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The Legend of Hanuman

The Legend of Hanuman




The History of Hanuman


In Hinduism, Hanuman is an ardent devotee of Rama. Hanuman, known as the Lord of Celibacy, was an ideal “Brahmachari

” and is one of the central characters of the Indian Epic Ramayana
, also known as “Ramakien
” in the annals of Thai literature. Hanuman has historically been a very popular character in Thai culture. In the Ramakien, Hanuman was known as a devoted warrior-general serving Rama
. In the Ramakien however, he is hardly a proponent of celibacy, instead known as a womaniser and corrupter of many respectable women.


The Thai and Indian version of these stories differ slightly. The Ramayana is a devotional tale, a Sanatana Dharma

and cultural paragon of India, but the Ramakien was rewritten, adapted, and modified by poets. Hanuman plays a more prominent role in the Thai version of the epic. He is also mentioned in several other texts, such as the Mahabharata
, and the various Puranas
of the Indian Vedic tradition. The story of Hanuman is diverse, and varies across translations. The Hanuman discussed in this article, is the one widely-known in Thai culture.



(Picture credit: Jayakumar / Hanuman proving his devotion to Rama by tearing open his chest to reveal Rama and his wife Sita within.

Picture credit: Chongsiri Chaitongngam/
Hanuman fighting Thodsakan
, the demon in Khon
(Traditional Thai Pantomime) based on the character from the Ramakien.


There are many myths surrounding the birth of Hanuman, but the most widely-accepted of these says Hanuman is the child of Sawaha

(the daughter of Gautama Maharishi
, one of the 7 Great Rishi Sages) and Phra Phai
(the god of wind). He was born from the weapons of Vishnu
; a trident, disc and a mace, and the strength of Ishvara
). The essence of these artefacts was presented to Phra Phai, who blew it into the mouth of Sawaha, who gave birth to Hanuman from her mouth. Some legends claim that his mother is a fairy named Anjana
, who had been cursed to inhabit the form of a monkey. In this version, his father was also Phra Phai.


The Characteristics of Hanuman

Hanuman is a monkey, with white fur and hair made of diamonds. The Kiew Kaew

(crystalline tooth) is embedded in the middle of his palate, and he is often depicted wearing earrings. When channeling his full powers, he appears to have 4 faces and 8 hands, and the stars and moon emanate from his mouth.


The characteristics of Hanuman from the painting at Wat Phra Kaew
(The Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Bangkok, Thailand

He has the personality of a young man, flirty, exuberant, and playful. He is the most knowledgeable of Rama’s soldier, as crafty with strategy and intellect, as he is skilled at warfare. He is totally dedicated to Rama, and willing to die for him if need be.

Hanuman expanded his body to protect Rama
and Laksama

Although skilled and courageous in War, Hanuman is as much a lover as he is a fighter. In Thai literature, Hanuman has 6 wives, Nang Busamali

(an angel), Nang Benyakai
(a giant), Nang Suphannamatcha
(a mermaid), Nang Warin
(another angel), 24.Nang Montho
(Originally a frog, reborn as a human, the ex-wife of Thodsakan’s
) and Nang Suwankanyuma
wife, and Thodsakan’s
, adopted child). After the war ended, Rama also rewarded Hanuman with Lop Buri
city and 5,000 concubines(see our article on the origins of Din Sorphong for more information).



Hanuman and Nang Suwanmutcha


The power of Hanuman

Because of the circumstances of his birth, being borne from Holy Weapons and the power of Shiva, Hanuman was blessed with supernatural gifts. The “Tri Phet

”, is part of his own body, and emerges to deal with his enemies at a moment’s notice.



Hanuman possesses unbelievable strength and agility, able to fly like the wind, and hold up entire mountains. He is able to render himself invisible, or even transmogrify himself into other shapes and forms, merely through the manipulation of his body. On the battlefield, he opts to take on a hideous, gigantic appearance, towering over his enemies with a body resembling molten gold. His face glows a fierce ruby-red and his long tail and thunderous roar scatters all who oppose him.

In this form, he is also immortal. Though he can be harmed by weapons, a mere breeze will resurrect him. It is for this reason, that he is closely associated with the Kongkrapan Chatree

(and its invulnerability).



Hanuman is on the war


A loyal general for Rama, Hanuman has participated in a litany of major battles for his master, even finding time to save Phra Lakshama’s

from the Mokasak
spear, and sacking and burning Longka
, the city of giants.


Superstitions Relating to Hanuman

Hanuman is incorporated into many different kinds of amulets, especially Yant

. He is very popular among those who seek a supernatural edge through talismans, particularly enchanted tattoos, as they are believed to be imbued with his power and wisdom. Hanuman is often referred to as the Lord of all Knowledge. Many variants of these are known. Wanisa Bauyam (2013) undertook an in-depth study of these talismans featuring his image, and some of these are described below:


1-  Yant Hanuman Kiew Nang Suphannamatcha



This talisman has no standardized pattern, but features Hanuman grasping the lower parts of Nang Suphannamatcha, sometimes depicted as him grabbing her tail, and other times, her legs. They are all based on a painting from Wat Phra Kaew, and feature letters inscribed below the image.



2-  Yant Hanuman Khun Krabi



This talisman depicts Hanuman holding Krabi (sword). Characters are inscribed all around the image, except at the head.

3-  Yant Hanuman Krong Meung



This Hanuman with his mouth agape, and holding a round talisman. Similar to “Rahu Omchan

” but differing according to the artist’s creative license. Sometimes only his hands are visible, but other times, his legs are as well. The inscriptions feature a variety of different characters.



4-  Yant Hanuman Cluk Foon



Hanuman is depicted carrying weapons in both hands. He appears to be rolling. Characters are inscribed all around him, along with a large Unalom



5-  Yant Hanuman Chern Thong



Hanuman is depicted in flight, holding the flag (a symbol of war) in one hand, and a Tri Phet

above his head in the other. Characters are usually inscribed below the figure, but are sometimes also situated on various parts of Hanuman’s body.


6-  Yant Hanuman Hok Tau



Hanuman is depicted walking, with 4 hands, and holding weapons in 2 of them. One of his legs grasped a spear. Characters are inscribed as the bottom of the image, and Unalom, on the left and right sides.


7-  Yant Hanuman Jed Tau


Hanuman is depicted flying and “yawning” out a star and moon. Each of his appendages grasps a weapon. Characters are inscribed at the base of the image, and the Unalon, on top. Square talismans are inscribed on both sides.


8-  Yant Hanuman Paed Tau



A Hanuman with 6 hands, holding weapons in each, the Looksorn

(arrow), Tri Phet, Phra Khan
(sharp, and swordlike in appearance) and finally, a flag. The characters are inscribed on his body and the flag. These characters differ according to the creator.



9-  Yant Hanuman Kao Tau



Has many variants, but all involve Hanuman perched atop a lion. The weapons and likeness of Hanuman differ according to the intended purpose of the image.


10-  Yant Hanuman Sib Tau



Hanuman atop a lion, but with 10 hands. He notches 5 arrows with the hands on one side, and shoots them with one of the others. The rest of the hands grasp a Kwan

(an axe), a Jak
(rowel), a Krich
(dagger), and a Phra Khan. Inscriptions are made on his body and surrounding the image.



11- Yant Hanuman Prasan Gai



This talisman has two variants. The first one depicts Hanuman and the Matchanu

(the son of Hanuman and Nang Suphannamatcha, who is a monkey with the tail of a fish) with interlocking arms, as if channeling their powers in unison. Characters may be inscribed all around the picture, but the bulk of them are situated below it. The second type depicts the 9-Ramakien styled Hanumans within the outline of an elephant. Characters are inscribed around the elephant.


12-  Yant Hanuman Plang Rit



Hanuman is depicted in flight, with 4 hands holding the Tri Phet, Jak, Phra Khan, and Krich. Inscriptions are made around the picture and an Unalom is added on top.


13-  Yant Hanuman Hao Pen Dao Pen Deun



This Yant has may be modified slightly to include specific design elements, but the principle characteristics remain the same. Hanuman is depicting yawning out stars and a moon. The number of his hands, the weapons he holds, and the inscriptions of the characters around the picture, differ across versions.


14-  Yant Hanuman Waek Badal



Hanuman is depicted as swimming, while holding weapons in each hand. Characters are inscribed below the image, and Unalom is placed on top.


15-  Yant Phaya Hanuman



Hanuman holds his hands above his head, grasping a Phra Khan in each. 3 arrows extend into frame from each side, meeting tip-to-tip with the swords. 5 Ong Phra

and the relevant numbers are inscribed on both sides of the Hanuman.


Because of the magnitude of Hanuman’s popularity, these only serve as a general reference for some style of Hanuman yant that you may encounter. There is a vast repository of styles and efficacies, and as such, you may continue to encounter variants of these yants, or even new styles, that differ greatly from the ones described in this article. That is perhaps, the beauty of the esoteric arts, that there is room for craftsmanship even amongst the myriad of methods and practices passed down through the ages.

Hanuman images have also been used in a wide variety of other amulets, such as Phra Kreung

“Hanuman Luang Phor Guay Chutinan Taroh
Wat Kositaram
. All of these are meant to channel the powerful spirit and personality of Hanuman.


Hanuman Luang Phor Guay Chutin Taroh, Wat Kositaram

Thai people have great respect for Hanuman, and as a result, Hanuman amulets of all shapes and forms are greatly prized, be they tattooed on skin or otherwise.





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