Since our world is very small, it won’t be unnatural for two different civilization to get influenced by the cultural practices of one another, resulting in the resemblance of two great portrayals in some account.
In Chinese classical novel, known as Journey to the West, Sun Wukong is depicted as the great Monkey King with limitless powers. He is immortal and has the strength to lift 17,550lb staff with ease.
Lord Hanuman is one of the most popular and powerful Hindu Deity. He is a devotee of Lord Rama, son of Anjana and conqueror of all demons. He is invincible in every way.
In Chinese Mythology, the body of Monkey King is entirely covered with fur, just like that of a monkey. The color of his fur is said to be golden. His personal weapon is his golden staff that has the capability to increase or decrease its size to any extent. If he wants to, he can even make it tiny and insert it inside his ear.
In Hindu Mythology, Lord Hanuman appears mostly as a human. He is muscular and big. He carries a golden mace in his hand. When he makes his body huge to that of a tall mountain, it is seen that his mace can also increase its shape to match the size of his body.
Their body may differ but their face exhibits the trait of a monkey. Also, both of their weapons can change their shape and size to any extent.
According to the legend, Sun Wukong was born from a magic stone that seated atop the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. The stone developed a magic womb and burst open one day to produce a stone egg about the size of a ball. When the wind blew on the egg, it cracked and a stone monkey crawled out of it.
In the case of Lord Hanuman, there are several stories related to his birth. However, there is one particular story that somehow resembles the description of the above-mentioned tale.
Once, Lord Vishnu disguised himself as the Enchantress Mohini to seduce and annihilate Bhasmasura through mischief. Mohini’s beauty influenced Shiva so much that he spilled his seed, which if touched the ground could destroy the whole universe. Narada, who was observing all of this, quickly collected this seed in a leaf and transferred it inside a meditating Anjana’s womb through her ears to impregnate her with a child. He did so because she was cursed by a sage to give birth to a child through Immaculate Conception.
But during her childbirth, she did not deliver a baby but a shell-type-cocoon that was as hard as a rock. Having no idea about what she had given birth to, she quickly wrapped it with some leaves and ran towards Narada’s ashram. Fortunately, Lord Vayu (The Wind God) noticed it and cracked the shell with his sheer might. When she arrived at that very spot with Narada, she discovered Hanuman inside that cocoon.
In another tale, Anjana, a monkey woman and devotee of Lord Shiva prays to him to grant her with a magnificent child. Shiva hears her prayer and sends lord Vayu with his semen ( Sexual Creative Power ) to put it inside her womb. After the period of some days, she gives birth to Hanuman.
In both of these birth stories, the wind has played a role to break them out of their respective shell or egg. Also, both of them were born inside a hard structured, cocoon-like thing that can’t merely be a coincidence.
Wukong received his immortality by stealing and consuming Xi Wangmu’s Peaches of Immortality and Laozi’s Pills of Longevity. To top it off, he also wiped his name out of the Book of Life and Death to free his soul from ever getting captured by Hell.
Lord Hanuman once tried to eat the sun, taking it as some kind of red fruit. On seeing this, Lord Indra became furious and hit him with his Vajra. On getting struck by the lightning bolt, Hanuman speedily fell down to earth but before he could touch the ground, Lord Vayu saved him. The sight of his beloved son lying helpless in his arms infuriated the wind-god. In anger, he drew in a mighty breath and sucked away all the air from the cosmos. His act threatened all life force of all three realms.
The gods, realizing their folly, went in unison to Vayu and asked for his forgiveness. To make amends, they showered the following blessings and powers on the monkey child:
a). Brahma (The Creator): “May you live as long as Brahma himself lives.”
b). Vishnu (The Protector): “May you live all your life as the greatest devotee of God.”
c). Indra (The God of Thunder): “No weapon of any kind will wound or hit your body.”
d). Agni (The Fire God): “Fire will never affect you.”
e). Kala (The Death God): “May death never court you.”
f). All the Devas (Godly Beings): “None will ever equal you in strength and speed.”
In short, Hanuman became invincible and became Chiranjeevi (Immortal) because of all these boon.
May they have attained their longevity differently but we can’t deny the fact that they both are immortals and mighty.
For this section, I have covered most of my portion in 1). However, one common noticeable factor is the color of their weapons. It is golden.
Havoc in Heaven V/s Chaos in Ashok Vatika
Sun Wukong is known for causing havoc in heaven. He completely defied heaven and went on a rampage. At first, he opened the reins of the Cloud Horses and set them free. He then ate Peaches of Immortality and Laozi’s pills of Longevity from the Jade Emperor’s forbidden garden. He also defeated the Army of Heaven’s 100,000 celestial warriors, all 28 constellations, four heavenly kings, and Nezha; proved himself equal to the best of Heaven’s general, Erlang Shen. Finally, Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of mercy captured him and locked him into Laozi’s eight-way trigram Crucible. However, on forty-ninth day, he finally freed himself with the help of his golden-gaze fiery-eyes.
While searching for Sita, Lord Rama’s wife, Lord Hanuman once set his foot on a place called Ashok Vatika. It was Ravan’s personal garden where he had held Sita captive. When Hanuman requested her to come with him, she denied his help. On her defiance, he then asked for her permission to allow him to eat something from the garden. Once she granted him the permission to eat anything that he desired, he then ate all the fruits, uprooted all the trees and trampled all the flowers of the garden. He even beat all the demon soldiers who came to capture him. At last, he got captured but escaped from there by burning down the entire palace of Ravana with his burning tail.
In both of these stories, they are expressing characterization of monkey’s natural instinct and naughtiness. As for their similarities, both caused havoc in a forbidden garden, ate its fruits, damaged its properties, defeated armies, got captured too but in the end, freed themselves with the aid of fire.
In the movie version of Journey to the West(Part 1 & Part 2) and a film, The Monkey King (Played by Actor Donnie Yen), Sun Wukong is able to make himself colossal to the size of a King Kong. As for his abilities in books, he is said to be extremely fast, able to travel 108,000 li (21,675 kilometers (13,468 mi)) in one somersault. Not only that, he even took a leap and flew to the end of the world to escape from Buddha’s Palm. From his actions, we can say that he is courageous and determined to the level of proving his point.
In the world of Tantriks (Practitioners of Tantra), Lord Hanuman is mentioned and believed to be the possessor of eight Siddhis(Occult Powers):
a). Anima – The ability to reduce his size.
b). Mahima – Ability to increase his size.
c). Laghima – The ability to become weightless.
d). Garima – Ability to increase weight.
e). Prapti – The ability to travel anywhere and acquire anything.
f). Parakamya – Irresistible willpower.
g). Vastiva – Mastery over all creatures.
h). Isitva – Ability to become god-like with the power to create and destroy.
Out of these eight occult powers, five of these (a, b, e, f & h) matches with the capabilities of the Monkey King.
Dragons of the Four Seas V/s Mother of the Serpents
In search of a weapon, Sun Wukong travelled to the ocean and acquired the Golden-banded staff Ruyi Jingu Bang, a treasure of Ao Kuang, the dragon-king of the Eastern Seas. After getting it, he then defeated dragons of the four seas to obtain a golden chain mail shirt, a phoenix-feather cap and cloud-walking boots from them.
Lord Hanuman once encountered with Surasa, the mother of all serpents. She had the appearance of a dragon. To test his ingenuity and courage, she challenged him to escape from her mouth by entering it. At first, Hanuman increased his body size until her mouth could not hold him any more. To win the bet, he quickly shrank himself to the size of an ant and got out of her big ears. On passing her trial, she showed him the direction to Lanka, Ravana’s city.
Both of them encountered a dragon in their quest.
Disciple to Tang Sanzang V/S Devotee of Lord Rama
In exchange for his freedom, Sun Wukong became ready to consort a pilgrim named Tang Sanzang to help him out in his quest to retrieve the Buddhist Sutras from the West. In the book, he faithfully helps the monk on his journey to India. Tang Sanzang’s safety is constantly under threat from demons and other supernatural beings as well as bandits. The Monkey King protects him by combating these threats. After accomplishing their mission, they safely return back to China.
Just like Wukong, Hanuman is known for serving and protecting the life of Lord Rama during many events of Ramayana. For instance, he killed Mahiravana, brother of Ravana to save Rama and Laxman’s life. As a devoted follower, he never left Rama and always remained by his side. His devotion for Lord Rama is absolute and eternal.
In these two tales, both of them provided their support and strength for the accomplishment of a particular mission. Without their involvement, these missions would never have succeeded.
Just like Sun Wukong in China, Kesari, Lord Hanuman’s father is also known as the Monkey King in India.
Sun Wukong and Lord Hanuman remained celibate for all their lives. To make this fact interesting, one of the names given for Lord Hanuman is Bal Brahmachari- ‘One who has taken an oath to remain pure and celibate for all his lifetime.