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By Philip Lutgendorf

Hanuman, the dedicated monkey helper of Rama and Sita, has lengthy been well-known as a favored personality in India's historic Ramayana epic. yet extra lately he has additionally turn into probably the most loved and worshiped gods within the Hindu pantheon - enshrined in majestic new temples, yet both found in poster artwork, advertisements, and mass media. Drawing on Sanskrit and vernacular texts, classical iconography and sleek television serials, and wide fieldwork and interviews, Philip Lutgendorf demanding situations the tutorial clich? of Hanuman as a "minor" or "folk" deity through exploring his advanced and becoming position in South Asian faith and tradition. This wide-ranging examine examines the historic evolution of Hanuman's worship, his shut organization with Shiva and goddesses, his invocation in tantric ritual, his actual immortality and enduring presence in sacred websites, and his attract devotees who contain students, wrestlers, healers, politicians, and middle-class urbanites.Lutgendorf additionally bargains a wealthy array of pleasing tales no longer formerly on hand in English: an increasing epic cycle that he christens the "Hanumayana." Arguing that Hanuman's position as cosmic "middle guy" is in detail associated with his embodiment in a captivating and provocative simian shape, Lutgendorf strikes past the Indian subcontinent to interrogate the broader human fascination with anthropoid primates as boundary beings and as powerful signifiers of either Self and different.

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Extra resources for Hanuman's Tale: The Messages of a Divine Monkey

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Let me clarify at the outset that, for devotees, Hanuman is assuredly not just a monkey and certainly not an ordinary monkey (though many affirm that he sometimes presents himself in this very guise); he is a being who defies and straddles (or, more characteristically, leaps over) mundane category boundaries. Yet his ‘‘monkeyness’’—in Sanskrit, kapitva—inevitably persists, because (as I will argue) it is central to the messages he so successfully delivers. Prominently and constantly present in his iconography, narrative, and worship, it is, so to speak, his most tell-tail signifier.

26 hanuman’s tale Indology, perhaps influenced by Christian sectarianism, has emphasized cults that can be subsumed under the labels ‘‘Vaishnava’’ and ‘‘Shaiva,’’ categories that the worship of Hanuman, as I will show, frequently challenges. When I began research for this book in the late 1980s, English-language scholarship on Hanuman was slim indeed. Camille Bulcke’s 1960 article ‘‘The Characterization of Hanuman’’ presented some material drawn from his influential Hindi treatise on the evolution of the Rama narrative, which contained a long section on Hanuman (1999:520–51).

Crooke also implicitly warns his British readers against succumbing to the influence of their native subjects, by comparing the sad fate of ‘‘Aryan’’ civilization to that of the Roman Empire, whose similarly assimilative practices ‘‘degraded . . the national character by the introduction of the impure cults which flourished along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean’’ (ibid. 1–2). Yet it is the Indian equivalent of these ‘‘impure cults’’ that District Officer Crooke finds most interesting, and to which he devotes the next six hundred pages.

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