We, the devotees of Hanuman always looking to please Hanuman. But do you know who Hanuman is, based on Sage Valmiki’s Ramayana, and not Sant Tulsidas written Ramcharit Manas? In this post, we will discuss many things about Hanuman. We’ll also see how he has been portrayed in the original story of Ramayana.
Who is Hanuman?
Hanuman first appears as a character in Valmiki Ramayana. All other information present in other texts of Hinduism is either later addition than Ramayana. So his most authentic depiction can only be obtained from Valmiki Ramayana. Ramayana shows him the sachiv (an official) of Sugriva’s army when he meets Rama to inquire about their presence.
1. Hanuman is NOT a monkey
In the folklore, Hanuman is shown usually as a monkey which is contrary to his depiction in Valmiki Ramayana. Let’s discuss Kishkindha Kanda where Rama describes Hanuman to Lakshman.
तम् अभ्यभाष सौमित्रे सुग्रीव सचिवम् कपिम् |
वाक्यज्ञम् मधुरैः वाक्यैः स्नेह युक्तम् अरिन्दम ||
Soumitri(Lakshman, son of Soumitra), with this minister of Sugreeva, the knower of sententiousness and a pleasant worded one, and one with friendliness you exchange pleasantries with that enemy destroyer Hanuman
नान् ऋग्वेद विनीतस्य नायजुर्वेद धारिणः |
नासाम वेद विदुषः शक्यम् एवम् विभाषितुम् ||
Nay…the non-knower of Rig Veda, or the non-rememberer of Yajur Veda, or the non-scholar of Saama Veda… can possibly, or truly speak this way…
नूनम् व्यकरणम् कृत्स्नम् अनेन बहुधा श्रुतम् |
बहु व्याहरता अनेन न किंचित् अप शब्दितम् ||
Definitely grammar is severally and comprehensively learnt by him… and though much is said by him not a single word has gone amiss of verbiage…
न मुखे नेत्रयोः च अपि ललाटे च भ्रुवोः तथा |
अन्येषु अपि च सर्वेषु दोषः संविदितः क्वचित् ||
On his face or eyes, or on forehead or brows, or on other faculties of expression no fault is found…even at the least…
2. Who were the “Vanaras”
Vanara means “forest dweller” in Sanskrit in addition to a monkey. This may be the possible reason why Hanuman and his clan/tribe has been depicted as a monkey. As we have discussed, a monkey can not read or learn Vedas which Rama tells Lakshman about Hanuman when they first met him.
Hanuman is the son of “Kesari” and “Anjana” who belonged to the Kapi tribe of Vanaras.
3. Hanuman means “broken/disfigured jaw”
This is the reason, in addition to others that have contributed to the fact that Hanuman is being depicted as a monkey. Hanuman is considered to be the attainer of 8 siddhis. All of these siddhis are according to Vibhūti Pāda of the Patanjali Yoga sutra. So we can accept them to be true based on “Sabd Paramana” in absence of other parmanas.
4. Hanuman didn’t jump over the sea
Hanuman didn’t need someone to remind him of his powers because he didn’t jump to reach Lanka.
यं यं देशं समुद्रस्य जगाम स महाकपिः |
स स तस्योरुवेगेन सोन्माद इव लक्ष्यते | ५-१-६८Valmiki Ramayana, Sundar Kand, Sarga 1, 68 Verse
Whatever place Hanuman went towards on the ocean, that place became agitated due to the force of thighs.
श्वेताभ्रघनराजीव वायुपुत्रानुगामिनी |
तस्य सा शुशुभे छाया वितता लवणाम्भसि || ५-१-७७Valmiki Ramayana, Sundar Kand, Sarga 1, 77 Verse
उदानजयाज्जलपङ्ककण्टकादिष्वसङ्ग उत्क्रान्तिश्च॥३९॥Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, Vibhuti Pada 39 Verse
By mastery over Udana(levitation) prana, the Yogi does not sink in water, or in swamps, and he can walk on thorns.
कायाकाशयोः संबन्धसंयमाल्लघुतूलसमापत्तेश्चाकाशगमनम्॥४२॥Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, Vibhuti Pada 42 Verse
By samyama(perfect discipline) on the relationship between the body and akasha(ether), lightness of cotton fiber is attained, and thus traveling through the ether is possible.
5. He didn’t swallow the Sun
There isn’t much information given about the childhood of Hanuman in Ramayana. All the stories about swallowing the Sun, etc. exist in Puranas which don’t have much authenticity.