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When Hanuman Was A Child
by Kumud Biswas
Original in Bengali by Upendrakishore Raychaudhury
Translated

Hanuman's mother's name was Anjana. Her nature was true to that of a monkey. Though Hanuman was still a small child she used to leave him at home alone and go to the forests in search of fruits. She jumped from tree to tree and ate their fruits with great joy altogether forgetting the fact that her child was crying in hunger.

What else could helpless Hanuman do? He cried and cried but his mother was nowhere to be seen. Therefore he himself had to arrange for his own food. It was early in the morning and the sun was peeping through the trees. As soon as Hanuman saw that it was bright red he thought that it was a ripe fruit. So ignoring everything else he went into the sky in one big jump and traveled through the air in great speed to pick up that fruit.

This is not surprising, for Hanuman was not an ordinary child. Though still very young his body was very big and his complexion was bright red. Everybody in the heavens became greatly surprised seeing what Hanuman was doing. And it was very natural, for none, not even the heavenly bird Garuda or the storms, could travel in such great speed. All began to say, “Such a child will certainly grow up to be someone very remarkable.”

Now something else happened by the time Hanuman went near the sun. It was the day of eclipse. Poor Rahu, after days of fasting, was expecting to get some relief by swallowing the sun at least for some time. He had come ready to swallow the sun, but when he saw Hanuman there he became afraid and crying, “Help! Help!” he ran to the court of Indra. He said to Indra, “It is by your command that I satisfy my hunger by swallowing the sun, but I find that you have gifted the sun to another Rahu who has also come to swallow the sun.”
At this Indra was so amazed that wasting no time he mounted his elephant Airavat and went to see what the matter was. Rahu had of course reached the spot before Indra but could not stay there for long. Rahu had no body, he had only a round head. As soon as Hanuman saw him he took him to be another fruit and went to catch and eat him. Terrified, Rahu began to cry aloud for Indra's help. “Don't be afraid, I am killing it at once,” said Indra.
Turning towards Indra Hanuman saw the huge white head of the Airavat. He thought that it was yet another fruit and as soon as he made an attempt to catch it Indra threw his thunder at him. Hanuman fell on a rock and broke his jowl (hanu) and this was how after this he came to be known as 'Hanuman'. Falling on the rock when he was tossing about in great pain his father Pavan appeared there and carried him to a cave. His father became very angry and decided to take suitable revenge.

Pavan means air and he is the very life of the universe, and when he becomes angry he can do havoc. In great anger Pavan made himself scarce and all the living creatures began to gasp for breath. Some of them became almost insane and did not know what to do. Even the bellies of the gods became puffed up and they looked like those who suffer from dropsy. They went to Lord Brahma and told him crying, “Lord, please see how we look and tell us the remedy.” “For remedy let all of us go to Pavan and try to placate him. I can see no other way out,” replied Brahma.

When Pavan was sitting inside the cave with the unconscious body of Hanuman on his lap, all the gods appeared there along with Brahma. Hanuman was fully cured as soon as Brahma caressed his head with his palm. This pleased Pavan greatly and he relieved all the world of its sufferings. Brahma told the gods, “Look at this boy, he will do many things for you when he will grow up. So all of you should bless him.” The gods blessed him and Hanuman became immortal. Nobody could curse him and cause his death. Moreover, Brahma told him, “You will be able to know God and take any form you like.”

The sun (Surya) said, “I am giving you one-hundredth part of my power and when you grow up I shall give you lessons and that will make you very smart.”

All these blessings of course took time to bear fruit and in the end made Hanuman a great personage. But in his childhood he was not much different from the other monkeys. Entering into the hermitages of munis he used to do much mischief. His parents always asked him not to do so, but to no purpose. In his naughtiness he used to throw all the belongings and household articles of the munis in all directions and it was difficult to keep them in order. But nobody could punish him by cursing, for Brahma had already made him immune from curses. So helplessly they had to suffer his mischief. After deliberation they however devised a way out. They got together and cursed him jointly, “May you forget all the powers you possess! You will be able to remember them only when you are grown up and somebody reminds you and you will do miracles!”

Since then Hanuman became very timid like other young monkeys. He used to flee in fear when he saw anybody approaching him. The munis did no longer suffer from his naughtiness. He also learnt a lot from Surya. He was very serious in his studies and took a lot of trouble for it. As for example, Surya was always busy and traveled every day from early morning till evening and Hanuman had to run around a lot to get Surya's help. As a result he became a great pundit and very few are equal to him in learning.     

Illustration Courtesy: NinaPaley.com

Upendrakishore Raychaudhury was the grandfather of famous film maker Satyajit Ray.

4-Dec-2005
 
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