|From Sanjay Patel's Ramayana: Divine Loophole. Chronicle 2010|
Buy and read this beautiful book!
Seriously, you have to love a tradition that places such reverence upon a flying monkey--they know how to do worship right!
Hanuman appears in The Ramayana as an exemplar of how a devotee should act. All of his actions are done in faith and service of the Lord. As a divine being, when young, Hanuman used his powers to annoy some meditating sages (he was a good little monkey, but always very curious...). So they placed a curse on him that he would not remember his powers until someone reminded him.
Even without his powers, he still acted in faith. When reminded, nothing was impossible for him. Jump across the ocean (twice)? No problem. Carry a mountain in the palm of his hand? I'll take two, they are small. But this was all done in service, never to egotistically display his power.
When Rama asked "How did you cross the ocean?" Hanuman did not say "I'm the son of the wind, I am powerful!" No. He only said "By the power of Your name alone was I able to cross the ocean."
Hanuman as the embodiment of faith is very dear to me because I have very little faith. I say "Goddamn" often, very rarely "God Bless." I am not often accused of looking on the bright side of things.
Over the last few years, reciting the Hanuman Chalisa has become the most important part of my practice. The Chalisa is a recent prayer to Hanuman written in +/- the mid 1500's ("recent" being a relative term, when one thinks in terms of millions of lifetimes, 600 years is but a drop in the bucket). The poem is meant to remind Hanuman of his powers, so that he can never forget. It concludes by asking Hanuman (and the faith he represents) to dwell in our heart.
I don't say the Chalisa to praise Hanuman. What does a divine being need praise from me for? I say it as a reminder to myself. If Hanuman can do the impossible, through faith alone, then I can remind myself the I can do that too.
Even if for only 7 minutes twice a day when I am saying the Chalisa the world does not feel so heavy, the swine aren't closing in, I'm not saying "Goddamn," then that is 14 more minutes of peace in my day I did not have before I learned this poem.
Having an ideal to work towards, even with a long, long, long way to go to reach it, gives me the strength to make it through.
Want to learn more about Hanuman? Have a listen to these two songs by MC Yogi, and you will find your self saying "God bless that monkey he made my day, God bless everybody, peace and namaste" right along with me.