Stories and myths, like maps and models, have power when they speak to us in our own language and when they use images that help us relate to the story. Mythology helps us relate to our environment, our individual lives, our communities and to the mystery of life itself.
Hanuman is one of the most revered deities in Hindu mythology. He is one of the few gods who is worshipped across all schools of Hinduism. The son of Vayu, the lord of the winds, Hanuman is also known as the monkey king. He has the head of a monkey and muscular human body.
Hanuman is a mahasiddha, one who possesses supernatural powers (siddhis) that allow him to fly, change his shape and size, walk on water and enchant any being. Despite having these powerful gifts, Hanuman is humble, a master of his senses and believes in service to others. He’s the ultimate karma yogi.
Stories of Hanuman and his loyal friendship to Rama and his wife Sita are depicted in the epic Ramayana. He’s often illustrated flying in the air while carrying a mountain in one hand, a reference to his role in helping to save Rama’s younger brother who was injured on the battlefield. Hanuman flew to the mountains to get healing herbs, but unsure which herbs to choose, he brought back the entire mountain.
Hanumanasana, or split pose, is named after another of Hanuman’s great leaps. During the great battle in the Ramayama, Sita, Rama’s wife, was held captive. With a great leap, Hanuman crossed the ocean (from India to Sri Lanka) and was able to build a bridge enabling Rama’s army to come and free Sita.
Hanuman exemplifies courage, loyalty, faith and how to live life in service to others with your whole heart. When was the last time someone brought you a mountain?
Prompts for Self Inquiry
- Where can you be more courageous in your life?
- How do you feel about taking leaps of faith?
- What role does loyalty play in your life?
- How does it feel when you are prompted to step outside your comfort zone?