I hope that - by God's grace - this finds you and all your loved ones in the best of health and happiness at this beautiful time of Hanuman Jayanti, the birthday of Lord Shri Hanuman.
The celebration of Hanuman Jayanti is a celebration of devotion, a celebration of sacrifice, a celebration of surrender. The day commemorates the life of Sri Hanuman, a divine incarnation who embodies the perfect devotee. Hanumanji was the son of the God of wind.
History of Sri Hanuman and Hanuman Jayanti
In the Heavenly, Divine Realms, there was a girl named Punjikasthala who was an attendant to Brihaspati, the preceptor of the gods. However, one time she insulted a sage, and thus he cursed her to be born on Earth as a female monkey, a curse which could only be removed by giving birth to a son who would be an incarnation of Lord Shiva.
Thus, she took birth as Anjana and later married Kesari. Both were very pious and pure, and they lived a life filled with austerities, worship, meditation and penance. Anjana prayed to the God of Wind, Vayu that He would grace her with a son. He fulfilled this wish and graced her with Hanumanji. She also prayed to Lord Shiva to take birth in her womb, thereby freeing her from the curse of living as a female monkey. Lord Shiva was pleased by her purity and devotion and also by her intense spiritual practice; therefore, He agreed to incarnate in her womb as her son.
In that way, the divine Hanumanji took birth on the 14th day of the month of Chaitra in a cave on the Rushyamuk mountain. Upon his birth, Anjana was freed from the curse and able to return to the Heavenly realms. She told Hanuman that the world would provide him fruit as bright and ripe as the rising sun. Mistaking the actual sun for fruit to eat, Hanumanji flew toward the Sun and was just about to swallow it when Indra threw his vajra (thunderbolt) at Hanumanji to prevent him from devouring the Sun. The vajra hit Hanumanji and he fell to the Earth.
Vayu, the God of Wind and Hanumanji's divine father, became furious that Indra had injured his son. Out of anger, Vayu stopped the wind from blowing, and all became still. Without the flow of fresh air, lives on Earth and also in the Heavenly abode became endangered. Thus, all of the gods went to Vayu to try to appease his anger and to convince him to allow the wind to flow again. In order to placate Vayu, the gods bestowed numerous boons and powers upon Hanuman, including invincibility and fearlessness.
The life of Lord Hanuman is filled with feats of courage and displays of immeasurable strength.
The message of Hanumanji's life - devotion
However, although Hanumanji has indefeatable strength, he is worshipped not as much for his bravery as for his humble devotion. What makes Hanumanji so special and divine is not his invincible strength or fortitude, but rather his unwavering and boundless devotion to Lord Rama. From the moment Hanumanji first had Lord Rama's darshan, he dedicated his life only to the service of Lord Rama.
Today, in every temple of Bhagwan Rama and Sitaji, there is always a Hanumanji murti as well. This shows that the true devotee is inseparable from the object of devotion.
Faith can move mountains
Hanumanji demonstrated the omnipotent power of faith and devotion. He was able to fly across the ocean, to become the size of a giant and also the size of a tiny creature, simply by chanting the name of Lord Rama. When he was sent to bring four precious life-saving herbs from the Himalayas in order to save Lakshman's life, instead of bringing only the four plants, he carried the entire Himalayan mountain! When everyone marveled at the feats he achieved, whenever he was praised for his conquests and questioned on the source of his strength, his answer was always the same: Lord Rama (God).
His faith in God gave him both the courage to attempt these heroic deeds and also the physical strength to accomplish them.
Sometimes in life when we embark upon a new, noble undertaking we may be faced with obstacles and hurdles. However, we must always remember that faith and devotion to God are the greatest sources of power. Through chanting God's name with true devotion, we can achieve anything. The power of God's name gave Hanumanji the ability to fly across the ocean and to carry mountains. The key was his fervent, ardent, singleminded "shraddha" (faith) in God and his tenacious dedication to fulfilling whatever seva he could do. With such deep, true devotion and dedication, nothing could stop him. Let us also work with such unwavering devotion and commitment, and let us have faith that the Divine power will also work for us.
Singleminded Devotion - Craving nothing but God
After the war in Lanka, Ma Sitaji presented Hanumanji with a beautiful, precious pearl necklace as a gift of gratitude. Hanumanji proceeded to carefully examine each and every pearl - from top to bottom, from left to right. Then, he began to take the pearls off the string, one by one, bite them in half, again examine them thoroughly, and then throw them on the ground. Ma Sitaji could not watch this. Finally she said, "Hanuman - what are you doing? That is a very expensive, precious necklace I have bought for you. Why are you pulling off the pearls and breaking them?" Hanumanji replied, "I am looking for Rama. You have said these pearls are priceless and precious. If so, they must have Rama inside them." Pearls (and diamonds and rubies and cars and money) are only precious if they are filled with God. If God is not there, it doesn't matter how expensive the diamond is, it is still empty and useless. God's presence in your life can turn stones to diamonds, but without God your diamonds are as worthless as stones.
What can we learn:
The two most important messages, in my opinion, of Hanumanji's life are the messages of faith and devotion. When Hanumanji needed to fly across the ocean in order to rescue Sita Ma, he didn't hesitate. He didn't wonder, "Am I really strong enough? Can I really do this? What if I fall?" Rather, he just took Lord Rama's name (prayed to God) and jumped! This is the total surrender and devotion we must cultivate in our lives.
The second message is the message of singleminded devotion. We pray in our lives for so many things - cars, houses, promotions, i-pods. We pray for these things thinking they will bring us joy, but the momentary pleasure we feel is simply that: momentary and quickly fleeting. It is only when we have God's presence in our lives that we attain the true, everlasting joy and fulfillment.
There once lived a powerful and extraordinarily wealthy king. He reigned over a large area and thus had to travel quite a bit. Travel in those days was arduous and slow, and the king would frequently be gone for several months at a time.
Once when he had been out for an unusually long period of time, he sent a message home to his wives (in those days it was considered acceptable for kings to have more than one wife) asking them to name any gift, any treasure that he could bring them upon his return. Of course, whenever he returned home from his journeys his carriages were laden with gold, jewels and other precious treasures. However, this time, as it had been an especially long absence he thought he could bring some extra special gifts home for his queens.
Each queen sent a list back to the king. "Bring me silk sarees, lined with gold...bring me diamonds, fresh out of the Earth....bring me pearls from the depths of the sea...." However, while all of the other queens sent long lists, one queen sent only a piece of paper with "1" written on it. The king was baffled as he did not understand the cryptic meaning of the message. He asked his head minister, who was insightful as well as spiritual whether he could make anything out of the queen's message. The minister understood immediately as he knew this particular queen's unparalled and unwavering devotion to the king.
He said. "The '1' means 'only you.' You are her number 1. She is saying that she wants only you. Everyone else wants jewels and sarees and silks. But this queen wants only you. If you are there, with her, everything is there. In your presence, she wants nothing, needs nothing. And if you are not there, nothing can fill the hole left by your absence - not sarees, not diamonds, not jewels. If you are not there for whom will she wear the sarees? For whom will she wear the silks, the diamonds? What is the point of all these things if you are not there? Where you are, everything is. So, she wants you to bring yourself to her, and nothing else."
The king was in silence. "Oh," he whispered. For now he understood. His whole life people had wanted him for what he had, for what he could do for them, what he could bring to them. He could bring wealth, he could bring possessions, he could bring health (for he had all the best doctors), he could bring grace and blessings (in those days, people believed that kings carried divine powers). But, no one had ever wanted only his presence, even if it carried none of the other gifts.
Immediately, he sent his servants to fill the orders on the lists sent by the other queens; he sent his messengers to deliver those orders. And he, himself, went to the queen. He took her in his arms and held her. "You are the only one who has ever really loved me. The others thought they loved me. But, they loved me for what I brought to them. They loved me for what I symbolized. And you love me only for me."
And the king stayed there, forever, with the queen.
And of course, wherever the king goes, there too will go all his servants, all his riches and all his power. When one lives with the King, when one is embraced by the King, of course one will also be showered with wealth and luxury.
It is the same with God - we pray to God for particular things which of course He is capable of granting. Just as the King can easily provide a silk saree, lined with diamonds to anyone who asks, so can God bestow upon us any gift we ask for.
However, the purpose of prayer is not to beseech God for material items or satisfactions of sensory pleasures. Rather, our prayer should be only to have God's presence in our lives, for when God's presence is with us, all the bliss, all the joy, all the success and all the true inner prosperity come along with it.
On this day of Hanuman Jayanti, let us strive to be as singleminded in our devotion as Hanumanji. Let us pray that our hearts and minds may be filled only with the "raas" (divine essence) of God and our Guru. Let us sing the glories of such pure devotion and let us seek to emulate Hanumanji's boundless fidelity. For, when God is with us and within us as much love of Lord Rama filled every cell of Hanuman's being, then we too will find that we are showered with all that we need to succeed, thrive and attain divine bliss.
With love and blessings to you all.
In the service of God and humanity,
Swami Chidanand Saraswati