Among Hindu divinities, Lord Hanuman is the most popular. Of late, his devotees have established a number of museums for him in different parts of India.
But the most important of these is the Hanuman Museum in Lucknow set up by Sunil Gomber, an ardent devotee of Hanuman.
Just enter the museum and you will find a complete world of Hanuman artefacts, portraits, murals, statues, relics, books and cassettes.
In fact, this museum has been certified by the Limca Book of Records as the largest Hanuman Museum in the world.
This is solely due to the efforts of Sunil Gomber, a prominent publisher of Lucknow, who has donated, since 2004, portions of his mansion at Indira Nagar at Lucknow for the museum.
As a child, he was a great devotee of Hanuman and this passion grew as he became a prosperous businessman. In fact, in 2009, when he heard that US President Barack Obama carries a “tiny monkey god” apparently representing Hanuman, Gomber was overjoyed.
President Obama, whose father was a Kenyan and mother a white woman from Kansas, spent the initial days of his life in Indonesia, where Hinduism is practised by many people.
Gomber sent to Obama the visual encyclopaedia of Hanuman compiled by him.
The tome titled “Samagra Hanuman Darshan” (visual encyclopaedia of Lord Hanuman) was released in 2007 and the 248-page bi-lingual (English and Hindi) book has been published in matte finish and is being touted as a “collector’s item”.
Apart from India, several of the photographs pertain to ancient temples in Cambodia, Indonesia and Mauritius.
The museum has more than 700 rare portraits, carefully collected by Gomber.
The seven portfolios, prominently displayed on the walls, show Hanuman in different moods and varied emotions like “veer rasa” and “bhakti rasa.” One of the portfolios even shows Lord Rama dressing up Hanuman. The murals throw up different aspects of his life.
For example, one aspect of God Hanuman’s prowess was that he was a celibate.
One of the murals shows a curious episode not known to many.
“Puranas” state that Hanuman is the only deity who mastered all the nine Hindu scriptures that were taught to gods. However, one of these treatises, could not be taught till the student was married.
Understanding that Hanuman was a “bal brahmchari”, his teacher Surya, the Sun God, offered a solution.
He cut off his rays and created a female goddess Suvarchala, also a celibate.
The two were married ritualistically. Thereafter, Surya imparted the training in the last scripture to Hanuman. A large mural that occupies the pride of place in the museum shows Hanuman with his extended family.
There is Lord Shiva on top and Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman on one side and mother Anjani and father Kesri on the other.
Hanuman’s foster father Pawan Deva is present in one corner, while his teacher Surya Deva stands at the other end.
His friends Angad, Sugriv, Nal and Neel and Jamwant are waiting in attendance, while saint Tulsi Das, who is supposed to be an avatar of Hanuman, is shown at another corner.
One treasure, which Gomber has acquired at great cost, is that of a pair of silver padukas ( slippers).
As is known, when Rama was born, the astrologers found 48 divine marks on the sole of his feet.
Gomber’s silver padukas are artistically decorated with all these divine marks.
Normally, Hanuman is shown as either carrying the Sanjivani mountain or at the feet of Lord Rama.
But this museum has a rare statue of Hanuman playing the veena.
A large number of people are conversant with the famous Hanuman Chalisa prayer composed by Tulsidas.
In the poem, he has described the ornaments worn by Hanuman as Kunal kunchit kesha, Haath Braj aur dhwaja iraje, kandhe moonj janeu saje’.
(You wear ear rings and have long curly hair. You carry in your hand a lightening bolt along with a victory (kesari) flag and wear the sacred thread on your shoulder).
Gomber did research on these embellishments and has recreated them in silver.
There are more than 350 books on Hanuman in this museum and the different editions of the prayer book Hanuman Chalisa.
Gomber has also collected, CDs, cassettes, gramophone records available on this famous sloka on Hanuman. In modern days, you cannot overlook the internet and one large noticeboard displayed gives information on the hundreds of related items on the internet on Hanuman.
If you want to know as to which is the tallest Hanuman statue in the world, you have it here, as well as +information on the smallest statue.
Gomber has compiled two books on Lord Hanuman: The World of Lord Hanuman and The Visual Encyclopedia of Lord Hanuman.
For The World of Lord Hanuman, Gomber collected material from 51 websites devoted to Hanuman and compiled it into 31 articles. Gomber states: “These sites, which are maintained by highly learned international scholars, provide a wonderful insight into the references on Hanuman drawn from various sacred and religious scriptures.
By the grace of Hanumanji, I have been able to compile the storehouse of information and knowledge of these websites into a collection of articles in this book.”
The result is a marvellous volume that guides readers through the long and complicated details of Lord Hanuman’s life and relationship with Rama.
A quarterly magazine “Hanuman Kripa Sandesh” on Lord Hanuman is available and the publisher claims that it is the only exclusive journal on Hanuman.
In the museum, a Hanuman writing bank is also established, where the devotees can write the god’s name as many times as they can and deposit it as their treasure.