Monday, April 14, 2014

Hanuman Jayanti

April 15th is an action-packed day: taxes are due, there is a lunar eclipse, and it is the birthday of Hanuman, the living embodiment of devotion.  I can't fit taxes into the story of Hanuman, but there is a connection between Hanuman and an eclipse.  One that my son has been requesting to hear for several days.

Listen Billy...

Once upon a time, in India, Vayu, the god of the wind, had an affair with Anjana, a beautiful monkey.  The product of their union was a son, a white monkey: Anjaneya (lit. "Son of Anjana).

The baby monkey cried out in hunger.  Anjana left him to find food.  Since Anjaneya was the son of a god, he grew to full size almost immediately. He looked up at the sun and thought it was a big, ripe, tasty mango.  Endowed with divine powers, he lept toward the sun. Vayu surrounded  him with a cool breeze so he would not be burnt up.

The asura Rahu, basically a huge head driven about on a chariot pulled by black horses, had received a boon from Brahma that he could eat the sun and the moon at regular intervals (thus causing solar and lunar eclipses). This was day he was to feast on the sun. Rahu's chariot sped toward the sun on a crash course with Anjaneya.  Anjaneya saw Rahu as another piece of fruit.  It did not look as appetizing as bright yellow mango, so Anjaneya pushed Rahu aside and continued his flight toward the sun.

Rahu ran to Indra to complain. "It is the time for my dinner as ordained by Brahma.  Another Rahu is trying to eat my rightful food!"

Indra threw a thunderbolt, striking Anjaneya and sending him back to Earth.  The blow broke his jaw (hanu in Sanskrit) and disfigured him (man, meaning disfigured), hence Anjaneya is known as Hanuman. Vayu went to his son and revived him. Angry at Indra, Vayu punished all of creation by stopping the movement of the air. The creatures of the Earth began to suffocate. Brahma himself went to appease Vayu and to beg him to allow breath back into the Earth.  Brahma granted Hanuman the boon of longevity.  Indra granted him the boon of invulnerability. Shiva gave him the power to change size and shape at will.

Pleased, Vayu once again allowed the air to move.  The creatures of Earth could breathe once more.

If you are able to stay up to watch Rahu eat the moon tonight, keep an eye out for a flying monkey who may have mistaken the moon for a snack.

Bolo Bajarangabali Hanuman Kee Jai!
(Sing of victory to Hanuman, the strong one (bali) whose limbs (anga) are as hard as a thunderbolt (bajra))

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