The controversy over the birth place of Lord Rama has now been more or less settled. A new controversy over the birthplace of his ardent disciple/follower Hanuman is now raging, threatening to snowball into a full-blown war between the two neighboring States, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Hanuman is known as Hanumantha or Anjaneya in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and is revered by millions of Hindus as God.
For centuries, Kannada mythology and folklore have claimed that Hanuman was born in Karnataka. According to these scriptures and literature, today’s Anjanadri hills at Anegundi near world heritage site Hampi is the birthplace of Hanuman. The scholars argue that the same place was known as Kishkinda in Ramayana.
A famous Kannada poem “Udayavagali Namma Cheluva Kannadanadu” by Huyilagola Narayana Rao describes Karnataka as the birthplace of Hanuman (Hanumanudisida Nadu)
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) which controls Venkateshwara temple at Tirumala/Tirupati, the richest Hindu temple in the world has recently claimed Hanuman was born at Tirupati triggering a controversy.
It has declared Japali Theertham near Akasha Ganga waterfall in Tirumala Hills as the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. It stated that they established the fact that Tirumala is the birthplace of Hanuman after four months of intensive research. National Sanskrit University Vice-Chancellor V Muralidhara Sharma, who is a member of the expert committee constituted by the TTD to establish Anjanadri Hill in the Seven Hills (Tirumala Hills/Sapthagiri) as the birthplace of Hanuman, said: “It has been established based on puranic anthologies, literary and epigraphic evidence and geographic details. Venkatachalam is also known as Anjanadri and 19 other names. Hanuman was born on Anjanadri in Treta Yuga.”
The historians, Sanskrit scholars and mythology researchers in Karnataka have sharply reacted to this, terming the findings of the TTD as baseless and motivated. They claim that they have irrefutable records to prove that Hanuman was born at Anjanadri hills near Hampi and not at Tirupati. To counter the claims of the TTD, these scholars have decided to release many ancient documents, which prove that Hanuman was indeed born in Karnataka.
Some even allege that the economic considerations are driving the TTD to appropriate Hanuman as their own.
“The TTD claims are laughable. Ancient documents to medieval writings have conclusively proved that Hanuman was born at Anjanadri hills in Karnataka. Lakhs of devotees visit this place every year. The Government has already finalised a plan to develop this place with Rs 200 crore. We suspect TTD is eyeing the money and may want to grab that by making false claims about Hanuman’s birthplace. The greatness obsession of the TTD is also one of the reasons for this controversy,” said noted writer and historian HS Patil.
He argues that from the time of Vedas to Ramayana and Mahabharata, Anegundi has been known as the birthplace of Hanuman.
Locals claim that several inscriptions dating back to 9th and 10th century have also mentioned Anegundi as the birthplace of Hanuman. According to them, eminent American scholar and Indologist Philips Lutgendorf has also concluded that Hanuman was born here in his book “Hanuman’s Tail”.
Local MLA Paranna Munavalli has attacked TTD for making false claims over Hanuman’s birthplace. He said that under no circumstances they will accept the TTD’s findings and will release more documents to reiterate their claims.
“TTD has agreed that Kishkinda was on the banks of river Thunga Bhadra. They are admitting that Anegundi which is on the banks of the river is his birthplace. Tirupati is far away from this river. It shows that their claims are unsubstantiated,” he said.
The TTD has rejected these claims and has stated that it is ready to come out with more documents to defend its findings.