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Who Is Hanuman ?


   Lord Ram gave Hanuman a quizzical look and said, "What are you, a monkey or a man?" Hanuman bowed his head reverently, folded his hands and said, "When I do not know who I am, I serve You and when I do know who I am, You and I are One." -Tulsidas Ramayana.

    In order to understand who Hanuman is, we have to get a little bit familiar with the Ramayana. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two great Indian epics that have been handed down from generation to generation since before recorded history. How many millennia old the Ramayana actually is, nobody knows, but it is instilled with ageless wisdom and a wealth of spiritual guidance, which even a soul in contemporary times will find invaluable.
   The Ramayana is a huge multilevel story of the battle of good and evil and of the eternal journey of the soul back to God, back to Oneness. The Ramayana, like Homer's Odyssey, is also believed by many to be a factual historical account. It can be looked at as a myth, an epic, or an adventure tale, but it can also be seen as a spiritual roadmap of how to approach higher Consciousness.
   On the surface level of the story is the adventure of Ram, who is the great King of ancient India, and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the Universe. Vishnu has come to earth in the form of Ram for the specific purpose of destroying the demon king Ravana, who is wreaking havoc on all of creation. The demon king Ravana kidnaps Ram's wife, Sita, who is an incarnation of Vishnu's consort, the Goddess Lakshmi. With the aid of his brother Lakshmana and the monkey-god Hanuman, Ram is eventually able to defeat Ravana and rescue Sita.

Partial re-telling of the Ramayana by Jai Uttal
(internationally renowned Kirtan singer)

   "On the eve of Ram's coronation as king of Ayodhya, through a weird twist of fate and bad choices he was exiled to the forest for fourteen years. His brother Lakshmana and his wife Sita volunteer to follow him into the forest. Throughout their journey of fourteen years they're really pretty happy because they are… God. They're not really mad that they got exiled. They don't feel gypped. Also, they're so in love. They just wander through the forest blessing the holy men and the rishis, killing demons here and there, and doing their thing.
   Somewhere around the 14th year of Ram's exile, the demon king Ravana sees Sita and decides he has to have her. He already has just about everything there is to have, but he doesn't have Sita. Ravana has 10 heads and 20 arms; and he's like the strongest man on earth. He's also the richest man on earth, and he's the most powerful man on earth, and he's the handsomest man on earth, if you can get past the 10 heads. He has the most beautiful palace on earth and he has thousands of the most beautiful wives on earth.
   You see, Ravana was a yogi. He was a really accomplished yogi who did lifetimes and lifetimes of penance worshipping Lord Shiva. And so he got all these supernatural powers. But the powers went to the support of his ego rather than to his heart, to his compassion. He became incredibly strong, but still that didn't satisfy him. He decided that he wanted to gain immortality and so he prayed to Brahma, the creator of the Universe. He sat and he meditated and he meditated, and he wouldn't move and he didn't breathe, and he repeated chillions and chillions of mantras. He did all the rituals for centuries, for lifetimes. He would die and then he would pick up where he left off and start again in his next life.
   However, none of these efforts moved Brahma to grant Ravana the boon of immortality, so he started cutting off his heads and offering them to Brahma. Nine of Ravana's heads were gone and he had one to go, and Brahma said, "Stop! Stop. I can't stand to see a ten-headed headless man." (Can you imagine ten stumps?) So Brahma said, "I'll give you the boon of immortality, uh, sort of. I'll say, 'you can never be killed by a God, and you can never be killed by a demon, and you can never be killed by any supernatural being or any supernatural weapon.' Is that good enough for you?" Ravana was soooo arrogant, he knew he could never be hurt by a human or by an animal, so he said, "That's fine." He considered that immortality.
   So here we have God in the human form of Ram, and we know that Ram is destined to kill the demon king Ravana. When Ravana sees Sita from a distance he decides he must posses her. On the one hand, Sita is just the most beautiful woman on earth. She's the most beautiful, perfect, Goddess-being, woman on earth. But Ravana's desire to have her is also symbolic, because Sita is the Divine Mother. She is the incarnation of Shakti, the embodiment of all Divine power. It's in the feminine. Sita embodied That, without ego, only with love. It's very hard to even conceptualize. Another way to look at it for people doing yoga is that Sita was the embodiment of the kundilini, which rises up the spine and merges with the Soul of Consciousness through the crown chakra.
   Ravana wanted to possess That. Of course he wanted to. He wanted all the power in the Universe, and so he wanted to possess That. So, he tricked Ram by asking his uncle to take the form of a beautiful magical deer. Ram and Lakshmana went to catch the deer, and Ravana came to Sita in the form of an old Brahman, an old beggar. He abducted Sita and took her to his kingdom on the far away island of Lanka.
At that point, the whole world turned to darkness because Ram and Sita were separated. That which can't be separated was separated. The devotee and the Beloved, the male and the female, the infinite Shakti and the infinite God were separated. The harmony of the Universe fell apart. Ram totally forgot his Divinity. He just fell into despair and spent his days and nights weeping and crying. He was lost. Ram, who was all-knowing and all-seeing, couldn't figure out where Sita was. He couldn't figure out what had happened.
   And so he wanders into the forest where he meets this monkey, who's not the monkey king or anything. He's just a really cool monkey. His name is Hanuman. Hanuman sees Ram and Lakshmana walking in the forest and he thinks, 'Wow, look at those two wanderers. They look so sad.' He jumps down from his tree and as he gets closer to Ram he recognizes him as the Divine Lord, and falls at his feet and pledges to help him in his quest to find Sita.
   The reality of it is that Hanuman is actually an incarnation of Shiva, the Lord of the yogis. Shiva is the all-powerful transformative force of the Universe. Shiva had to help Vishnu (Ram) on his mission to destroy the demons who had overrun the earth, and so he took the form of Hanuman the monkey. It was the most wrathful, horrific form of Shiva that became Hanuman. Hanuman is a sweet, soft, beguiling, lovely little monkey, but he's actually an emanation of Rudra, the fiercest most destructive face of Lord Shiva.
   Without telling the whole story of the Ramayana, what happens is, Hanuman essentially reunites Ram and Sita and creates the opening for Ram to kill Ravana. Hanuman is responsible for the reconnection of Sita, who is the jewel of Consciousness, with Ram, the infinite Divine."

Bhakti Ware's Hanuman Clothing:
Women's Hanuman Tank Top

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