Why do Hindus Animal Worship ?
Hanuman is possibly one of the most fascinating characters of the Ramayana….
He is represented as a monkey because that is a symbolism for the always agitated human mind. Ramayana shows how the agitated mind can be transformed to conquer our kingdom within !!! The devotion of Hanuman towards Rama us second to none.
Hanuman is a Vanara (Monkey) and is said to be the son of Vayu (Wind). He was born to Anjana and Kesari,
Like most others characters in Ramayana, there is a deep symbolism associated with Lord hanuman as well. Let us look at the symbolism…
Analogical interpretation of Hanuman
Hanuman represents the human mind, seeking self knowledge (Ravana represents a mind driven and infested with multi headed desires for the mundane)
Nature of Mind Hanuman is said to be the Son of Vayu… subtlest of all material elements (Space and Air) Mind is born out of subtility is us and so like vayu is always in motion with gusts of thoughts and storms of passion Hanuman is a Vanara.. always excited and unable to focus on his own The Mind cannot focus by itself on one thing for too long The Self Introspection Process
Hanuman first approached Rama in the form of a Brahmin. The first approach of the mind to the divine starts with performance of rituals or mere recitation… this is the beginning of the process… not the goal
During their search for Sita, a group of Vanaras reaches the southern seashore. Upon encountering the vast ocean, every vanara begins to lament his inability to jump across the water. Hanuman too is saddened at the possible failure of his mission, until the other vanaras and the wise bear Jambavantha begin to extol his virtues. Hanuman then recollects his own powers, enlarges his body, and flies across the ocean. Jambavan represents intellect which makes us aware of our true potential The ocean of Ignorance can be crossed only when we become aware of our potential divinity As we realise the divine nature, the mind grows big, encompassing and accepting all, and realises the power within to cross the ocean of ignorance Hanuman reaches Lanka and explores the Island of Lanka The island reveals the source of all desires (Lanka ruled by multi headed Ravana), It represents the deep subconscious which contains the wealth of Sanchita Karma, which may make us wealthy), but also deter us from knowing the true nature of the self. The mind cannot destroy the burden of millions of birth only the Divine Grace can
Hanuman Discovers Sita in Ashoka Vatika A part of divinity can be discovered by the mind, but the mind alone cannot make the part whole… Self Realisation - Realisation of our true Nature
Hanuman approaches Rama with the news of Sita in Lanka The mind now knows that the divine alone can destroy the island of sanchita Karma
Rama crosses the ocean with an army of vanaras and destroys the demon king Ravana The divine with the army of grace and devotion destroys the source of desires, freeing you from the bondage of desires.
Hanuman picked flew with the Dunagiri Mountains to lanka so that Lakshmana could be revived with the herb Sanjeevani The Mind can move mountains, when inspired by the divine, There will be challenges in the self introspection process, but the mind will overcome all by the sanjeevani sheer devotion growing on the mountain of mumukshutva. Hanuman always remains by Rama’s side, and Rama residues in Hanuman;s heart Once the Mind has discovered the divine… the divine graces us and the mnd focusses and is made of the divine only
From what i know, Hinduism is purely symbolic. to begin with, Rats are associated with Lord Ganesha, (Destroyer of Evil, The first to be worshipped amongst Hindu God Pantheon, The King of Good Times). As depicted, a rat is shown either sitting nearby Lord Ganesha (eating sweets) or Lord Ganesha is seen riding the Rat.
As i said, Hinduism is purely symbolic, the symbolism involved here is that a "Rat" signifies our senses. Rats, by nature are considered quite greedy, for everything. on the top of it, they have their incisors growing all the time if they are not nibbling onto something, Our senses are here, compared to nature of Rat. (our senses rule our judgements and almost everything in our lives.) a natural tendency of senses, is to only get heightened (read incisors of Rat). Hence, by riding the Rat, lord Ganesha symbolises a control over the senses, which in turn will reap better fruits (See Rat eating sweet)
Now, bringing you back to the original question, I have no idea as to why there is a need to worship Rats( read senses ). Maybe, because they are associated religiously to Lord Ganesha and vice versa. I throw the ball back to your court. :)
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This is an extract from Video of Dharma Speaks .
The many deities within hinduism can often appear strange to the western mind.This is particularly true of the various deities who have the form of animals.
- Ganesha has an elephant head
- Lord Narasimh is half lion
- Haya Griva has the head of a horse
- there is Aadi Shesh the snakebed of vishnu then
- there is Garuda the bird
- lord Varaha a boar there is
- Matsya a fish
- and of course Hanuman a monkey
Why? someone may ask do you worship so many random animals ?
Is this not a sign of the primitive pagan roots of your religion?
Ganesha has a big elephant head to represent the immense intelligence needed to discriminate and grow. He has large ears to show that he listens and is all-knowing.His trunk represents strength and flexibility in our temperament. He has a rope which pulls us to the right place in life He has a sweet modakam which is the blissful reward of our spiritual practice. Ganesha rides the rat showing us how spiritual wisdom should be used to conquer the erratic mind.
The symbolism of the various deities is a very important feature of bharatiya samskriti.
There are innumerable life lessons and teachings embedded in these forms and indeed the stories behind them.
But there is a danger that we can become overly obsessed with symbolism rather than truly connecting with him within we may end up superficially trying to interpret him.
- learning the meanings behind the forms is very valuable
- but it cannot be at the expense of attempting to know them on a adhyatmic level
- the same applies for ritual activity in the temple
- it is important to understand why things are being done but the main point of ritual activity is to connect and build a relationship with god these forms have been envisaged by rishis and sages
- their nature has been revealed through the various narratives
- and mantras have been ascribed to them that carry their vibration
The various personalities of the divine are portals that take us beyond the material and mental to the transcendent
But this only happens once we embrace and devotionally enjoy them as they are. The great bhakti saints of all the different deities reached elevated states of consciousness not through obsessing about the symbolism of the forms they worshipped but through surrendering to them in devotion. ( this surrender is different from Islamic notions of surrender)
We commonly believe that such devotion to these forms is for the ignorant and naive, more advanced seekers however should not bother too much with these sentimental practices, and should instead focus on the inner symbolic meaning.
But actually it is more the other way for those who feel distant from god, an intellectual understanding is important to help build a connection.
It provides a base for the logical mind and critically keeps us grounded in our perspective.
But for those who are more evolved such a connection flows easily it is not based on interpreting symbols, but on humility and a sincerity to know who god is.
When a hindu is asked why ganesha has an elephant head?,
Rather than immediately pointing to his symbolic nature perhaps the right response should be why shouldn't a manifestation of the divine have an elephant's head ?
Is there a limitation on how God can reveal himself?
Animals are as much a part of nature as humans. So why should he not choose their characteristics in a divine form.
The paramatma does not have any restrictions on how he ( using 'he' is wrong according to sanskrit) wishes to be known. He does not have to conform to the judgments and conditions of our minds and hinduism recognizes this he can manifest in any form.
This is why we have stones such as the shaligram and plants such as tulsidevi which are viewed as divine personalities.
In chapter 10 of the Bhagavad-Gita Arjuna yearns to know the truth of how Krishna can be known in this world.
In response Krishna describes his vibhudis or glories Krishna goes on illustrating how he can be recognized in this material world.
The overall point is his attributes and the breadth of who he is is truly infinite and he is woven into nature and at the same time he lies completely beyond it.
This is why Hindu deities carry all kinds of features, including animals.
There is no limit to the expression and beauty of God.