Hanuman is a chiranjeevi. That means he lives eternally. If someone has just thought that I have referred to google.com, he/she is mistaken. My knowledge of Indian mythology comes from books ranging from Mathew M.Kuzhiveli’s Balan Books to Vettam Mani MA’s ‘Puranik Encyclopaedia’, from Ezhuthacchan’s poetry to the stories from mythologies retold my various writers in Malayalam and English. So when I say Hanuman is a chiranjeevi, I cannot forget Aswathama, the cursed son of Dronacharya, the Guru of Pandavas and Kauravas. In Kuttikrishna Marary’s words, Aswathama is a chiranjeevi who is supposed to live for eons with his curse emblazoned on his forehead. In us, chiranjeevis manifest in various ways. Hanuman manifests in us when we are too loyal to a cause, ready to rip open our chests to show our loyalty to the master. And when we deliberately take a position at the feet of the lord, we become Hanumans. There is no wonder why the extremists amongst Hindus like Hanuman so much.
When I read the news of some Hindu extremists thrashing up four Dalit men for entering a temple in order to worship the idol of Hanuman, I think about the ways in which Hanuman is incorporated into the mainstream Hindutva ideology. In fact Hanuman belongs to a backward caste, if he is not a Dalit. Hanuman is Vayuputra, the son of Air God. He is also the son of Anjana. Hanuman is called Maruti from his father’s side and Anjaneya from mother’s side. Hanuman got the name Hanuman from the shape of his jaw bones and upper lips. Hanu manav should be the original word. Hanuman had a pronounced jaw bone and a cleft lips; that means he was not like Ram or Lakshmana or like any other Hindu God. He was dark, hairy and different looking. Ram and Lakshman meet him when they are in search of Sita abducted by Ravana. Before Hanuman becomes the devoted servant of Ram, in the tussle between Bali and Sugreev, two ‘monkey’ chieftains, Ram has taken the side of Sugreev and has done away with a self respecting Bali. That means, the tribe that was represented by Bali was subjugated by Ram. Hanuman could not have been a rebel. He joined the force like Sugreev. Later in Lanka we see Vibheeshan, the brother of Ravan, deserting his brother and joining forces with Ram.
This is how rebellion is appropriated into the mainstream mythologies to naturalize the rebels into the fold of the dominant. Hanuman’s distorted look was a problem and there needed a justification for calling him a monkey. Hence, we are told that Hanuman (Maruti, Anjaneya) was a very bold child and once he saw the rising sun. Thinking that it was a ripe fruit the kid Maruti flew up to the sun in order to eat it. Seeing that the world will be in trouble without sun, Indra, the lord of Gods used his mighty sword called Vajra to strike the kid down. The sword hit the child at his lips and jaw bones and he fell fainted. Father Air (Vayu) was so angry that he decided to stop all the movements. The world was frozen at that moment. Once again there was a divine intervention through appeasing. The boy was given eternal life and also was given a new name, Hanuman. He became so devoted to the cause of serving Lord Ram that he remained a bachelor, Brahmachari, till date. That’s why we see in most of the akharas and gyms, they worship Hanuman. He does not waste his semen, which is considered to be the seat of all powers and also he does proper exercises to keep his body fit. Remember he could lift the Martva Mala (Hill Marutva). When Ravna used poisonous arrows against Ram and Lakshman, they fell fainted. Hanuman was asked to get the herb ‘mruthasanjeevani’ from Marutva Mala. Hanuman flew to the spot where the hill stood and as he could not find the particular herb, he brought the whole hill back to the war field. Muscles work where intelligence fails. It was almost like brining a medical store home for the simple reason that one lost the prescription. Most of the people who vouch by Hanuman have taken this story very seriously.
The appropriation of dissent or difference into the mainstream Hindutva has been an ongoing process even during the period of mythological formulations. There was another Bali during the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He ruled over the south of India (today’s Kerala) and was a very just king. Lord Vishnu took the form of Vamana (a dwarf) and pushed him to the nether world through an act of deception and treachery. If Bali was a just king, why did Lord Vishnu kill him at all? Doesn’t the story reek with the smell of North subjecting the south or rather the Vaishnava cult overpowering the Shaiva cult. In his eighth incarnation too, as Ram, Lord Vishnu kills Bali. Here the Bali is a self respecting monkey king. A south Indian must have been referred as monkey in those days. The tail was an addition of imagination. Now look at the word Bali (which is pronounced as Bali and Baali in respective contexts). Bali means sacrifice in Sanskrit. Baali also could mean the same but Baali later becomes Vaali and then the same word is also used for notifying a person with criminal tendencies. In a way, these just kings were made into sacrificial lambs or scapegoats for the proliferation of Vaishnavism. If so, who could be originally these monkey gods? They must be the South Indian musclemen, who were the rulers of the natural world, delivering justice to their subjects. Then comes the subjection by the North Indian kings. And they are forced to live in permanent menial status, indisputably and unquestioningly.
When I see, South Indian boys thrashing up their Dalit brothers, they are just playing the roles of renegades from within a community. There is a difference between a Kashmiri Hindu, a Manipuri Hindu, a Bengali Hindu, a Maratha Hindu and a Karnataka Hindu or a Kerala Hindu or a Tamil Hindu. When a Karnataka Hindu thrashes up another Karnataka Hindu only because the latter is born into a ‘lower’ caste, he is not in fact serving the causes of a Kashmiri Hindu or a Punjabi Hindu. They in fact do not want a Kannadiga Hindu’s endorsement for their kind of Hinduism. When the whole of South India is seen in an imaginary Dalit-hood within the mythological perspective of Hindutva, what is the point in beating up some Dalit men for entering in a temple? That too, a Hanuman temple. Hanuman is a originally a monkey god, therefore a Dalit/South Indian God. So how can one South Indian bash up another South Indian for entering their own god’s temple? If they think that the thrashers are automatically included in the larger fold of Brahminical Hinduism, they are not. Mr.Modi’s OBC-ness is not discussed because he has made that into a virtue and made votes, business boost and political gain out of it. What would these thrashers gain by upholding their ‘Hindutva’? Open your eyes and listen carefully, Hanuman is a Chiranjeevi. He has crossed the Dwapara Yuga in the form of a very old monkey (and shamed another muscle man, Bheem) and must be somewhere around like a Ninja Master, wise in knowledge and might. He will not justify your acts. As I said earlier, Aswathama carries his curse on his forehead and he is a chiranjeevi. Hanuman wears his age and wisdom and roams around in our streets, eternally. He knows that there is no master and no disciple, there is master and no servant, when master and servant are one and the same, there occurs Ram because Ram is the way to reverse ‘MAR’ (death). A chiranjeevi only can tell you this. Stop killing your brother for entering my temple, walking my path, leading their rightful life...stop killing because the more you kill the more you invert your RAM. Ram is here with me, in the street, with Kabir and all those who have burnt their homes called ego and fanaticism.