THERE is a famous story which tells of Hanuman’s miraculous birth. His mother, Anjana, was of divine lineage; she dwelt in Indralok, but the curse of a sadhu had condemned her to live on earth as a monkey. She was a pretty monkey but always felt sad and lost in thought as she could not forget the delights of heaven, now forever denied her. The other monkeys tried to cheer her up by saying they would find a handsome husband for her but she remained melancholy. Lonely and wanting to escape the other monkeys, she wandered off into the forest where, lulled by the sweet breeze of the afternoon, she fell into a deep sleep.
At that moment, Vayu, the wind god was passing that way. He spied Anjana sleeping and was struck by her beauty. He came closer and spent some time caressing her gently, blowing a soft breeze into her ear. With his divine knowledge, Vayu understood everything-Anjana’s loneliness, her pain at being trapped in a monkey’s body and her longing for heaven. His caresses woke up Anjana, who sat up in alarm. Vayu told her who he was and that he shared her sense of grief and loss. He said he had fallen in love with her and wanted to give her a son. ‘How can you say that!’ cried Anjana. ‘Don’t you know I have a monkey’s face. My son will look exactly like me.’
Vayu assured her of her beauty and said it was already too late as his breath had entered her; Anjana looked down and saw a tiny baby monkey beside her. The gods have the power to father children instantly. Thrilled, Anjana picked up the little creature and began to suckle it, cooing gently all the while. Smiling, Vayu circled around the pair three times and blessed them. He said, ‘Your baby shall be called Hanuman. As my son, he will have my speed, strength and the ability to fly through the air and will be celebrated as a kind, fearless hero by all.’
And this is how Hanuman came to be born. He is known by all as one of the great heroes of the Ramayana, a kind friend to both Rama and Lakshmana, and who played a major role in defeating Ravana, the demon king of Lanka.