This book explores the richness of Vedic wisdom as a unifying stream of world’s major religious, spiritual, rational, agnostic and scientific traditions, Shri hanuman is presented as Prana (life-breath), that flows in every living being as a common thread of life.
In unpeeling the layers, Pawan Kumar Mishra has produced a book breathtaking in its canvas and sweep. The four books within the book reveal a world of wisdom that the younger generation, may deeply appreciate.
DR. Bibek Debroy (D.LITT, D.PHIL). PADMA SHRI
Chairman of Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India, member – NITI Ayog, economist, policy maker, philosopher, indologist, author, and the Most Prolific Translator
''Is God a who?'' Pawan Kumar Mishra begins his enlightening study about the divine monkey hanuman with this utmost perennial question about the personal and/or energetic aspect of God(s) that has united and spite spiritual and philosophical systems around the globe since human history began. Pawan’s mastership in storytelling makes it easy to enjoy this highly academic, comprehensive and still very entertaining study.
Living Hanuman is a vivid reminder of the potentials and limitations of the human spirit as it journeys through realising its purpose. Pawan Kumar Mishra creatively weaves insightful experiences of this life, with a notion of the celestial bounties that is for us to realise in our quest for the self and its path. Pawan's story telling is non formulaic, nor normative, but suggestive. He inspires as well as motivates us all to understand the power of the energy manifested in the human form. Living Hanuman is an illustration of that spirit we recognize and live with each waking day of our existence.
The book starts with contextualization of the general narrative, which is always helpful particularly for those not familiar with Indian story telling traditions. The constant interplay of author's personal life, with the inferential nature of reasoning illustrated through empirical examples of stories with meaning is an illustrative example of how culture and knowledge has been transmitted through centuries in Bharat (India). Stories of valour, of humility, of love, of sacrifice and service - these stories are all reminders of how our forbearers wanted us to live life as we know it today.
What catches my eye and speaks to me is his ability to distil complicated notions of service, sacrifice, love and loyalty and relate it to the world we live in here and now. In doing this, he makes Living Hanuman a relevant text for all of us to engage with and learn from. I find his conceptualization of the Hanuman as a character that we all can emulate, in seeking constant improvement of one's self. Furthermore, his writing encourages us to think that there is a living Hanuman in each of us. Were we to choose to awaken it, we would experience the unity of our physical form with the spiritual self, the author prods.
The structure of the book is easy to read and easy to relate. The concepts and ideas, engaged in a story form with modern contextualization and ancient illustration, are refreshing and entertaining. The book challenges as well as it supports, it provokes as well as it answers, it reveals as well as it obscures, and above all, it is transformative in its textual narrative. Pawan intelligently weaves these perspectives with the purpose of creating a synthesis between the diverse narratives of divinity and their purpose for human existence.
It becomes clear that all the varied narratives of divinity are one and the same in their illustration and spirit of practice. The prescriptions may be different, but the purpose of these diverse narratives of divinity in living Hanuman is unifying.
The flow of ideas and their relevance to the story is eloquently and simply narrated. The book gives the reader an empowering feeling, yet challenging her or him to think beyond her or his boundedness. The notion of liberation through service is a powerful reminder to the intellectual depth of this manuscript and the transformative nature of its reflection. While reading this book I found myself transfixed to the modern meaning of living Hanuman to all of us in our lives today, just as He was relevant in the past millennia.
It is my conviction that Pawan's objective of making Hanuman relevant has been addressed in the book successfully. He has not only made Hanuman accessible to us, but has allowed us to relate to the hidden meanings in the stories of the past. He has given a fitting explanation to the hymn which is a joyful representation of sound in a symphonic way, that has revealed itself in many ways for its meanings.
This is a refreshingly inspiring book and I wish all its readers a transformative experience.
To write about Shri Hanuman is the most daunting task! He is 4 so many realities interwoven together in a myriad of dimensions; some well beyond the grasp of the human mind. The human mind can comprehend realities only up to four dimensions. These are the three physical dimensions of length, breadth and depth and the space-time dimension that is inferred through the limited instrument of perception as the five senses in the human body.
The most advanced computers can resolve realities up to seven dimensions. Realities beyond that can neither be comprehended nor conceptualised. Shri Hanuman is said to have at least II dimensions or faces. It corresponds to the M-Theory of physics that suggests that space-time may have II dimensions; seven higher dimensions and four common dimensions. This is the latest understanding of science, which unites all the five ten-dimensional string theories that were so far being used to explain the formation and behaviour of matter.
Similarly, the Sarialchya philosophy of Sage Kapila states that Nature expresses herself through the II principal evolutes, namely the five sense organs, the five organs of action and the mind.
Shri Hanuman is a mirror to that reality, which cannot be described sufficiently or resolved. He can only be realised through an inner resonance. In the deep silence of our mind, we catch a glimpse of reality as It reveals Itself within our hearts as our very own selves.
Let us begin with the simplest and the most popular dimension of Shri Hanuman—the Divine Monkey. If a rationalist's God could play dice, He could certainly be a monkey too, creating the DNA codes on the atomic-cosmic page by jumping from key to key of the macro-cosmic typewriter! The 'Divine Monkey, as it turns out in our exploration, becomes the quintessential face of God!
According to popular mythology, belief and iconography, Shri Hanuman is described as a Vanara, the Divine Monkey. In the story of His birth, He is said to be an incarnation of Shiva in the form of the 11th Rudra. Rudra was the most powerful and popular form of Shiva during the Rig Vedic period. Rudra means 'to cry'. It conveys the fierce form of Shiva, who makes the enemy cry (both outer and inner enemies) or who cries out of compassion on seeing the suffering of all. Rudra is also said to be the life force, Prana, which makes people cry when it leaves the body of a loved one.
Shiva came on the Earth plane as Shri Hanuman to serve for Vishnu's mission, who was incarnated as Shri Rama. His mission was to purge the Earth off the atrocious Ravana, the demon-king who ruled over Lanka. However, Shri Hanuman was ordained to stay behind on the Earth plane for eternity, even after Shri Rama's mission was long accomplished.
Shri Hanuman's new mandate, which continues to be in effect until this day, has been to help those who are on the Path of their inner journey. In this, He is bound by the Bodhisattva's vow which is:
As a monkey, He represents the scope of its evolution to the state of a human being. Darwin's Homo sapiens have evolved morphologically from their simian ancestors. However, their minds still resemble their monkey ancestors' minds. From the Vedas to the Buddha, from the Christ, Confucius, Lao Tzu to Ramana, Aurobindo and Osho, everyone has taught (with little success, we must collectively accept) to tame this monkey-mind. In Slid Hanuman, who is the mind embodied as a monkey, we can get simpler and more effective pointers to tame this monkey-mind from the Monkey Himself.
One afternoon, I happened to share a Eureka moment with a hermit in the Himalayas, Swami Premvarni. He said he had been disturbed for 12 years now by these strange birds that flocked to his ashrama. They made an annoying noise, killed squirrels and doves and seemed to invade his space! He called them the saran-birds out of sheer frustration and angst! As he lay in the winter sun pondering on how to ask these birds to back off, an idea flashed across his mind—his message could best be communicated to the birds with the help of one of them speaking to the rest in their own bird-language!
Eureka! Eureka! I could hear his mind exclaim! He quickly got up and laid a rat trap with a piece of bread in it. Lo! One of the birds walked in as lured by the food, and the trap door closed behind it! Swami ji was delighted. He asked me to watch what was to follow. I saw its fellow birds gather around the trapped bird, screeching and scratching the trap, attempting to free their mate. They kept at it for long. Then, disappointed, they all flew away. There was silence in the ashrama. In the evening, they all came again. Swami ji released the captive bird, which flew away with the flock.
They never returned.
The Message was delivered from a bird to the birds in their own language. Mission accomplished!
In stories and hymns about the Divine Monkey, Shri Hanuman, one can find a treasure of tools to tame one's monkey-mind. The most effective of these are given in Shri Hanuman Chalisa and are described in the following pages. The puffed and snouted face of Shri Hanuman, for example, is a clue to a method of meditation taught in the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra.
The Divine Monkey is a religion-neutral metaphor for the human mind, both individual and collective. His story reflects the two inseparable sides of the mind—inward and outward. His inward mind is that of a humble and egoless being, free and absorbed in the Source. His outward mind is that of one engaged in unconditionally serving Mother Earth with all Her beings. He is, thus, a brand logo of dynamic compassion, which each of us can call our own.
He is called Kapisha. Kapi is another common name for a monkey in Sanskrit language. It is derived out of the word kampayati, which is to tremble or be ever-restless and unstable. Kapisha means the lord of monkeys. It could also mean the one who has overcome his inner instability. Shri Hanuman is shown struggling with His monkey-mind before gaining equipoise. Constant watchfulness and practice are few learnings that can be imbibed from this.
Catherine Ludvik brings this out dramatically in her work Hanuman. She makes sharp observations based on the Ramayaren of Sage Valmiki (Verses 5:10-11). Shri Hanuman is obsessed with propriety. As His search for Shri Sita took Him through the homes in Lanka during the night, He saw female-asura or demons sleeping with their bodies variedly exposed. He scrutinised the correctness of His actions, given His vow of celibacy. In His search for Shri Sita, he alternated between enthusiasm, depression and hysterical agitation. When He first laid His eyes on Ravana, He was frightened. However, he started to rejoice by making the error of identifying Mandodari, Ravana's wife, as Shri Sita. He ecstatically started kissing His tail, clapping His hands, climbing pillars and jumping on the floor. But He soon regained His poise, realising that Shri Sita could never have been sleeping so comfortably with another man, Ravana! He then began to worry as to what may have happened to Shri Sita. She might have jumped off Ravana's airplane during the flight of abduction, She may have killed Herself or Ravana might have killed Her. How could He now return with such bad news? He feared that Sugriva would punish Him if He returns without Her and kill the search team of monkeys who awaited His return. However, realising that the way to success is not through despondency but enthusiasm, He resumed the search.
In no time, His positive attitude gave way to depression, anxiety and panic. When He could not find Her, He assumed that She must have died. She might have fallen from the skies during the flight to Lanka, or Her heart might have failed at the sight of the ocean or Ravana might have throttled Her or eaten Her alive, or She might have dropped Her body meditating on Shri Rama. He planned the words He should use in the message He would deliver to Shri Rama about Her death and worried about the reaction. Shri Hanuman wonders whether such news will drive his Master to death. This could then trigger a chain of deaths, making Shri Lakshmana die, where upon the other two brothers Bharata and Shatrughana would die of grief, followed by their three mothers. Sugriva, Ruma, Tara, Arigada and the rest of the monkey kingdom, may also die. He decided He would rather not return to His folks, leaving them with a scope for hope! He would become an ascetic or commit suicide! Or, He would kill Ravana and carry his head as an offering to Shri Rama. Again, having purged His mind of this cacophony of thoughts, He regained composure and seated Himself on a tree, looking for Shri Sita. A similar mind-chatter gripped Him on other occasions, like when He spotted Shri Sita. In Kapisha, therefore, we can find an echo of our minds.
**Contents and Sample Pages**