Hanuman or Anjaneya is considered to be the eleventh Rudra avatar(incarnation) of Lord Shiva and is one of the most important personalities in the Ramayana.He symbolises the pinnacle of bhakti. He is more well-known as the (spiritual) Son of Vayu deva, the Hindu deity of the wind. He is a vanara(monkey) who aided Lord Rama (an incarnation of Vishnu) in rescuing His Consort, Sita, from the Rakshasa king Ravana.
Hanuman is the epitome of wisdom, brahmacharya, bhakti (devotion/faith), valour, righteousness and strength. He is symbolized in Hinduism for his unwavering dedication to righteousness, unstinting performance of entrusted duties, and unfailing talents in serving his chosen master. His indispensable role in reuniting Rama with Sita is likened by some to that of a teacher helping an individual soul realise the divine. While the uninitiated may find it odd to worship "a monkey", to believers, the idea is to revere and worship him for the astounding attributes he represents - attributes that even most humans find impossible to practice.
Hanuman was born in the Treta Yuga, as the son of Anjana a female vanara. Anjana was actually an apsaras (a celestial being), named Punjikasthala, who, due to a curse, was born on the earth as a female vanara. The curse was to be removed on her giving birth to an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Anjana was the wife of Kesari, a strong vanara who once killed a mighty elephant that was troubling sages and hermits. He therefore got the name 'Kesari', meaning lion.Along with Kesari, Anjana performed intense prayers to Lord Shiva to beget Him as her Child. Pleased with their devotion, Shiva granted them the boon they sought.
At the time that Anjana was worshipping Lord Shiva, elsewhere, Dasaratha, the king of Ayodhya, was performing the Putrakama Yagna in order to have children. As a result, he received some sacred pudding, to be shared by his three wives, leading to the births of Lord Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna. By divine ordinance, a kite snatched a fragment of that pudding, and dropped it while flying over the forest where Anjana was engaged in worship. Vayu, the Hindu deity of the wind, delivered the falling pudding to the outstretched hands of Anjana, who consumed it. Hanuman was born to her as the result.
Being Anjana's son, Hanuman is also called Anjaneya, which literally means 'arising from Anjana'. Hanuman's spiritual father is Vayu (Pavana) Deva. So Hanuman is also called Pavana putra (meaning 'son of Pavana').Being divine, Hanuman was born with immense physical strength, the power to fly, and divine levels of endurance.
As a child, assuming the sun to be a ripe fruit, he once took flight to catch hold of it to eat. Indra, the king of devas observed this. He hurled his weapon, the Vajra (thunderbolt) at Hanuman, who fell back down to earth, broke his chin and became unconscious. Upset, Vayu went into seclusion, taking the atmosphere with him. As living beings began to get asphyxiated, to pacify Vayu, Indra withdrew the effect of his thunderbolt, and the devas revived Hanuman and blessed him with multiple boons. However, a permament mark was left on his chin (hanu in Sanskrit).
On ascertaining Surya to be an all-knowing teacher, Hanuman raised his body into an orbit around the sun and requested that Surya accept him as a student. But Surya refused, claiming that as he always had to be on the move in his chariot, it would be impossible for Hanuman to learn effectively. Undeterred by Surya's travel, Hanuman enlarged his body; he placed one leg on the eastern ranges and the other on the western ranges and with his face turned toward the sun, made his request again. Pleased by his persistence, Surya accepted. Hanuman then moved (backwards, to remain facing Surya) continuously with his teacher, and learned all of the latter's knowledge. When Hanuman then requested Surya to quote his 'guru-dakshina' (teacher's fee), the latter refused, saying that the pleasure of teaching one as dedicated as him was the fee in itself. But Hanuman insisted, and it was then that Surya asked him to help his (Surya's) spiritual son Sugriva. Hanuman's choice of Surya as his teacher is said to signify Surya as a Karma Saakshi, an eternal witness of all deeds.
Hanuman was mischievous in his childhood, and sometimes teased the meditating sages in the forests by snatching their personal belongings and by disturbing their well-arranged articles of worship. Finding his antics unbearable, but realising that Hanuman was but a child, (albeit invincible), the sages placed a mild curse on him. By this curse Hanuman forgot his own prowess, and recollected it only when others reminded him about it. It is hypothesised that without this curse, the entire course of the Ramayana war might have been different, for he demonstrated phenomenal abilities during the war, despite the curse.
Hanuman met Rama when the latter was in exile for fourteen years in the forest. He was with his brother Lakshmana, searching for his wife Sita who had been abducted by the rakshasa emperor Ravana. Their search brought them to the vicinity of the mountain Rishyamukha, where Sugriva, along with his followers and friends, were in hiding from his elder brother Bali, the vanara emperor with whom he had had a serious misunderstanding. Refusing to listen to Sugriva's explanation, Bali had banished him from the kingdom, and was holding Sugriva's wife captive in his (Bali's) own palace.Having seen Rama and Lakshmana, Sugriva sent Hanuman to ascertain their identities. Hanuman approached the two brothers in the guise of a brahmin. His first words to them were such that Rama said to Lakshmana that none could speak the way the brahmin did, without having mastered the Vedas and their branches. He noted that there was no defect in the brahmin's countenance, eyes, forehead, brows or any limb. He pointed out to Lakshmana that his accent was captivating, and said that even an enemy with sword drawn would be moved. He praised Hanuman (in disguise) further, saying that sure success awaited the king whose emissaries were so accomplished as him.
When Rama introduced himself, Hanuman revealed his own identity and fell prostrate before Rama, who embraced him warmly. Thereafter, Hanuman's life became interwoven inextricably with that of Rama. Hanuman then brought about a friendship and alliance between Rama and Sugriva. (Rama helped Sugriva regain his honour and made him king of Kishkindha (the kingdom of the vanaras), and Sugriva and his vanaras helped Rama defeat Ravana and reunite with Sita, with Hanuman playing an indispensable role in it all). In their search for Sita, a group of vanaras reached the southern seashore. Upon encountering the vast ocean, every vanara began to lament his inability to jump across the water. Hanuman too was saddened at the possible failure of his mission, until the other vanaras, and especially the wise bear Jambavan began to extol his virtues. Hanuman then recollected his own powers, enlarged his body and flew across the ocean. On his way, he encountered a mountain that rose from the sea, proclaimed that it owed his father a debt and asked him to rest a while before proceeding. But not wanting to waste any time, Hanuman thanked the mountain and carried on. He then encountered a sea-monster who challenged him to enter her mouth. Hanuman outwitted her, and she sheepishly admitted that it had been no more than a test of his courage.
Hanuman reached Lanka, and marvelled at its beauty. He also felt slightly regretful that it would be destroyed if Rama was left with no option but to fight to rescue Sita. After he found Sita sitting depressed in captivity in a garden, Hanuman revealed his identity to her, reassured and comforted her, lifted her spirits and also offered to carry her back to Rama. But she refused his offer, saying it would be an insult to Rama as his honour was at stake. Hanuman's conveying the message of Rama to Sita is likened by some to that of a divine teacher, teaching a pupil about the supreme God.
After meeting Sita, Hanuman began to wreak havoc and gradually destroy the palaces and properties of Lanka. To subdue him, Ravana's son Indrajit used the Brahmastra. Though immune to the astra (weapon), Hanuman, out of respect to Brahma, let 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 allowed the rakshasa warriors to parade him through the streets. When he was produced at Ravana's court, Ravana sought to insult Hanuman by denying him a seat that was due to a messenger. In response, Hanuman lengthened his own tail and coiled it up into a seat that rose higher than the rakshasa emperor's throne. He conveyed Rama's message of warning to the powerful rakshasa, and demanded the safe return of Sita. He also informed Ravana that Rama would be willing to forgive him if he returned Sita safely and honourably.
Enraged, Ravana ordered that Hanuman be executed. However, Ravana's brother Vibheeshana intervened, pointing out that it was against the rules of engagement to kill a messenger. Ravana then ordered that Hanuman's tail be lit, instead. As Ravana's forces attempted to wrap cloth around his tail, Hanuman began to lengthen it. After frustrating them for a while, he allowed his tail to be lit, and then escaped from his captors with his tail on fire. He then burnt down much of Lanka, and after extinguishing the flames on his tail in the sea, headed back to Rama.
During the war, when Lakshmana was severely wounded by Indrajit, Hanuman was sent to fetch the Sanjivani, a powerful life-restoring herb from the Dronagiri mountain range to revive him. Ravana realised that if Lakshmana died, a distraught Rama would probably give up, and so had his uncle Kalenami tempt Hanuman with luxury. However, Hanuman was tipped off by a crocodile (who had actually been a celestial being under a curse) and killed the rakshasa. When he was unable to find the specific herb before nightfall, Hanuman again displayed 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 hugged Hanuman, saying that he was as dear to him as his beloved .
In another incident during the war, (the one that brought about Hanuman's Panchamukha form), Rama and Lakshmana were captured by the rakshasa Mahiravana (also called Ahiravana), a powerful practitioner of black magic and the dark arts, and held captive in his palace in Patalpuri or Patala (the nether world). In his search for them, Hanuman reached Patala. The gates to Patala were guarded by a very young creature called Makardhwaja (known also as Makar-Dhwaja or Magar Dhwaja), who was part fish and part vanara. The story of Makardhwaja's birth is interesting - though Hanuman remained celibate all his life, Makadhwaja was his son; when Hanuman had extinguished his burning tail in the ocean, unknown to him, a drop of his sweat had fallen into the ocean. This sweat was swallowed by a fish, which became pregnant. This was discovered when the fish was brought to Mahiravana's kitchen to be cooked. Mahiravana raised him and entrusted him with the job of guarding the gates of Patalpuri. Hanuman was, all the while unaware of this. Although Makardhwaja knew that his father was Hanuman, he did not recognise Hanuman since he had never seen him. When Hanuman introduced himself to Makardhwaja, he sought Hanuman's blessings but decided to fight his father as it was his duty to guard the gates of Patalpuri. Hanuman subdued him and tied him up before entering Patalpuri to rescue Rama and Lakshmana.
Upon entering Patala, Hanuman discovered that he had to extinguish five lamps at once to kill Mahiravana. Hanuman assumed the Panchamukha (Pancha - five, mukha - faced) form with the faces of Sri Varaha, Sri Narasimha, Sri Garuda, Sri Hayagriva and his own, and blew the lamps out. Thus killing Mahiravana, Hanuman rescued Rama and Lakshmana. After Mahiravana was vanquished, Rama asked Hanuman to crown Makardhwaja the king of Patalpuri. 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.
Hanuman continued to play an indispensable role in the war. When the war ended, the fourteen year period of Rama's exile had almost elapsed. Rama then remembered Bharata's vow to immolate himself if Rama did not return to rule Ayodhya immediately upon the elapse of the fourteen years. Realising that it would be a little later than the last day of the fourteen year period when he would reach Ayodhya, Rama became very anxious to prevent Bharata from giving his life up. Once again, Hanuman came to the rescue - he sped to Ayodhya and informed Bharata that Rama was on his way back. Shortly after he was crowned emperor upon his return to Ayodhya, Rama decided to ceremoniously reward all those who had helped him defeat Ravana. At a grand event in his court, all his friends and allies took turns going up to his throne and being honoured. Hanuman too went up, but not with any desire to be recompensed. Seeing Hanuman come up to him, an emotionally overwhelmed Rama took him into a warm embrace and said that he could never adequately honour or repay Hanuman for the help and services he had received from the noble vanara. Sita, however, affectionately insisted that Hanuman deserved honour more than anyone else, and asked him to seek a gift. Hanuman then requested that Sita give him a necklace of precious stones that adorned her neck. When he received it, Hanuman immediately took it apart, and began peering into the stones. Taken aback, many of those present demanded of Hanuman to explain why he was destroying the gift. In reply, Hanuman said that he was looking into the stones to make sure that Rama and Sita were in them, because if they were not, the necklace was of no value to him. At this, a few ridiculed Hanuman, saying his reverence and love for Rama and Sita could not be as deep as he claimed. Upon this, Hanuman tore his chest open, and everyone was stunned to see Rama and Sita literally in his heart.
It is considered that 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 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. (It is said that Saint Tulsidas who composed the Ramcharitmanas was none other than the Maharishi Valmiki reborn to fulfill his desire).
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 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 thus one of the chiranjeevis (immortals) in Hinduism.
Thus Hanuman is considered to be alive to this day. This is also reflected in the Mahabharata (which occurred thousands of years after the Ramayana), where he made his appearance on more than one occasion. During the Pandavas' exile, he appeared disguised as a weak and aged monkey before his (spiritual) half-brother, the Pandava prince Bhima in order to subdue his arrogance and teach him the value of humility. More significantly, during the great battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna entered the battlefield with the flag of Hanuman on his chariot. The incident that led to this was an earlier ecounter 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 agreed to help Arjuna by stabilising and strengthening his chariot during the then-likely great battle.
Hanuman, thus, had the fortune of hearing the Gita as recited by Sri Krishna himself. Many worshippers of Lord Krishna (who drove Arjuna's chariot) keep flags of Hanuman as a mark of respect to his great devotion, and honour Hanuman. For instance, the Sri Krishna Matha at Udipi bears an idol of Hanuman (known as Mukhyaprana at the site), and all offerings made to Lord Krishna are also offered to Hanuman before being distributed to devotees.
There have been numerous saints who have seen claimed to see Hanuman in modern times, notably Tulsidas (16th century), Sri Ramdas Swami (17th century), and Raghavendra Swami (17th century). Others have also asserted his presence wherever the Ramayana is read: (in Sanskrit, not transliterated)
Yatra Yatra Raghunatha Kirtanam
Tatra Tatra Krita Mastakaanjalim
Bashpavari Pari poorna lochanam
Marutim namatha rakshasantakam
Which means: 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.
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 'Rakhshasas' and 'evils'. This was a presentational 'Varam' to him by Rama and Sita. We can find Hanuman idols in ghat roads because it is believed that he protects people from accidents.
Hanuman Swami Temples in Patna (Bihar)
Patna Railway Junction, Patna-1
Hanuman Swami Temples in Thiruvananthapuram District
O.T.C Hanuman Temple Palayam
Attinkuzhy Hanuman Temple Kazhakkuttam
Maruthoor Hauman Temple Neyyattinkara
Gosai Chavadi Hanuman Temple Thekketheruvu
Padmatheerthakkara Hanuman Temple
Sreevaraham Hanuman Temple