LORD HANUMAN
Story by Brandon L. Parsons (2015)
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LORD HANUMAN
Ask most anyone on the topic and you'll usually hear the same response: Monkeys are cool. There's no way anyone can NOT like a monkey. Smart, mischievous, charming, goofy, and hilarious on a variety of birthday cards, old 60's TV shows and in 70's fighting movies starring Clint Eastwood (for those of you too young to know what the heck I'm saying here, I'm talking "Any Which But Loose." Whatever way you slice it, monkeys are all-around dang cool.

Established: Monkey Coolness.
Established: Monkey Coolness.

And yes, I know you can't call them all monkeys (some are apes, etc.); we're talking about them in the generic sense. Now that the awesomeness of monkeys is established, picture in your mind and think about this: A monkey in ancient India who walked around like a regular human, was the right-hand man to the King of ALL Monkeys, and who helped out a famous and dashing prince in locating and rescuing his bride-to-be by leading his Monkey Hordes into an epic battle against the Demon King who kidnapped her. Now THERE'S a story worth hearing about! Who is this simian figure of pure, outstanding amazingness? None other than the Indian mythological figure HANUMAN, (LORD Hanuman to you!), who plays a huge part in the story of the Ramayana (the story of Rama and Sita!)

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Shiva and Parvati...
Hanuman's crazy story begins with his god and goddess parents, Shiva and Parvati, who, for some crazy reason only known to them, decided one day to transform into monkeys and...well, get romantic. Sure enough, shortly after, the deities had themselves a little bundle of joy...though not as you might expect! Shiva and his wife decided to get all odd with their new child; rather than having Parvati have the child, they magically
transferred it over to a real female monkey named Anjana (by way of the wind god Vayu) to give birth to. Why? Well, perhaps Parvati didn't want to go through all of the trouble. Or maybe they just decided to do Anjana a solid because she had been praying for a male baby all of her own. Whatever the case, the son of Shiva and Parvati was born a monkey to a monkey mother.


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And what a kid he was! Weirdly, he was born already wearing a loincloth, which many use to describe his simple lifestyle, and also had elaborately pierced ears when he came out! A strange story explains how that went down:

"At the time of Hanuman's birth, the undisputed leader of the monkey-world was Vali, a strong and powerful ape. When Vali came to know that Anjana was pregnant with a child who was bound to develop into a powerful rival, he decided to end matters in Anjana's womb itself. He created a missile using five metals: gold, silver, copper, iron and tin. When the unsuspecting mother was asleep, he directed the missile into her womb. A normal child may have succumbed to this dastardly attack, but not one born of Shiva's fiery seed. The missile as soon as it touched Hanuman's body melted, and transformed into a pair of earrings. Thus wearing the trophies of his first battle, fought while still in his mother's womb, Hanuman gloriously entered this world." - "The Mystery of Hanuman" 2004, Nitin Kumar

Hanuman and the sun...
Hanuman and the sun...

So yeah, Hanuman was stylin' upon his arrival into the world. And he was certainly no ordinary kid being a) a monkey and b) the son of a god and goddess. He was a turbocharged monkey-child who was full on energy, restless, extremely spirited and even more so curious about the world. Even as a small child, Hanuman was busting out with immense strength that would put Donkey Kong to shame. Indian mythology is filled with stories of his early exploits. For instance, there was a tale told about once, Hanuman lookd up into the sky and saw the full, red sun setting, and in his young-monkey mindset thought "Dang, man! Fresh red fruit!" He just had to have that "fruit" and so scrambled up into the sky to snatch it and gulp it down. No such luck, of course, and Hanuman, moping around because he couldn't get what he really wanted, slouched off back home for the night. The next day, however, Hanuman saw a great dragon named Rahu cruising over to the sun to try devouring it himself. Not to be outdone by a giant flying worm, Hanuman tried his best to snag Rahu by the tail and give him a good smashing. Rahu was having none of it and turned tail to flee, heading into the upper skies, the refuge of Indra, the god of those aforementioned skies. Rahu begged Indra to give him a hand in repelling Hanuman (and really, it wasn't as if Rahu was causing the monkey any trouble, even if he WAS attempting to eat the sun!)

Indra, god of thunderstorms...
Indra, god of thunderstorms...

Indra cracked out his crackling, zillion-volt lightning bolt, hopped onto the back of his gargantuan white elephant, Airvata (Air-vata, get it?) and went off to teach Hanuman a little lesson in cooling his jets. Indra was the model of total fear; rampaging on a giant stampeding elephant and tossing bolts of super-heated plasma through the skies, all accompanied by the crash and rumble of angry thunder, his goal was to scare the living tar out of the monkey. Instead, Hanuman laughed it off and had no fear in his young heart. Still being a kid, Hanuman actually found himself seeing Airvata as a giant toy to be played with, and totally turned the tables around on Indra when he grabbed the elephant's trunk, swung onto his back and joined Indra for a ride! That only ticked off Indra more, and so he took his best, strongest, highest-voltage thunderbolt and slammed into into the monkey-child's face, knocking him off Airvata's back and hurling him down towards the earth, end over end and smoking from the lightning strike he'd just received...

Vayu...
Vayu...

Luckily, Hanuman's Uncle, Vayu, the god of the winds, caught him and decided to teach any and all who hard harmed the little guy a major lesson in patience. Using his powers of wind control, Vayu vacuumed up all of the air in the universe into his vast lungs, leaving no oxygen anywhere in the universe. "Let all those who have harmed Anjana's son choke to death!" he menacingly cried! Naturally, stuff began to wither and die without air and eventually, the other gods showed up to beg forgiveness from Vayu. To make up for their combined jerkishness, the gods decided to each give Hanuman a gift, power or blessing. They gave him the special goods, including:

Gifts from the gods!
Gifts from the gods!

-From Brahma: "May you live as long as Brahma himself lives." Not bad. Eternal life!
-From Vishnu: "May you live all your life as the greatest devotee of God." A servant who helps all. OK. Still pretty good.
-From Indra: "No weapon of any kind will wound or hit your body." Excellent! Totally protected from weapons!
-From Agni: "Fire will never affect you." Fireproof!
-From Kali: "May death never court you." Again, oblivious to death!
-And as a special gift that all of the gods (Devas) (gods) went in on together, "None will ever equal you in strength and speed." Sweet. Light-speed and super-strength! Talk about a power-up!

Brahma...
Brahma...

But Brahma, the head-honcho god of the Indian pantheon, wasn't quite done. He had a final gift to bestow upon the lucky monkey; he gave him a speed faster than even Vayu or Garuda, faster than the wind itself. With all of the gift-giving and "please forgive me's" over, Vayu was satisfied and blew the air back onto the earth and the universe sighed in relief; Hanuman went back to his parents, now a super-monkey. Cool, right? One small catch to all of this supreme awesomeness. Brahman also decided that Hanuman would never know about all of his awesome new powers until he found himself in the middle of doing an amazingly helpful deed. Which leads to an adventure further on down the line!

Hanuman and Surya...
Hanuman and Surya...

Hanuman continued growing and learning, and to assist him in figuring out the universe he selected a guru (teacher) to help him out; the old and cranky sun god, Surya. Surya, being the sun, had seen just about everything and as Hanuman figured, he'd be perfect for the job. Problem was, Surya wasn't too keen on helping. "No time," said the crotchety old sun. "Too much to do. Flying across the sky every day in my chariot I'm too dang tired to do anything at night." Hanuman wasn't about to give up on the sun, and so decided to propose a deal. The deal was simple: The strapping young monkey would fly just ahead of the chariot, with his face pointing in the direction of Surya, and the sun would teach him as they flew together across the sky from dawn to dusk. Kill two birds with one stone. Surya, impressed with the logic Hanuman was throwing down, agreed to teach him. From Surya, Hanuman learned all about the Vedas (the extremely thick four books of knowledge that make up Hinduism), the six systems of philosophies (called darshanas), the sixty-four arts, and the one-hundred-and-eight occult (magic) mysteries called the Tantras. The tantras were a set of supercharged superpowers that could be achieved by focusing the mind and saying specific chants while meditating. They were:

1). Anima - The ability to reduce his size.
2). Mahima - Ability to increase his size.
3). Laghima - The ability to become weightless.
4). Garima - Ability to increase weight.
5). Prapti - The ability to travel anywhere and acquire anything.
6). Parakamya - Irresistible will power.
7). Vastiva - Mastery over all creatures.
8). Isitva - Ability to become god like with the power to create and destroy.

With powers like that, Hanuman would be able to do pretty much whatever was needed in life. Lots of book learning for a young monkey to pick up, but Hanuman soaked it all in and learned all that the sun had to offer!

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Hanuman and Surya; teaching and learning!

Sugriva...
Sugriva...

In return for Surya's services, Hanuman insisted that he be able to do a favor for the god. It just so happened that Surya had a nephew that needed a little looking after in the behavior department; his name was Sugriva, and he was the brother of Vali (the monkey who had tried to kill off Hanuman in the beginning of our story!), the King of the Monkeys. We already know that Vali was a total schmuck and the undisputed ruler of all monkeys, who killed and ripped the arms off of any who dared to contest his crown, but his brother Sugriva...well, let's just say that he was the only one that Vali would share anything with. At first, Sugriva had a bit of his brother rub off on him and was quite the pain in the rump to deal with, but Hanuman became his friend and guided him to a much sunnier attitude. When Vali died, Sugriva became King of the Monkeys and as a blood-brother of Hanuman, would aid him in a future quest that would put Hanuman's name on the map in mythology.

Hanuman: conquering the ego.
Hanuman: conquering the ego.

But before that, a little bit about Hanuman as an individual: His very name, "hanan," means annihilation, and "man" means "mind." So, in the ancient Sanskrit language, "Hanuman" actually means "one who has conquered his ego." Hanuman was selfless and always made sure to help those in need because it needed done, not to become famous. A pretty awesome guy in the compassion department, Hanuman was always ready to lay himself on the line to assist someone in need in a state of mind called bhakti (selfless devotion.). Good thing, too, since Hanuman had control over all of the god-given and sun-learned powers he'd acquired over the years! One can only imagine what an evil monkey might do with such powers!!!

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Hanuman and Rama...
Hanuman and Rama...

Hanuman would need every single one of those powers for his ultimate adventure between shining good and rampaging evil. As it so happened, (long story short) a young, beautiful newly-married girl named Sita, wife of an also-young, strapping and good-natured godling prince named Rama, was kidnapped by one of the most destructive and hideous baddies in all of Indian mythology; the 10-headed, 20-armed Demon King, Ravana. Ravana was truly the worst of the worst, ruling over the island of Lanka with 20 iron fists and surrounded by his lesser demon henchmen (rakshasas), making all who came before him revert into a pile of terrified, quaking, jello-like wimps. Ravana was truly repulsive, and in typical mythological villainy, decided that the ever-gorgeous Sita would be a perfect prize for his nastiness to grab and keep prisoner in his dastardly palace (to be fair, he was doing all this out of revenge; Rama HAD cut the nose off of his sister at one point!). Rama, understandably freaked out that his dazzling wife had been kidnapped by the uber-ugly Ravana, went to the one being he knew could aid him in getting her back; he came calling on Hanuman, who was only too eager to help out.

The Monkey Army!
The Monkey Army!


Sugriva and Rama...
Sugriva and Rama...

Calling in his favors, Hanuman went to his best-bro, Sugriva and asked for help, which Sugrive generously offered. The entire Monkey kingdom was to be Hanuman's to command in the invasion of Lanka, and Hanuman wasted no time rallying the troops for an monkey-assault on the island fortress. Think Planet of the Apes CGI-monkey army and then multiply it by thousands; swarms of monkeys on the march, roaring, screeching and ready to rip some demon's arms from their sockets to beat them to death with their own bloody limbs! The fearless Monkey Horde, along with Rama and his own brother, Lakshmana, headed off in the craziest prison break ever witnessed. Before they could make that happen, Hanuman knew he'd have to cross the great distances to Ravana's capital and do some scouting, figure out what was what and find out where Sita was being held captive. Problem: Ravana lived far across the water from India, on the island of Sri Lanka!
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

Hanuman obviously is going to run into some issues here, as how was he going to GET there; if you recall, he wasn't able to remember his great powers unless someone reminded him that what he was doing was an exceptionally good deed. Stuck on the opposite shore from Lanka and without boats to take the raging army accross, Hanuman found himself with a dilemma, until he WAS reminded of his powers by a new group of allies that decided to join forces with Rama and the Monkeys; the King of the BEARS, Jambavan (who had brought a killer army of his own consisting of giant rabid bears with razor sharp teeth!) was the one to help Hanuman remember his powers with a few kind words. That was all it took. Hanuman remembered all of his god-given upgrades and managed to leap across the water, all the way to Lanka, planning on checking things out, returning, and then finding a way to to take the army with back with him. Bounding over the water, Ravana's guardians, a series of water demonesses, tried to grab Hanuman (or his shadow, which they could have used to kill the monkey super-soldier!), but Hanuman was quicker and landed safely, and swiftly began his mission to locate Sita.

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Hanuman leaps across the ocean!

Hanuman tracks down Sita!
Hanuman tracks down Sita!

Several days of prowling around in stealth-monkey mode eventually brought Hanuman to the gardens of Ravana's palace, and eventually inside, where deep in the bowels of the fortress, he located the room where Sita had been imprisoned. Using his ability to transform, Hanuman shrunk himself down into a fly, and was able to buzz through the keyhole. Imagine Sita's WTH shock when he poofed back into his normal monkey size! Obviously, the princess was depressed; being kidnapped and harassed by the King of Demons is going to have that affect on you. She was full of sobbing grief at having been taken from her true love, Rama, but Hanuman, ever the compassionate guy, managed to calm her with the news that an army of monkeys, bears and random warriors (led by himself and Rama) would soon be busting down the walls (and busting in Ravana's face) to rescue her from a pretty hideous fate. He gave her the hope she needed to hang tough.

The Monkey Commander, captured!
The Monkey Commander, captured!

Leaving Sita behind to return to the Monkey Army, as he was trying his best to sneak back out through Ravana's garden, the rakshasa, Ravana's demon thugs, caught wind of him, chased him down and captured the brave monkey warrior, and had him chained up for the amusement of their master. Ravana, who was a total and complete putz anyway, became even more an evil jerk when he decided to set fire to the trapped Hanuman's tail. Why? Because EVIL, that's why. So, naturally, of course, the foul rakshasa did exactly as they were told, putting Hanuman's long tail to the torch. Not to worry, though; even though his tail was merrily burning, Hanuman used his powers to grow to enormous size, getting bigger and bigger by the second, snapping the sad excuse for chains that had held him down. The rakshasa had no clue what to do with this situation, but by the time they came up with any kind of repsonse, it was too late! Hanuman, now looking like King Kong, was smacking around dozens of rakshasa at once, pulverizing them into mush in huge crowds by simply waving his arms around. Even better, he began to swish his now-epic inferno of a tail around as well, and managed to set Ravana's opulent, arrogant palace ablaze! In the chaos that ensued, Hanuman was able to escape, although not completely unscathed; he left with a blackened tail and face from having dealt with Ravana's cruel fire (and, in fact, the images of Hanuman you might see in India today show him with both a blackened tail and face because of this!), and managed to leap back across the water to the waiting Monkey Army.

Hanuman goes ape on Ravana's palace and demon minions!
Hanuman goes ape on Ravana's palace and demon minions!

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Monkey Army on the march!
Now completely ticked off and filled with a need to continue slashing apart the still-powerful demon-rakshasa army, Hanuman began to plan for the army's final assault. You might be asking how the combined army of monkeys and bears back in India were going to make it to Lanka, as they did NOT have all of those super-awesome powers. Well, with the help of special magic from Hanuman, the monkeys were able to build a bridge of floating stones across the water so that they, Rama, Lakshmana, and the bears could cross over to join him. Yeah. With the monkey hordes numbering in the thousands, it didn't take long to make it happen, and soon, the massive army was on its way to a demon-slaughtering party over in Lanka!


Bridging the gap...
Bridging the gap...

Rampaging towards Ravana!
Rampaging towards Ravana!

Hanuman and his army didn't waste any time and got right to work plowing their way through Ravana's demonic minions in an epic open battle to the death. The blackened and poisonous blood of the rakshasas flew through the air, followed by their limbs and heads. Ravana's own sons and many of his brothers were slaughtered by the enraged, rag-tag group of bears, monkeys and the increasingly ticked off Rama; it was pretty clear to Ravana that he was in some deep trouble and that if he didn't find something up his sleeve, he was going to wind up dismembered and/or impaled by thousands of screeching simians and a seriously angry husband. And, just when you think Ravana has some kind of super-secret weapon lying around for just some situation, you're only half right. Rather than face Rama, Hanuman and Co. face to face, Ravana pulls the cowardly trick of sending his own brother stop the rampaging horde while he fled the scene to go hide somewhere! Ravana's bro, Mahiravana, was a seriously power-weilding sorcerer type himself, having learned some dark, dark juju from the goddess Kali, and was also the ruler of the Indian underworld...so this guy was no slouch; Ravana probably wasn't actually too stupid in sending him to get in Hanuman's way! Ravana sweetened the deal by reminding his son that Kali would probably be pretty jazzed if Mahiravana was to offer up the heads of Rama and Lakshmana as sacrifices to her, and that he would probably get even MORE powers as a reward! That was all it took, and Mahiravana went off for a showdown between his Kali-inspired darkness and our heroes while Ravana high-tailed it out of there.

Mahiravana...
Mahiravana...

And Mahiravana knew what he was doing, too, as he managed to use his dark magic to kidnap Rama and his younger brother Lakshmana while they were asleep. When Hanuman arrived on the scene the next morning, the only thing he found was a dark, evil, slimy trail leading down into nearby caves; yep, Mahiravana left a trail down into the Underworld and was so sure of himself that he didn't even care that anyone could see where he'd gone. Hanuman wasn't going to sit around and wast time and so he nose-dived down into the deep caverns to search for his allies and friends. When he finally tunneled his way to the end of the caverns, Hanuman found himself in Patala, the dark domain of Mahiravana, and in the deepest part, he spied his friends tied to a stake in the ground. Mahiravana had prepped them for his sacrifice to Kali, and had doused the two in mustard oil, as well as having decked them out with garlands of marigold flowers (apparently what Kali was into). Mahiravana was getting his kicks as he sharpened his sacrificial knives, cackling to himself while he sang hymns and said prayers to Kali. Hanuman would have to act fast if he was going to get his chums out of this predicament...

Hanuman saves the brothers...
Hanuman saves the brothers...

Using his powers of transformation, Hanuman shrank himself into the form of a buzzing honeybee, flew on down to where Rama was struggling against his binds and whisper-buzzed into his ear: "When Mahiravana asks you to place your neck on the sacrificial block, inform him that being of royal lineage you have never learned to bow your head. Tell him to show you how." And that's exactly what Rama did. Mahiravana blindly fell for that one, and put his head on his own chopping block to show Rama how it was done. Stupid move. As soon as his head was down, Hanuman snatched Mahiravana's blade and decapitated the slightly-less-than-smart sorceror, ending his date with Kali right then and there. Hanuman also got the hit points that were coming to Mahiravana from Kali...the goddess was most impressed with his cunning and trickery and so gave him the job that Mahiravana was dying to have. She made the Monkey Commander her temple's official doorkeeper (which is why today you see so many carved monkeys standing guard outside of temples all over India!), which was high honors, and to this day, Hanuman is the go-to in any fight against dark magic. Lots of charms and amulets show him in modern day and he's a pretty popular guy in soul/home protection! Hanuman quickly untied Rama and his brother and the three of them, reunited, busted out of the underworld to pursue Ravana and continue on the trail of rescuing Sita.

Slaughterfest...
Slaughterfest...

Meanwhile, Ravana had heard of his brothers death and was both a)supremely ticked off and b) filling his pants in fear. He consulted every astrologer he could find and no matter what threats he made, the outlook was always a bad one. None of the planets or stars aligned to show him a victory, so instead of accept defeat and move on, he did what any evil bad guy would do; he decided to actually MOVE the planets and stars around with magic so that he WOULD get a destiny he was more in favor of. Seriously. And so he climbed aboard his decked-out flying chariot, flew up into the heavens, began knocking around the planets themselves, chained them up and dragged them back to his palace in chains (a cool story, but in terms of gravity...earth would cease to exist, but again, mythology!). He began a weird and bizarre set of rituals that would unleash his serious dark magic and that would send the planets wherever the heck he wanted them. Naturally, word of this came to the ears of Hanuman, the Monkey Commander assembled a crack squad of suicide monkey warriors and led them in a daring attack on Ravana's palace in hopes of saving the universe (kind of like attacking the Death Star in Star Wars). Swooping into the main chamber where Ravana was deep in a trance working his demonic juju, the monkeys let out an earth-shattering war-whoop, extinguished the sacred fires, knocked down all of the magical talismans that were needed for the planetary moving-around, and erased all of the crazy mystical symbols that Ravana had chalked up on his walls. Through all of this chaos, Ravana was so deep in his trance that he heard nothing. Not a peep. He had NO clue that the monkeys had just rocked his world, yet the planets were still in his magical control. Hanuman knew that it was now or never. They had to deal with Ravana, trick him into releasing the planets or else they never would...

The wives of Ravana...
The wives of Ravana...

Hanuman concocted a pretty genius plan; what would be the only thing to knock Ravana out of his trance better than messing with all of his wives? So, he instructed his monkey forces to break into the chambers where the many wives of Ravana hung out all day, scare the living daylights out of them and force them to run for the hills. The hope was that Ravana would wake up and chase after them, but no matter how much screeching, jumping around like maniacs, throwing things, tearing out hair or telling dirty jokes the monkeys dished out, Ravana would not wake up. It wasn't until the monkeys started roughing up Ravana's main wife, Mandodari, bearing their teeth and pulling off their best Planet of the Apes routine that they began to get results. Completely terrified off of her rocker by the simian assault, Mandodari cried out "Woe is me. My husband meditates while monkeys threaten my chastity." That finally did it. Out of shame for not protecting his wives, Ravana sprang up out of his trance and ran to the defense of the screaming bunch. And of course, when Ravana lost his trance and ran out of the room, it gave Hanuman the chance to grab the planets and toss them back up where they belonged.
Long, tall and ugly x10: Ravana, the Demon King!
Long, tall and ugly x10: Ravana, the Demon King!


Rama defeats Ravana!!!
Rama defeats Ravana!!!

That done, it was time for the final showdown. Together, Hanuman and Rama hunted down Ravana and managed to corner him for a final earth-rumbling, epic battle royale, where they began slashing away at Ravana's ten heads, each of which was taunting them and hurling choice four-letter words and insults about their mothers at them. Classy. Ravana's twenty arms were hurling even worse things at Hanuman and Rama; lethal weapons and magic, which they managed to dodge, though there were no shortages of close calls! Worse yet, no matter how many heads the heroes severed from Ravana's demonic body, they'd grow back instantly, more mouthy than ever before! Rama did the only thing he could think to do; he prayed for assistance to the gods. The god of rain and thunderstorms, Indra, heard his prayers and sent down his celestial chariot, driven by his personal charioteer, Matali. Matali calls for Rama to jump aboard; Hanuman tells Rama that the destruction of Ravana is Rama's to perform and that the gods have destined him to do it. Rama, speeding around the Demon King in the chariot of Indra, shooting off his bow and arrow, still cannot conquer Ravana, until Matali hands him a special world-destroying weapon of the gods called a Brahmasthra, which works the same way as his trusty bow and arrow, but with nuclear results. Aiming the Brahmasthra at Ravana's heart, Rama lets fly, hitting the Demon King square in the chest, basically nuking the demon king to hell and gone...when the smoke clears, there is nothing left of Ravana save for a few shreds of clothing and a whole lot of glowing soot...

Pledging service to Rama, the new king...
Pledging service to Rama, the new king...

In the end, the rakshasa and the minions of Ravana are annihilated, Sita is freed and reunited with her love, the Demon King is wiped off of the face of the earth, and Rama himself is able to return home to become the king of his own country. Hanuman, ever humble, when asked by Rama how he'd like to be rewarded for his services in aiding the hero in winning back Sita, only responds that he'd like to continue serving for as long as he lives. No problem. Rama gratefully grants him that request, and from then on Hanuman served as a protector to both the King and Queen, until the day that the gods decided to make him immortal. There are many other places where Hanuman pops up in the many stories of Indian mythology, such as his adventures in the Mahabharata, and as a result, he cemented his place forever as a part of the Hindu faith. And he's been venerated ever since, being invoked to help with the banishment of demons from the lives of thousands who had sought him out. You can find Hanuman all over India today if you visit the many temples scattered across the land, which isn't a bad way to be remembered, centuries after your story concluded. And, all told, its truly an especially awesome ending for one of the world's greatest monkeys of all time!
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The Monkey Commander...
The Monkey Commander...