CHITRA POURNAMI: HANUMAN JAYANTI
The full moon day in the lunar month of Chaitra or Chitra is known as Chitra Pournami. This year 2019, it falls on Friday 19th April. As is usual with all Hindu festivals and special days, this day is closely connected with the planets especially the sun and moon. Astrologically speaking on this day the sun will be in the sign of Aries and the moon in the sign of Libra. Chitra, the brightest star at this time will be transiting. This day is said to be the birthday of Chitragupta, the assistant of Yama, the Lord of Death. He is the one who keeps a very secret account of all the good and bad karmas of every single person in the world. He does not miss anything either good or bad that the person has either thought or done. In fact he is the CCTV camera kept by Yama in each human being. Everything is recorded. His very name suggests this. “Chitra” means picture and “gupta” means secret. So you see that our ancients were fully aware of the necessity of getting secret pictures of everyone’s thoughts and deeds long before the modern generation started using secret cameras. In fact we had gone one step ahead since Chitragupta was fully aware of every single thought and not merely actions!
As usual with all Hindu stories, his origin is most interesting and detailed. Once Indra, Lord of the gods had an argument with his teacher Brihaspati and he chose to ignore his teacher’s commands. Brihaspati immediately retired from the scene and went into seclusion and Indra started making many mistakes. He went and begged his guru to return. Brihaspati asked him to make a pilgrimage to the earth and pray to Lord Shiva. He made a Shiva Linga and started to worship it with a golden lotus on the day of Chitra Pournami by which his bad karmas were absolved.
Coming back to the astrological significance, the ancient Hindus knew that the moon being closest to us has the most effect on our minds. This can easily be seen in the rise and fall of the tides depending on the pull of the moon. Our bodies consist of 72% water so you can imagine how much pull the moon will have on us. Of all the lunar days, the day of the full moon and new moon have the greatest significance. The full moon promotes creativity and positive sentiments and new moon negativity.
On this day as has been said the sun is in an exalted position in Aries and this can bring the most beneficial effects on the earth. This day has been linked with Chitragupta, the keeper of our karmas because if we worship God through him and beg him to remove our past bad karmas, there is every possibility of them being reduced since both sun and moon are in favorable positions and both have positive effects on our minds. So the scientific fact is that the influence of these planets on this day when they are both in such favorable positions, will help us to erase our negative tendencies and acquire positive thought vibrations. As is usual in Hinduism an interesting story is always woven round the dry scientific facts to help our minds from wavering. The whole idea is to help us dissolve our past negative karmas as well as to liberate oneself from committing further negative karmas. If our prayers are sincere the high energy of the planets will help us in our resolve to not commit negative actions in the future and it will also help to dissolve our past negativity.
This day is also celebrated as the birthday of Hanuman - one of the most lovable gods in the Hindu pantheon. As we know he is the greatest devotee of Lord Rama. He was born six days after the birth of his beloved Lord, Rama. Chitra Pournami comes six days after Rama Navami or the birthday of Lord Rama. Thus we see that people pray to Hanuman to take away their bad karmas on this day which has a deep astrological significance as we have seen.
Hanuman’s mother was an apsara (celestial dancer) called Anjana who was cursed to be born on earth. She was redeemed from the curse by giving birth to Hanuman. She did intense tapas to Lord Shiva for twelve years and he blessed her with a child who was a partial incarnation of himself. Hanuman is also known as the son of Vayu. The story goes that while Anjana was performing tapas, King Dasaratha of Ayodhya was also performing a ritual for getting a son. As the end of the yajna he received some sweet pudding called “payasam” to be shared by his three wives that eventually led to the birth of his four sons, Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrugna. As fortune would have it a bird snatched a small bit of the payasam. While it was flying over the forest where Anjana was just finishing her tapas, the wind god Vayu took some or it and dropped it into her open hands and she immediately consumed it and was impregnated with the divine nectar. This interestingly makes Hanuman, Rama’s brother. Another story goes that when Anjana and her husband Kesari were praying to Shiva for a child, Shiva instructed the wind God Vayu to transfer his own energy into Anjana’s womb and hence Hanuman is known as Vayuputra or the son of Vayu.
It is indeed interesting that Hanuman was born on Chitra Pournami which as we have seen has all astrological benefits for controlling our mind and shaking off our negative tendencies and acquiring positive tendencies.
Hanuman symbolises the highest potential the human mind can achieve. His name gives a clue to his character. It is composed of the two Sanskrit words, “han” and “man”. “Hanan” means to annihilate and “man” stands for mind, in Sanskrit. According to “yoga”, the body is controlled by the mind; Interestingly Hanuman who had perfect control over his mind has a most developed body. Because of this he is known as “Bajarangabali” which means one whose body is like the thunderbolt and whose movements are like lightning. He is so strong that he can move mountains and so agile that he can leap across the sea. The twelve postures of Yoga, known as “surya namaskar”, or salutation to the sun, are supposed to have been composed by Hanuman in honour of his celestial Guru – Surya -the Sun God. His father, Vayu, the god of wind taught him the science of breath control known as “pranayama”, which is essential for controlling the mind.
Hanuman is an example of the perfect shishya or disciple - totally focussed, hardworking, determined, brilliant, yet humble. He never flaunted his brilliance and scholarship but always sat at the feet of his Lord, Rama - ever the humble servant. He had no desire for name and fame. Even though he lived in a palace with Rama, he preferred the solitude of the mountains and forests and never indulged his senses but lived like a hermit – the supreme Brahmachari - celibate. He had perfect control of his mind which was achieved by his disciplined lifestyle and by his strict adherence to celibacy and selfless devotion. He controlled his mind through absolute faith in his deity. Every event in his life whether good or bad was considered as a gift from his master and was accepted without question. His life is a classic example to all disciples how they should behave in front of their Guru. It is also the perfect example of a true devotee of God.
He was also the ideal karma yogi – one who performed all actions without expectation of personal benefit, dedicating the results to his Lord, Rama. All his feats were for the sake of others, never for himself. He chose not to marry and have a family of his own so that he could devote himself entirely to the service of his master.
The one thing we can ask of him on this day is to uplift our spiritual qualities and give us unswerving devotion to God by which alone we can conquer ourselves as well as remove the bad karmas of our past!
Original Illustrations by Sahadevan