Shiva had ordained Vayu to bestow powers to Anjana to carry Sri Anjaneya in her womb.
As per another belief, Sri Anjaneya is also considered as a manifestation of Bhagwan Shiva. In all Shiva temples, a shrine or atleast a pillar has the sculpture of Sri Hanuman. People apply butter on Sri Hanuman as part of worship.
Sri Hanuman stories
There are several legends pertaining to the life of Sri Hanuman.
Sri Hanuman and the Sun
When He was a baby, Sri Hanuman used to play with His mother Anjana and father Kesari. Whenever Kesari had to go out and Anjana had to go to forest to get fruits and meals, Vayu used to look after Sri Hanuman.
One day, Kesari had to go out on official duty. Anjana was playing with her child. She left Him to Vayu and went to the forest. Vayu was playing with the child by blowing the flowers and the leaves. He also made an air cushion for the baby to rest.
Baby Hanuman was hungry. He could not find either His Mom or any fruit. At that time, Sun was rising. He thought that the rising Sun was a fruit.
He rushed for the Sun. Vayu also playfully helped Him to propel forward. Baby Hanuman went atop a hill and from there surged to the sky. Even Vayu could not stop Him.
Sun was aghast that a kid was coming near him. Even Lord Indra was terrified. Baby Hanuman was fascinated with Airavatha, the elephant of Indra. Baby Hanuman started to play with Airavatha’s tusk.
Indra got petrified. He thought that the child would get to danger. So, with his weapon, he had pushed the child. The baby got injured in the face.
Baby Hanuman was falling down. Vayu took the baby in his hands, brought it down to earth, took him to a cave and shut the cave.
The entire universe was suffocating without air. Indra had pleaded with Vayu to come out. Vayu then came out bearing the child.
There was air circulation once again. Indra blessed the child as Chiranjeevi which means eternal life.
Sri Hanuman and Shani
Sri Hanuman had Bhagwan Surya as His teacher and Guru. Bhagwan Surya had taught Him all the scriptures. Sri Hanuman wanted to give Sri Surya some Gurdakshina. But Sri Surya refused to accept any fees. However, Sri Hanuman was insistent that He should pay some fees.
Then Sri Surya told Him, “My son Shani does not obey me. He is most selfish. Can you make him see reason and behave appropriately?”.
Sri Hanuman went to Shani lok. Shani was surprised as to how Sri Hanuman had entered without a hitch while it was difficult for others. He wanted to test His prowess.
So, Shani sat on the shoulders of Sri Hanuman. Sri Hanuman grew in His size. He had almost reached the roof. Shani was getting crushed between the roof and Sri Hanuman. He pleaded to Him to leave him. On getting down, he bowed to Sri Hanuman. He also promised Sri Hanuman that he would not affect those who sincerely worship Sri Rama and Sri Hanuman.
Sri Hanuman then blessed him. Shani asked for the remedy for the pain caused due to crushing. Sri Hanuman advised him to apply gingelly oil. That is the reason for offering gingelly oil to Shani.
As per another legend, Shani was trailing Hanuman when He was searching for Sanjeevi hill to cure Lakshman. Hanuman got infuriated at Shani’s attempts and attacked him. Shani apologized and promised that he would never hurt Hanuman Bhakts.
Shani’s spell on Sri Hanuman
Bhagwan Shani is known to occupy the people’s horoscope for the period of seven and half years for two or more spells. Sri Hanuman was no exception to this.
When Sri Hanuman was involved in constructing the Sethu bridge for crossing over to Sri Lanka, Bhagwan Shani had approached Sri Ram and Sri Lakshman. He told them, “Prabhu, I know that Sri Hanuman is Your favorite Devotee. Now the time has come to cast my spell on Him. I request Your permission.”
Bhagwan Rama said, “I understand that you have to do your duty. Go and approach my Hanuman. Try to occupy him if you can”.
Meanwhile, Sri Hanuman was writing “Sri Ram” on the rocks and boulders before using them for constructing the bridge. Shani approached Him and told Him, “Hanuma, I know that You are involved in the most sacred of duties, But I have to cast my spell on You. So please cooperate”.
Sri Hanuman said, “Oh Bhagwan, I will be glad to allow You to occupy me. But I am now involved in the sacred event. After Sri Seetha Devi is rescued, I will come to You. You can then occupy me”. Shani said, “Maruthi, just as You are duty bound, I am also duty bound to keep to my time table. I cannot altogether exempt You from my spell. So please tell me which part of Yours I should occupy”.
Sri Hanuman said, “Oh Bhagwan, My hands are involved in the construction of the bridge. I cannot ask You to occupy my legs as it will be disrespectful. So please occupy my head”.
Shani had happily sat on Sri Hanuman’s head. After that, Sri Hanuman had started lifting bigger boulders for construction. He did not feel any weight as they were all borne by Shani who was sitting on His head. Shani could not bear the burden. He jumped from Sri Hanuman’s head.
Sri Hanuman asked him the reason for the descend. Shani said, “You have placed the boulders on me. So I too have participated in Your holy mission. Due to the virtuous effect, I have reduced my occupying time from seven and half years to seven and half minutes. Do ask me for any boon”.
Sri Hanuman said, “I request You to alleviate the effect of Your spell on my devotees who do the chanting of Sri Rama Nama”. Shani had consented to this.
Sri Hanuman and Sindhoor
This story pertains to the period after Sri Rama Pattabhishekam. Sri Seetha Devi was coming after Her morning work to meet Sri Rama. She was sporting Sindhoor on the head where the hair was parted. Sri Hanuman met Her on the way. He bowed to Her and asked the reason for the Sindhoor. She said that it was for the welfare of Her husband and as such, an expression of love. Sri Hanuman was overwhelmed with Her answer.
When Sri Hanuman met Sri Rama next time, Sri Hanuman was fully red in colour. When Sri Rama asked the reason, Sri Hanuman told Him that He always aspired for Sri Rama’s welfare and that was the reason for smearing the Sindhoor allover His body.
Sri Rama was quite touched with the unbridled show of affection and love.
Sri Hanuman and Sri Rama’s yawn
This also pertains to the period after Sri Rama Pattabhishekam. Sri Hanuman had requested Sri Rama that He should be allowed to do a service to Sri Ram which was not done by others.
Sri Rama had conveyed this to His family members. The family members were already a bit annoyed that Sri Hanuman always remained by Sri Rama’s side and that none of them could approach Sri Rama easily.
However, in order to humor Sri Hanuman, each of the family members had prepared the list of services that they were providing to Sri Rama. Sri Lakshmana had consolidated them all and gave to Sri Hanuman.
Sri Hanuman had gone through the list. Then He told, “I want to be the one who snaps the fingers at Sri Rama’s mouth whenever He yawns”. They all thought snapping of fingers for yawn was hardly a service.
Having accepted on the type of service, Sri Hanuman got even more nearer to Sri Rama. He was always looking at Sri Rama’s face all the time waiting for Him to yawn.
The turn of events worried all. Sri Seetha Devi thought of a plan. She made a bundle of temple prasad and called Sri Hanuman. At that time, Kaushalya was in a far-off place.
Sri Seetha Devi called Sri Hanuman and told Him, “You are the most favorite person to Sri Rama. This bundle contains the temple prasad. Raja Matha is far away. Sri Rama will be happy if you yourself deliver this to her.” Sri Hanuman obliged immediately. It was quite early in the morning.
Sri Seetha was surprised that Sri Rama did not wake up even after Sunrise that day. She went there to check. Sri Rama had kept His eyes and mouth open. He did not respond to anyone.
Everyone was shocked. Even the palace physician could not ascertain the cause as all the vitals were perfect. Sage Vasishta was called for. He knew that Bhagwan Rama was playing a game to teach others a lesson.
Sri Hanuman had returned to the palace. On hearing the news, He immediately rushed to Sri Rama’s chamber and snapped His fingers at Sri Rama’s mouth. Sri Rama immediately responded.
By this, Sri Rama had made it known that even a small service would count and that it was only the sincerity of the service that matters and not the size of the service.
At the end of Sri Rama Avathar, Sri Rama called Sri Hanuman and told,” I am returning to Vaikuntam. You can come with me”.
Sri Hanuman asked, “will you be there always?”
Sri Rama said, “I will be mostly there only. At times I may have to come out to take care of some eventualities”.
Sri Hanuman asked, “what is your name in Vaikunt?”
Sri Rama said, “I have several names. At Vaikunt, I am called as Narayana or Vishnu”.
Sri Hanuman asked, “will anyone call you ‘Rama’ there?”
Sri Rama said, “not likely”.
Then, Sri Hanuman humbly told Rama,” First, you say that you may not always be available at Vaikunt. Second, even if you are there, no one will call you ‘Rama’. I cannot live without hearing your name. I will remain here at earth. I am sure that your name will be mentioned and chanted here always. I will live wherever and whenever your name is thought, mentioned and chanted. Please bless me.”
Sri Rama blessed Sri Hanuman to be ‘’Chiranjeevi’’ which means being eternally alive.
Sri Hanuman and Arjun
During Mahabharatha regime, Arjun, one of the Pandavas was intent on doing penance on Bhagwan Shiva for getting the Pashupatha Asthra. On the way near a river bank, he saw an ordinary monkey doing tapas.
He thought, “If Bhagwan Rama is so powerful in archery, He could have built the bridge on the ocean with His arrows. I wonder why He depended on monkeys!” Thinking so, he voiced his thoughts to the monkey.
The monkey was none other than Bhagwan Anjaneya. Arjun was not aware of it. However, Sri Hanuman realized that Arjun was too proud of himself. So, He thought of teaching him a lesson.
He told Arjun, “the bridge made of arrows cannot bear the weight of even a single monkey that is me. How it will be possible for it to bear the weight of so many monkeys?”.
Arjun said, “Is it? Let me build a bridge across this river with my arrows. Let us see if it bears your weight. If it crumbles under your weight, I will immolate myself in Homam fire”.” The monkey (Sri Hanuman) also said “If I lose, I will be your slave forever”.
Arjun had built the bridge. Sri Hanuman was chanting the Rama Nama. As soon as the arrow bridge was ready, He stepped on it. The bridge crumbled. The monkey (Sri Hanuman) said, “see the power of Rama Nama Japa”.
Arjun understood that he had lost. He immediately prepared a Homam fire to end his life. He did not listen to His consolation.
At that time, a brahmin came that side. He asked as to what was going on between the man and the monkey. Arjun explained. The brahmin said, “If there is a wager or challenge, there should be a witness to it. Only the witness can declare who the winner is. So you should re-enact your challenge. Let me be the judge.” They had consented.
This time, Arjun started chanting Krishna Japa and built the bridge with arrows. The monkey (Sri Hanuman) complacent with the previous victory stood on the bridge. The bridge did not crumble. Then Arjun said, “See, Krishna Nama Japa is powerful”.
Sri Hanuman got confused. He asked the brahmin, “who are you?”. Then, the brahmin gave darshan as Sri Maha Vishnu to both of them. They prostrated before Him.
He said, “Both of you have won. Each of You won when the Nama of God was chanted. Any work done with chanting the Nama of God will be successful”. He then turned to Arjuna and said, “this is no ordinary monkey. This is Bhagwan Hanuman”. Arjun immediately prostrated before Bhagwan Hanuman. Then Bhagwan turned to Sri Hanuman and said, “Dear Hanumanth, You have to help Arjun in the Mahabharatha war. Please be in the flag of Arjun’s chariot. When You are there, no amount of thanthra or tricks to defy Arjun will work”. Sri Hanuman had accepted the proposal.
Sri Hanuman and the game of dice
An ardent devotee of Sri Hanuman had a strange wish. He wanted to play the game of dice with Sri Hanuman. He kept praying for the same daily.
Sri Hanuman was pleased with His devotee’s prayer and He had decided to fulfill his wish. So, He appeared before the devotee and told him, “I will play with you. But I will play the game quite seriously. You should also play it professionally. If you accept to these terms, we can play.”
The devotee accepted the rules. The game had started. Before rolling the dice, the devotee said, “Jai Anjaneya”. Prior to rolling the dice Sri Hanuman said, “Jai Shree Ram”.
Only the devotee was winning every game. Sri Hanuman was perplexed. He thought of Sri Ram and He had appeared. Sri Hanuman asked Sri Ram, “I kept chanting Your name for every roll of dice. But I am losing. Why?”.
Sri Ram said, “In your heart and mind, only I exist. But in your devotee’s mind, You and me exist. So, he has double divine support. That is why he is winning’’.
Sri Hanuman was pleased with the answer and blessed His devotee.
Sri Hanuman Jayanthi
Sri Hanuman Jayanthi is the festival ascribed to the birth of Sri Anjaneya Swamy. In North India, full moon day of the Chaithra month is celebrated as Sri Hanumanth Jayanthi. It coincides with Chitra Pournami.
In the Telugu speaking regions, it is celebrated on the forty first day of Chitra Pournami. This festival is also called as Sri Hanuman Dheeksha. The period of forty-one days is mostly spent on doing special Pujas and Bhajans on Sri Anjaneya. At times, even pilgrimages are also undertaken for this period. Some devotees also observe Vrat during the period.
It may be noted that Sri Hanuman Jayanthi is celebrated in Tamil Nadu on the Moola Star-day of Margazira month.
It is said to be celebrated on the first day of Hindu new year at Orissa. At some places, Sri Hanuman Jayanthi is celebrated a day before Deepavali.
The celebrations of Sri Hanuman Jayanthi is done both at homes as well as all temples.
At homes, special pujas are done in prayer to Bhagwan Anjaneya. At all Vishnu, Ram and Anjaneya temples, special pujas are done.
Hanuman chalisa, Anjaneya Dandakam and other Hanuman slokas are recited with devotion. Discourses on Sri Ramayanam are also conducted.
At some places, weeklong celebrations are held.
Sri Hanuman – other names
Sri Hanuman is known by innumerable names. Some of them are Sri Maruthi, Sri Vayuputhra, Chiranjeevi and Sri Anjaneya. For doing archana, Ashtothara Satha Namavali is recited.
Sri Maha Vishnu is mentioned in a few of His names such as Sri Hari, Sri Narayana, Sri Achyutha, Sri Purushothama and Sri Vishnu.