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The story of Hanuman is very fascinating. We know Lord Hanuman as a monkey god, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, a perfect devotee of Lord Ram, and a very strong and powerful deity.
Let’s go back to the times of Lord Brahma (God of creation), to know the story behind the birth of Lord Hanuman.
Birth of Hanuman.
Lord Brahma had many attendants in his celestial palace court. Amongst them was one beautiful Apsara named Anjana. She served Lord Brahma nicely and thus one day happy with her dedication, Lord asked Anjana to ask for a wish which he would happily grant her. Anjana, asked Lord to remove a curse given to her by a sage. Anjana narrated her story by saying that once she was playing in the forest as a child when she saw a monkey meditating just like a human sage. To this sight, she felt amused and started laughing at the monkey. She also threw some fruits at the monkey.
Here she made a grave mistake, unknowingly though, because the monkey was actually a great sage who had taken the avatar of monkey while mediating. Angry by the act of oblivious Anjana, he cursed her that she would become a monkey the instant she falls in love with someone. Anjana apologized several times but it was too late.
Once a word uttered from a sage’s mouth cannot be taken back easily. Though, the sage assured her that the man she will fall in love with, would accept her even with a monkey face.
Lord Brahma felt bad for her. He gave a solution by telling her to be born on the earth and live a normal life and get married. Further, he added that her curse will be destroyed if she gives birth to the incarnation of Lord Shiva.
Anjana did accordingly. She fell in love with a monkey-faced man named Kesari, who was the king of Monkeys. He was an ardent follower of Lord Shiva and hence had magical powers granted by the Lord.
Anjana too started worshipping Lord Shiva. Being happy with her, Lord Shiva appeared before her and asked for a wish. That’s when Anjana requested the Lord to be born to her as her son so that she could be freed from the curse.
A divine pudding was offered by Vayu (the god of wind) on Lord Shiva’s instructions to Anjana, who swallowed it and gave birth to a monkey faced boy. The child was called as Anjaneya or the son of Anjana.
He was a divine child since he was an incarnation of Lord Shiva. He grew up to be strong and mischievous child who considered Sun to be some delicious fruit and wanted to taste it.
In a bid to eat the sun, Lord Indra (the King of Devas) became very angry and struck Anjaneya with his thunderbolt “vajra”. The vajra hit the child on his chin and caused his cheeks to get swollen twice its original size.
Vayu, the Wind God, was shocked to see his God-son in this state. He got so angry that he took the child to Patalloka, the world below the grounds of the earth. As Vayu left, the earth got deprived of air and the plants and animals started dying.
This made Indra realized his mistake. He begged Vayu and Anjaneya to come back. He also declared the boy to be ‘Chiranjeevi’ (immortal). He also said, “I had taken my aim in your hanu (cheek). So from now, you will be called as the valiant Hanuman!” There were many exciting adventures in the life of Lord Hanuman.
Hanuman, in the later years selected Surya, the sun god as his teacher and requested him to teach the scriptures. It was a challenging task for Hanuman to learn under the Surya as he had to constantly move behind the Guru by traversing the sky backwards at equal pace, while taking his lessons.
Elated by Hanuman’s concentration, Surya did not take any tuition fees from Hanuman but asked him to assist his son Sugriva, by being his minister. Then, began our epic Ramayana.
While being with Sugriva, Hanuman once stumbled upon ShriRam. He always respected ShriRam and was ready to do anything to find Deity Sita. He was the one who found Lady Sita and promised her to take her back to Lord Ram. He helped Lord Ram to win in his battle with Raavana and also saved Lord’s younger brother Lakshman.
There was one more story which described how once Deity Sita presented a pearl necklace to Hanuman. He tried to find Shriram in each pearl. When he couldn’t, he tore it apart and threw it away. Sita was surprised and asked him why he did that. In reply, Deity Hanuman tore open his chest with his Nails and showed everyone the word ‘Shriram’ engraved on his heart. Even today the idol of Deity Hanuman is found in the temples of Shriram. He was a Selfless Lord.
Hanuman Chalisa. A poet-saint Tulsidas has dedicated 40 versus to Shri Hanuman. The strength, courage, wisdom, devotion and respect for Lord Ram and the names by which he was called are all mentioned in Hanuman Chalisa.
People have blind faith in Hanuman in the times of trouble. They worship Lord by keeping fasts on either Tuesdays or Saturdays and also by chanting Hanuman Chalisa. In the month of Chaitra, on a full moon day, Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated to remember the birth of Hanuman.
There are many temples devoted to Hanuman in India.
Karmanghat Hanuman Temple.
It is one of the oldest temples in India. It has an interesting story which dates back to the 12th century. There was a king named Kakatiya who went for hunting and was resting under a tree. Suddenly he heard the chanting of Lord Rama’s name.
Shocked to hear the sounds in the middle of the forest, he discovered a stone idol of Lord Hanuman, in seated posture and the voice coming from the vigraha. He bowed down to pay respect and returned to his place. At night, Lord came in his dreams and asked him to construct a temple. Thus a Hanuman temple was built.