|[image courtesy : http://paizo.com]|
The term Vanara can be described as forest-dweller (vane carati iti vanara). [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanara]
Vanaras were created by Brahma and the other Gods to help in battle. They are powerful and have many godly traits. 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.
Personality wise, the Varanas are considered to be amusing, childish, mildly irritating, badgering, hyperactive, adventurous, bluntly honest, loyal, courageous, and kind.
|[picture courtesy: exoticindiaart]|
One of the most famous Varanas is Hanuman (check out the link for a super interesting myth). Hanuman is considered a deity and a central character in Ramayana. There are a lot of clips on youtube that depict Hanuman and some of the stories around him (spoken in Hindi). Here's one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzOBZMV7aw8&feature=related)
One of the other interesting features of Hanuman in particular, was his ability to shape shift. He could shrink himself to the size of a cat, and also magically grow to the size of a mountain (hello King Kong!)
Vanaras were also described in the epic Mahabharata, as one of theVanaras were described as one of the Exotic Tribes of Ancient India.
All up, a very cool and interesting mythological creature, and one that is still worshipped today.