Leave Lord Hanuman Out of Power Games- The New Indian Express

Trust politicians to warp the most sacred of symbols to feed their power hunger. This time, it is the Hanuman Chalisa, which is being soiled by their annoying ambitions. Ironically for the netas, the Chalisa describes Hanuman as one without desire. However, the 11th Rudra avatar of Lord Shiva is capable of manifold mischief as much as he is the repository of endless wisdom—he burned down Lanka with his fiery tail. But weaponising his prayer with loudspeaker politics is malicious mischief, which Ram’s most celebrated general would not approve of. It cheapens the sanctity of the verses, which is nothing short of blasphemy.

During the Mahabharata war, Arjuna’s chariot, piloted by Krishna, flew Hanuman’s image on its pennant. It is under the protection of His grace and valour that Krishna spoke the verses of the Gita, and Arjuna’s bow rose and fell, unleashing black clouds of arrows on the Kaurava armies in the world’s greatest battle between good and evil. Now, the arena of Indian politics is no Mahabharata; its murky marshes echo with rants to behead, burn and rape. Hanuman did not fight Ravana using such malevolent means. He brought the Sanjeevani herb to save a dying brother, not to poison the wells of concord. As Ram says, “Tuma mama priya Bharatahi sama bhai (You are dear to me like my brother Bharata).”

The origin of Hanuman Chalisa is credited to the immurement of Goswami Tulsidas by Emperor Akbar. Legend says the Grand Moghul incarcerated the Awadhi poet for refusing to write verse venerating him, and was thus inadvertently responsible for glorifying Lord Hanuman’s power. There is some poetic justice in that. Do our Dolittle Knowlittle rabble-rousers realise that the Valmiki Ramayana refers to Hanuman’s knowledge of all the three Vedas; as the Hanuman Chalisa says, “Jay Hanumana gyana guna sagara jaya kapisa tihu loka ujagara”—paradoxically a recent analysis proved that 40 percent of all Indian ministers are educated only up to school level.

The misuse of religion in politics and for economic power is as old as the oldest empire. The Romans used the ‘evocatio’ ceremony to justify their conquests wherein the triumphant Roman general would order the patron deity of a vanquished foreign city to leave their current home for Rome to enjoy a better class of worship—faith bribing is old hat. Faith fulmination even more so. The ideas of Prabodhananda Giri and Raghvendra Pratap Singh are not original—in July 1209, the notorious Christian pope Innocent III declared a crusade against the Cathars, a dissenting religious sect with the call, “Slaughter them all!” Amir Khusrau has described the genocide of Hindus and the desecration of temples in Madurai and other parts of Tamil Nadu by Ala al-Din Khalji in 1310.

The virus of restorative religion is the yen for political and geographic power—“My god is better than yours.” There is also an inherent hierarchy in religion as the gods grant relief to devotees. And knowledge to seekers. Tulsidas sings, “Jo yaha padhe Hanumana Chalisa । hoya siddhi sakhi gaurisa ”—which can also be interpreted as a person who reads the Hanuman Chalisa obtains siddhi and Shiva himself becomes his friend.

The war for the soul of Hindustan is being fought on the battlefields of history and mythology in the name of the proto-Hindu. But the real struggle is in the soul, as the believer combats his own demons to attain divine grace. Devils will quote the scriptures, this much is certain. But leave Lord Hanuman out of it. He is a god and a warrior, not a politician seeking votes or another term.


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