Prayer of praise for Hanuman:


“Om, I bow to Hanuman who cuts the ego. Let the energy of Lord Hanuman, the manifestation of devotion, service, humility and power resonate within my being. Let the son of the Wind God, the life force, the destroyer of ignorance, The bestower of Grace, open the doorway into infinity, SITA RAM SITA RAM. May the Golden Monkey, Hanuman, take me into his heart, along with Sita and Ram.”  ~ Jai Uttal

What is Hinduism?

Hinduism may well be the world’s oldest religion, according to many scholars, with roots and customs dating back more than 4,000 years. Today, with about 950 million followers, Hinduism is the third-largest religion behind Christianity and Islam. Roughly 95 percent of the world’s Hindus live in India. Because the religion has no specific founder, it’s difficult to trace its origins and history. Hinduism is unique in that it’s not a single religion but a compilation of many traditions and philosophies.

Timeline: 3000BC: Indus Valley Civilization–1600BC: Migration of the Aryans; Vedas–800BC: Upanishads—561BC —Buddha. Jainism—400BC: Mahabharata—327BC: Alexander the Great—200BC: Bhagavad Gita; Laws of Manu; Ramayana; Dharma Sastras; Puranas—500AD: Tantras— 700AD: Muslims invade India—1469AD: Sikhism— 1757: British invade India—1947: Independence from Britain; Partition of India—2001: Kumbh Mela Festival becomes the largest religious gathering in history.

Some basic Hindu concepts include:

  • Hinduism embraces many religious ideas. For this reason, it’s sometimes referred to as a “way of life” or a “family of religions,” as opposed to a single, organized religion.
  • Most forms of Hinduism are henotheistic, which means they worship a single deity, known as “Brahman,” but still recognize other gods and goddesses. Followers believe there are multiple paths to reaching their god.
  • Hindus believe in the doctrines of samsara (the continuous cycle of life, death, and reincarnation) and karma (the universal law of cause and effect).
  • One of the key thoughts of Hinduism is “atman,” or the belief in soul. This philosophy holds that living creatures have a soul, and they’re all part of the supreme soul. The goal is to achieve “moksha,” or salvation, which ends the cycle of rebirths to become part of the absolute soul.
  • One fundamental principle of the religion is the idea that people’s actions and thoughts directly determine their current life and future lives.
  • Hindus strive to achieve dharma, which is a code of living that emphasizes good conduct and morality.
  • Hindus revere all living creatures and consider the cow a sacred animal.
  • Food is an important part of life for Hindus. Most don’t eat beef or pork, and many are vegetarians.
  • Hinduism is closely related to other Indian religions, including Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.

Who is Hanuman?

Lord Hanuman is a Hindu god and divine ‘Vanara’ (ie forest dweller) companion of the god Rama.  Rama is one of the major deities of Hinduism. Rama is the seventh ‘Avatara’ (divine teacher) of the Hindu God, Vishnu, the Preserver, of the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Shiva, the Destroyer. Rama is one of Vishnu’s most popular incarnations along with Krishna, Parshurama (the 6th avatara of Vishnu, destroyer of military leaders abusing their power), and Gautama Buddha.

Hanuman and the Great Hindu Epics

Lord Hanuman is one of the central characters of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. He is an ardent devotee of Rama and one of the Chiranjeevis (one of seven immortals who remain alive on Earth till the end of the present Kali Yuga, or Black Age, of a further 427,000 years!). He is also mentioned in several other texts, such as the epic Mahabharata and the various Puranas (books considered amongst the oldest of Hindu texts).

Lord Hanuman is also son of the wind-god Vayu, who in several stories played a direct role in Lord Hanuman’s birth, though his biological father was Keshari (a forest-dweller) and his mother, Anjana.

Hanuman: The Symbol of Many Human Excellences

He is sometimes portrayed as the patron god of martial arts such as wrestling and acrobatics, as well as activities such as meditation and diligent scholarship.  He is immortal as he has been given powers by the Gods making him immune to any weapons, rapid movement anywhere he wishes, and a special weapon, Gada (a Mace).

He symbolizes the human excellences of inner self-control, faith, and service to a cause, hidden behind the first impressions of a being who looks like an Ape-Man or a Vanara (ie Hindu forest-dweller, helper, and follower of the God Rama).

Hanuman in the Modern World

In the modern era,  he is very popular with the general public and his temples are everywhere in India.

He is viewed as the ideal combination of “strength, heroic initiative and assertive excellence” and “loving, emotional devotion to his personal god Rama”, as Shakti (Universal energy of the Cosmos)and Bhakti (The Path of Devotion to a personal God or representative god and a teacher).

Hinduism in a Nutshell

Let’s take another moment to look at some of the major concepts of Hinduism in more detail:

  • The world’s third largest religion: after Christianity and Islam with 950 million followers or 14% of the world’s population mostly in India.
  • Polytheistic: 330 million Gods and Goddesses! Major ones: Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, Ganesha,  Hanuman, Durga, Pavrati, Laxsmi.
  • Karma: the law of action and reaction;
  • Reincarnation (Punajanman): we have several lives in order to learn the lessons of life in their completeness;
  • Caste: determined by birth: Four principal Castes but literally hundreds of minor divisions: Brahmins: philosophers and teachers, Ksatriyas: warriors/administrators; Vaishyas: shopkeepers, traders, those concerned with economics and money-making; Sudras: the lowest cast doing basic jobs and Dalits: the lowest of the low doing the jobs no-one else will do;
  • Gender Roles: Hinduism prescribes strict rules for gender roles and for arranged marriage so that caste remains intact.
  • Dharma: duty both personal cosmic in the sense of the ‘laws of life’;
  • Samsara: the wheel of life and suffering in which we are caught until we break with the cycle of ignorance of Spirit and how it operates in the world;
  • Moksa: escape from the wheel of life to Nirvana or a higher state of existence beyond the human stage; 
  • Maya: the ‘illusion’ in which most people live of life’s purpose and our understanding of Reality; 
  • Rita: the divine harmonious law keeping the universe intact; 
  • Avataras: great teachers of humanity who come at cyclic times;  Hanuman was an avatara of Vishnu.
  • Stages of Life (Asramas): Bramacharya: student; Grihasti: householder/family life; Varna Prastha: retired person; Sanyassi:  contemplative sages.
  • Cows: are sacred and allowed to wander freely. Millions of Hindus revere and worship cows. Hinduism is a religion that raises the status of Mother to the level of Goddess. Therefore, the cow is considered a sacred animal, as it provides us life sustaining milk. The cow is seen as a maternal figure, a care taker of her people. The cow is a symbol of the divine bounty of earth.
  • Paths to Understanding/ Union with the Godhead (Trimarga):
  • Karma Marga – Action/Good Works.
  • Jnana Marga – Wisdom/Study.
  • Bhakti Marga – Devotion to a Deity.
  • Four Goods of Life:
  • Dharma: Duty.
  • Artha: Wealth.
  • Kama: Pleasure.
  • Moksa: Escape from the wheel of life/suffering (Samsara). To achieve Moksa you must give up the other three Goods, otherwise you remain wedded to the Wheel of Life (Samsara) and put off Moksa or escape from the wheel of suffering, for a future life.

Hanuman in the Hindu Epic: The Ramayana

Hanuman is a central character of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, and is mentioned briefly in the other great Hindu epic, the Mahabharata (which includes the famous Bhagavadgita).

In the Ramayana, The demon Ravanna from Sri Lanka, kidnaps Rama’s wife, Sita, and Rama calls upon the Monkey King, Sugriva, to help him find Sita.

Sugriva sends Hanuman south searching for Sita. In the process of searching, Hanuman leaps across the ocean to Sri Lanka and turns himself into an ant, thus finding Sita a prisoner in Ravanna’s castle.  He offers to save Sita but Sita says her husband Rama must save her.

Hanuman is captured by Ravanna the demon king and tortured by burning his tail but Hanuman has magic powers and thus escapes in the process burning down most of the demon king’s city and returning to Rama to tell him of Sita’s capture and location.

Rama makes Hanuman general of his army and Hanuman returns to Sri Lanka. The legendary battle of Lanka ensues which Hanuman finally wins, killing Ravanna and all the demons.

Rama can thus rescue Sita. Rama offers gifts to all those who helped him including Hanuman who refuses the gift to show he doesn’t need gifts to endure his devotion to Rama and Sita.

Hanuman spectacularly rips open his own chest to reveal that Rama and Sita are indelibly pictured on his heart.

Hanuman in the Bhagavadgita

Hanuman once again returns to the forest and anonymity.

Hundreds of years later he meets Bhima, a great warrior who was later to fight on the side of Arjuna, the hero of the Great War of the Mahabharata

Hanuman prophesies the War and Bhima’s involvement and then he disappears never to be seen again. He is said to have protected Arjuna’s chariot during the war. Also, since that ancient time, various devotees have said that they have seen Hanuman. Principal amongst these is the great Hindu poet of the 16th century, Tulsi Das, who saw Hanuman in the sacred city of Varanasi. At this spot, Tulsi das built a temple to Hanuman which is still there today.

Qualities of Hanuman

  • Immortal (Chiranjivi): staying alive throughout the Kali Yuga (432,000 years).
  • Self-Controlled (Brahmchari): Chaste.
  • Ugly but yet Beautiful (KurÅ«p and Sundar): he is described in Hindu texts as kurÅ«p (ugly) on the outside, but divinely sundar (beautiful inside).
  • Shape-Shifter (Kama-rupin).
  • Strength: Hanuman is extraordinarily strong, one capable of lifting and carrying any burden for a cause.
  • Innovative: Hanuman is described as someone who constantly faces very difficult odds, where the adversary or circumstances threaten his mission with certain defeat and his very existence. Yet he finds an innovative way to turn the odds.
  • Devoted (Bhakti): Hanuman is presented as the exemplary devotee (bhakta) of Rama and Sita. The Hindu texts such as the Bhagavata Purana, the Bhakta Mala, the Ananda Ramayana and the Ramacharitmanas present him as someone who is talented, strong, brave and spiritually devoted to Rama.
  • Learned Yogi:  He is learned in Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism, the Vedas, a poet, a polymath, a grammarian, a singer and musician par excellence.
  • Remover of obstacles: similar to the Hindu elephant-God Ganesha.
  • Bestower of eight Siddhis and nine Nidhis to his devotees: the eight Siddhis (supernatural powers) are: material, paranormal, supernatural, or otherwise magical powers, and attainments that are the products of spiritual advancement. The nine treasures are those of Kubera the God of Wealth and include various precious stones, flowers and animals, probably signifying various  psychic powers.
  • Healer of diseases, pains and sorrows.
  • Slayer of demons, evil and negative energies: Keeps away ghosts, evil spirits, demons, Brahmarakshasa, devils, Sakini, Dakini, and prevents effects of the planets in the sky, evil created by talismans and chants.
  • Protector and saviour of devotees of Shri Ram and himself: The doorkeeper and protector of the door to Rama’s court, and protector and saviour of devotees.
  • Five-faced or Panchmukha: when he assumes his fierce form: East facing Hanuman face (Anjaneya) that grants purity of mind and success. South facing man-lion face (Karala Ugraveera Narasimha) that grants victory and fearlessness. West facing Garuda face (Mahaveera Garuda) that grants protection from black magic and poisons. North facing Boar face (Lakshmi Varaha) that grants prosperity and wealth. Horse face (Hayagriva) facing towards the sky (upwards) that grants knowledge and good children.

Hanuman: Temples and Shrines

Hanuman is often worshipped along with Rama and Sita of Vaishnavism, and sometimes independently of them.There are numerous statues to celebrate or temples to worship Hanuman all over India. In some regions, he is considered as an avatar of Shiva by Shivites. Some scholars state that the earliest Hanuman statues (murtis) appeared in the 8th century, but verifiable evidence of Hanuman images and inscriptions appear in the 10th century in Indian monasteries in central and north India.

Tuesday and Saturday of every week are particularly popular days at Hanuman temples. Some people keep a partial or full fast on either of those two days and remember Hanuman and the theology he represents to them.

Major temples and shrines of Hanuman include:

  • The oldest known independent Hanuman temple and statue is at Khajuraho, dated to about 922 CE from the Khajuraho Hanuman inscription.
  • Mahavir Mandir is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Hanuman, located in Patna, Bihar, India.

Hanuman: A Theosophical Insight

The deep reverence that the Hindus for ages have held for this monkey-being is based on an intuitive, but nevertheless traditional, remembrance of the connection, more intimate than at present, that existed during Atlantean and even Lemurian times between human beings and the apes and even monkeys.

The monkeys, although now static stocks, were originally derivative from Lemurian humanity, just as the anthropoids were later derivatives from miscegenations between undeveloped Atlantean savages and the monkeys of those distant times.

Therefore, there is a strain of Manas (ie.mind), however as yet undeveloped, in the anthropoid and the simian stocks.

Hanuman: A Major Influence on Other Religions

Hanuman has had a vast influence on other religions in Asia. He appears Tibetan and Khotanese Buddhist versions of the Ramayana. The hit TV series ‘Monkey’ where the hero is a Buddhist nun, Tripitaka, accompanied by her disciples Pigsy and Monkey is highly reminiscent of Hanuman’s qualities as protector and warrior. It was enormously popular for decades in Australia. Hanuman appears also in Jainism and Sikhism The Sikh texts such as Hanuman Natak composed by Hirda Ram Bhalla, and Das Gur Katha by Kavi Kankan describe the heroic deeds of Hanuman.

In Cambodia Hanuman is a revered heroic figure in Khmer history in southeast Asia. He features predominantly in the Reamker, a Cambodian epic poem, based on the Ramayana. Hanuman is the central character in many of the historic dance and drama art works such as Wayang Wong found in Javanese culture, Indonesia.  In Thailand Hanuman plays a significantly more prominent role in their epic the, Ramakien. In contrast to the strict devoted lifestyle to Lord Rama of his Indian counterpart, Hanuman is known in Thailand as a promiscuous and flirtatious character, but at the same time a brave warrior and protector of the good.

What Does Hanuman Mean to a Devotee?

Asking a devotee ‘What does Lord Hanuman mean to you?’ he replied:

  • Hanuman is the flow of Grace that gives access to our own heart’s, deepest heart which is God.
  • A Being fully turned towards God/Universal Love.
  • A vast presence like the ‘Sky’ of the heart.
  • He removes obstacles in your life in accessing God.
  • Even though He is celibate Himself, he satisfies desires that we all have on the way to becoming free of attachment. So His is not a renunciate path, but a Path of surrender into that Greater Presence/Love that opens our hearts.
  • He creates confidence and points us in the direction we are moving towards immersing ourselves in the Love/presence the more we overcome our lower Egoism especially, the constant programmed thoughts that assail us.
  • Hanuman has no personal agenda. He immerses himself in the God Presence of Rama.

Is Hanuman Real?

Does Hanuman symbolize a real being or class of entities rather than simply a flight of artistic fantasy?

Perhaps the real Hanuman is more like a force of nature, like the sunlight that nourishes life, the air we breath, or lofty thoughts that inspire us.

He is part of the great chain of being stretching from the spiritual sun down to humanity and beyond.

This Hierarchy of Compassion sustains life for us lesser beings, though we remain unaware of the constant efforts or call them, as modern science often does, unconscious forces of nature. Hanuman and his celestial hordes work consciously and untiringly so that we may learn and grow spiritually to one day join them in their cosmic labour’s.

Let me ask you a question. Do you know if you are real? Perhaps we need to answer this question first. Perhaps we should make an attempt to get rid of all the lesser aspects of ourselves and then we’ll start to see The Gods as part of ourselves and ourselves as part of them. We are on the spiritual Path not to see if Hanuman is real, but to find Hanuman as an aspect of the God-Self inside of you. Hanuman is not outside of our true nature. Find out who you are and then you’ll find out if Hanuman is true or not…or at least start looking and see what happens.

The Hanuman Chaleesa

The 16th-century Indian poet Tulsidas wrote Hanuman Chalisa, a devotional song dedicated to Hanuman. He claimed to have visions where he met face to face with Hanuman. Based on these meetings, he wrote Ramcharitmanas, an Awadhi language version of Ramayana.

The beginning of the Hanuman Chalisa…

Taking the dust of my Guru’s lotus feet to polish the mirror of my heart,

I sing the pure fame of the best of Raghus, which bestows the four fruits of life.

I don’t know anything, so I remember you, Son of the Wind.

Grant me strength, intelligence and wisdom and remove my impurities and sorrows.

Refuge at the feet of Sita’s lord, Ram.

Hail Hanuman, ocean of wisdom/Hail Monkey Lord!  You light up the three worlds.

You are Ram’s messenger, the abode of matchless power/ Anjani’s son, “Son of the Wind.”

Great hero, you are a mighty thunderbolt/Remover of evil thoughts and companion of the good

….. On for another 32 verses. Let’s listen to Kishna Das singing the  Hanuman Chalisa…. Available at: