Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Hanuman: 12 Interesting Facts About Lord Hanuman

Do you know why Hanuman is one of the most popularly worshiped forms of God in India and other South East Asian countries?

He is worshiped for obtaining protection from the daily obstacles and all evil forces of life. It is also believed that one who worships Hanuman automatically gets the blessings from Lord Rama also. So, he is the most cherished God for most people.

Here are some interesting and lesser known facts of Hanuman's Life.

1) Hanuman an Incarnation of Shiva

He is the son of Anjana Devi, an angel of Brahmaloka, born in the shape of a monkey due to some curse by a sage. His father was Kesari, the monkey king.

It is believed that Anjana Devi was worshiping Lord Shiva for a son so that she can get released from her present form and return to Brahmaloka. Lord Shiva, pleased with her sincerity and devotion, gifted her a child with the help of the Wind God.

King Dasaratha of Ramayan was performing a yajna for children and he got blessed with some nectar that is to be offered to his queens so that they can conceive babies. But, a small portion of that nectar was said to have been stolen by a kite bird that was fleeing in the skies. As per Lord Shiva's hints, the Vayu God made that nectar fall into the hands of Anjana Devi who was on penance. She consumed it as the gift of Lord Shiva and, as a result, Hanuman was born to her.

Another version states that Lord Shiva directly gifted Anjana with a child by parting with some of his energy taking Vayu's help who carried that energy to Anjana.

2) Hanuman a Problem to Rishis During His Childhood

As Hanuman was an incarnation of Lord Shiva, he was blessed with many supernatural powers.

But, as a child, he was a headache to the nearby sages and others creating troubles in their daily rituals.

He used to play on trees with his friends and the branches used to break and fell into their yajna kund (the sacred fire that is ignited for offerings of ghee and grains to Gods).

Anjana had to save Hanuman frequently from their wrath.

3) Hanuman Tried to Swallow The Sun

Hanuman used to be fond of food always. So, everything seemed to be a food item for him. Whenever he looked at the Rising Sun, he used to think of it as a nice fruit. So, one day, he reached to the Sun and tried to swallow him.

4) Hanuman's Jaws Hit By Indra's Vajrayudha (the Diamond Weapon)

All the angels got frightened by the act of Hanuman and Indra also not knowing what to do,  immediately uses his weapon to prevent Hanuman from swallowing the Sun. The weapon hits Hanuman on his jaws which become affected due to the force of the weapon.

That is how the name Hanuman was conferred on him. Hanuman means one with deformed or disfigured jaws. Prior to that, he was simply referred to as Anjaniputra.

5) The Sun God was Teacher of Hanuman

Later, all angels become aware of Hanuman's innocence and ignorance. All Gods and angels gift him with some power or knowledge.

The Sun God accepted him as his disciple and provided him with a complete knowledge of all the branches of education.

Hanuman also received the secret knowledge of the wonderful powers of Ashta Siddhi (eight supernatural possessions) that are not taught to anybody. It is because of his great devotion and due to his special incarnation purpose that he was provided with all those powers and wisdom. (The purpose of his incarnation was to help Rama overcome all his problems.)

6) Hanuman and Shani God 

According to a great TV serial titled "KarmaPhal daata Shani", it is mentioned that Hanuman was a friend of Shani Devata. Shani is shown as the incarnation of the three energies of Lord Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma.

Shani has been an instrument in removing the ignorance and developing the knowledge of Hanuman so that he could become a great character in the ensuing Ramayan epic.

7) Hanuman Flew Over the Ocean Covering a Distance of 1200 km to Reach Lanka

After getting associated with Rama, Hanuman goes in search of Sita who was kidnapped by Ravana.

It is believed that Hanuman flew in the sky over the ocean to reach Lanka (the abode of Ravana) covering a distance of 100 Yojana which was equal to 1200 km without resting even for a while.

It was believed that Lanka was of that much distance from the southern tip of India in the ancient periods of Ramayana age. The distances shrank later due to the expansion of lands.

8) Hanuman Body and Red Vermillion (Sindhoor)

Once, he came to know the importance of applying sindoor on the forehead and in the middle of the hairline by women. It is applied as a symbol of one's love and her true care for her family. So, Hanuman applied the vermillion all over his body to show his enormous love and care for his God, Sri Rama.

9) Hanuman's son Makaradhwaja

It is said that when Hanuman was flying over the ocean, his sweat fell into the ocean. A drop of that sweat directly fell into the mouth of a crocodile. By consuming that drop, the crocodile gave birth to Makaradhwaja whose form is a half-ape and half-crocodile.

10) Panchamukhi Hanuman or Five-Headed Hanuman Kills Ahiravan

Ahiravan was the brother of Ravana whose help was taken by Ravana during the battle with Rama (after the death of Indrajit). Ahiravan also was known as Mahiravan. He carries Rama and Lakshman to his Patal Loka while they were sleeping to offer them as a sacrifice to Goddess Chandi. Hanuman reaches Patala and with the help of Ahiravan's wife, who was good-natured, comes to know that Ahiravana could be killed only by blowing all the five oil lamps simultaneously which were placed there in different directions.

So, Hanuman takes the form of Panchamukhi Hanuman and blows off all of them simultaneously. Thus, he saves Rama and Lakshmana. Before returning, he crowns Makardhwaja as the king of Patala on Rama's advice.

11) Hanuman Rejected a Gift from Sita

After killing Ravana, when Rama and Sita return to Ayodhya, Sita offers a garland of pearls to Hanuman as her gift to him. Hanuman breaks open each one of those pearls and throws away after finding nothing in it. Sita enquires why he did so. Then, he informs her that he was searching for Rama in each one of those pearls. As he was not found inside them, he threw them away. He tells her that he could not accept anything that does not contain his Rama in it. Thereafter, he shows that his Rama is within his heart by split-opening his chest.   

12) Bhima of Mahabharat was Humiliated by Hanuman

Arjuna went to the Himalayas on the advice of Sri Krishna to procure more powerful weapons so as to face Bhishma and other great warriors in the ensuing battle. At that time, other Pandavas were staying near Badrikashrama (or Narayanashrama). One day, a fragrant flower fell near Draupadi and she was much pleased with it. She wanted some more flowers like that (they were probably Saugandhika flowers) and sent Bhima to procure them. On the way, Bhima found a huge monkey resting blocking the whole path. When Bhima tried to lift the tail of it as per the request of that monkey, he was unable to move it even a bit. Bhima uses all his force and fails. Then, he realizes it to be the great Hanuman (his own brother) and begs pardon for not recognizing him. Hanuman only wanted to destroy the pride in Bhima. So, he blesses him with more energy and tells him that he will be there in the battle of Mahabharat as an emblem on the flag of Arjuna's chariot.

Monday, May 28, 2018

How to Perform Hanuman Puja at Home

Hanuman Puja at Home can be performed in a very simple manner to obtain his blessings. You need to have faith and belief in Him and worship with pure devotion.

Lord Hanuman is considered as one of the most powerful Gods with unlimited powers.

He is a part of Lord Shiva's energy. Hanuman was born in a monkey form to Anjana Devi. So, he is known as Anjani Putra (son of Anjani Devi). He is also called as Vayu Putra as his father is the powerful Vayu God (The Wind God).

Hanuman is believed to have been provided with the Ashta Siddhi (Eight miraculous powers) during his discipleship with the Sun God.

So, worshiping Hanuman is a great boon for you as he gets pleased very quickly and protects you from all the problems of your life (just as he helped Lord Rama during all his problems).

Panchamukhi Hanuman

Hanuman took the form of Panchamukha (five-headed Hanuman) bearing the head of Garuda, Narasimha, Varaha, Hayagreeva, and himself to kill Ahiravan, a brother of Ravana. So, he is worshiped in the form of Five Heads also.


Items Required for Hanuman Puja

I don't think that God insists on performing his Puja or worship in a grand manner causing you inconvenience, both financially and physically.

A simple but honest worship is enough to obtain his love and blessings.

So, you need some flowers, agarbatti, oil light, a little bit of camphor, some fruits and/or a coconut. That is enough to appease Lord Hanuman.

Remeber that Hanuman is fond of bananas and coconut. You can offer anyone of that.


Hanuman Puja at Home

You can worship Lord Hanuman daily. If you can't afford daily puja, you may worship him on Tuesdays and Saturdays which are liked by Him.

  • Just like other pujas, you need to take your bath and wear clean clothes.
  • Clean the place of worship and sprinkle some drops of water where you keep the image of Hanuman.
  • You may place Him on a red cloth, if possible, as Hanuman likes the Sindhoor color which he has applied all over his body to show his love towards the Mother Goddess (it is told that he once saw one Devi or Goddess applying the sindoor in the parting-line of her hair).
  • Apply the tilak to him and offer some flowers.
  • Recite some prayers of Hanuman. You can start with Hanuman prayers and Hanuman Dwadasha Namavali (12 names of Hanuman). Thereafter, you can read the Hanuman Chalisa.
  • Offer flowers at intervals to Lord while doing the worship, if you have them. There is no obligation. You can simply seek his mercy.
  • After worship is over, show the incense sticks to God and place them on the side.
  • Then show the oil light to him by moving your palm from the light towards God.
  • Thereafter, offer the bananas and coconut to him. You can offer any naivedyam cooked specially for that purpose if you like to do so. While offering the naivedyam, if it is a cooked dish, sprinkle some water on it and you may sprinkle ghee also. If it is banana, open a small bit of the peel and sprinkle water. If coconut, you will first break the coconut into two halves (collecting the water in a bowl if possible) and place the two parts before God sprinkling some water and then offer it.
  • Anything being offered to God means that you are acting like serving the food. You will show the food with the ring-finger of your right hand, touching the food if possible, and move the finger towards God's mouth as if putting it into his mouth. That is the true devotion.
  • Now, you can light the Kapoor or camphor and chant the mangalasasanam (the lyrics sung for the wellbeing of all the people in the world). 
  • After singing the mangalasasanam, your puja is over. You need to sprinkle some drops of water around the lighting camphor and then bow to it. 
  • Now, bow to the God and take the teertham and prasadam with your right hand. After taking yourself, you will distribute it to other members of your family and people present there.
Hanuman worship provides you with much power and confidence. But, you need to keep faith in Him and do the worship honestly. He does not require any hard penance or any offerings from you. Only your faith and sincere prayers are required. So obtain his blessings and be happy.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Ashtakam | Ashtottara Shata Namam | Sahasra Namam

There are many types of lyrical praise of Gods composed by devotees based on the length of those lyrics and the number of names included in those stotras.

When these names are uttered in a lyrical form, they are known as "Stotram". If the same is uttered in a name form, they are known as "Namavali".

Stotram is a praise of God.

Namavali is the worship done by chanting individual names in a row, one after one.

While worshiping God with Namavali, you will be offering flowers or any other worship material like kumkum, turmeric, turmeric-mixed rice, or any leaves or grass that is regarded as a worship material.

But, when you worship with the stotram method, you need not offer those worship materials at each name. You will offer those flowers at one time before doing the worship and you may keep some flowers to be offered at the end of the worship.

Now, let us talk about those types of stotras or naamaavaLi.

Previously, I mentioned about Panchakshari and Ashtakshari forms of worship.

Now, I will tell about Ashtakam, Ashtottaram, and Sahasranamam.

Ashtakam

Ashtakam is a combination of eight slokas, stanzas or musical hymns in praise of any God for worship. Normally, each stanza is made up of four lines. But, at times, it can be of two-liners also.

Some popular examples for ashtakam are:
Hari Ashtakam, Shiva Ashtakam, Krishna Ashtakam, Mahalakshmi Ashtakam, Vaidyanatha Ashtakam, etc.

When you do the worship, you can offer flowers at the end of each ashtakam.

Ashtakam is generally concluded with one or more stanzas extra that explain the benefits of reading that ashtakam.

Ashtottara Shata Namam

Ashtottara shata namam is a unique composition style wherein, 108 names of God/Goddess are mentioned for worship. 

It can be either in a stotram form or in mere names format.

When it is sung in a lyrical form, it is known as Ashtottara Shatanama Stotram. 

When the worship is done by pronouncing each name separately, prefixing with "Om" and suffixing with "namaha", it is known as Ashtottara Shata Namavali.

Popular among those ashtottara stotram are, the Krishna Ashtottara Shata Nama Stotram, Laxmi Ashtottara Shata Nama Stotram, Shiva Ashtottara Shata Nama Stotram, Durga Ashtottara Shata Nama Stotram, etc.

Examples for Ashtottara Shata Namavali are: Sri Rama Ashtottara Shatanamavali, Krishna Ashtottara Shatanamavali, Laxmi Ashtottara Shatanamavali, etc.

Thes worships can be done offering 108 flowers, one at each name.

Sahasra Namam

The word "Sahasra" means the number "one thousand". So, sahasra namam refers to the compilation that contains 1000 names of God.

But, one thousand is considered as an incomplete number for any God. So, they add eight more names to complete it. 

So, literally, it becomes 1008 names which can be referred to as "Ashtottara Sahasra Nama Stotram" or "Ashtottara Sahasra Namavali".

These modes of worship reciting the 1008 names are mostly done for special purpose puja or worships. You may offer these worships in your daily routine also if you can afford the time. You may do it weekly once or monthly once. But, mostly, you can find these special worships during festival times, or during celebrating any life-events like celebrating the birthday or naming ceremony, upanayanam, marriage, etc.; or on occasions of starting new constructions, projects, or any major events of life.

Popular Sahasra Nama Stotrams are the Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram, Lalitha Sahasra Nama Stotram, etc. 

Sahasra Namavali worship is more popular for worshiping Vishnu, Shiva, Maha Laxmi, Durga, Goddess Lalitha, Gayatri, Saraswati, Ganesha, and others. It is done with 1008 flowers.