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Meanings And Symbolism Of Various Names Of Hanuman

According to some versions of the Ramayana, Hanuman was born with bejeweled earrings. He is also described as being born with maunji-mekhala, a three-string girdle of muñja grass. In Tulsidas’s Hanuman Chalisa, Hanuman is ‘adorned with earrings, holy thread, and munja ’. Hanu means ‘chin’ and the suffix mat denotes ‘possession’, and implicitly ‘excellence’ or ‘superiority’, atisayana. ‘Hanuman’ would thus mean ‘the one with excellent chin’.

According to Sanskrit lexicographers, letters in this name denote the following: 

  • ha, Brahma, Shiva, bliss, sky, water; 
  • nu, worship, praise; ma, Lakshmi, Vishnu; and
  • na, heroic strength. 
  • The name would thus suggest the presence of the attributes and distinctive characteristics of these deities and elements — all in one person.

Hanuman has several other appellations. He is Anjaneya, the son of Anjana; as the aurasa (born
of oneself) child of the wind god, he is Maruti or Pavanasuta, and as the kshetraja (wife’s offspring by a duly appointed person) son of Kesari — one of the senior leaders of the monkey army — he is Kesarinandana. Punjikasthala, an apsara, was born as a monkey due to Brihaspati’s curse. Vayu, the wind god told her: ‘You would have a strong and intelligent son because I have touched you with my mind (manasasmi gatah). He would be full of courage, energy, strength, and valour (maha-sattvo mahateja maha-bala-parakrama), and my equal in flying and leaping.’

Bhavabhuti, in his Mahaviracharita, and Bhatti, in his Bhattikavya, give ‘Vrishakapi’ as one of Hanuman’s names. In Nilakantha’s Mantra Ramayana — a treatise interpreting several Vedic mantras as alluding to the Ramayana story — Hanuman finds mention. Nilakantha believes that Vrishakapi, the ‘man-ape’ associated with Indra and Indrani in the Rig Veda, is none other than Hanuman.