Posted by: Rajesh Shukla | October 7, 2012

Who was Hanuman in Vedic Age?

Is there any reference of Hanuman in Vedic literature? I ventured into literature to find out its answer . I would briefly outline my conclusion in this blog post. In Rig Veda no such word as Hanuman has been found except the word ‘Vrishakapi’. Vrishakapi comes in a reference to the story related to Indra and Indrani. The Sukta in which his name occurs first is as follows: “वि हि सोतोरससृक्षत नेन्द्रं देवममंसत। यन्नामदद् वृषाकपिरयः पुष्टेषु मत्सखा विश्वस्मादिन्द्र उत्तरः।। Here in this sukta, Kapi is called as harit mriga, in Valmiki Ramayana one name of Hanuman is sakha Mriga. In Rig Veda harit mriga is an enemy of Indra and sometimes causes pain to Indrani, for that reason often there would be fight between both. Vrishakapi’s character is as impressive as Indra but it is not clear what exactly he was because he drinks soma (remember Soma is not wine “सोमं मन्यते पपिवान् यत् संपिषन्त्योष॑धिषम्। सोमं॒ यं ब्र॒ह्मणो वि॒दु॒र्न तस्या॑श्नाति कश्च!न।। -ॠग्वेद  “ it is juice of sama gaan.) and was worshiped like other vedic gods. Geldner and Velankar agrees that Vrishakapi was Indra’s friend before he became his enemy. The tussle between Indra and Vrishakapi had been because Vrishakapi proposed Indrani-“ The wife of Indra” and wanted her but She did not agree. After her refusal Vrishakapi rebuked her and said, “She was not beautiful and only worthy of her husband’s love”, having heard this she became furious and quarreled with him, and in return he destroyed her assets. Later Indra tried to bring peace but was unable to. Vrishakapi left Indra’s house and took shelter in rich people’s homes. This event influenced people and they regarded him for his might, forgotten Indra and stopped worshiping him. We find some sukta that tells us that after this incident soma juice was not offered to Indra and Indrani but to Vrishakapi. Vrishakapi was already a Somapayee. Indra himself called him ‘ matsakha -मत्सखा’. It was Vedic tradition that only mightiest, worthiest and accomplished in Vedas having divine qualities were called upon and offered the soma.  

After Rigveda, we do find many references in Tattiriya Samhita and Vasajneyi Samhita that convince us that a kind of monkey cult was in existence at that time. In these old scriptures word ‘markata’ and ‘mayum’ has been used for monkeys or a kind of species like monkeys. At the time of Chandogya Upanishad the cult was almost prominent and was religiously recognized.  Chandogya gives simile of monkey’s red ‘two sitters -कप्य’ as a metaphor for the eyes of the famous Golden man seated in the sun orb. In this Samhita we do also find a kind of community named ‘kapya’; probably they might have been monkey worshipers. ‘kapi’ and ‘markata’ words are still used for monkey god Hanuman. Suniti Kumar Chaterji and Parjitar’s researches on the monkey cult concludes that before the coming of Aryan’s monkey cult might have been existed in the culture of non-Aryan people. Rig-veda sukta confirms us about this truth. Indra was Arya God and was challenged by non-Aryan monkey god namely (अडिमंन्त in south >>हनुमन्त in north). As usual according to their rule they encapsulated him by offering soma juice. हनुमन्त word seems to be a distorted form of अडिमंन्त. Vrishakapi story is also found in Brahma Purana’s old editions. Brahma Purana tells us how Vrishakapi became Indra’s friend. He saved his kingdom and made him free from the devil Mahashani. The relation with Shani and Hanuman was established later and it is said that “only Hanuman can control Shani”. Shani was a devil and still he is believed to be so. According to many, Vrishakapi was one of the most important god of non-Aryans and possibly ancient than RigVeda. He  was assimilated in Aryan culture and people carried him forward as Vira deity.

As religion evolved he was related to every Avataras and Gods. Vrishakapi is still worshiped by many schedule cast societies of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the form of Vira, from where Hanuman received another name Mahavira. His Gayatri mantra includes this name thus:- आंजनेयाय विद्महे । वायुपुत्राय धीमहि । तन्‍नो वीर: प्रचोदयात्‌ ।।   Vira might have been Yaksha’s Deity who was capable  to appear in any form; he was  probably a deity of nature. This was remarkably depicted by Tantric worshipers in the form of five headed (Mahabira) Hanuman. He could appear in five animal forms:-lion, ass, monkey, parrot and boar. It is an authentic depiction of Vrishakapi because a nature worshiper who lived in forest and whose entire life was dependent on forest could not imagine more then this; in each form Vrishakapi was able to save them from the dangerous beasts of the forest. In Uttar Praesh and Bihar many castes worship Vira as boar or Varah Devata. In Mahabharta we find him as Varaha:- “कपिर्वराह श्रेष्ठश्च धर्मश्च वृष उच्यते। तस्माद् वृषाकपिं प्राह कश्यपो मां प्रजापतिः।।


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: