Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ahalya, Anjana Devi, Vali, Sugreeva and Hanuman

Parts of this story are narrated in the Ramayana, but somehow no one seems to link them. I am just doing that. Swamiji confirmed parts of this story.

Ahalya was sage Gautama’s wife. She was famous for her beauty all over the worlds. Anjana Devi was the daughter of Gautama and Ahalya.

The Sun god was enchanted by the beauty of Ahalya. Being a ‘Kaamaroopi’ – one who can take any form as per one’s will - he took the form of Sage Gautama when the sage was not at the ashram and made love to Ahalya. Ahalya consented as she mistook him to be her husband. Vali was born to the Sun god and Ahalya. It was only when the Sage returned to the ashram later that Ahalya realized she was tricked. Indra, the king of Gods, was also enchanted by Ahalya’s beauty and played the same trick as the Sun god. Sugreeva was born of this relationship. Anjana Devi who was a child by then understood that her mother was cheated by Sun god and Indra. Sage Gautama was not aware of the cheating and took Vali and Sugreeva to be his children and all the three children were growing up together.

Once, Sage Gautama set off on a trip along with his family. It was midday when they were to cross the Thunga-Bhadra river. Sage Gouthama was carrying the two boys Vali and Sugreeva on his shoulders and his wife Ahalya and daughter Anjana Devi were following him. The sand on the banks of the river was hot from the sun and burnt little Anjana Devi’s feet as they had to walk quite some distance on it before actually getting into the waters. Unable to bear the heat, she suddenly shouted at her father, “Father, this is not fair. You have left me - your own child - to walk on the hot sand and you are carrying Vali and Sugreeva – who are not even born of you - on your shoulders. You seem to love them more than you love me.”

Anjana Devi’s revelation shocked and enraged the Sage. He threw both the little children into the waters of the river saying, “If they are my children, they will return to me. If not, they will turn into monkeys and get washed away into the forest.” Cursed thus, the two brothers were washed ashore, turned into monkeys and grew up to be the rulers of the monkeys in the forests on the banks of the river Thunga-Bhadra, which were part of the ‘Dandakaaranya’.

Ahalya was grieved by the separation of her two sons from her and cursed her daughter Anjana Devi saying, “You failed in preserving the secret of your mother and it is because of you that my children have turned into monkeys and have been separated from me. Let your child too turn into a monkey.”

The Sage, in his anger, cursed his wife Ahalya to turn into a stone as she behaved unintelligent as a stone. Ahalya fell on her husband’s feet and asked for forgiveness pleading innocence saying it was not her fault, but she was cheated by the gods. Finally, Gautama took pity on her and said, “My curse will come true. You will turn into a stone, but you will regain your human form when Lord Rama’s feet touch you.”

Later, when Anjana Devi was married to Kesari, Hanuman was born to her. But, due to his own grandmother’s curse, he was either born as a monkey or turned into one. That should explain why Hanuman is called ‘Aanjaneya’, ‘Anjani Putra’ as well as ‘Kesari Nandhana’. We know that he is the son of the Wind God (see box below) – ‘Vayuputhra’, ‘Vaathaathmaja’. Apparently, Hanuman the monkey, went and lived with his uncles Vali and Sugreeva who were also monkeys and ruled the monkeys with the city of ‘Kishkindha’ as their capital. Swamiji confirmed that a village by the name of Anegundi, close to Hosapet in Karnataka about 100 Kms from Bellary, was the birth place of Hanuman when HH visited Hosapet. When I Googled for Anegundi, I found there is a trust named Kishkindha Trust near this village.

Evidently, all this happened before Lord Rama, at the age of 16 years, set out to the forests along with Sage Vishwamitra and his younger brother Laxmana to help protect the yagna from Thaataki the lady demon and other rakshasas including Mareecha and Subahu. It was on that trip that Lord Rama’s feet touched the stone that was the cursed Ahalya and she regained her beautiful human form.

People tell us that when Hanuman saw Lord Shri Rama roaming in the forest much later, after Sita was kidnapped by Raavana, he did not know Rama. I can’t believe that because Rama was the one, the mere touch of whose feet turned Ahalya - his grandmother, from a stone back to human form. Hanuman’s grandfather – Sage Gauthama was a devotee of Rama (even before Rama was born) as were several other sages and knew all about him. Therefore, Hanuman was a third-generation devotee of Lord Rama - like some of us whose grandfathers and/or grandmothers were Swamiji - Shivabalayogi’s devotees.

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