Hanuman is said to be a reminder that everything in the world is out of our control and the mind is the only thing that we can control. Meditators call the difficulty of maintaining focus “monkey mind”. Indeed this understanding of Hanuman is quite true. All meditators are all-too familiar with their own monkey mind.
Yesterday at my local temple, Hanuman was described as the prime example of devotion. Hanuman served Rama faithfully in Ramayana, and indeed was the ultimate karma yogi.
But I am interested in a third aspect of Hanuman. To many, he was an avatar of Shiva. He served Rama, an avatar of Vishnu.
Writing this as a Vaisnav, I want to be clear that this does not mean I am advocating the stance that Vishnu is “better” than Shiva. What it means is that the transformative power of Shiva serves the purpose of Vishnu upholding and preserving the world, yet the world needs transformation in order to be maintained. Therefore Vishnu and Shiva are interdependent. Shiva serves and is needed. Vishnu is served and needs. This is the idea behind those who worship God as Shiva and Vishnu combined, called Harihara.
Jai Harihara, Aum!