What a Holy Weekend this is? On Thursday was Mahaavir Jayanti – celebration of the birth of the last & most important of Tirthan-Kaar of Jains. Tirth (or Tirtha with short soft “a”) is a passage across the interminable cycle of life & death. A Tirthan-Kaar is one who has conquered the cycle of life & death and shown the passage to others.
Born as Vardh-Maan, a prince in the Democratic Republic of Vaishali in India in 599 BCE, he became known as Mahaa-Vir and is credited with the Jain Dharma as we know today. He is also called Ari-Hant, the destroyer of enemies, the enemies in this context being inner passions such as attachment, anger, pride and greed. The second photo below (courtesy of Wikipedia) is a cave carving from 2nd century BCE that begins with the Namokar mantra to Arihant .
This Friday was Good Friday, the day of crucifixion of Jesus Christ. According to the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus, which Easter celebrates, is a foundation of the Christian faith. Below is a depiction of the crucifixion from 1868 (courtesy of Wikipedia). Easter falls on this Sunday, April 1.
The Jewish observance of Passover also began yesterday, Friday, March 30. Passover is celebrated as as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in ancient Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. The illustration below comes from Egypt in 1907, per Wikipedia.
Today is the day of Hanumaan-Jayanti, the celebration of the birthday of Hanu-maan, one of the most respected figures of Sindhu (Indian) Dharma. The name literally means the man with Hanu or chin. The story of how he came to be called Hanu-man is itself a great tale from the past, a tale that young kids have been taught literally forever.
He was named Maaruti at birth because he was the Immaculate Conception of the Divine Wind, Marut. The mother who bore this Divine Immaculate conception was Anjani, the queen of a tribe of early humans in the evolution cycle. Termed as Va-Nar, they lived in forests on trees and possessed qualities of later stage apes or monkeys, including the ability to jump long distances.
So how did Maaruti become Hanumaan? The child Maaruti woke up at dawn one morning and saw the sun break over the horizon. That red object in the sky looked like a red apple to him and Maaruti soared into the sky to grab this red apple. Maaruti, the son of the Divine Wind, had no trouble flying towards the sun. When Indra, the Lord Protector of Heaven, saw the risk of the Sun being grabbed, he tried to stop Maaruti. When Maaruti would not listen, Indra threw his Vajra or thunderbolt at Maaruti. It struck Maaruti on his chin and he fell back to earth unconscious.
The Divine Wind was enraged at the attack on his son and he stopped his wind motion. As the earth looked as if it would perish for lack of air, Indra went to Brahman,the Creator, and asked him to intervene. Brahman resurrected Maaruti and blessed him with a boon that no weapon in the universe would ever harm him, not even the Brahma-Astra, the all-destroying missile of the Creator.
The only sign of the incident left on the resurrected Maaruti was a small cleft on his chin, where the Vajra had hit him. That is when he was termed as Hanu-maan, the man with a cleft on his hanu or chin. Now this term Hanu-Maan or Hanuman is used more widely than his given name Maruti.
Hanuman went to become a great ally & devotee of Bhagvaan Sri Raam, the Avataar of God on earth. He and his large tribe of Va-Nar joined Sri Ram in the campaign into Sri Lanka, the capital of the Kingdom of Raavan, the then most powerful kingdom in the world, a kingdom of Raakshas or demons.
This Va-Nar army crossed the straits between southern tip of India and Sri Lanka by building a bridge of large stones as Raamaayan, the great epic, states. This used to seem fanciful to non-believers. Then, in January 2018, the Science Channel in America published analysis of American geologists & archeologists that demonstrates that the current “bridge” of stones was built 6,000 years ago in an engineering project at which we can only marvel.
The great epic Raamaayan tells several absolutely super-stories of the intelligence, wisdom and the incomparable physical strength of Hanuman, including the one below.
During that war, Hanuman was asked to fly to a mountain named Drona-Giri the Himaalayan range & bring back specific medicinal herbs before dawn to resuscitate Lakshman, the brother of Sri Raam. Hanuman couldn’t recognize the specific herb; so he picked up the entire mountain & flew back to Sri Lanka with it.
The stories of the great acts of Hanuman are deeply ingrained in India and in the global Indian diaspora. He is called by many names including the popular Bajrang. That is why any one embarking on a physical task does so by invocation to Hanuman with Jai Bajrang Bali or Victory of the Strong Bajrang.
With such tales of the incomparable Hanuman, is it any surprise that tales of Superman, Spiderman, Batman have found little resonance in India & Indians? Just look at the tweet today by Arnab Goswami, the Indian TV anchor:
We end this article with the rendition of a tribute to Son of the Divine Wind, Hanuman by Pandit Jasraj, one of the greats of Indian Classical Music.
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