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De-coding mythology

Why is Hanuman called Pavan-putra? Renuka Narayanan has the answer.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2006 11:42 IST

The dilemma of explaining Hanuman that featured in Inner Voice on Hanuman Jayanthi (April 13) has been getting a steady stream of responses.

From Moscow to Jaipur to Toronto, from the Hitachi office upstairs in the HT building in the heart of New Delhi, from scholars and our resident anthropologist to regular believers; from “keeping quiet is best” to “South-east Asian tribal deity” to “philosophical concept”. Here’s one such interesting view, on e-mail, from a gentleman called Amit Agarwal:

“Rama means akash-vaayu and agni  whereas Sita was produced from water and earth (the five elements that we and our world com prise of). If you study the Ramayana properly, Hanuman is also known as Pavan-putra. How can air give birth to a son and who could be the Son of Air? The most important part of air is oxygen, needed for the existence of humanity and our earth. That is why it is said that Hanuman will never die because on his death the universe will not exist and everything will perish.

Hanuman’s monkey shape contains another allegory: it is the duty of parents to look after and give good samskaras to their children till they grow up and after that they should treat them as equal. If you observe monkeys, they only look after their offspring till they grow up and after that they do not bother about them. Vice-versa monkey children also forget about their parents. This aspect is most important for a family to live in peace and love with no strings attached.”

To get the debate back to plain old faith, here’s a favourite opinion on belief in Divinity from French mathematician-philosopher Blaise Pascal: “The heart has its reasons, which Reason does not know.” Meanwhile, there’s more “monkey business” to texture in. There are two types of faith in God, we’re told: Markata  and Marjara (Sanskrit for monkey and cat). Baby monkeys actively cling to their mommies. Kittens lie totally helpless while ma cat picks them up in her mouth. Which one do we want to be?