In Valmiki’s Ramayana, estimated to have been composed before or in about the 3rd century BCE, Hanuman is an important, creative character as a simian helper and messenger for Rama. The character evolved over time, reflecting regional cultural values. It is, however, in the late medieval era that his profile evolves into more central role and dominance as the exemplary spiritual devotee, particularly with the popular vernacular text Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas (~ 1575 CE). According to scholars such as Patrick Peebles and others, during a period of religious turmoil and Islamic rule of the Indian subcontinent, the Bhakti Movement and devotionalism-oriented Bhakti yoga had emerged as a major trend in Hindu culture by the 16th-century, and the Ramcharitmanas presented Rama as a Vishnu avatar, supreme being and a personal god worthy of devotion, with Hanuman as the ideal loving devotee with legendary courage, strength and powers.
During this era, Hanuman evolved and emerged as the ideal combination of shakti and bhakti. Stories and folk traditions in and after the 17th century, began to reformulate and present Hanuman as a divine being, as a descendant of deities, and as an avatar of Shiva. He emerged as a champion of those religiously persecuted, expressing resistance, a yogi, an inspiration for martial artists and warriors, a character with less fur and increasingly human, symbolizing cherished virtues and internal values, and worthy of devotion in his own right. As Hindu monks morphed into soldiers, they often named their organizations after Hanuman This evolution of Hanuman’s character, his religious status, and his cultural role as well as his iconography, continued through the colonial era and into post-colonial times.
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