As the Hindu deity known for love, compassion, devotion, strength and intelligence, Hanuman is one of the most widely worshipped Gods of this faith. Across India and beyond, countless people are seen devoting their Tuesday and Saturday mornings to Hanuman Puja. India is filled with the temples of Hanuman in every corner and his temple can be found in almost every village of India. Also, he is one of the central figures of the Hindu epic–Ramayana.
There is an interesting story behind the name of Hanuman. In Sanskrit, ‘Hanu’ means ‘jaw’ and ‘mana’ means ‘disfigured’. This name, according to epic, is derived from an incident when Hanuman was a kid and flew to the sun, mistaking it for a fruit. Angered, Lord Indra attacked Hanuman with his ultimate weapon–his Vajra–which struck Hanuman, causing him to fall down to the ground unconsciously. His father Maruta – The God of Wind – became furious and stopped all the air from flowing. This caused the whole planet to suffocate and slowly the living organisms started to die. Seeing this, the Gods persuaded Maruta to stop his actions and to save the planet. Maruta took his vows back and Hanuman was blessed by the Gods with the ability to withstand the Vajra of Lord Indra. It is because of this he is also known as Vajrangabali.
As a child, Hanuman was notorious and at times got into trouble because of his antics. In one incident he was cursed by a sage, leading him to forget all his divine powers. A lot later, only upon Jamvanta’s call to remember them, Hanuman realised his strengths, which he then used to search for Sita’s whereabouts.
In another incident mentioned in the Ramayana, when Sita told Hanuman that she applied Sindoor (vermillion) for the long life of Lord Rama, Hanuman smeared his whole body with Sindoor with a hope that this will extend Lord Rama’s life even more. Such was his devotion to Lord Rama. This is also the reason why many use saffron coloured vermillion to worship Hanuman and to please him.
When Lakshmana, brother of Lord Rama, got grievously injured in a battle against the army of Ravana, it was Hanuman who flew to the Himalayas and brought the Sanjeevni herb, thus saving the life of lakshmana. It was because of his deeds like this that Lord Rama considered Hanuman no less than his own brother.
In spite of the bond between Lord Rama and Hanuman, Ramayana mentions that the two were once forced to fight a battle against each other. Once, Guru Vishwamitra ordered Lord Rama to kill Yayati who had already sought refuge under Hanuman. Hanuman believed that anyone and everyone who seeks his refuge should be saved, agreed to fight a battle with Lord Rama. However, he did not use any weapons. He only chanted Lord Rama’s name and no arrow could touch him. This impressed Guru Vishwamitra who then asked Lord Rama to pardon Yayati.
Hanuman is a versatile figure and one of the central characters of the epic Ramayana. For him, every word uttered by Lord Rama is a command and Lord Rama’s sorrows are his own sorrows. One seldom comes across a person whose devotion is comparable to that of Hanuman’s. More than a deity, Hanuman is an embodiment of devotion and faith, something that the entire mankind can emulate.