||The Puranas give many and varied accounts
of Hanuman's birth, but they all agree that he was endowed with extraordinary
erudition, and devotion to Rama. "In the epics of no other country, "writes
Vettam Mani, the author of Puranic Encyclopedia, "could be found a character that
belongs to the animal kingdom who is as powerful, erudite and philosophic as
When he was still a child, his mother, Anjani, had assured him that he would never be destroyed and that fruits as red and ripe
as the rising sun would form his food.
Thinking that the glowing sun was a ripe red
fruit fit enough for food, the monkey child made a jump at it. According to a popular
legend, he saw Airavata and tried to gorge himself on it. Seeing this attempt of the
valorous monkey, Indra used his thunderbolt (vajrayudha) which hit the child's chin
and hurled him to the earth.
(It is from this event that Amjani's
monkey son came to be known as Hanuman.) When Vayu, the Wind god, carried him off to
Pataal in such a precarious condition, life on earth came to a standstill in the absence
of air. Living beings felt breathless and were driven to the verge of death. Accompanied
by the gods, he went to the nether regions comforted Vayu and congratulated the monkey
child, blessing him with immortality, invulnerability, enduring devotion to God, and
Indra said, "No weapon of any kind
shall wound you or hit your body." Agni blessed him, Saying, "Fire will never
burn you." Kaal was no less generous, "May not death overcome you."
All the gods cried in one voice,
"None will ever equal you in strength and speed." Vayu blessed him with more
speed than he himself had. One of Hanuman's popular epithets is Pavansuta, which means
that he was the son of Vayu (Pavan or Maruti, the Wind, andAnjani) . He first came to know
Rama when he was searching for Sita. It was he who located Sita in Lanka, and when Laksman
was wounded, it was he who brought the life-giving herb to revive him.
According to a well-known tradition, his mother
Anjani was Brihaspati's maidservant and was called Punjikasthala. One day when she
misbehaved with her master by covering him with kisses, Brihaspati cursed her, causing her
to be metamorphosed into a female monkey called Anjani. She then lived with a handsome
monkey called Kesari as her husband. Another tradition holds that Hanuman's father was
Shiva who, finding Parvati reluctant to give birth to a monkey, entrusted the child in
embryo (in Parvati's womb) to Vayu, who carried it with him from place to place till it
became mature. Then, finally, he deposited the monkey embryo in Anjani, the monkey woman.
Hanuman (also called Hanumat because he
had `large jaws') is re-garded as a monkey-chief, one of the most celebrated of a host of
semi- divine monkey-like beings, who according to theRamayana (i.16) were created to
become the allies of Rama in his war with Ravana. Hanuman is fabled to have assumed any
form at will, wielded rocks, removed moun-tains, mounted the air, seized the clouds, and
rivalled GaruRa in swiftness of flight. In modern times Hanumanji is a very common village
god in southern, central and northern India.