Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated with utmost devotion and religious fervor throughout the country. But unfortunately it is celebrated on two different dates. In many parts of the country, it is celebrated on the Chaitra Purnima, whereas in Ayodhya and in almost all centres of the Ramanand sect it is celebrated on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of the Kartika month. Here it is being examined as to which is the correct date of celebrating the Hanuman Jayanti.
Frankly speaking, there is only one authentic text which mentions the date of the Hanuman Jayanti and that is Vaishnava-matabja-bhaskara वैष्णव-मताब्ज-भास्कर of Ramanandacharya. The great revolutionary saint, who gave the slogan of जात पाँत पूछै नहिं कोई, हरि को भजै सो हरि को होई and adopted Sant Kabir, Sant Raidas and so many from weaker sections of the society as his disciples, has discussed many aspects of the Hindu religion and given his rulings which are considered ultimate for the members of his cult. In fact, the Vaishnava-matabja-bhaskara is the most revolutionary Sanskrit text of the last millennium.
Fortunately, Swami Ramanandaji has discussed many Vratas (व्रत) like Rama-navami, Janmashtami and Hanuman Jayanti in his book. While discussing the Hanumat-Janma-Vratotsava he has written :
स्वात्यां कुजे शैवतिथौ तु कार्तिके
कृष्णेऽञ्जनागर्भत एव मेषके।
श्रीमान् कपीट् प्रादुरभूत् परन्तपो
व्रतादिना तत्र तदुत्सवं चरेत्।।
The meaning of this text is- Hanumanji was born from Anjana’s womb on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of Kartika and it was Tuesday. His birthday should be celebrated by observing Vrata, etc.
When Acharya Kishore Kunal edited Maruti-charitamritam (मारुति-चरितामृतम्), a comprehensive compendium on Hanuma ji from Valmiki Ramayana, Mahabharta and other texts, I quoted the following verse from Agastya-samhita through secondary sources. Some persons quote to prove this point:
ऊर्जे कृष्ण-चतुर्दश्यां भौमे स्वात्यां कपीश्वरः।
मेषलग्नेऽजनार्भात् प्रादुर्भूतः स्वयं शिवः।।
i.e. On the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of Kartika (ऊर्ज) month, on Tuesday and in the Svati nakshatra and Mesha Lagna Lord Shiva himself manifested as Hanuman (कपीश्वर) from Anjana’s womb.
But when Agastya-Samhita was published by Mahavir Mandir Prakashan, which was meticulously edited and accurately translated by Pt. Bhavanath Jha, it was found that this verse does not exist in the Agastya-samhita and therefore we do not quote it now in support of Hanumanji’s birth in the month of Kartika. But the fact of the matter is that there is no other authentic text which mentions the date of the birth of Hanumanji. Therefore, the correct date of Hanumanji’s birth is Kartika Krishna Chaturdashi, which is one day before of the Diwali. Hanuman Jayanti should be celebrated on this date only.
However, there is one disadvantage with this date. It is sandwiched between two important festivals- Dhanateras and Dipawali, so it does not get so much acceptance among householders and many of them switch to celebrate it on the Chaitra Purnima which falls 6 days after the Ramanavami and 24 days before Janakinavami. Therefore, they fake it in continuity. But there is no sanction of scripture for this date. However, if anyone produces any evidence from any authentic text, that may be considered for householders. For the bairagi sadhus and disciples of the Rama sect the Kartika date is final and irrevocable because it was decided by Svami Ramanandacharya who was a great scholar and when he decided it, he must have, before him, many authentic sources which are not available to us at present.