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The Hanuman Chalisa- Community, Connection in Chant and Conversation

                Hanuman is popularly characterized as a servile, reverential character in most of the tellings of his myth.  As we dig deeply into his stories guided by the lines of the Hanuman Chalisa, we will consider him more as a deferential character who advances the ideas of community or “kula”, remembering throughout that we are all of the characters in the story!  As such, we take measure of all we encounter through the eyes of the characters, creating an interaction with all we meet along the journey.  A key concept in looking at him through this lense will be the idea that he is an “Upadeva”.   While this is commonly translated to mean he is a “lesser god”, we will go back to the very roots of the word to see him as being virtuosic in conversation, standing in multiple relationships and situations so that as Dr. Douglas Brooks says we can “revel in an intimacy that welcomes differences in identity, so we remember each other in each others arms.”  So follows that Hanuman IS Yoga in his ability to fluidly shift shapes according to what he encounters and his ability to defer to and connect to other’s greatness in pursuit of what he sees as valuable.
                “Upadeva” comes from the Sanskrit prefix “upa” which means “towards, near to, by the side of, with under down” and “deva” means divine so with and as him we approach other beings of divinity or light. We stand in relationship to others’ light!   Here Mahadeva as Shiva  becomes Hanuman by choice through the play of dance or “Lilatandava”, where our work seems like play and service is not self-sacrificial but for the sake of offering joy and competence to kula. Competence includes knowing when to defer to others more skilled in certain actions taking us back to even Krishna’s definition of yoga as “skill in action”.

                Considering Hanuman as an Upadeva in this context allows us to also view his stories in the Ramayana from a triadic perspective, not just all about Ram Ram Ram. Here,  Sita is unconditional love, the state we are born in, Rama is conditional love and the bridge between them is Hanuman! We will dig into the idea that we need conditionality to experience true intimacy.  Hanuman is the bridge connecting conditional and unconditional love. In the yoga or union of the two he becomes the nexus in the seam between the Mahadevas  Sita and Rama!

                I look forward to sharing experiences together as we call out to one another in chanting  the Chalisa as a community, nurturing our empowerment by receiving one another’s stories and drawing near to each others light.  We will meet Tuesdays (Hanuman’s Day!) from 6-7 PM in the Meditation Room at the Integral Center for 10 weeks beginning March 15.  Register directly with me at ShaktiSandi@gmail.com or by calling 520-904-0140.  You can do all of the class or drop in as available.  More information is available at http://integralcenter.org/calendar/ .  Directly after my class, we are lucky to have the amazing Sofia Diaz teaching asana at 7:15 PM, hope you will join us both

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