To little Hanuman, Indra’s elephant looked like a toy. He forgot he was hungry, and went after the elephant.

Hanuman was the son of Anjana and the Vanara hero, Kesari. He was born by the grace of Vayu the wind god and therefore he was also known as Vayu’s son.

When Hanuman was but a child, Kesari was called away on duty by his chief Sugreeva. Anjana took care of her son. Vayu, who was fond of the little Vanara, used to take care of him while Anjana was away.

When Anjana went out to the forest to get fruits, Vayu would play with Hanuman. He would push colourful leaves and flowers towards the child. When the child tried to grab them, he would blow them away. The little kid would run after the leaves and flowers, chasing them down the forest path across rivers and up the mountains.

Meanwhile Anjana would come home, and find her little darling son missing. “Hanu, Hanu,” she would yell. No matter, how far away he was from her, Hanu would hear his mother’s call, and return home. Vayu would make an air cushion, and Hanuman would float on it.

One morning, Hanuman woke up very hungry. He wanted to eat. His mother had gone out. Hanuman looked for some fruits, but he found none. Then, he saw the sun rising. The morning sun looked red. “That fruit looks so juicy,” thought Hanu. He ran out of the hut, and up the hill nearby. Vayu gave him a gentle push. Lo, the little fellow was airborne.

The sun spotted the child flying towards him at an enormous speed. “That little fellow is charging at me like a mad bull,” thought the Sun god.

Vayu was amused that his friend, Surya, seemed to be shaken at the sight of a mere child. Hanuman who now started moving with greater speed. Surya, the sun god, was alarmed. “Help, Help,” he screamed. In no time, Indra the king of the gods, appeared, riding on his elephant. This was no ordinary elephant. Airavata was white in colour, and had four tusks.

To little Hanuman, Indra’s elephant looked like a toy. He forgot he was hungry, and went after the elephant. “Go away, you fiend, go away,” shouted Indra. Ignoring Indra’s warning, Hanuman lunged forward to grab the elephant by its trunks. Indra pushed away Hanuman with his powerful weapon, the thunderbolt.

Hanuman had taken the blow on his face. He winced as his face started bloating.

Vayu was alarmed at the sight of the falling child. He moved quickly to gather him in his arms. Carrying him, Vayu swiftly went inside a cave.

The moment Vayu locked himself in the cave, the wind stopped blowing. Men and animals grasped for breath. Indra was alarmed for he knew living beings cannot live for long without air. Indra ran after Vayu. Surya ran after Indra. Other gods ran after Surya. All gods, led by Indra, gathered outside the cave, appealed to Vayu to come out.

“You have such a wonderful son, Vayu,” said Indra, “What a boy!”

“What strength! And he is fearless too,” said Surya.

“When he grows up, Hanuman will achieve great feats,” said Indra.

“I grant Hanuman the boon of extraordinary strength,” said Surya.

“I grant him knowledge and wisdom,” announced Indra.

“He can grow large or small as he wishes. He can assume any form,” said one of the gods.

“Not even death can touch him. I will make him immortal,” said Indra.

Vayu was pleased to hear the boons showered on little Hanuman. Meanwhile the little fellow had recovered from the pain. Still hugging little Hanuman, Vayu came out of the cave to thank the gods.

The wind began to move. Men and animals could now breathe with ease. The gods were happy. They blessed Hanuman and returned to their homes.

Just then, Hanuman could hear his mother Anjana calling him — “Hanu, where have you gone. Hanu…”

Hanuman immediately headed home, floating on the air cushion provided by Vayu. When Hanuman reached home and hugged his mother, Vayu smiled.

Adapted from the account of Hanuman’s childhood described in Valmiki’s Ramayana, Kishkindakanda.

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