If we look deeply at the story of Hanuman he is first and foremost a great warrior who has inspired warriors and armies throughout history, including those who defended India from invaders and protected its temples from destruction. Yet unlike Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, Hanuman went through no dejection on the battlefield; he was always ready to fight with full dedication. Hanuman was a spiritual warrior who worked through the power of Yoga and devotion, not just personal power or a seeking of rewards. He upheld the cause of dharma and Ramarajya for humanity with his entire being. Such a Divine force is essential for our disturbed world today.
Some people are asking: Why is Hanuman angry, as he appears in many depictions in India today? Isn’t Hanuman as the embodiment of devotion and selfless service a force of love? Isn’t Hanuman a great yogi replete with self-control on all levels, beyond anger and all emotions. Is this harsh depiction perhaps more a reflection of the aggression of the people following him and their political sentiments?
In this regard, we must remember that Hanuman was the leader, the general of the Divine army of Sri Rama. He had to perform numerous harsh actions from the burning of the city of Lanka to the great battle with Ravana’s demon hordes. Hanuman was an indomitable warrior who fought without pity, compromise or apologies, yet also without malice or hatred. Hanuman has long been revered as both an ideal warrior and ideal yogi, each complementing the other. Yoga is not just about uniting with the higher forces, this also requires first separating from and removing the lower forces.
Hanuman is the son of Vayu (Vayuputra), the cosmic wind God, who represents the electrical or lightning forces of nature that pervade all space and are the source of all energies in the universe. That is why Hanuman can fly through the air or become as large or as small as he wishes. All the forces from gravity to electricity are ruled by Vayu. Vayu causes the rain but also hurricanes, earthquakes and storms of all types. Vayu is the ruling power in the universe that we must humble ourselves before.
Looking back to the story of the Mahabharata, Krishna and Arjuna had the figure of Hanuman on their chariot’s insignia in order to inspire them. Bhima, the fiercest warrior among the Pandavas who killed Duryodhana to avenge Draupadi’s public humiliation, was regarded as a manifestation of Hanuman from whom Bhima gained his powers and the ability to use his weapons, including the powerful mace (gada).
Hanuman himself was a manifestation of Lord Shiva, particularly in his tempestuous Rudra form to destroy all negativity. Shiva himself is Bhairava, meaning he who is fierce and Vayu is one of Shiva’s forms. Hanuman represents awesome power and is not merely a playful image or poetic metaphor, which is not to fear him but to appreciate and honor his stature. Fierce forms of deities are common in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain iconography, particularly as protective deities, to overcome all negative forces.
The Situation in India Today
Hanuman certainly has a right to be assertive today. After seventy years of independence, the forces of adharma are still powerful in India, seeking to hold down, divide and disrupt the country. Textbooks still fail to honor the dharmic traditions of the country and Vedic values are seldom honored in the society, its leaders or its intellectuals. There is no Ram temple at Ayodhya, the most sacred of ancient India’s seven sacred cities, from which Ram Rajya as the rule of Dharma used to emanate throughout the country. In short, there is no place for Hanuman to rest and be happy in the company of Sita and Rama.
Hindus continue to be shamed and humiliated as intolerant oppressors, when they remain the victims, under siege by missionaries, jihadis and communists even in their own country. They have been told not to speak out, even for their own rights, because they don’t have a legitimate voice in social affairs and will be guilty of an intolerant majoritarianism if they do.
The courts in India regulate Hindu practices, while not interfering with those of other religions. Hindu temples are run by state governments, with non-Hindus or anti-Hindus on their temple boards, and temple revenues expropriated by the state for whatever purpose the state deems fit. Hindu educational institutions face severe restrictions and cannot teach what they want, unlike non-Hindu groups. Above all, Hindus have been told not to be political, not to vote as a group as that is communal, yet by political parties that have long promoted other religious vote banks against the Hindus.
Communists dominate Kerala, the land of the Vedas, and are trying to eliminate its ancient dharmic heritage, calling Vamana avatar of Lord Vishnu a myth. The government of Bengal can’t even use the term Ramdhanu or Rama’s bow in its Bengali language for fear of offending minorities. While some Congress party leaders now claim to be Hindus, they divide Karnataka Shaivites into Hindus and non-Hindus, and conspire to prevent the Ayodhya case from being resolved.
The World Situation Today
Yet even beyond India the Earth is suffering from massive ecological dangers of many types, with traditional and indigenous cultures, along with numerous plant and animal ecosystems under siege everywhere, some going extinct forever. A massive new technology is intruding in our lives, often without regard for nature or even the organic basis of life, which is becoming progressively in danger. Hanuman as protecting Mother Sita, who is connected to Mother Earth, cannot be happy about this situation either. Today the spirit of Sita is trampled, obscured or hidden, and devotion to Sri Rama is questioned, denigrated or forgotten.
Yes, Hanuman has always had a fierce warrior form, which has defined his primary role in dedication to Sri Rama and rescuing Sita Devi. This is related to Hanuman’s ascetic form and his manifestation as a great Yogi. Hanuman holds a force of protection, which requires strength, decisive action, fearlessness and valor.
Hanuman certainly has his soft and gentle form as well for his devotees, but not for Rama’s enemies or the enemies of dharma. Only when ignorance, darkness and violence is first removed can the smiling joy of Hanuman manifest within and around us. That will come to us when we allow the harsh form of Hanuman to purify our bodies and minds with his lightning energy, so that we also become full of light.
Hanuman’s fierce form can help us develop discernment, strength and the ability to overcome the many obstacles facing us today in our complex and stressful lives, in which the very structure of society and the future of our planet remains in doubt. But we must surrender to him for this to occur. We must follow him, not expect him to work for us. To do this we must cease to follow the forces of the outer world or various vested social interests, and look to our inner truth.
Such a fierce Hanuman is the face of a new dharmic awakening that must be acknowledged, and cannot simply be denigrated as Hindu communalism or political prejudice. We need to be spiritual warriors as well as great devotees of the higher Self symbolized by Sri Rama. The yogic warrior is the need of the times, including the ability to defend dharmic traditions in the information era that can so easily mislead us, if we have no inner Hanuman to guide us.