The character of Hanuman teaches us of the unlimited power that lies unused within each one of us. Hanuman’s undying devotion and service to Lord Rama exemplifies “Dasyabhava” devotion – one of the 9 types of devotions – that bonds the disciple and the guru.
It is said that when Hanuman started his Sade Sati (seven and a half year transit of Saturn over the natal moon) he was busy building a bridge over the ocean to help Rama and his army cross over to Lanka. Hanuman requested the planet to postpone his visit till he had successfully assisted Rama in regaining Sita. But Saturn was adamant and Hanuman had to bow against the will of nature. He suggested that Saturn sit on his head, as his hands were engaged in serving Rama and his legs were too lowly for Saturn.
Saturn happily settled on Hanuman’s head and the mighty monkey continued with his work, piling heavy boulders and stones on his head in an apparently casual manner and carrying them to the construction site. After a while Saturn found it impossible to bear the load of the heaped boulders any longer and wished to climb down. Hanuman insisted that he complete his mandatory seven-and-a-half years but Saturn pleaded for release saying that the seven-and-a-half minutes he stayed on Hanuman’s head felt like seven-and-a-half years anyway. Thus Saturn took leave of Hanuman and since then worshippers of this monkey god rest assured that the unavoidable difficulties that Saturn brings can be whittled down by a true devotion to Lord Hanuman. More than anything, this story is symbolic of our ability to endure with detachment the burden that Saturn brings and to stay focused in devotion to our higher purpose. If we can do that Saturn cannot touch us. He can, however, give us the discipline to achieve great things, like constructing the formidable bridge that Hanuman built for Lord Rama.
If yoga is the ability to control one’s mind then Hanuman is the quintessential yogi having a perfect mastery over his senses, achieved through a disciplined lifestyle tempered by selfless devotion (bhakti). In fact, He also symbolizes the perfect karma yogi since he performs his actions with detachment, acting as an instrument of destiny rather than being impelled by desires, needs and wants. He is the perfect servant of God.
In Jyotish, Saturn represents the energy of reality, of material substance, and the cold hard facts of life that we must master. Thus, he brings burdens, heavy responsibility and the imposition of obligations and duties that we would rather not assume. Underlying all of these more or less external manifestations of Saturn’s power is the deeper spiritual (call it psychological) need to learn to face reality on its own terms without attempting escape into delusion and fancy. Such virtues as patience, dependability, endurance, strength in the face of adversity, the ability to carefully and methodically handle real-life difficulties, and the development of true individuality are built into the personality when we successfully meet Saturn’s challenges. These things are the rewards for passing the tests of Saturn. Remember Saturn delays but does not deny. The periods when Saturn influences our chart can turn out to be the most constructive of our life. After all, Hanuman built the bridge to Sri Lanka under Saturn’s influence. Saturn is much maligned and wrongly feared, he is a magnificent teacher and within his protective grasp there is much to enrich our life. When we master Saturn, we master life itself.
The Spiritual Significance of Hanuman
The goal of all mystical yearning is union of the individual soul with the universal soul. In the Adhyatma (‘spiritual’) Ramayana, a Sanskrit text dating from the fourteenth or fifteenth century, Sita represents the individual (jiva-atma), which has separated from the universal (param-atma) symbolized by Rama. In a beautiful interpretation, Hanuman here is said to personify bhakti and servitude, which annihilates the ‘ahankara’ or ego (Ravana), and re-unites the individual with the universal consciousness.