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Hanuman Jayanti 2011

By Sanjay Parekh
NHSF Learning Team

18th April 2011 (Chaitra Sud 15 in the Hindu calendar)

Hanuman Jayanti celebrates the birth of Lord Rama's most ardent devotee, Hanumanji. It is celebrated every year on the full moon day of the month of Chaitra.

Pre-birth Story

Once Angira Rishi went to visit Indra (the King of the Gods) in Swarg. Indra welcomed him by arranging a dance by a damsel named Punjiksthala. As soon as she commenced dancing, the Rishi closed his eyes to meditate on Paramatma. When the dance ended, the Rishi remained silent. When he was asked about the dance, he commented:

“We were absorbed in meditation of the Almighty. Such dance does not interest us.” Indra felt ashamed, but the ego-filled damsel sneered, “How can such a fickle Rishi appreciate dancing in Swarg?” Hearing this, Angira cursed her, “You shall degrade to earth from Swarg and be born as a female monkey in the mountain forests.”

The damsel greatly regretted and repented, begging to be forgiven. The merciful Rishi finally forgave her: “A great devotee of Paramatma will be born to you. He will forever serve Paramatma.”

This damsel was born as the daughter of Kunjar, the king of the monkeys. She married Kapiraj Kesari of Mount Sumeru, and unto them, a son, Hanuman, was born.

It is therefore told that Lord Shiva’s reincarnation as Hanumanji to Earth was as a result of five divine factors:

· Angira rishi's curse and subsequent blessings

· Anjani's prayers

· Shri Mahadevji's (Shiva's) blessings

· Attainment of Shiva's divine shakti by Vaayu Deva (Wind deity)

· The fruit of a Putreshti Yagna

Glory of Hanumanji

Born to Anjanadevi and Kesari, the King of the Monkeys, Hanumanji's story is one that was extraordinary from birth. Many tales of his innocence and playful nature are told about his childhood. One such was when Hanumanji felt very hungry and he saw something red in the east. Thinking this red sun (Surya Deva) was a fruit, he flew up to catch it. As he flew closer and closer to the sun, the heat burnt his face, yet he was determined to catch it, and continued to fly towards the sun. Fearing the sun may be caught, Indra, struck Hanumanji with his weapon Vajrayudha. Hanumanji fell down and his cheeks became swollen – this is how he became known as Hanuman ('Hanu' means cheek in Sankrit), and –ji is added as a mark of respect.

Hanumanji also obtained boons of victory and immortality from Varuna Deva (water deity) and Yama (deity of death). From Brahma he obtained the power of inducing fear in enemies, of destroying fear in friends, to be able to change his form at will and to be able to easily travel wherever he wished. From Mahadevji he obtained the boons of longevity, scriptural wisdom and ability to cross the ocean.

Having such a supreme formidable form led Hanuman to become mischievous and he began harrrassing Rishis. Bhrugu Rishi then cursed him to forget the ability to use such powers, until a divine personality guides him to do so. Shree Rama was later to be that divine personality.

The most well known role Hanumanji is depicted as was his service towards Bhagwan Shree Rama in the epic Ramayana. Working as a servant, assistant and messenger for Sugriva, Hanumanji first met Shree Rama when he was searching for his wife Sitaji. Immediately encapsulated by his presence, Hanumanji knew there was more to Shree Rama than met the eye.

Upon building bonds with Shree Rama, Hanumanji went off in search of Sitaji, eventually finding her in Lanka. As well as consoling Sitaji, Hanumanji was able to gauge the strength of Ravana's army and succeeded in burning down half of Lanka before he left. Furthermore, aside from featuring prominently in the ensuing battle between Shree Rama and Ravana, Hanumanji was able to save the life of Shree Rama's brother Lakshman by bringing Sanjivani (a life giving herb) from the Himalayas. The representation of Prem (unconditional love), Bhakt (devotion), Satya (truth) and Karuna (compassion), Sewa (Selflessness) are ever present in all of Hanumanji's tales.

Hindu's around the world worship Shree Hanuman for his unparalleled qualities of integrity, valour, intelligence, strength, patience, wisdom, virtue, humility and courage. Above all, Hanuman Jayanti provides us with an opportunity to take inspiration from the boundless devotion shown by Hanumanji and seek to apply this in our own lives. Indeed, this selfless sacrifice is aptly summarised in the following shloka:

Yatra yatra raghunatha kirtanam;

Tatra tatra kritha masthakanjalim;

Bhaspavaari paripurna lochanam;

Maarutim namata raakshasanthakam

We bow to Shree Hanuman who stands with his palms folded above his forehead, with a torrent of tears flowing down his eyes wherever the names of Shree Rama are sung.

Rituals

Hanumanji is the symbol of strength and energy. On the day of Hanuman Jayanti, devotees flock to Hanuman mandirs across the world to sing his praises. Upon entering the Mandir, devotees will apply a sindhur tilak on their forehead.

As the story goes, Sitaji once was applying sindhur to her head. Hanumanji questioned why she done this. She replied that this would ensure a long life for her husband, Shree Rama. Hanumanji then smeared his entire body with sindhur, in an effort to ensure Shree Rama's immortality.

Recitations of the Hanuman Chalisa (composed by Sage Tulsidasji) take place frequently, and prasad is offered to all. One such verse of the Hanuman Chalisa depicts the greatness of Hanumanji:

Sub sukh lahai tumhari sarna

Tum rakshak kahu ko darna

All comforts of the world lie at your feet. The devotees enjoy all divine pleasures and feel fearless under your benign protection.

HANUMAN JAYANTI FACTFILE

Date:

18th April 2011 (Chaitra Sud 15 in Hindu calendar)

Popular in:

All across India

Origins:

Festival celebrating the birth of Shree Ram’s ideal devotee, Hanumanji