Hanumaan, the Vaanara
(monkey) attendant of Rama, in the Raamayana is
venerated throughout India with temples and with shrines in Vaishnavite
and Saivite temples alike. The ideal qualities of loyalty, unstinted
devotion and love are depicted in the character of Hanuman, who helped Rama cross
over the ocean, defeat the demons in battle and recover Sita, who had been kidnapped by
the demon king Raavana.
Hanumaan was born to Anjanaa and the wind God Vaayu,
and was endowed with superhuman strength. Hanumaan is also known as Aanjaneya.
One of the legends in the Raamayana
goes that when Lakshmana was hit by a poisoned arrow by Indrajit, and
needed immediate medical assistance, with herbs from the Aushada
mountains in the Himalayas, Hanuman flew north, and unable to identify the sanjeevani
herb, rushed back with the entire mountain, saved Lakshmana's life and carried it back all
the way again. Hanumaan is revered as a figure of strength. It is believed that whenever
the story of Ramayana is recited, Hanuman listens. The Hanuman Chalisa, a
work of the 2nd millennium CE is chanted with reverence in temples throughout North India.