Rama and Hanuman’s grace

Many non-Hindus have tried their best to explain that the Divine could not have appeared on Earth as a human being. The Indian intelligentsia, including some established authors, has tried hard to portray Rama as a glorified fictional hero. Academicians have, at times, lied to us that the nirguna Rama of certain bhakti saints is different from the saguna Rama of the Ramayana and other bhakti saints. Selected Vaishnavas, in trying to please their favorite form of the Divine or maybe their own ego, have circulated false theories about Rama being just an amsa-avatar, even when it has amounted to opposing the viewpoints of Brahmarishis and Bhakti Saints [1]. Moreover, fake religious gurus have been trying to profiteer from the name of Rama.

To make things a little more difficult for his own name, Rama was not born in the last yuga; he was born two yugas ago. Besides, during his visit, he followed the maryada of not boasting about himself or his own divinity; he did not even publicly claim that he was ideal, realized, or God [2]. In spite of such worldly drawbacks, Rama’s name still remains on top in Sanatana Dharma. Many devotional Hindus consider the name of Rama much superior to terms like Bhagavan, Paramatama, Ishvara, Brahman, and God [3]. How did this miracle happen in this world? To put it concisely, this is a result of Hanuman’s grace on unworthy souls — his effect on the universe.

Happy Birthday to you, Lord Hanuman! Thanks for being here for us!

[1] Though Rama, Krishna, and Vishnu are names of the same Personality, it is said that they appear different to the benighted.
[2] Again, Rama and Hanuman, when on Earth, never gain realization because only a jiva needs realization. In fact, consciousness, grace, pure bliss, and eternalness are a few characteristics of Rama’s nature.
[3] This also applies to the names of Krishna and Shiva.

Hanuman’s Early Education

Even though Lord Hanuman is a partial incarnation of Lord Shiva, the all-knower, he received education from a mentor to underline the importance of schooling. The Valmiki Ramayana tells us that Hanuman met his teacher quite early in life. At some point after his birth, when baby Hanuman felt hungry, he perceived the sun to be a fruit and tried to engulf it.* Amusingly, after the gods saved the solar system from collapsing, Sun, the deity of this “fruit,” became Hanuman’s guru.

Beginning his studies with grammar and language, Hanuman trained in all areas of learning and became an equal of Brahaspati (Jupiter) and Brahma in knowledge. In the Valmiki Ramayana, Rishi Agatsya holds that no one in the universe outshines Hanuman in zeal, intelligence, glory, character, gentleness, discrimination, sincerity, skillfulness, strength, and patience. As for Hanuman’s martial skills, Rama himself states, “I find Hanuman’s bravery in the battlefield more impressive than that of Kala (time), Indra, Lord Vishnu, and Varuna.”

So was Hanuman an obedient child? The scripture would say, “Not really.” Hanuman had spent a part of his childhood in creating chaos in the ashrams of rishis. He would break their possessions and upset their schedule. It was due to this turmoil that the enraged rishis had cursed him, “You will forget you supernatural powers for a long time. But you will regain them when someone reminds you about your greatness.”

Even today, moments like these from Hanuman’s eternal divine play continue to occupy the Hindu mind. He is worshipped as the “ocean of virtue and knowledge,” and mortals often request him to bestow intelligence and learning upon them. Though Hanuman was released from the curse of the rishis as soon as Jambavan reminded him about his real potential, present-day prayers for Hanuman still tend to remind him about his supernatural potential.

*Fun fact: On his way to the sun, Hanuman, a toddler, simply touched Rahu, who was also approaching the star to “eat” it. The illusory planet got so frightened that he ran to heaven to seek protection. This explains why Hindus propitiate Hanuman for removing the harmful influences of malefic planets.

Hanuman’s birthday is celebrated on Chaitra Purnima, which will fall on March 30 in 2010. Happy Hanuman Jayanti!

Bhakti Yoga and Hanuman

Bhakti yoga gets triggered as soon as we utter a name of God with a wish to reach him. By the continual remembrance of the Divine, every action in our life becomes a step towards realizing our eternal relationship with him. And the yoga concludes when nothing but God and his love (bhakti) fill our mind. At this point, jivas (individual souls) on Earth experience their relationship with God for some time and hand over their souls to God. But for Lord Hanuman, the conclusion of Bhakti Yoga triggers another cycle of bhakti.

After the completion of his divine plays on Earth, which are mentioned in the various Ramayanas, Hanuman could have solely opted for the company of Lord Rama (God) and could have left Earth. But he opted to stay on Earth forever so that we, the jivas (individual souls), may have continuous access to the name of Rama.

Lord Hanuman’s devotion is not about sitting in seclusion to chant Rama’s name. He never announces his renunciation, for he was never bound. Quite the opposite, he reaches out to the weakest beings to eliminate their pain and misery, protects the righteous, attends every gathering where Rama’s name is remembered, and becomes the link between Rama and his devotees. A characteristic feature of his dasya bhava (devotional mood to serve) for the Lord, as mentioned in the Hanuman Chalisa, is his keenness in working for Rama. Because Hanuman’s bhakti begins where the bhakti of a jiva ends, it can never be mimicked but can only be revered. However, we can learn from the paradigm he creates and add bits of selfless service in our own path of devotion.

Edited on May 19, 2019.

Is faith in Rama a precondition for adoring Lord Hanuman?

As I visited a Hanuman temple a few weeks ago, I saw an aged person who was climbing the stairs with me. Unexpectedly, I overheard him make a remark to his friend, “I do not have faith in Lord Rama.” To me, something looked inconsistent. I knew that Hinduism gives us the freedom to select our Personal God (ishta-devata) and path and sakama (with a material desire) worship is also allowed. Still, I had never expected to hear this comment in a Hanuman temple. The first question that came to my mind was, “Sir, what brings you to this temple then? Doesn’t your visit to a home of Hanuman, the greatest devotee of Lord Rama, contradict your own statement?” But I kept silent. Later, I saw this person prostrate before his Lord. From a distance, he looked focused in his prayers; he accepted a tilak on his forehead, walked around the deity in admiration, and offered some money in the charity box.

After I left the temple, I kept thinking. I could figure out that gaining Sri Rama’s grace, spiritual or worldly, was irrelevant to his remembrance of Hanuman. His spiritual model of Lord Hanuman was not based on the Ramayana, where the divine play of Hanuman harmonizes the divinity of Rama. He probably needed something from Hanuman or believed in Hanuman’s potential to protect beings from their own bad karma. All of a sudden, I recalled the “missing piece”: Remembrance of Rama is not a prerequisite for adoring Lord Hanuman. On the other hand, as the Hanuman chalisa supports, worshipping Lord Hanuman eventually leads to the development of firm faith in Rama.