The God of creation, Lord Brahma is believed to live in a beautiful divine palace in his heavenly abode. A very beautiful Palace, even deities cannot stop the admiration about it and frequently visited the palace. Among them was a beautiful apsara named Anjana.
Seeing at the devotion and services of Anjani, Brahma decided to reward her and ask her for the wish. She hesitatingly asked for the removal of the curse she got from a sage. In curiosity, Brahma asked her about the incident.
Hopeful that her curse may be removed, Anjana explained “When I was playing as a child on earth, once I saw a monkey meditating with its legs folded in a lotus pose, like a human sage. It was a funny sight; so I threw some fruits at it.”
“But here I made a mistake. For it was no ordinary monkey. A powerful sage had taken the form of a monkey to do his meditation. My fruits disturbed his penance and he opened his eyes in the great offense. As soon as he saw me, he cursed me that I would be a monkey as soon as I fell in love with someone.”
“I begged for pardon. But the sage said he had already uttered it and cannot take it back. But the man would love him deeply in spite of my monkey face. Oh Lord, I was born and brought up here. How could I live with a monkey face among my friends and sisters? So please remove this curse on me.”
Brahma felt sorry for the unfortunate Anjana and gave her the solution for it – “Go to the earth and live there for a while. When you meet your earthly husband and give birth to a divine son who will be the incarnation of Lord Shiva himself, you will be removed from the curse.”
Anjana accepted Brahma’s advice and was born in the earth later. She lived as a young huntress when one day saw a strong man fighting with a lion. She looked at the warrior in admiration and the man turned and saw her. As soon as his eyes fell upon her, she turned into a monkey.
With a pitiful cry, Anjana covered her face with her hands and dropped to the ground. Seeing her fall to the ground, the man came running towards her.
“Who are you fair maiden? Why are you crying? Uncover your face and let me see you”, he asked her.
“I cannot, brave man,” Anjana answered miserably. “I am Anjana, cursed to become a monkey when I fall in love with anyone. I request you to please leave me alone in my sorrow“, she wailed and peeked at the handsome man through her fingers.
To her great astonishment, she found a big monkey faced man trying to console her. She didn’t see his face at first because till now she saw him from a distance. The monkey faced man understood everything and spoke, “I am not human, and I am the king of monkeys. My name is Kesari, blessed by Lord Shiva with magical powers. If you become my wife, I will be honored and love you always.”
Anjana became very happy and accepted the proposal. She thought that the sage’s words came true. Later they married in the forest.
Anjana performed intense spiritual practice and worshipped Lord Shiva until Shiva appeared and asked for her desire. Anjana requested him to be born as her child so that she could be freed from the sage’s curse. Lord Shiva gave his consent and disappeared.
Meanwhile, as Anjana was worshipping Lord Shiva, king of Ayodhya, Dasharatha was performing a yagna to have children. It was the Putrakamesthi Yajna. As a result, Agni, the fire god gave him some sacred pudding and asked him to share the pudding among his wives so that they give birth to divine children.
When King Dasharatha was giving pudding to his elder wife Kausalya, a kite snatched a portion of the pudding and flew away towards the dense forest where Anjana was worshipping. It suddenly dropped the pudding, which Vayu, a deity of air and wind blew towards the hands of Anjana. She found the pudding and thought it was an offering from Lord Shiva and swallowed it. She felt a kind of some blessings then.
In due course, she gave birth to a little monkey boy. Kesari was very happy to see his son and named the child Anjaneya or the son of Anjana. Having given birth to Lord Shiva’s incarnation, Anjana was released from the curse of the sage.
When Anjaneya became a little boy, Anjana began to express her wish to return to Heaven. Anjaneya became sad and asked his mother, “Mother without you what will be my future? How can I feed myself? How will I live?”
“Don’t worry, Anjaneya” said Anjana, “Your father is the brave Kesari. Your guardian spirit is the life-giving Vayu.They’ll always protect you. When you feel hungry, fruits as red and ripe as a rising sun would be your nourishment.” Saying this Anjana kissed him and left to her heavenly abode.
Anjaneya was always thinking of his mother’s words, thought the sun was actually some delicious fruit and wanted to taste it.
Unaware of his power, Anjaneya made a giant leap towards the sun. Suryadeva was glowing peacefully in the sky when he suddenly saw a monkey coming towards him. The monkey grew bigger and bigger as he neared the sun. The terribly hot rays which made any mortal presence impossible had no effect on the creature.
Suryadeva got scared and started calling out for help. Indra, king of the deities was resting nearby and was surprised to hear the sun pleading for his help. In curiosity, he too approaches near the sun. He saw the giant monkey was trying to catch and hold the sun. Indra was surprised and shouted, “Stop! Who are you and why are your trying to catch the sun?”
“I’m Anjaneya, son of Kesari and Anjana” replied the giant monkey kid. “My mother told me that fruits as ripe as the red sun will be my food so I am going to eat the sun.”
At first, Indra was amused by the child’s innocence and advised him to return to wherever he is from. But naughty Anjaneya ignored his commands and continued his task to capture the sun. Indra became so enraged that he struck Anjaneya with his thunderbolt Vajra.
Anjaneya was wounded in his cheek and started to fall down as his body also started to shrink in size. He fell on the ground with his cheek swollen and unconscious.
Vayu, the wind deity saw this and was shocked to see Anjaneya lying unconscious as dead on the ground. “Who has done this to my child?”, he roared several times but no one answered. He got terribly angry, ” Why should I bother to do my duty when no one answers my question?” he thought.
With great affection, he lifted his godson in his hands and went to Patal Loka, the world below the grounds of the earth. As he left the earth, there was no air in the earth and people, animals, and other living creature struggled to breathe and started to die.
Looking at this, Suryadeva got shocked and ran towards Brahma and told all the incidents about this. Brahma called upon Indra and accused him and took him and other deities to Patal Loka and begged Vayu to return to earth.
Vayu refused to return because his son Anjaneya was not recovered. Brahma using his powers cured Anjaneya wound and gave him a boon of a Vajra body that no weapon will ever be able to harm him again. To please Vayu further, Indra said to the boy, “You will be a ‘Chiranjeevi’ (immortal). I have hit you in your hanu (cheek). So from now, you will be called as the valiant Hanuman“.
Thus, from this time Anjaneya came to be known as Hanuman and had many more adventures in his lifetime. With the blessing from deities and Gods, Hanuman became a great warrior and powerful being who later helped Lord Rama in his quest to bring back Sita and confront Ravana.