Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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Read about Hanuman at Wikipedia, Kamat's Potpourri or the Urday website.

HANUMAN, HANUMAT. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] A celebrated monkey chief. He was son of Pavana, ‘the wind,’ by Anjana, wife of a monkey named Kesari. He was able to fly, and is a conspicuous figure in the Ramayana.

He and the other monkeys who assisted Rama in his war against Ravana were of divine origin, and their powers were superhuman. Hanuman jumped from India to Ceylon in one bound; he tore up trees carried away the Himalayas, seized the clouds, and performed many other wonderful exploits.

His form is “as vast as a mountain and as tall as a gigantic tower. His complexion is yellow and glowing like molten gold. His face is as red as the brightest ruby; while his enormous tail spreads out to an interminable length. He stands on a lofty rock and roars like thunder. He leaps into the air, and flies among the clouds with a rushing noise, whilst the ocean waves are roaring and splashing below.” In one of his fights with Ravana and the Rakshasas, they greased his tail and set it on fire, but to their own great injury, for with it he burnt down their capital city, Lanka. This exploit obtained for him the name Lankadahi.

His services to Rama were great and many. He acted as his spy, and fought most valiantly. He flew to the Himalayas, from whence he brought medicinal herbs with which he restored the wounded, and he killed the monster Kalanemi, and thousands of Gandharvas who assailed him. He accompanied Rama on his return to Ayodhya, and there he received from him the reward of perpetual life and youth.

The exploits of Hanuman are favourite topics among Hindus from childhood to age, and paintings of them are common. He is called Marutputra, and he has the patronymics Anili, Maruti, etc., and the metronymic Anjaneya. He is also Yogachara, from his power in magic or in the healing art, and Rajatadyuti, ‘the brilliant.’

Among his other accomplishments, Hanuman was a grammarian; and the Ramayana says, “The chief of monkeys is perfect; no one equals him in the sastras, in learning, and in ascertaining the sense of the scriptures [or in moving at will]. In all sciences, in the rules of austerity, he rivals the preceptor of the gods. … It is well known that Hanuman was the ninth author of grammar.”

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM