Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Attack of the Monkey God

His name is Hanuman and he is one of the most popular gods in Hinduism. He is one of the key figures in the Hindu epic poem The Ramayana where he leads a monkey army to defeat the evil demon Ravana and rescue a princess. To Hindu worshippers in Thailand the epic is called The Ramakien and since 1902 the story has become a part of the Thai school curriculum. To many Thai the spirit of Hanuman is not myth, he is the living embodiment of Shiva who still wanders the earth looking for those who are pure of faith. He is a schizophrenic god who at one time can be peaceful and kind and the next be mischievous and violently unstable.

My Missionary friends the Parker’s told me that in many rural and pastoral settings there are sometimes manifestations of Hanuman reported by the local villagers. Sometimes he is bringing gifts to the devout. Other times he comes at night and attacks for no reason. They always took these stories as colorful folklore until they met Nittaya, a teenage peasant girl from a village in Prachinburi province. She was brought to them one summer evening with an incredible story, one that was both disturbing and quite unbelievable.

It had all started while Nittaya and her brother Sanun were out in the forest looking for Mangosteen trees in order to harvest some of the rare fruit. Black market traders would pay handsomely for this rare commodity and Sanun had met an elderly gentleman who had told him that long ago this section of forest once had a grove of the trees that no one knew about. But the grove was deep in the jungle. The teenagers’ father had passed away years ago and they did what they could to support their mother and two younger siblings, and the trip while dangerous was too good to pass up. However the journey was a long one through the dense black foliage and soon they found themselves unquestionably lost. As they hacked their way back to where they thought they might have entered they found themselves face to face with a large wild Boar, who charged them. Sanun pushed his sister back and though he knew he would be no match for the charging animal, he drew his home made machete from his side and took a defensive stance. Try as he might Sanun barely gave the Boar a glancing blow and the fierce wild beast tore into his abdomen with its curved tusks. Just as it seemed that all was lost and the Boar heaved its body for another blow, something swung down from the trees.

She described it as a large monkey clothed in common villager’s garments with a small cane in its hand. It landed on the Boars back and proceeded to pummel the beast furiously. As it did so it emitted a scream that seemed to cry out in an unknown language. The jungle canopy seemed to rustle with life as hundreds of monkeys of all shapes and sizes scampered down to the clearing floor and assisted their garbed master in the attack. Confused and panicked the boar squealed loudly and violently ran into the immediate undergrowth trying to knock off its persistent assailants. The horde of monkeys followed after hooting and hollering as they continued the insistent molestation.

The large clothed monkey stayed in the clearing however and examined the gaping wound in Sanun’s abdomen with what looked like purposeful intent. He had a small hat tied around his neck and he fanned the air over the wound warding away the swarming flies that were beginning to take notice of the opened flesh. Nittaya was frozen in shock at what she had just witnessed and she wished to attend to her brother but was afraid the monkey might attack her as well. As if sensing her anxiety the monkey looked up at her and stared her directly in the eyes. It was then that she noticed that this monkey had a face that looked more like a little hairy man. She was sure she saw intelligence in those eyes as they held her own, and she began to tremble as she beheld the strangeness of the creature.

Then amazingly it spoke. In a growling mutter of grumbled syllables that she barely recognized as a broken Siamese dialect the creature mouthed the words, “Save him for a price.”

It was only the love of her brother that kept Nittaya from running away at that moment, she stood statue like and gaped at the simian.

The monkey pointed the small stick at Sanun who was writhing in pain as he bled to death on the jungle floor. It repeated its statement, “Save him for a price.”

Nittaya told the missionaries all she could do was nod her head in agreement as she stared at her dying brother. The monkey seemed to nod in agreement as well and turned to the boy once again. He pulled some leafs and powder from his pocket and applied it to the wound. With a high pitched warble the monkey man began to chant in an unearthly dialect as it rocked back and forth in unison with its vocal tempo.

After a few moments that seemed to drag on forever the creature stopped and backed away from the boy to let Nittaya see that the wound in Sanun’s abdomen had miraculously vanished. The impish being hopped away and seemed to laugh as it pointed to a barely discernable path to their left. “Home,” The creature said and then it quickly jumping into the trees above vanishing from sight in the dense overgrowth of the jungle covering.

With a tired moan Sanun feebly attempted to stand upright on the jungle floor. Quickly Nittaya came to his aid and asked if he was alright. Examining his stomach earnestly he said that he felt fine and asked what had happened. Quickly his sister told him the bizarre story and asked him if he had heard the monkey man talk also. He gave her a queer look and replied that all he remembered was the Boar attacking him and then the pain. Then suddenly there was a wonderful music and he felt strange warmth envelop his body. He neither saw nor had heard any monkeys.

Nittaya was ecstatic, she was sure this was a manifestation of Hanuman who had heard their desperate prayers for help and had appeared to save them. To prove her point she showed him the path that the monkey man had pointed to and sure enough within minutes they found themselves on the small road where they had initially entered the forest. Excited for this miracle she told everyone in her village the incredible story. Sanun’s blood stained shirt was proof of the astounding healing he received from Hanuman.

But within a few weeks strange things began to happen in the sibling’s household.

Nittaya began to have disturbing dreams of the monkey god visiting her in the night as she slept. Kissing her and telling her that she was to be his bride. Soon she would be like him and they would live in the wild as animals. In the dreams as she protested he reminded her of the debt she owed him for saving her brother. This was the cost of the miracle and there was nothing she could do about it. A few of the dreams ended with the god screaming manically as she transformed into a monkey herself, and she awoke in a panic. Sometimes she awoke to find the Plexiglas window to her room had been opened when she knew it was closed beforehand to prevent small animals or large bugs to fly into her room.

One night she awoke to find a necklace made of interwoven vines and flowers lying on her bed.

Slowly over the course of many days Nittaya began to have trouble speaking, until she was only able to communicate with only the most rudimentary of language as if she was regressing to the verbal capability of a small toddler.

Strangest of all the hair on her body began to thicken and spread until her arms, legs, back and neck were covered in a coarse black hair.

It was only after this that Nittaya’s mother and brother brought her to the missionaries to seek help. They were sure that the encounter and dreams that Nittaya had were true and the monkey god was turning her into his mate just as she envisioned. They believed the Missionaries had the power to combat this magic and set their daughter free.

Of course the Parkers were skeptical of this fanciful tale and took her to the clinic on the mission compound to see if the nurse had any answers. But the nurse could find no easy answers for the young girl’s maladies. Perhaps it was a hormonal imbalance or rare disease that was causing these symptoms but in order to be certain she had to take samples and send them off to a lab in Bangkok. The results would be back in about a month.

In the meantime Nittaya’s family begged the Missionaries to let her stay in their compound, for they were sure that the girl would get worse if she would be in her own bed. The Parkers agreed to this in order to calm the mother who seemed overwhelmed with emotion. Nittaya could stay in the guest room of the main Mission house until the test results came back.

During her stay Mrs. Parker would check up on the girl before she would retire to her own bedroom in the evening. On the first night she was terrified when she opened the guest bedroom door to see a monkey on the bed bending over the young girls face. Of course she screamed and the monkey stood up and gave off a guttural hiss.

That was when she noticed the monkey was clothed and held a small stick in its hand like a staff. With a mix of fear and rage Mrs. Parker picked up a pitcher of water that stood by the doorway and threw it at the creature on the bed. In a quick jump it dodged the projectile and landed on the windowsill of the open window. It made a last squeal that almost sounded like a crude language of sorts and then it disappeared in the night.

Nittaya had remained asleep and unaware of these bizarre events, and as quickly as she could Mrs. Parker closed the window that she was sure had been latched before the girl was put to bed. She roused her husband and they furiously prayed over the girl that night repelling any spiritual force that might be at work and exorcizing any demonic force that was meddling in the girl’s affairs. There were no supernatural events during the course of the prayer; in fact they reported that the young teen had drifted naively in and out of sleep through the whole deliverance session. No strange voices echoed from her mouth as one possessed might and no paranormal activity appeared in the room as they battled in prayer.

But whatever they did seemed to work Mr. Parker reported modestly. There was never again an unwanted visitor to the girl’s bedroom. Within a matter of weeks her speech improved so that she was talking normally by the time it came for her to go home. She no longer had nightmares and the hair stopped its abnormal growth over her body. The family was grateful to the Missionaries and had a conversion of faith because of what they believe is a miraculous deliverance from a evil spirit. Nittaya’s mother reported that within a few months almost all of the hair that had grown on the girls body was gone.

What happened to that young Thai girl during those weeks? Was it the spirit of Hanuman that saved Sanun only to demand the life of the girl as payment for his actions? Were her dreams coming true, was she turning into a monkey like Hanuman as her family believed?

The blood work was normal, although she was a bit malnourished. There was no apparent cause for her symptoms.

Was it all a psychosomatic delusion on Nittaya’s part, and was the blood on her brother’s shirt the blood of a Boar? Was the appearance of the monkey at her bed a coincidence?

Mrs. Parker was sure of what she saw, the monkey was clothed.


Every once in a while the Parkers hear more stories about the appearance of the “monkey man” in various parts of the country and all the stories are in the context of a supernatural apparition.

While the Western world might scoff at these fantastic stories, in many parts of the Earth the spiritual world is just as real as the physical. And it can often manifest itself in the most astounding ways.

Until next time,

Pastor Swope

12 comments:

cryptidsrus said...

That has got to be one of most wondrous stories and surreal stories I have ever heard. Good job, Pastor Swope. Whether true or not, it was great.

I knew Hanuman from the volume "Magical Beasts" from that oldie-but-goodie series THE ENCHANTED WORLD. In the volume the story of Hanuman and the battle with Ravana was retold with words and pictures.

What is weird (and normal) for Hindu divinities is the way most of them seem to be morally ambiguous---aspects of the ambiguity of life itself. Shiva is the same way. Destroyer and creator. Kali as well. Eastern divinities tend to be more morally complex than "Western divinities." The tale itself has a moral ambuiguity itself---sort of version "Rumpelstilskin" for India. Wouldn't you agree?

In a way one cannot help but feel for Hanumman, even though the price he asked was too great. These beings do not have the same morality we have, that's for sure.

Aliens tend to be like that, too, if many stories about them are to be believed.

To be honest, I believe this. To heck with it. Sometimes one has to go beyond the "empirical" and "rational" imperative that has dominated western thought and go for the intuitive side of experience. Emotionally it rings true. Sue me. You may laugh if you want.

We're dealing with things that cannot be measured or quantified. Fairies are the same way. Sasquatch and Aliens and Nessie too.
I put this also on Nick Redfern's cryptozoological blog too. Maybe it's time we found a new way to "prove" these things. Maybe we need to reunite spirituality and science. The split that began in the seventeenth century needs to be healed. And it is in some ways.
Maybe faith and trust in sensory experience ain't so bad after all.

Again, good tale, Swope.

shrew67 said...

I discovered your blog via a link from the Anomalist, and I keep coming back...your stories are intelligent and very interesting, not the usual run-of-the-mill paranormal. Please keep it up, and thanks!

Pastor Swope said...

Thank you Cryptidsrus,

For both your comment and your insight!

I truly believe that spirituality and science can co-exist harmoniously if hard minded folks on both sides just dropped the battle lines and took a open minded look at what exactly the other view is really trying to say.


This story when originally told to me really put a fright into me. I do not know what to make of it, it seems that there can be rational explanations for the girls afflicition and even Mrs. Johnsons sighting of the clothed monkey. But then again that is how spirits work, you can often discount things even without solid evidence because of our rational minds, but that feeling remains in the back of your mind that you know you have touched the supernatural.

A lot like faith in a way.

After I told an Asian exchange student this story he came up with an interesting insight, perhaps the old man who gave Sanun the directions to the Mangosteen orchard was actually Hanuman in human form setting up a trap so he could get the girl. I did not mention it because it was not in the original story as it was told to me.

Pastor Swope said...

Thank you Shrew67,

I always write down these odd supernatural Missionary stories whenever I am told them either personally or in church services with special Missionary speakers. Glad you liked it!

Mr Butterscotch said...

Hanuman is not evil, however, much like the many animist traditions around the world these types of gods can ask for a favour in return.

Whilst the vengeful god of the old testament might not ask for a favour, he might well burn you to death or drown you if you do something wrong. We're not at all different.

cryptidsrus said...

Thanks for the compliment, Swope!!!

BTW---I did not know they worshipped Hanumman in Thailand. I thought it was simply India. Interesting fact.

Makes you wonder---do we call these beings "Gods" or simply "superior beings?"

Also---if "Gods" like these "exist," makes you wonder about other deities---maybe Zeus?
Apollo? Thor? Who knows?

I also wondered about Hanumman setting a trap for the siblings, too. The God as fickle trickster---classic mythological archetype.

While I was reading the story I was reminded of the line from "The Exorcism of Emily Rose."---

"Demons exist whether we believe in them or not."

Could be the other way around, of course. I just thought of that line out of the blue, for some reason.

Keep up the good work.

Pastor Swope said...

Mr. Butterscoth,

Thank you for your comment.

While I understand your point, the comparison is like apples and oranges in a Theological sense.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition God's actions that seem harsh were for the world's greater good. I again invoke Spocks statements to Kirk in the Engine Room. Or with another cinamatic reference, the Nazis had to melt.

In the various animistic/pantheistic/panentheistic traditions of the trickster god, he acts for his own good. We got Hercules in the bargain, and it is always good to see Bruce Campbell have an acting job, even if only in a recurring role.

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks again Cryptidsrus,

Spot on and thought provoking as always sir.

I hope Thor exists, I love the concept of Mjolnir.

"If I had a Hammer..."

or as KISS sings,

"God of Lightning!"

Hopefully we shall see a Thor of some sorts to rock our socks off in the coming years if Marvel continues to delight us with their production company.

Anonymous said...

Ive only recently found your blog, i think through about.com. Anyway, i just wanted to tell you im really enjoying reading them.
God bless,
Bryony

Anne said...

Pastor Swope,

I just love your blog. The stories have me riveted! Please keep writing... and frequently!

Pastor Swope said...

Dear Bryony and Anne,

Thank you! I am glad you are enjoying the blog and I am grateful for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Difficult to know is this about a shape-shifting spirit representing himself as a man or a man shape-shifting and representing himself as a monkey. Such "Dieties" are not really "gods" but supernatural beings. Most cultures recognize a undefinable mysteriouse "God" who is beyond understanding, and a large amount of creaturess both supernatural and natural that co-exist with humanity. Many mistake this as animism. Not all who honor animals are animism. Know this from much experience. Most westerners do not get the distinction. glad Missionaries were able to help as it is not always so. Must have gift of God to deal with this stuff. Not all have the gift and the understanding.