Hanuman is the monkey deity renowned for his courage, power and
faithful, selfless service. The Life of Hanuman is related below in the
form of short numbered and illustrated accounts of some of the most
important parts of his life.
Some say Hanuman was born as the son of the King and Queen of the
Monkeys. To others, he is the son of Anjana, an female Apsara who had
been transformed into a monkey by a curse, and Vayu, the wind god. It is
also said that from his father Vayu Hanuman received the ability to fly.
As soon as Hanuman was born he felt hungry and his mother could not
satisfy him. Then he caught sight of the Sun and thinking it was a fruit
he leapt after it. The Sun took flight but Hanuman chased him as far as
Indra's heaven. Here however, Indra intervened and injured Hanuman's jaw
with his thunderbolt.
But his father was quick to avenge him and entered the bodies of all
gods and gave them colic. Indra apologized to Vayu and agreed that
Hanuman should become immortal. All the gods came together to bless
young Hanuman in a cave.
As a young monkey god, Hanuman was quite naughty and abused his
powers to pester the saints living in the nearby forest. On this
painting Hanuman can be seen creating a whirlwind with his breath,
drinking offered water, pulling a supporting stick with his tail,
pulling a beard and dousing a sacred fire.
Finally all the gods prayed to Brahma to find a solution. Thus a
curse was created to protect the world from the mischief that young
Hanuman created, by removing his knowledge of his powers.
The Power of Hanuman - of which becoming big is just one example -
only became available again when Jambavant, King of the bears,
remembered Hanuman that he has that power.
And that power was really great. Hanuman could easily fight an
elephant for example, since he could become much bigger than the
elephant at will.
At the time of the Ramayana, Hanuman was send as an advance spy to
Lanka. To reach the island he had to fly over the sea but there was
blocked by Sursa, who wanted to test him. She had a boon that everybody
who comes before her must pass through her mouth. However, when she
wanted to swallow Hanuman, he became bigger and bigger so she also had
to become bigger and bigger. Then Hanuman suddenly became very small and
went in through her ear, coming out of her mouth, thus fulfilling the
In the Ashokvatika or forest of Ashoka trees on Lanka, Hanuman spies
on Ravana, who is trying in vain to press Sita into becoming his wife.
Later he contacted Sita in the gardens of Ravana's palace, told her of
the plans being made for her deliverance and gave her Rama's signet ring
as a token.
Pleased with his succes, Hanuman fought the demon Meghnaath, son of
Ravana, in the gardens of the palace of Lanka. He won over Meghnaath,
but was finally captured by Ravana's demons.
Brought before the demon king, Ravana ordered that while as a
messenger of Rama he could not be killed, his tail could be set afire
with cloth and oil. But Hanuman used his powers to enlarge his tail
indefinitely, untill the demons had no cloth left to cover it. While
they still tried to put fire to his tail, Hanuman became suddenly very
small and escaped from his ropes.
Trailing his burning tail behind him, Hanuman then set fire to all of
Lanka and flew back to the mainland. He rejoined Rama and gave him
valuable information on Ravana's forces. The army crossed a bridge to
Lanka that was made by another monkey leader and master architect called
During the mighty battle that followed, Hanuman defeated the Demon
Lankini, who was the principal guard of the city of Lanka.
Hanuman's greatest feat during the battle of Lanka however was to
bring back the herb that cured Lakshman from a fatal wound. He flew al
the way to the Himalayas to find it, harassed by many demons, such as
Kalanemi. Because Indra was confusing him, Hanuman could not find the
herb and finally brought the entire mountain to Lanka.
Ravana was defeated by Ram and Ram and Sita were crowned King and
Queen of Ayodhya. Obviously Hanuman was present, remained Ram's favorite
general and continued his life in service to him. When Rama offered him
any boon that he cared to name, he asked to live for as long as men
spoke of the deeds of Rama.