On Wednesday, December 16, 2010, the birthday of Lord Hanuman will be celebrated. In Indian culture, many deities are celebrated at different times of the year. All of these deities represent a certain part of our own divine wisdom and intelligence.
Lord Hanuman represents a brave, devoted servant of truth. He is mainly featured in "The Ramayana", the great Indian epic of the third century B.C. In this story, Lord Rama (a divine incarnation of God who was also the king), saw his kingdom hijacked and his wife stolen from him by an evil figure called Ravana. Lord Hanuman was largely responsible for restoring the kingdom and Lord Rama's wife, Sita, as well as many other heroic deeds.
Lord Hanuman has the form of a very large and strong monkey. He was the commander of an army of monkeys. He is often depicted in a loving embrace with Lord Rama. Another popular depiction shows him pulling open his own heart center, revealing Lord Rama and Sita inside.
Vedic teachings are rich in symbology and refer to deep, energetic principles. The monkey form of Hanuman symbolizes the mind and its restless, agitated nature. When we concentrate the power of the mind, there is nothing beyond our grasp -- its power is endless, like Hanuman’s.
Transforming the restless, agitated monkey mind into a force of superhuman power, devotion and courage is what Hanuman represents. Those who've ever been to India understand the “distracted monkey” symbol. In many cities, there are monkeys running all over the place and they are not only restless; sometimes they are downright criminal!
But Hanuman is not like that at all. He is a sort of Superman in the Vedic pantheon of gods. He has superhuman powers, like the capacity to fly. He has unimagined strength. In fact, he picked up an entire mountain and carried it across the sea, which he was able to leap all at once. He is focused and concentrated, having harnessed the power and vitality of the mind.
Lord Hanuman is an incarnation of Lord Shiva, the great God of meditation and dispassion. He's one of the Gods that never married. He is a renunciate, interested only in serving the Lord. Hanuman is also an incarnation of the Demi-God Vayu (the wind). Vayu is the entity that creates movement, the wind, our breath and oxygen. In yoga oxygen is just a container. The real vitality is called prana -- the life force itself.
Hanuman is traditionally worshiped on Saturday, the day ruled by Saturn. It is said that the energy of Hanuman is what overcomes the difficulties of Saturn. Those difficulties include fear and anxiety, restlessness and health problems -- things that happen when we follow the monkey mind. The cure for Saturn related problems have mainly to do with breath and prana, symbolized by Hanuman.
When we are scared and restless, our breathing is shallow, our decision-making is poor and we are weak and fatigued. In general, it is Saturn that takes the vitality and prana from our body. It is Hanuman who revitalizes it. First calming us down, then later giving us superhuman strength.
Many Westerners feel it is strange to worship Gods that look like monkeys or other animals. But once we take the time to examine the symbols, we see richness and depth.