Today, April 11, marks Hanuman Jayanti.
As the name suggests, the festival is dedicated to the birth of Lord Hanuman.
Celebrated on the 15th day of the Shukla Paksha (a period of 15 days during which the waxing of the moon takes place) in the Hindi month of Chaitra, Hanuman Jayanti is considered to be an important calendar event for Hindu devotees.
But how, when and why did Hanuman come to gain such significance in the lives of devotees who already have a universe of hundreds and thousands of gods and goddesses to choose from?
It was from the Ramayana. The mention of Hanuman occurs in several other religious texts, including the Mahabharata, but his most significant mention is in the Hindu epic, The Ramayana.
Referred to as an incarnation of Lord Shiva by some, Hanuman’s devotion and heroics helped Lord Rama defeat Ravana in the war, which took place after Sita’s abduction.
But there are several other qualities Hanuman is known for and which all of us should imbibe in one form or another.
The persistence to find Sita and to curb his ‘Prabhu’s’ miserable state caused by the same, made Hanuman the hero Lord Rama needed the most during those trying times. Having dedicated his whole existence to finding Sita, Hanuman braved several hurdles to ultimately reach Lanka and find Sita. He offered to help her escape but she refused, saying Rama’s honour is at stake and she wouldn’t risk that at any cost. Hanuman then went back to Rama and eventually set Lanka on fire with his tail.
Lesson to learn: A certain Shah Rukh Khan once said in Om Shanti Om that if you really, really want and pursue something, the entire universe conspires to make it a reality. Perseverance. That’s what Hanuman embodies and teaches by example.
He shape-shifted, lifted mountains and used his tail to burn down Lanka. Hanuman’s practicality and ability to focus on the task at hand might as well be a hero in itself. His war-winning tactics and tricks, more often than not, saved the lives and honour of many.
Lesson to learn: Well, learn to ‘shape-shift’; by that we mean that you should learn to prioritise and adapt as per the need of the hour.
The physical and mental strength of Hanuman probably need no mention, but we’ll take the liberty to talk about it anyway. When Lord Rama’s brother Lakshmana was wounded during the course of a fight with Ravana’s son, Indrajit, Hanuman was asked to fetch the Sanjeevani booti before sunrise. With time ticking, he decided to become several times bigger than his original size and stopped the sun from rising. Hanuman’s inability to recognise the herb made him lift the entire mountain.
Lesson to learn: Strength of body and mind, anyone? Be it physical fitness or meditation to make the mind strong, do whatever it takes so you can be a ninja when it’s needed the most.
Even in the most testing of times, Hanuman made it a point to maintain his sense of humour. For example, the time when he got himself intentionally captured by Ravana’s son, Indrajit, only to gauge the latter’s strength. Or the time he was threatened with having his tail set on fire and he started to increase its length. Even in the TV adaptation of Ramayana, most of the comic-relief moments came via Hanuman.
Lesson to learn: Sulking in a tough situation is very convenient, but smiling and putting up a brave fight is the stuff real heroes are made of. Go on, do it. Feels great.
5. Selflessness, loyalty and humility
It won’t be wrong to say that Hanuman was the embodiment of selflessness. He dedicated a major part of his youth to Lord Rama and Sita and went down in history as their most devout follower. He was fiercely loyal and accompanied Lord Rama throughout. Also, despite his physical prowess and supernatural abilities, he was quite humble and was always seen with folded hands. These qualities make Hanuman the most renowned of devotees to ever have existed.
Lesson to learn: You might know your strengths inside-out, but you’re probably the only person who also knows your weaknesses inside-out. Always remember those and strike a balance. Be humble.