How Anjaneya Came to be Known as Hanuman

Introduction


One of the most endearing Gods in Hinduism is the monkey God Hanuman. He is well known for his ardent devotion to Lord Rama and is said to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva and on Shiva’s direction the male energy of Vayu is said to have been transferred to Anjana’s womb hence he is also referred to as Vayuputra. The beautiful stories of Lord Hanuman reiterate that no matter the form of one’s birth, devotion is the only royal road to salvation which is epitomised by the relationship between Lord Rama and Hanuman.

Origin

Hanuman was born in the Vanara clan. His mother Anjana was in reality an Apsara who was reborn on earth due to a curse. The condition stipulated was that she would be free of her curse when she gave birth to an incarnation of Lord Shiva. His father Kesari was the son of Brihaspati. Both Anjana and Kesari prayed intensely to Shiva to get a child. Pleased with their devotion Shiva blessed them with a son. Another legend states that during the period of penance of Anjana and Kesari King Dasharatha was performing the Putrakameshti yagna for begetting a child. When the sacred kheer was obtained he gave it to his three wives who went to bathe before partaking the divine kheer. But Sumitra’s portion was carried away by a kite who aided by Vayu dropped it into Anjana’s lap when she was in worship. She consumed it and Hanuman was born.

Anjaneya’s hunger


As he was born from Anjana he was called Anjaneya. He grew up along with the other Vanara children. He was very mischievous and naughty playing pranks on others and would always get into trouble if left unattended. One early morning as Anjana was busy in her morning worship Anjaneya was left alone and feeling hungry he looked around for something to eat. Suddenly he saw a bright orange object peeking through the branches. Thinking it to be a ripe fruit he flew steadily towards it. All the celestial beings were amazed at his strength and prowess. The Wind God Vayu noticed that Anjaneya was in danger of getting burnt and surrounded him to protect him from the sun’s rays. The Sun God too noticed him approaching and tried to soften his rays to avoid hurting him.

Rahu and Ketu

Meanwhile two demons Rahu and Ketu had disguised themselves as Gods and partaken the divine Amrit when Mohini was distributing it after the churning of the ocean. To the dismay of the Gods they both had become immortal. They agreed to an understanding with the Gods that they would prevent their hunger by grabbing the sun and the moon once in a while to satisfy their hunger. This was said to be the cause of eclipses. On the day Anjaneya was flying towards the sun Rahu too was approaching it. When Anjaneya saw Rahu trying to catch hold of the bright orange object he was enraged and caught hold of Rahu and trapped him under his arm.

Lord Brahma’s blessings

Meanwhile Indra saw Anjaneya trying to catch the sun and hurled his Vajra at him and Anjaneya fell down unconscious. Vayu rushed and carried the child into a cave shedding tears of sorrow. The world was deprived of wind and the Gods ran to Lord Brahma as everyone was suffocating. Lord Brahma divined the situation and went to the cave and soothingly ran his hand over Anjaneya. Anjaneya woke up from his unconscious state and was blessed by Lord Brahma with special powers. Indra too blessed him that he would never be hurt by earthly weapons. As his Vajra had injured his cheek he renamed Anjaneya as Hanuman or ‘one with the prolonged cheek’. He granted him the boon that he would die only when he desired it and none could kill him. All the Gods came forth and blessed the child with various powers. Lord Brahma granted him immunity from the Brahmastra. Due to this the innocent child Anjaneya became the immortal and supremely powerful Lord Hanuman.

Conclusion

The stories in Hindu mythology have great morals and one should delve on their inner meaning and retain the essence that they impart. Great saints always used simple parables to convey the supreme truth that could be easily assimilated by the masses and these values of right living and high thinking have been transmitted by generations to help mankind on the goal to self realisation and bliss.

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