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Hanuman's TaleThe Messages of a Divine Monkey$
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Philip Lutgendorf

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195309225

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309225.001.0001

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Monkey in the Middle

Monkey in the Middle

Hanuman and His Kin in Transcultural Discourse

(p.333) 8 Monkey in the Middle
Hanuman's Tale

Philip Lutgendorf (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on a theme implicit in much of the book: the relationship of Hanuman's simian form to the mediatory religious role he assumes and to the “messages” he so effectively delivers. It first considers the preoccupation of some modern Indian authors with the “problem” of Hanuman's monkey form, situating their interventions within colonial and post-colonial debates about history, race, and cultural and biological evolution. For comparative purposes, it surveys a wider range of human responses to anthropoid primates, including the cults of simian deities in Chinese and Japanese religions and the discourse of modern primatology. Returning to India, it considers Hanuman's role in modern Hindu nationalism and in the religious patronage of the emerging middle class. Finally, it examines evidence of Hanuman's continuing rise as a comprehensive and encompassing deity, signaled by new iconography and a proliferating theological discourse. An epilogue speculates on the potential for Hanuman's role in movements promoting ecology and environmental ethics.

Keywords:   Chinese religion, colonialism, Darwinism, environmental ethics, eugenics, evolutionary theory, Hindu iconography, Hindu nationalism, Japanese religion, monkeys

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