(Last Updated on : 17/01/2011)
Lord Hanuman plays an important role in Ramayana, the Indian epic. In India Hanuman is described as the monkey God. He was a guardian spirit, the offspring of a nymph and the wind god. In Ramayana
, Hanuman aided Lord Rama
in rescuing his wife, Sita from the Rakshasa king Ravana
. Hanuman was born in the Treta Yuga. His mother was Anjana, a female monkey and thus Hanuman is also called as `Anjaneya`. His others names are Bajrangbali and Sankatmochan.
There are several stories in regard to his birth. Anjana was an apsara named Punjikasthala, who was cursed to be born on earth as a female monkey. She could only be redeemed of her curse if she gave birth to an incarnation of Lord Shiva
. Anjana was doing a penance to lord Shiva to have a child. Shiva was pleased and gave her the boon that she would give birth to a son. Another story states that when Anjana was worshipping Lord Shiva, king Dasaratha, the ruler of Ayodhya
was performing `Putrakama Yagna` nearby.
After the Yagna ended, Dasaratha received some sacred pudding, which was to be shared by his three wives, who later gave birth to Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. By divine regulation, a kite snatched the part of the pudding and dropped it while flying over the forest where Anjana was engaged in austerity. Vayu, the Hindu deity of wind, delivered the falling pudding to the outstretched hands of Anjana, who consumed it. After the completion of the penance Anjana mate Vayu, who was charmed by her beauty. After knowing her destiny, Vayu made love with Anjana. As a result Hanuman was born. He is also called `Pavanputra` as the son of Pavan or Vayu or the wind-god.
Hanuman is also considered as the incarnation of Lord Shiva. It is said that when Ravana once tried to enter Shiva`s abode in Himalayas, Nandi stopped him and Ravana mocked him as monkey, Nandi cursed Ravana that he will meet his end due to Monkey.
Hanuman wanted to have Sun God as his teacher. To do so Hanuman raised his body into an orbit around the Sun and requested Surya to accept him as a student. Surya refused first time saying that he had to move in his chariot all the time so Hanuman could not learn anything effectively. But Hanuman was determined in his mission and enlarged his body. He placed one leg on the eastern ranges and the other legs on the western ranges with his face turned towards the sun and made the request again. Surya was pleased by his persistence and granted his prayers.
Meeting of Hanuman with Rama is an important episode in the epic as from then on Hanuman was a great follower of Rama. At the latter part of the fourteen years exile, Rama and his brother Lakshmana
were in search for Sita, who had been abducted by the Rakshasa emperor Ravana
. They came near the mountain Rishyamukha where Sugriva
and his followers along with Hanuman were hiding from his elder brother Bali
, who had cast him out of the kingdom and kept his wife captive.
Sugriva sent Hanuman when he saw Rama and Lakshmana coming to ascertain their identities. Hanuman approached to them in the guise of a Brahmin and talked to them in such a way that Rama was very impressed. When Rama introduced himself, Hanuman revealed his own identity and fell prostrate before Rama`s feet. Rama embraced him warmly and then after Hanuman`s life was interwoven intimately with that of Rama. Hanuman introduced Rama with Sugriva and they committed for a friendship. He helped Sugriva to defeat Bali in battle and regain his kingdom. Sugriva with his monkey army assisted Rama to rescue Sita.
When time came for Rama to set his journey for heavenly abode, many of his followers including Sugriva wanted to follow him. But Hanuman requested to remain on earth as long as people would venerate the name of Rama. Sita granted his prayer. Thus Hanuman is one of the Chiranjeevis (immortals) in Hinduism
. There is reference of Hanuman in Mahabharata