Ayodhya Part 3 – Impressions during an audience with Shri Sanjay Das

Hanuman is said to visit the Hanuman Garhi Temple once a day in an unknown shape, so for all anyone knows they could have been standing next to Hanuman at any point in the day

Ayodhya - Visit to Hanuman Garhi
Ayodhya - Visit to Hanuman Garhi

Part 1 of this series can be ‘accessed ‘ here. Part 2 of this series can be ‘accessed ‘ here. This is Part 3

Our party (Lakshmi Bayi Nalapat, Ravi Naimish and I) called at the residence of Shri Sanjay Das ji, who I met previously in 2016 and wanted to reconnect with. Shri Sanjay Das ji is the Shri Sankat Mohan Sena President, disciple and successor of Mahant Gyan Das at the Hanuman Garhi Temple; he is referred to as Maharaj at Hanuman Garhi- Shri Panch Ramanandi Nivani Akhada at Hanuman Garhi, Ayodhya. The guard informed us he was not at home but divine intervention in the shape of a disciple named Ajit Das appeared and delivered a message to Sanjay ji that we were on his doorstep. To our fortune, we were delivered to his reception room where we were received by the great man and two of his disciples, Abhay Das and Abhishek Das. There followed an intense conversation in Hindi between Lakshmi Bayi and Sanjay Das, below are the snippets of my understanding with my heartfelt thanks to Sanjay Das ji, Lakshmi and to my various interpreters.

Shri Sanjay Das Ji with his disciple

Gyan Das Arkhada’s teaching is centred around the Shastras and the Shaastras, essentially self-defence (wrestling) and scriptures.

Hanuman is the son of Anjana, a Princess of the Vanara forest people near Hampi and Vayu, the wind God, to me this explains his boon of flight. Apparently ‘hanu’ means jaw and ‘man’ means disfigured, Hanuman got his name from leaping towards the sun, believing it to be an orange but Lord Indra, the God of the Heavens, broke his jaw with a lightning bolt for this misapprehension.

Hanuman is key to Ram’s journey and purpose, without Hanuman Ram would not have found Sita; it was Hanuman and Sugriva who told Ram of a weeping woman being carried south, Hanuman confirmed it was to Lanka. Without the help of Hanuman and Sugriva, Ram would never have reached Lanka and would not have killed Ravana.

As we know Ram was an incarnation of Vishnu, Sita was Lakshmi and Lakshman was Anantha (Anantha being Vishnu’s bed). I mention this because according to my understanding of Sanjay Das’ conversation with Lakshmi, Vishnu’s powers of preservation were inherent in Ram’s emotional values. Ram preserved and demonstrated the values of brotherliness, sonliness (filial duty and respect), Kingliness and husbandness. On the physical level Ram and Lakshman protected the sage Vishwamitra while he was tormented by Rakshasas; here are some examples of scriptures and self-defence. Hanuman is the perfect example of devotion combined with strength.

Sanjay Ji then spoke of ‘pashu’, he said that humans had better discernment than animals, it takes 84 million lives to become a human being when you are a human being you have the discerning power to choose how to behave. To me, this might also mean that male animals would have found another female partner if their ‘spouse’ had disappeared, but Ram remained faithful to Sita. I must be clear that this is my personal take not part of the conversation.

Sanjay ji then explained the significance of the tilak colours on his and his disciples’ foreheads, the central red line is for Sita, the two ochre lines either side are Ram’s feet and the white dot tika at the top of the nose is Hanuman.

From January 2019 the Kumbh Mela will be in Allahabad/Prayagraj in UP, all Sadhaks belong to one of 13 Arkhada’s and because of his immense power, Hanuman is the patron of all Arkhada’s.

As our chat with this most impressive Priest drew to a close, Abishek Das offered to take us to Hanuman Garhi, where we had a meaningful darshan before the magnificent idol of Hanuman. Hanuman devotees believe that Hanuman makes the impossible possible and that he is Chiranjeevi/ immortal. Hanuman is said to visit the Hanuman Garhi Temple once a day in an unknown shape, so for all anyone knows they could have been standing next to Hanuman at any point in the day and so could we.

Hanuman Garhi
Hanuman Ji’s Idol at Hanuman Garhi
Hanuman Garhi
Hanuman Garhi

We said farewell to Ayodhya and travelled to the Sarayu Ghats at Faizabad, Sarayu means either Wind or Holy River; it is only called the Sarayu between Ayodhya and Faizabad, elsewhere it is called the Ghaghra, originating from the Mapchachungo glazier just south of Mansarovar… Shiva’s presence in Hanuman is explained many times; after our visit, Lakshmi relates to me they are so dear to each other that they wanted to share that incarnation time, thus Hanuman is an amsha-avaatar of Shiva. At Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple in Gujarat, a Hanuman idol is present as part of Shiva’s family, as we know everything is connected.

Sarayu Ghat

I hope this reflects the conversation that took place if inadvertent inaccuracies have occurred because of my inability to speak the language I apologise sincerely and await correction.

To be continued…

1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Antonia Filmer is a former British Vogue Fashion Editor and Design Director of Laura Ashley; Antonia was a freelance contributor to Harpers and World of Interiors, she produced summer Garden Operas for 10 years to benefit a children’s charity. In 2012 Antonia wrote produced, directed and edited a documentary “The Last Maharaja”. Antonia is currently the London correspondent for The Sunday Guardian- India.
Antonia Filmer


  1. Thanks for a wonderful series. A small clarification on the etymology of the word “hanumAn” – yes, “hanu” means “jaw”. There is no word called “mAn” in Sanskrit. It is derived from the suffix “mat” which signifies possession of something. Thus, “hanumat” means “with a jaw” and when it becomes a noun in the singular, it is “hanumAn” – one with a jaw. Another familiar example is “bhagavat” –> “bhagavAn”.


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