This week, we’ll continue the exploration of the Lover Archetype. We will also get acquainted with the myth of Hanuman and his remote cousin, Friend Monkey, the favorite creation of Pamela L. Travers. In fact, she loved Friend Monkey more than she loved her famous character Mary Poppins.
Pamela without a doubt was a lover of myth and fairy-tales. She even attempted to write myth like stories at three separate occasions. First in the “Fox and the Manger” (1963), the second time in “Friend Monkey” (1971) and a third time in “About the Sleeping Beauty” (1975).
♥ However, none of these conscious efforts to create myth worked out as successfully as her more unconscious writing of the Mary Poppins character who turned out to be the one intrinsically mythical.
For the purposes of this week’s and next week’s posts we’ll focus our attention on the story of “Friend Monkey“. The other two books will be examined in future posts.
♥ Pamela believed that we all have our own personal myth. She wrote to friends that hers was the myth of Hanuman, the monkey god of the Hindu mythology. I believe that because Hanuman is the embodiment of the Devoted Servant Archetype and because he exalts love to a higher sphere, Pamela’s Wounded Child mistook Hanuman for the Lover Archetype.
The myth of Hanuman
Hanuman’s mother was a vanara which means in the language of Hindu mythology a subclass of human being; a human with tribal, instinctive, wild, animalistic nature. Illustrations of vanaras show them as humans with monkey faces. Although a vanara, his mother was endowed with spiritual qualities and prayed the Gods that she would give birth to a son who will help all humanity. Her prayers were heard by the God of wind, Vayu, who impregnated her in the sacred way of the Immaculate Conception.
Thus, Hanuman was born a boy with a monkey face but also with a mixture of divine elements. He possessed the ability to shrink and increase his size, to be weightless or to increase his weight, to travel anywhere, to leap as high as he wished, to acquire anything, to master all creatures, and ultimately to become godlike with the power to create and destroy.
When Hanuman was young, he saw the sun in the sky and thought it was a fruit and, being a monkey, he wanted to get it. Indra the god of thunderbolts struck Hanuman on the chin with a thunderbolt and knocked him from the sky in order to preserve life that would have been destroyed had Hanuman succeeded in his selfish plan. Afterwards, because of his mischievous nature and all the troubles he was creating, wise men put a spell on Hanuman and made him forget about his powers until later when he was reminded of them. Then, the Sun becomes Hanuman’s Guru. After his schooling with the Sun, Hanuman comes to be the devoted servant of Ramachandra, an avatar of Vishnu, who himself is one of the most widely worshipped Hindu deities and the embodiment of chivalry and virtue.
At one point in the story, Ramachandra’s wife Sita is abducted by the demon Ravana and Hanuman must lead the monkey army to help Ramachandra recover his wife. When Ramachandra is wounded in battle and needs medicinal herbs, Hanuman uses his godlike powers and leaps to the Himalaya to gather the needed herbs. When he comes back, instead of bringing only a sprig of the herbs, he comes back with part of the mountain.
♥ It was Hanuman’s inability to do things by halves that fascinated Pamela.
The story of Hanuman is obviously a symbolic description of the journey of spiritual awakening from an animalistic self-centered person to a being with a higher consciousness that is motivated by love and the desire to serve others for the benefit and enhancement of their lives. For Hanuman never used his godlike powers for his own benefit.
It seems to me that Pamela overlooked the spiritual aspect of the personal growth and maturity in the story and focused her attention on the loving aspect of the Servant Archetype.
“Friend Monkey is really the favorite of all my books because it is based on a Hindu myth of the monkey lord who loved so much that he created chaos wherever he went.“
Her Wounded Child’s needy nature mistakenly identified itself with Hanuman’s acts of service. But Hanuman’s help was selfless and did not expect anything in return. The Wounded Child expected plenty. I couldn’t find any indication anywhere (be it in her biography, in the documentaries about her life or in her own writings) that she ever acted in a selfless way. How could’ve she? Her unrecognized Wounded Child could not act as a mature individual, it needed to be healed first.
♥ And, I infer from the quote above that she interpreted her neediness as the excessive expression of her love. One thing is certain; she created chaos in all her intimate relationships including the one with her adoptive son.
As for the story of Friend Monkey, I couldn’t quite make the link between Hanuman and the character of Friend Monkey, besides the fact that they are both monkeys and have the same physical appearance: white fur around the neck and a white spot on the forehead. What is more, it is Friend Monkey who needs to be saved in Pamela’s story.
♥ However, I found some intriguing material in the story of Friend Monkey which I believe to be Pamela’s unconscious expression of her Wounded/Orphan Child Archetype. And this will be the subject of next week’s post.