Today is Rama Navami, the Holy Appearance Day of Lord Ramachandra.  I’ve attended Rama Navami twice at ISKCON Juhu, in Mumbai.  I was told that over 650,000 people visit the Temple to take darshan of Sita-Rama-Laxman-Hanuman on Rama Navami.  It is quite a spectacle.  I thought I would say something about service to Lord Rama and Sri Hanumanji on this most auspicious day.

Hanuman, The Dedicated Servant Of Lord Rama

What immediately comes to mind when you think of Sri Hanumanji? Loyalty? Dedication to his master, Lord Ramachandra? His monkey-like form? This is evident in Sanatana Goswami’s Brihad-Bhagavatamrita – where Hanuman rejects the opportunity to reside with Lord Krishna in Dwaraka. Why is this so? Hanuman is so fixed in the service of Lord Rama tha he only wants to serve Rama in Rama’s kingdom, Ayodhya. Servitude (dasya-rasa) to Lord Rama in Ayodhya is the sthayi-bhava or ‘eternal mood of service’ of Hanuman. And that is why Hanuman is used as the example of servitude or dasyam when describing the nine processes of devotional service.

Hanuman is the son of lord Siva and Anjani. Tradition has it that Brihaspati’s maidservant, Punjikasthala, approached the great sage in a “loving mood”. Brihaspati, in turn, the form of a female monkey. In this form she was known as Anjani. Lord Siva entrused an embryo in the care of Vayu; and Vayu implanted the embryo within the womb of Anjani. That embryo was Hanuman.

The fact that Hanuman took the form of his monkey explains his playful nature. There is a species of monkeys in India called the ‘Hanuman monkey’ or langur. The name vanara is also ascribed to Hanuman. Valmiki explains in the Ramayana that the vanaras resembled monkeys, but were really half-human and half-monkey. The vanaras (meaning ‘proper to the forest’ or ‘animals of the forest’) were empowered semi-divine beings who wore clothing, could speak, had homes and conducted festivals and funeral-rites. In addition to this, these extraordinary beings had mystic powers and could change their size at will.

Owing to the stone-like hardness of his body, Anjani named Hanuman Vajranga. She taught him how to eat fruits that were reddish like the sun. One day, Vajranga saw the sun glowing in the sky and tried to swalow the sun, mistaking it for fruit. This angered Indra, who struck Vajranga on his chin (hanu) with his vajra (lightning bolt) weapon. Hence the name Hanuman – ‘hanu’ being chin and ‘man’ being glorious ie. ‘one who has a glorious chin’. That is how Hanuman got his cleft chin. After being struck by Indra, Vayu brought brought the unconscious Hanuman into a cave in the Patala regions. Vayu’s absence on earth caused the earth to be devoid of air. Brahma went to Patala to comfort Vayu and to bring Hanuman back to consciousness. Lord Brahma and the devas blessed Hanuman in various ways, bestowing upon him extraordinary mystic powers. Lord Brahma blessed him that no brahmastra weapon would affect him. Surya bestowed upon him one-percent of his brilliance. Indra blessed him that he would be immune to thunder. And Vayu blessed him with speed comparable to that of Garuda, Lord Visnu’s carrier. From this time, Anjani’s son became known as Hanuman.

Hanuman was cursed to forget his powers until the advent of Lord Rama by some brahmanas who were irked by his restless pranks in the forest. Though semi-divine, Hanuman had many of the characteristics of a monkey. He had a tendency to jump from tree to tree and was a bit of a mischief-maker. Hanuman is also a famous as brahmacari (celibate). Another testament to his dedication to the feet of Lord Rama. Hanuman is so dedicated to Lord Rama that he is often depicted with his hands tearing open his chest to reveal the image of his heart, Lord Rama. Hanuman is also often portrayed kneeling with his palms joined before Lord Ramachandra, Sita (Rama’s wife) and Lakshmana (Rama’s brother). Sita-Rama-Lakshmana-Hanuman ki jay!!