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Hanuman - the Personification of Servitorship

Hanuman Ji
Hanuman Ji
Hanuman Deity in a flying pose, at Neem Karoli Baba temple in Taos (New Mexico)

HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada

"Yes, the nine devotional process and how, by each process, one becomes perfect, just like Pariksit Maharaja, simply hearing, and Sukadeva Gosvami, simply chanting, reciting Bhagavatam. So both of them got salvation. Laksmi, she is simply pada-sevanam, giving massage to the lotus feet of the Lord. Arjuna simply made friendship with Krsna. Hanuman simply worked as a hard servant. He doesn't know what He is... "Lord Ramacandra wants it." Then it is done. Jump over. He does not know any philosophy. He has got bodily strength, so whatever Ramacandra says, he'll do. He was asked to bring that medicine for Laksmana. He did not know where to find it. "Take this whole mountain." (laughter) He was not intelligent. "Fight! We have to fight with Ravana. Then block his whole city by throwing stones and trees and dirt." Everything became blocked. They could not move. So in one side he is born of animal life, he had no higher intelligence, but his staunch desire, that "I shall serve Lord Ramacandra..." By that... Only this desire made him perfect."

Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation, 01-13-77, Allahabad


Hanuman meets with Lord Rama
Hanuman conquers the demon Ahiravana

Left Photo
: Hanuman meets with Lord Ramachandra.

Right Photo: Hanuman conquers Ahiravana. Here Hanuman is carrying Rama and Lakshmana while rescuing them from the demon Ahiravana (also known as Mahiravana). This story does not appear in early Ramayana versions, but is so well-known that has become part of the "story." Ahiravana was a demon magician, who was called by Ravana (his father) for help in the struggle against Rama's army. Ahiravana kidnaps Rama and Lakshmana, whom he intends to offer as human sacrifices to the Goddess. The divine brothers wait passively to be rescued by Hanuman, who is this story's real hero.

This story points to Hanuman's growing role in popular piety, and also his popularity as an intercessory deity for the majestic but all-too-distant Rama.

I am indebted to Philip Lutgendorf for this identification. For more on the Ahiravana story, see his "Hanuman's Adventures Underground: The Narrative Logic of a Ramayana Interpolation," in Mandakranta Bose's The Ramayana Revisited (Oxford U. Press, 2004).


"In the same Hayasirsa-pancaratra, after Nrsimhadeva wanted to give benedictions to Prahlada Maharaja, Prahlada did not accept any material benediction and simply asked the favor of the Lord to remain His eternal devotee. In this connection, Prahlada Maharaja cited the example of Hanuman, the eternal servitor of Lord Ramacandra, who also set an example by never asking any material favor from the Lord. He always remained engaged in the Lord's service. That is the ideal character of Hanuman, for which he is still worshiped by all devotees. Prahlada Maharaja also offered his respectful obeisances unto Hanuman. There is a well-known verse spoken by Hanuman in which he says, "My dear Lord, if You like You can give me salvation from this material existence, or the privilege of merging into Your existence, but I do not wish any of these things. I do not want anything which diminishes my relationship with You as servant to master, even after liberation."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 4

"After rising from bed the next morning, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited the local temple, where there was a deity of Hanuman. After offering him obeisances, the Lord departed for South India.

Purport: In almost all the cities and towns of India there are temples of Hanumanji, the eternal servant of Lord Ramacandra. There is even a temple of Hanuman near Govindaji temple in Vrndavana. Formerly this temple was in front of the Gopalaji temple, but that Deity Gopalaji went to Orissa to remain as Saksi-gopala. Being the eternal servant of Lord Ramacandra, Hanumanji has been respectfully worshiped for many hundreds and thousands of years. Here even Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu set the example in showing how one should offer respects to Hanumanji."

Caitanya-caritamrta, Madyam lila 8:300

"Devotees also offer their respects to Hanuman, who always remained a servant of Lord Rama. The great devotee Hanuman prayed:

bhava-bandha-cchide tasyai
sprhayami na muktaye
bhavan prabhur aham dasa
iti yatra vilupyate

"I do not wish to take liberation or to merge in the Brahman effulgence, where the conception of being a servant of the Lord is completely lost."

Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 6:42

Hanuman Tearing Open His Heart
Hanuman Ji Leading Kirtan

Left Photo
: Hanuman Tearing Open His Heart. This is an extremely common image in modern India, and to the best of my knowledge is not found in the Ramayana but reflects popular piety. According to the story, Hanuman was having an argument with someone that Sita and Ram were everywhere (as we can see from the forms behind him). When his adversary challenged him to show how Sita and Ram were inside him, Hanuman tore open his chest, to reveal the divine couple in his heart. This is an image of Hanuman as the model devotee, who is so devoted that the deities have literally found a home in his heart.

Right Photo: Hanuman leading Kirtan. This image also shows Hanuman as a devotee, holding the hand cymbals that are used during kirtan as rhythm instruments; Rama and Sita are seen outlined on his chest, indicating his total devotion. This peaceful, devotional image stands in marked contrast other martial images, and Hanuman's personality has this complex mix of power and devotion.

This is another extremely common contemporary image, and one that also reflects popular piety. According to popular tradition, Hanuman is not only the greatest devotee in terms of loving Rama, but also the greatest in worshipping him, particularly in the devotional chanting known as kirtan. According to popular belief, Hanuman is present wherever Rama's name is sung, since taking part in this is his highest bliss.


Hanuman seen in the Himalayas?



The picture was purportedly taken of Hanuman in a cave at Manasarovar Lake (Kailash) in the Himalayas during 1998 summer. When on Sunday the 9th May, 1999, I saw this strange picture of Hanuman reading the Ramayana, in the house of Sri V. Srinivasan at Rohini in North-West Delhi, I was awe-struck. I had never seen this picture before.

This is what I have got from a person who says it is one of the few originals of the Hanuman photos. The government of India every year during the summer "before the onslaught of monsoon", gives permissions after medical check up, to selected individuals and send them in groups to Manasarovar Lake near Kailash. Such groups necessarily hanuman see in the Himalayaswill consist of different nationalities, and different people from different regions of India.

A group of people went to Manasarovar for a piligrimage trip. It is said that person taking the picture saw a light inside a cave, photoed that light and died there on spot for reasons not known (this part every one is confirming who went along). Later the friends developed the roll from the camera and got this print!.

It is not sure how much it is true but many people are believing it. It is a fact that Hanuman does exist in flesh and blood because he is a Chiranjeevi (immortal).

The photo is as thrilling as the anecdote."

Jay Sri Ram

Hanuman Chalisa