Amidst the vast pantheon of Hindu gods, Hanuman is probably the biggest unifying god of Hindus across India!!!
- For Shaivites he is a partial incarnation of Shiva
- For Vaishnavas he is the most truthful devotee of Vishnu
- For Shaktas, he is the dutiful guard of the goddess
- For young boys, he is the god of bachelorhood
- For mothers, he is the god who will protect their children
- For men, he represents the supreme strengths a man needs to display
- For Sanyasis, he is the epitome of celibacy
From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, his icon will be there in every Temple town. I don’t think I am making a loud statement if I say he is literally the one god on whom maximum Hindus would unite under.
But on a personal note, I could never agree with his description. I refuse to believe that he is a monkey. I refuse to believe the ‘Vanaras’ who fought against ‘Rakshasa’ of Lanka under the leadership of Rama were monkeys. It’s just completely indigestible piece for me. There are Hindus (I guess still a majority) who take every mythology at it’s face value and to justify humans fighting shoulder to shoulder with apes, they won’t mind relating this epic called ‘Ramayana’ to an age where Homo Sapiens and it’s father apes (may be Homo Neatherlands) were coexisting. Doesn’t matter that scientifically it had been proven that forget about empires, even basic farming hadn’t evolved by then.
And there are Hindus who would completely reject these texts as no more than a fantasy because let’s be real – monkeys and men don’t go to cross-country wars with each other!!!
And between these two, there are Hindus like me who like to see mythology as just a metaphor loaded narrative of humans like us. And for me, the heaviest narrative to gulp down my throat has been to accept the most popular god of Hindus – Hanuman as an ape or monkey or Homo Neatherland or anything else apart from a human being.
And to support my claim, I like to refer Jaina Ramayana – a far more realistic account of the chronologies behind this epic war, it mentions clearly the Vanaras as one of the several kinds of Vidhyadharas (people who were specialized in a kind of special knowledge of divine – maybe Agama Vidhya and normally found south of Vindhyas). It mentions how the founder fathers of this tribe when coming to this region were amazed by the play of monkeys here (still to be witnessed in Hampi) and adopted the emblem of monkey in their flag, hence the word ‘Vanara’
The original word for monkeys in Sanskrit was “Kapi” and not “Vanara”, Vanara could be amalgation of ‘Vana’ and ‘Nara’ – denizens of forests. Rather in the region around Hampi in North Karnataka, one hears of a popular goddess called ‘Vanashankari’ a popular old kingdom called ‘Vanavasi’ all alluding to the fact that this region was a ‘Vana’ aka forest for a long time and hence it’s citizens were called Vanaras.
Even if one reads ‘Valmiki Ramayana’ there are mentions of how ‘Rakshasa’ forces had abducted ‘Vanara’ women along with ‘Deva’ women and how these women would cry out loud lamenting separation from their children and families, come on let’s be serious – can we really imagine female apes being abducted for satisfying lust of horny ‘Rakshasa’ men??
As I trek up Anjegundi – the birthplace of Hanuman, I am wondering that in an idelology driven world which fails to recognize metaphors, will the voice of people like me be even heard or it will be considered blasphemy?
What do you think? Tell us in comments.