Hanuman from the Hindu story Ramayana
Hanuman is the monkey servant who opens up his chest to reveal two little dolls, a boy doll with blue skin and a girl doll with fair skin. The boy doll is the avatar/incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu, called Rama (or Ram), who came to earth thousands of years ago to rescue the planet from the demon king Ravana. The girl doll was Sita, Rama’s wife. When Ravana kidnapped Sita, the pure hearted Prince Rama rushed to rescue her, but he couldn’t do it alone.
The monkey king’s general, Hanuman, who was the son of the wind, volunteered to help. He jumped across the ocean from the Southern tip of India all the way to Lanka, where Ravana was holding Sita captive. Ravana was trying everything he could think of – from offering the most alluring presents to making the most blood curdling threats – to persuade Sita to marry him. But in her heart Sita never (not even for one moment) stopped calling out to Rama. Hanuman immediately returned to India to inform Rama that he had found his wife. A military expedition was quickly organised. Ravana had all kinds of advanced technology, including flying chariots, but Rama and his band of monkeys conquered Ravana and set Sita free.
- Hindus understand that Sita represents the human soul, captured by the demon of egotism, tempted by all the allurement of the world and yet terrified of the disappointment, disease, and death that always come with it. Though she’s held captive in the demon’s garden, the soul never forgets her true husband, Rama – God himself.
- The yogic meaning of the story is that God loves the soul more than anything, but he cannot rescue her alone. He needs the help of the son of the wind – the breath. When God and the breath become allies, they’re able to free the soul. Calming the breath makes the body calm, and then the mind becomes calm. When the mind is calm, you are able to sense God’s presence in your heart.
- The mythological meaning is that when a devotee loves God, like Hanuman loved Rama, there’s nothing he or she can’t accomplish with God’s grace – even jumping over the ocean. Then there is the Joseph Campbell ‘Hero with a Thousand Faces’ interpretation, which suggests that the story of the Ramayana is closely linked to ‘the hero’s journey’, which is an archetypal quest which appears in nearly every story and myth, which is why the story is timeless and resonates within each of us.
For thousands of years, Hanuman has been honoured from one end of India to the other because he was the perfect devotee. If you look in his heart, you will always find God. In the Ramayana, Rama asks Hanuman who he is, and he replies “When I don’t know who I am, I serve you. When I know who I am, you and I are one.” This means that he lives to serve Ram (God), but also sees behind the duality and realises that at the very same time he is serving God, he is serving himself, as he is God. Every year in India, Diwali (the festival of lights) is celebrated to commemorate the returning of Rama – along with his wife Sita, and his friend Lakshmana – from his 14 year exile and his slaying of the demon king Ravana. All over India fireworks are shot into the sky and it is a tradition that every Indian holds very dear to their heart.
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