Hanuman - is an ardent devotee of Lord Rama and one of the central characters in the various versions of the epic Ramayana found in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. As one of the Chiranjivi, he is also mentioned in several other texts, such as the Mahabharata, the various Puranas and some Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh texts. Several later texts also present him as an incarnation of Shiva. Hanuman is the son of Anjana and Kesari and is also son of the wind-god Vayu, who according to several stories, played a role in his birth.
His theological origins in Hinduism are unclear. Alternate theories include him having ancient roots, being a non-Aryan deity who was Sanskritized by the Vedic Aryans, or that he is a fusion deity who emerged in literary works from folk Yaksha protector deities and theological symbolism.:39–40
While Hanuman is one of the central characters in the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana, the evidence of devotional worship to him is missing in the texts and archeological sites of ancient and most of the medieval period. According to Philip Lutgendorf, an American Indologist known for his studies on Hanuman, the theological significance and devotional dedication to Hanuman emerged about 1,000 years after the composition of the Ramayana, in the 2nd millennium CE, after the arrival of Islamic rule in the Indian subcontinent. Bhakti movement saints such as Samarth Ramdas expressed Hanuman as a symbol of nationalism and resistance to persecution. In the modern era, his iconography and temples have been increasingly common. He is viewed as the ideal combination of "strength, heroic initiative and assertive excellence" and "loving, emotional devotion to his personal god Rama", as Shakti and Bhakti. In later literature, he has been the patron god of martial arts such as wrestling, acrobatics, as well as meditation and diligent scholarship. He symbolizes the human excellences of inner self-control, faith and service to a cause, hidden behind the first impressions of a being who looks like a monkey.
Besides being a popular deity in Hinduism, Hanuman is also found in Jainism and Buddhism. He is also a legendary character in legends and arts found outside the Indian subcontinent such as in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Outside India, Hanuman shares many characteristics with the Hindu versions in India, but differs in others. He is heroic, brave and steadfastly chaste, much like in the Sanskrit tradition, but not celibate. He marries and has children in other cultures, as is the case in a few regional versions in India. Hanuman is stated by scholars to be the inspiration for the allegory-filled adventures of a monkey hero in the Xiyouji (Journey to the West) – the great Chinese poetic novel influenced by the travels of Buddhist monk Xuanzang (602–664 CE) to India.
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