Pg 21 – 23
“Monkeys have a reputation for mischief, and the young Hanuman was no exception. What is more, his capacity for havoc and mischief was greatly increased by the supernatural powers his divine parentage had given him. His ability to run like the wind and to fly made him a match for the fastest birds and animals, and he would rove far and wide chasing them. He had endless curiosity about new places, and his mother despaired of keeping him under control. She never knew where he would be next, and the older monkeys too – even at their most solemn gatherings and assemblies – never knew when he might creep up behind their backs and tie their tails together, or disrupt their discussions with shrieks and whoops from some hiding-place nearby.
“But his powers also protected him, and his mother knew that, whatever he got up to, he would survive. That was made clear to her very early on, when he was still a tiny baby. She dropped him by accident, and he fell not just to the ground at her feet but over a mountain precipice. He plummeted down, landed on his head on a rock, and bounced straight up again into her arms! The rock, however, was smashed to smithereens.
“One day Hanuman looked at the rising sun when it was large and red and thought it was a ball. ‘I’d like to play with that,’ he thought, and flew straight off to catch it. Surya, the sun-god, had never been chased like that before, and moved off in alarm. He fled far away from his usual position, dragging the earth and all the other planets with him – but Hanuman continued to chase him. Night and day were totally confused, the earth sung and tilted out of her usual orbit, there were earthquakes, avalanches, floods: people thought it was the end of the world.
“Gasping in terror, appalled at what was happening to the earth, Surya appealed to Indra, king of the gods. Indra wields a thunderbolt, and is awesome when roused to anger. The disruptive mischief of Hanuman had gone too far, and he decided he must teach him a lesson. He hurled his heaviest thunderbolt at the flying young monkey, which not surprisingly, hit him with such an impact that he fell back to earth, unconscious as a stone.
“He lay there, limp and lifeless, and his father Vayu was shocked to see him like that. He howled with distress, so that hurricanes blew through the world; then he tenderly picked his child up and wafted him to a distant mountain cave. He sat down beside him, slumped in gloom and sorrow, convinced that Hanuman was dead.
“Hurricanes are bad, but complete lack of wind is worse. With Vayu so still and depressed, there was not a breath of wind in the world. People and animals began to suffocate; plants began to die from the lack of air that all living things require.
“The gods looked down at the earth and were deeply worried. ‘Look at its creatures moaning and gasping,’ they said, ‘its plants pathetically wilting! Indra is still in too foul a temper to notice: we must go to Brahma, the greatest god of all.’
“Brahma is the Creator: he has to intervene if his Creation is threatened. When the gods came before him, he agreed to go to Vayu. But he said to bad-tempered Indra: ‘You must come with me, and tell him you are sorry at striking his son. He’s only a young monkey, after all: to hurl your heaviest thunderbolt at him was rather out of proportion!’
“Indra was chastened by Brahma’s rebuke, and meekly followed him to the cave where Hanuman lay, with Vayu sitting beside him, hunched and motionless with grief.
“ ‘O Vayu,’ said Brahma, ‘the world cannot do without your mighty breath. Indra did wrong, but you are doing wrong too, to punish the whole world for Indra’s mistake. See how grieved and contrite Indra himself is: don’t compound one mistake with another.’
“Vayu raised his melancholy, listless eyes at Brahma. ‘If I must forgive him, I will – but who will revive my son? Who will bring my mischievous, brilliant Hanuman back to life? Without him, I haven’t the heart to stir up the air.’
“Brahma smiled, and with the infinite compassion for his creatures that only their Creator can have, took Hanuman into his lap. He stroked and patted him, and slowly, sleepily, the monkey opened his eyes. ‘You were naughty,’ he said, ‘and your mischief scared the sun, disrupted the earth, angered Indra and grieved Vayu. But your powers are special, and I shall make them even greater by giving you nobility, restrain and kindness. You will grow to become the wisest of monkeys. You will help Rama and Sita in their distress. The monkey kingdom will become an example to all. You will live for ever.’
“What tears of relief and gratitude now filled the eyes of Vayu, Indra, Surya, Hanuman’s mother Anjana, and everyone else who had been so alarmed by his chain of events! Hanuman, too, had learned his lesson. He remained full of charm and merriment, but was thoughtful of others, modest and studious. He was loved by all.”
Stay tuned for the next tale of Hanuman, Hanuman and the Herbs.