By Ashish Joshi
THE young Hanuman was a mischievous little brat, as all monkeys are. His capacity for mischief was exacerbated by his divine powers; he could run like the wind and fly through the air. He would roam far and his curiosity was boundless. He was also fond of playing pranks. The older monkeys never knew when he would creep up behind them and tie their tails together or disrupt their meetings with shrieks and whoops while hiding behind a rock. But his powers kept him from all harm; in fact he was close to invincible.
One day he saw the rising sun and thought it a bright red ball and wished to play with it. Surya, the sun-god, was alarmed and hastily moved away, dragging the earth and all other planets, but Hanuman kept after him. It upset the balance of nature terribly as the earth careened off her orbit; natural calamities began to multiply. Surya appealed to Indra to deliver him from this predicament. Indra hurled his thunderbolt at Hanuman; it struck him with such force that he dropped to the earth like a heavy stone.
Seeing his son lifeless, Vayu set up a keening wail and moved him to a mountain cave, convinced he was dead. With Vayu still, there was no wind anywhere. Plants began to die from the lack of air and other creatures were affected too. The gods were worried and appealed to Brahma, the most powerful god of all, to set the balance of nature right. As the creator, he has to intervene if any living creature is affected. He agreed to do their bidding and asked Indra to come with him as it was he who had wounded Hanuman. Indra felt sorry for his transgression and followed Brahma to the cave where Hanuman lay.
He asked Vayu to excuse Indra, who had been taken things a bit too far in his excitement. He sat beside Hanuman and took him into his lap, gently stroking him all the while. Slowly, sleepily, Hanuman opened his eyes. Brahma chided him for his naughtiness, and in his infinite compassion, blessed him by giving him qualities of nobility and kindness. He decreed that he would become the wisest of monkeys and help Rama and Sita during their exile. Everybody present, Vayu, Indra and Anjana breathed a sigh of relief at how things had turned out. And Hanuman became a thoughtful and modest monkey, loved by all.