Shri Hanuman, the Great Warrior, the Ardent Devotee

Introduction by Morgan Hooper

Darshan of Shri Hanuman
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At Shree Muktananda Ashram, a trail known as the Silent Path winds through the forest. On this path, amidst the canopy of trees and woodland animals, is a guardian who keeps watch over all its inhabitants and visitors—Shri Hanuman, the noble servant of Lord Rama.

Sculpted to capture Hanuman’s mighty form, this pure white statue stands almost ten feet tall! His stance is poised in tadasana, the mountain pose. His great muscular physique is relaxed and light. His long tail is alert, almost playful. Resting easily on his right shoulder is his gada, his battle mace. His warm, beneficent gaze seems to simultaneously look toward the horizon and yet also take in the fortunate passerby beholding him in wonder. To meet Shri Hanuman on the Silent Path is to have darshan of the greatest bhakta, or devotee, the bravest warrior, and the humblest servant of the Lord.

Shri Hanuman, son of Vayu, god of the wind, plays a central role in the Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic depicting the life of Lord Rama and his mission to restore dharma to the earth. In this tale, Rama must rescue his wife, Sita, from the clutches of the demon Ravana, and while on this journey he encounters Shri Hanuman, of the vanar, or monkey clan. The mighty warrior is capable of such unfathomable feats that he sometimes leaves even the Lord himself in awe.  Hanuman is strong and quick, able to leap over any expanse and transform into any shape he wishes.

Upon meeting Rama, Hanuman instantly recognizes him as the beneficent Lord, and learning of Sita’s abduction, pledges to find her for him. Pleased with Hanuman’s devotion, Lord Rama agrees and sends him on a scouting mission. Hanuman eventually discovers Sita in Ravana’s fortress on the island of Lanka. Undeterred by the countless demons that surround them, he offers to fight off all perils and carry Sita on his back to safety. Sita graciously declines, knowing that while she is in jeopardy, there is something greater at stake—the restoration of harmony to all humanity. The only way for this to be accomplished is for Lord Rama to confront Ravana and defeat him.

Shri Hanuman obeys the wishes of his Lord Rama and Mother Sita, as he reverentially addressed the Goddess, and, in this way, demonstrates not only his power but also his humility and his obedience to God’s command. Serving as general for the vanar sena, the monkey army, Hanuman is victorious over the demon horde, while Rama and his brother Lakshman prevail over Ravana, win back Sita, and restore peace.

To this day, devotees around the world invoke Shri Hanuman’s name for protection, asking of him both courage and blessings. On the Siddha Yoga path, Shri Hanuman is revered for his exemplary virtues. Bravery, service, magnanimity, surrender, playfulness—these are just a few of his shining qualities. Most of all, Hanuman is regarded as the epitome of devotion to Lord Rama, who was his Guru.

Hanuman Jayanti, the festival of Hanuman’s birth, is celebrated on Tuesday, April 7 this year in the Western hemisphere, and on Wednesday, April 8 in the Eastern hemisphere, including in India. In Maharashtra, this occasion begins on purnima, the full moon day, in the month of Chaitra in the Hindu lunar calendar. Traditionally, Shri Hanuman Chalisa and Sunder Kand, the chapter in Ramayana devoted to Shri Hanuman and his triumphs, are recited; devotional hymns of his bravery are sung; and arati and puja are performed. Devotees tell stories of his adventures, and children wear masks pretending to be the great warrior. Fasting is observed during this celebration followed by delicious feasts, and prasad of boondi laddus is distributed in temples.

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