Vānara (Sanskrit: वानर) are ape-like creatures in the Hindu epic Ramayana.
The term Vanara can be described as forest-dweller (vane carati iti vanara). The epic Mahabharata describes them as forest-dwelling, and mentions their being encountered by Sahadeva, a Pandava general who led a military campaign to south India.
Similar to monkeys, vanaras are shorter than human height in general and their bodies is covered with bright feathers, usually brown.
According to the Ramayana, the Vanaras lived primarily in the region of Kishkindha in present-day Karnataka, in the midst of Dandaka Forest, where Lord Rama met them during his search for Sita. Kishkindha was ruled first by Vali and later by Vali’s brother Sugriva.
Vanaras are powerful and have many godly traits. As described in the epic, the characteristics of the Vanara include being amusing, childish, mildly irritating, badgering, hyperactive, adventurous, bluntly honest, loyal, brave and inquisitive by nature.
In the Ramayana
Vanaras were created by Brahma and other gods to help Rama in his search, and also in battle against Ravana, Sita's abductor. Taking Brahma's orders, the gods began to parent sons in the semblance of monkeys (Ramayana 1.17.8). The Vanaras took birth in bears and monkeys attaining the shape and valor of the gods and goddesses who created them (Ramayana 1.17.17-18). After Vanaras were created they began to organize into armies and spread across the forests, although some, including Vali, Sugriva, and Hanuman, stayed near mount Riskshavat. The Vanara army, led by Sugriva and ministers like Hanuman, helped Lord Rama defeat Ravana.
Vanara is the largest and most famous is Hanuman, Sri Rama's faithful servant, and is the incarnation of Lord Shiva. Some other famous Vanara Anjani (Hanuman's mother), Sugriva, Vali, Indigo and Anggada.
- Hanuman, devotee of Lord Rama
- Anjana, Hanuman's mother
- Kesari, Hanuman's foster father
- Sugriva, king of Kishkindha, son of Surya
- Vali, Sugriva's brother, and a son of Indra
- Angada, son of Vali, helped Rama find his wife Sita
- Tara, wife of Vali Created by Brihaspathi
- Gandhamadana, incarnation of Kubera
- Nala, incarnation of Vishwakarma