Tuesday, 13 September 2011

What is the significance of various forms of Lord Hanuman? - part 2

Ramayana war

A 17th century painting depicting Hanuman worshiping Lord Rama and his wife Sita. Lakshmana is also seen in this painting from Smithsonian Institution collection.
The Sundara Kanda, the fifth book in the Ramayana, focuses mainly on the adventures of Hanuman and the story is as follows.
Meeting Rama
Hanuman meets Rama during the latter's 14-year exile in the forest.[7] With his brother Lakshmana, Rama is searching for his wife Sita who had been abducted by the rakshasa emperor Ravana. Their search brings them to the vicinity of the mountain Rishyamukha, where Sugriva, along with his followers and friends, are in hiding from his elder brother Vali, the Vanara emperor with whom he had a serious misunderstanding. Refusing to listen to Sugriva's explanation, Vali had banished him from the kingdom while holding Sugriva's wife captive in his (Vali's) own palace.
Having seen Rama and Lakshmana, Sugriva sends Hanuman to ascertain their identities. Hanuman approaches the two brothers in the guise of a brahmin. His first words to them are such that Rama says to Lakshmana that none could speak the way the brahmin did unless he or she had mastered the Vedas. He notes that there is no defect in the brahmin's countenance, eyes, forehead, brows or any limb. He points out to Lakshmana that his accent is captivating, adding that even an enemy with sword drawn would be moved. He praises the disguised Hanuman further, saying that sure success awaited the king whose emissaries were as accomplished as he was.[8]
When Rama introduces himself, Hanuman reveals his own identity and falls prostrate before Rama, who embraces him warmly. Thereafter, Hanuman's life becomes interwoven inextricably with that of Rama. Hanuman then brings about a friendship and alliance between Rama and Sugriva; Rama helps Sugriva regain his honour and makes him king of Kishkindha. Sugriva and his vanaras, most notably Hanuman, help Rama defeat Ravana and reunite with Sita.
In their search for Sita, a group of Vanaras reaches the southern seashore. Upon encountering the vast ocean, every vanara begins to lament his inability to jump across the water. Hanuman too is saddened at the possible failure of his mission, until the other vanaras, and especially the wise bear Jambavantha begin to extol his virtues. Hanuman then recollects his own powers, enlarges his body and flies across the ocean. On his way, he encounters a mountain that rises from the sea, proclaims that it owed his father a debt and asks him to rest a while before proceeding. Not wanting to waste any time, Hanuman thanks the mountain and carries on. He then encounters a sea-monster who challenges him to enter her mouth. When Hanuman outwits her, she admits that it was merely a test of his courage. Finally on killing Simhika, a shadow-eater rakshasa, he reached Lanka.
Locating Sita
Hanuman reaches Lanka and marvells at its beauty. He also regrets that it might be destroyed if Rama has to do battle with Ravana. After he finds Sita sitting depressed in captivity in a garden, Hanuman reveals his identity to her, reassures her that Rama has been looking for her, and uplifts her spirits. He offers to carry her back to Rama; but she refuses his offer, saying it would be an insult to Rama as his honour is at stake. After meeting Sita, Hanuman begins to wreak havoc, gradually destroying the palaces and properties of Lanka. He killed many rakshasas, including Jambumalli and Akshaa. To subdue him, Ravana's son Indrajit uses the Brahmastra. Though immune to the astra (weapon), Hanuman, out of respect to Brahma, allows himself be bound by the weapon. Deciding to use the opportunity to meet the renowned ruler of Lanka, and to assess the strength of Ravana's hordes, Hanuman allows the rakshasa warriors to parade him through the streets. He conveys Rama's message of warning to the powerful rakshasa, and demands the safe return of Sita. He also informs Ravana that Rama would be willing to forgive him if he returns Sita honourably. Enraged, Ravana orders Hanuman's execution. However, Ravana's brother Vibheeshana intervenes, pointing out that it is against the rules of engagement to kill a messenger. Ravana then orders that Hanuman's tail be lit instead. As Ravana's forces attempted to wrap cloth around his tail, Hanuman begins to lengthen it. After frustrating them for a while, he allows it, then escapes from his captors, and with his tail on fire he burns down large parts of Lanka. After extinguishing his flaming tail in the sea, he heads back to Rama.[citation needed]
Lifting a mountain

Sculpture of Hanuman carrying the Dronagiri mountain
When Lakshmana is severely wounded by Indrajit during the war against Ravana, Hanuman is sent to fetch the Sanjivani, a powerful life-restoring herb from the Dronagiri mountain in the Himalayas to revive him. Ravana realises that if Lakshmana dies, a distraught Rama would probably give up, and so has his uncle Kalnaimi tempt Hanuman away with luxury. However, Hanuman is tipped off by a crocodile (actually a celestial being under a curse) and kills the Rakshasa. When he is unable to find the specific herb before nightfall, Hanuman again displays his might by lifting the entire Dronagiri mountain and bringing it to the battlefield in Lanka, thus helping others find the herb to revive Lakshmana. An emotional Rama hugs Hanuman, declaring him as dear to him as his own beloved brother Bharat.
The Patala incident

Standing Hanuman, Chola Dynasty, 11thCentury.
In another incident during the war (the one that brought about Hanuman's Panchamukha form), Rama and Lakshmana are captured by the rakshasa, Mahiravana (and his brother Ahiravana), a powerful practitioner of black magic and the dark arts, who holds them captive in his palace in Patalpuri or Patala (the nether world).Mahiravan keeps them as offerings to his deity. Searching for them, Hanuman reaches Patala whose gates are guarded by a very young creature called Makardhwaja (known also as Makar-Dhwaja or Magar Dhwaja), part reptile and part Vanara.
The story of Makardhwaja's birth is that although Hanuman remained celibate all his life, Makardhwaja was his son; when Hanuman had extinguished his burning tail in the ocean, unknown to him, a drop of his sweat had fallen in as well. Swallowing this sweat droplet, a crocodile then becomes pregnant. This is discovered when the fish is brought to Mahiravana's kitchen for cooking. Mahiravana raises the child, entrusting him to guard Patalpuri's gates. Hanuman is unaware of this. Although Makardhwaja knows his father is Hanuman, he had never seen him. So, when Hanuman introduces himself to Makardhwaja, he seeks Hanuman's blessings, but decides to fight him as part of his duty as guardian of the gates. Hanuman subdues him and ties him up before entering Patalpuri to rescue Rama and Lakshmana.
Upon entering Patala, Hanuman discovers that to kill Mahiravana, he must simutaneously extinguish five lamps burning in different directions. Hanuman assumes the Panchamukha or five-faced form of Sri Varaha facing north, Sri Narasimha facing south, Sri Garuda facing west, Sri Hayagriva facing the sky and his own facing the east, and blows out the lamps. Thus killing rakshasas, Hanuman rescues Rama and Lakshmana. Afterwards, Rama asks Hanuman to crown Makardhwaja king of Patalpuri.
Hanuman continues to play an indispensable role in the war.
Bharata's vow
When the war ends, Rama's 14-year exile has almost elapsed. Rama then remembers Bharata's vow to immolate himself if Rama does not return to rule Ayodhya immediately, on completion of the stipulated period. Realising that it would be a little later than the last day of the 14 years when he would reach Ayodhya, Rama is anxious to prevent Bharata from giving up his life. Once again, Hanuman comes to the rescue – he speeds to Ayodhya to inform Bharata that Rama is on his way back.
Shortly after he is crowned Emperor upon his return to Ayodhya, Rama decides to ceremoniously reward all his well-wishers. At a grand ceremony in his court, all his friends and allies take turns being honoured at the throne. Hanuman too goes up, but without desiring a reward. Seeing Hanuman come up to him, an emotionally overwhelmed Rama embraces him warmly, declaring that he could never adequately honour or repay Hanuman for the help and services he received from the noble Vanara. Sita, however, insists that Hanuman deserved honour more than anyone else, and asks him to seek a gift. Upon Hanuman's request, Sita gives him a necklace of precious stones adorning her neck. When he receives it, Hanuman immediately takes it apart, and peers into each stone. Taken aback, many of those present demand to know why he was destroying the precious gift. Hanuman answers that he was looking into the stones to make sure that Rama and Sita are in them, because if they are not, the necklace is of no value to him. At this, a few mock Hanuman, saying his reverence and love for Rama and Sita could not possibly be as deep as he was portraying. In response, Hanuman tears his chest open, and everyone is stunned to see Rama and Sita literally in his heart.
Hanumad Ramayana

A Hanuman painting from Bali (1880)
After the victory of Rama over Ravana, Hanuman went to the Himalayas to continue his worship of the Lord. There he scripted a version of the Ramayana on the Himalayan mountains using his nails, recording every detail of Rama's deeds. When Maharishi Valmiki visited him to show him his own version of the Ramayana, he also saw Lord Hanuman's version and became very disappointed.
When Hanuman asked him the cause of his sorrow, he said that his version, which he had created very laboriously was no match for the splendour of Hanuman's, and would therefore, go ignored. At this, Hanuman took those rocks on one shoulder and Valmiki on the other, and went to the sea. There he threw his own version into the sea, as an offering to Rama. This version, called the Hanumad Ramayana, has been unavailable since then.
Maharishi Valmiki was so taken aback that he said he would take another birth to sing the glory of Hanuman which he had understated in his version. Later, one tablet is said to have floated ashore during the period of Mahakavi Kalidasa, and hung at a public place to be deciphered by scholars. Kalidasa is said to have deciphered it and recognised that it was from the Hanumad Ramayana recorded by Hanuman in an extinct script, and considered himself very fortunate to see at least one pada of the stanza.
After the Ramayana war
After the war, and after reigning for several years, the time arrived for Rama to depart to his heavenly abode. Many of Rama's entourage, including vanaras like Sugriva decided to depart with him. Shunning the heavens, Hanuman however, requested to remain on earth as long as Rama's name was venerated by people. Sita accorded Hanuman that desire, and granted that his image would be installed at various public places, so he could listen to people chanting Rama's name. He is one of the Chiranjivins of Hinduism.[9]
In the Mahabharata
Hanuman is also considered to be the brother of Bhima, since both are born from Vayu. During the Pandavas' exile, he appears disguised as a weak and aged monkey before his half-brother, the Pandava prince Bhima, in order to subdue his arrogance and teach him the value of humility. Bhima enters a field where Hanuman is lying with his tail blocking the way. Bhima, unaware of his identity, tells him to remove it. In return, Hanuman tells him to remove it himself. Bhima tries all his might but is unable to do it. Being the mighty strong warrior, he realizes that this being must be much more powerful and greater than him. So he asks him for his real identity. This is when Hanuman gets up and reveals his identity, and the two brothers then hug each other. Upon Bhima's request, Hanuman is also said to have enlarged himself and shown him the same size in which he had crossed the sea to go to Lanka, looking for Sita.
More significantly, during the great battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna entered the battlefield with the flag of Hanuman on his chariot.[10] The incident that led to this was an earlier encounter between Hanuman and Arjuna; Hanuman appeared as a small talking monkey before Arjuna at Rameshwaram, where Sri Rama had built the great bridge to cross over to Lanka to rescue Sita. Upon Arjuna's wondering out aloud at Sri Rama's taking the help of monkeys rather than building a bridge of arrows, Hanuman (in the form of the little monkey) challenged him to build one capable of bearing him alone, and Arjuna, unaware of the monkey's true identity accepted. Hanuman then proceeded to repeatedly destroy the bridges made by Arjuna who became depressed and suicidal, and decided to take his own life. Vishnu then appeared before them both, chiding Arjuna for his vanity, and Hanuman for making the accomplished warrior Arjuna feel incompetent. As an act of penitence, Hanuman decided to help Arjuna by stabilising and strengthening his chariot during the imminent great battle. Legend goes that Hanuman is one of the three people to have heard the Gita from Lord Sri Krishna himself, the other two being Arjuna and Sanjaya.
Presence in the present age

Hanuman as depicted in Yakshagana, popular folk art of Karnataka
There have been numerous prophets who claimed to have seen Hanuman in modern times, notably Madhvacharya (13 Century A.D.), Tulsidas (16th century), Sri Ramdas Swami (17th century)and Raghavendra Swami (17th century), Swami Ramdas (20th century).
Others have also asserted his presence wherever the Ramayana is read:

That wherever the deeds of Sri Rama are sung,
At all such places does Hanuman cry tears of devotion and joy,
At all such places does his presence remove the fear of demons.
This can be found in many other texts like Vinaya Patrika by Tulsidas, Mahabharta by Ved Vyasa, Anand Ramayan and many others with slight variation in language/Sentence. Even the places where holy function of Ramayanpath is taking place, there is a special puja and space (or asan) reserved for Hanuman.
Temples and worship

A temple to Hanuman near Nuwara Eliya[1] in Sri Lanka

The largest Hanuman Murti outside of India, located in Trinidad and Tobago

Temple of Hanuman at Nerul Navi Mumbai
Admired for his great strength, Hanuman was traditionally prayed to by wrestlers and boxers in India and Southeast Asia. There are numerous temples for Hanuman, and his images are usually installed at all temples where images of avataras of Vishnu are installed. Hanuman temples can be found in many places for the reason that the area and the surroundings are free from rakshasas and 'evils'. This was a presentational 'Varam' to him by Rama and Sita. Hanuman idols are found on mountain roads because it is believed that he protects people from accidents.
The Hanuman temple at Nerul, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India is situated inside SIES complex. The Hanuman idol is 33 feet (10 m) tall and is installed on a pedestal of height 12 feet (4 m), bringing the total height to 45 feet (14 m). In the picture shown, Hanuman has silver coverings (Silver Kavasam).
Similarly, a 32 feet (10 m) idol of Sri Anjaneyar was entrenched in 1989[2] at Nanganallur, India. The distinguished factor of the idol is that it was molded out of a single rock.
An 85-foot (26 m) Karya Siddhi Hanuman murthi was installed at Carapichaima-Trinidad and Tobago, by Avadhoota Dattapeetham Pontiff Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda. (Tallest in the Western hemisphere and second tallest in the world)
Panchamukha Hanuman

A terra cotta sculpture of Panchamukha Hanuman
Sri Panchamukha Anjaneya Swami was the main deity of Sri Raghavendra Swami. The place where he meditated on this five-faced form of Hanuman is now known as Panchamukhi, wherein a temple for him has been built. There is also a shrine for Panchamukha Anjaneya Swami at Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, India. A 40 feet (12 m) tall monolithic green granite murti of Sri Panchamukha Hanuman has been installed in Thiruvallur, also in Tamil Nadu. This place was known as Rudravanam in olden times when many saints and seers had blessed this place with their presence. The Panchamukha Hanuman Ashram itself was established by a saint called Venkatesa Battar.
Hanuman assumed this form to kill Mahiravana, a powerful rakshasa black-magician and practitioner of the dark arts during the Ramayana war. Mahiravana had taken Lord Rama and Lakshmana captive, and the only way to kill him was to extinguish five lamps burning in different directions, all at the same instant. Hanuman assumed His Panchamukha form and accomplished the task, thus killing the rakshasa, and freeing Rama and Lakshmana.
This form of Hanuman is very popular, and is also known as Panchamukha Anjaneya and Panchamukhi Anjaneya. (Anjaneya, which means "son of Anjana", is another name of Hanuman).
A 40 foot Murti of Sri Panchamukha Hanuman has been installed at Tiruvallur, near Chennai, India.
A 36 foot Murti of Sri Panchamukha Hanuman has been installed at Panchavatee, Pondicherry, called as Viswaroopa Jayamangala Panchamukha Sri Anjaaneyaswamy
Every Face of Sri Panchamukha Hanuman has significance —
  • Sri Hanuman faces east. He grants purity of mind and success.
  • The Narasimha faces south. He grants victory and fearlessness.
  • The west facing Garuda removes black magic and poisons.
  • The north facing Varaha, showers prosperity, wealth.
  • The Hayagriva mukha faces the Sky. But since we cannot see it, it is usually tilted and shown above Hanuman's face. Hayagriva gives Knowledge and good children.
Relation with Shani
In the Hindu faith, Hanuman and Ganesha are two aspects of god not afflicted by Shani. There is also a belief that all the planets are under the control of Hanuman's tail. Whoever worships Hanuman is granted fortitude and strength.
In the Ramayana,Hanuman is said to have rescued Shani, that is, the planet Saturn, from the clutches of Ravana. In gratitude, Shani promised Hanuman that those who prayed to him (Hanuman) would be rescued from the painful effects of Saturn, which in Hindu astrology, is said to produce malefic effects on one's life when one is afflicted "negatively" with Saturn.
Another version of the encounter between Lord Hanuman and Shani Bhagavan is that the latter once climbed on to Lord Hanuman's shoulder, implying that he (Hanuman) was coming under the effects of the influence of Shani. At this, Hanuman assumed a large size, and Shani was caught painfully between Hanuman's shoulders and the ceiling of the room they were in. As the pain was unbearable, Shani requested Hanuman to release him, promising that if a person prayed to Hanuman, he (Shani) would moderate the malefic effects of his influence on that person; following this, Hanuman released Shani.
One more version of the story behind why Lord Shani stays away from those who remember the Lord Ram's name. Once Lord Hanuman was sitting silently absorbed in deep meditation of Lord Rama. Lord Shani passed by and he felt to tease Hanuman. He started teasing Hanuman by pulling his tail, and pinching. Hanuman warned him to go away as he is his Guru's (Lord Sun) son, and so he respects him. When Shani did not hear, then Hanuman started to give him a good thrashing. In the end, Shani pleaded to leave him and Hanuman took a promise from him that Shani will never ever go near a devotee who is meditating on Lord Rama.
There is a spiritual interpretation of the relation between Lord Hanuman and Lord Shani. The former is said to be a symbol of selflessness, while the latter is symbolic of ego and pride. Thus, to counter the karma borne out of selfish action, one must be humble like Lord Hanuman. This is particularly true for those who are said to be experiencing the evil effects of Sade Sati - a period of about seven and half years when Saturn (Lord Shani) is supposed to afflict the sign in which "planet," the moon is placed in the natal chart of a person.

No comments:

Post a Comment