Who is Hanuman?

Via elephant journal
on Mar 31, 2011
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Many yoga practitioners have heard of Hanumanasana (or, the splits pose).

Hanuman is the Hindu deity with an inspirational story of leaping into the unknown, all in the name of devotion and service. The naming of Boulder, Colorado’s own Yoga and Music Festival was inspired by this tale from the heart.

The following exploration of the Hanuman myth is retold here by yoga master Aadil Palkhivala:

Photo: Ike Render

During mythological times, Rama, the king of ancient India, had a problem. The demon king Ravana, who presided in Sri Lanka, had abducted Rama’s wife, Sita. Rama and his troops set out to rescue her from the vile demon. In the ensuing battle Rama’s brother Laksmana was severely wounded, and the only way to save him was with an herb that grew exclusively in the Himalayas. It appeared that Laksmana would be lost, for who could possibly travel to the Himalayas and back in time to save him?

Hanuman, Rama’s greatest devotee, said he would accomplish this impossible task. He then took one mighty leap that stretched all the way from the south of India to the Himalayas. At that point, he wasn’t sure which herb to pick, and so he carried the entire mountain with him as he made another massive leap back to the battlefield. The healers found the herb in question, and Laksmana’s life was saved.

Photo: Dalbera

In that giant leap Hanuman demonstrated his love for Rama. His intense devotion allowed him to do the impossible, and this is the lesson we can glean from Hanuman’s tale; power comes from devotion.

Hanuman’s mighty leap into the Himalaya’s is memorialized in the pose Hanumanasana. This pose asks practitioners not merely to stretch our legs but also to bring true devotion into our practice. Hanumanasana embodies the potential for expanse that is possible when devotion is in the heart—the sense that we can overcome any obstacle when our yearning to help is combined with reverence and respect, as well as an intense and fiery devotion. In Hanumanasana one strives to reach much further than seems humanly possible.

Photo: Lululemon Athletica

When such an attitude is infused into the practice of Hanumanasana, it brings with it the energy to do this magnificent posture. Though Rama himself was an incarnation of the god Vishnu, he wasn’t able to make the giant leap because he was earthbound in a human body. But Hanuman, with his intense devotion to Rama, could make the leap. This story shows that even a god cannot do what a human can when the human has true devotion in the heart. For a devoted soul, nothing is impossible.


The Hanuman Festival is Boulder, Colorado’s community-oriented yoga and music festival, set at the foot of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Seane Corne, Kathryn Budig, MC Yogi, Waylon Lewis and Elephant Journal will be there. Come celebrate – June 16-19, 2011 with world-class yoga instructors, mind-blowing music, inspirational experiences and a nourishing community. Immerse yourself in body, mind and heart as you relax and rejuvenate, dance and devote, connect and expand, have fun and just be.


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter. Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of elephantjournal.com. Questions? Send to [email protected]


13 Responses to “Who is Hanuman?”

  1. Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  2. […] real change. But, this is a rare occasion. Most often when we do succeed in finding some potent energy via talk and understanding we end up trying to make more meaning out of the energy rather than […]

  3. danielle says:

    i'll bet hanuman was a scumbag thief. I have heard some really creepy things about some of the people that are organizing this festival.

  4. yogi tobye says:

    Is that something you can prove, or is it just rumour and heresay? What is creepy? Can you give proof of a reputable source?

    No point in sharing info unless you can back it up. I've done that in the past and looked really stupid!

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Blocked your IP address. We are allllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll for constructive criticism, but I hope you can understand that this site, and comments as a forum, is not the place for settling grievances. You can email me (confidentially), whoever you are, re unblocking your if you like in the future, as I'd love for you to be able to keep commenting if you like.

    ~ Waylon, ed.

  6. SEVA and praise to Hanuman!

    I love your piece, so informative and yet infused with the spirit of Hanuman's grace.

    Ram Dass shared Hanuman with me when I was a young teen, and the information transformed my life.

    My experiences in Bali's Uluwatu have far surpassed merely the tourist performance (though certainly magical) to prove to me Hanuman lives.

    Thanks for taking the time to share such wisdom so clearly.

    As for the negativity…Hanuman is the consummate warrior. No time for hate, as Garcia says.

    One Love

    Emily Allison
    True for Now

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    visit my newest contribution on elephant journal, flawless.

  8. gabriel omar says:

    muy interesante..gracias!!!

  9. jaltucher says:

    Surprisingly, for a great understanding of Hanuman, I'd highly recommend the Amar Chitra Katha comic books describing his story and his interactions with Rama and Sita. Beautifully written, inked, colored. You can order them online.

  10. Srikar says:

    Ultimate symbol of Faith for Almighty (based on ancient epic called "Ramayana")
    Hanuman defined Faith. Thats it very simple.

  11. […] elephant journal is proud to co-sponsor the Hanuman Festival. Read the latest installment of the column. […]

  12. […] real change. But, this is a rare occasion. Most often when we do succeed in finding some potent energy via talk and understanding we end up trying to make more meaning out of the energy rather than […]

  13. […] in the jaws of the croc and I surfaced on the other side of a muddy river, holding the hand of a monkey who doesn’t know his own […]