Naveen Chandra Trigunayat
Sri Hanuman Chalisa-An Introduction
Sri Hanuman Chalisa was written by an ardent fan of Sri Ram some 500 years ago. Goswami Tulsidas . He was a scholar in Sanskrit and wrote in his colloquial language called Awadhi which was commonly spoken in central Utter Pradesh of or times. He penned the Chalisa, literally, forty verses, after he completed writing the Ramayana with inspiration, he received from the original scripture by Maharshi Valmiki. Valmiki had recorded his writings well after the Ramayan story may have actually happened. Incidentally, as more languages developed all over East of India and within India the Ramayan was either translated from Sanskrit or rewritten by other regional authors who added local flavor and local colour to the epic.
The Hanuman Chalisa consists of Forty of four liners called Chaupai in local dialect. In the beginning there are two, two-liners that rhyme and are called Doha. One Doha at the end marks the culmination of the entire prayer. The events in the prayer do not occur linearly or in order of their occurrence or the age of Hanuman or for that matter in any rational matter. It appears as a direct shoot off from the heart of Tulsidas just following his emotions. The Chaupais neither cover one aspect of an event within the four lines nor suggest any clue from preceding Chaupai. The expressed thoughts cover both the worldly aspects as well as divine connotations of Lord Ram.
Here, I have to say that Lord Ram was born in the Surya Vanshi lineage of Raghu and Ikshvaku to King Dashrath who in his time had some dealings with an unfair King of Sri Lanka named Ravan. Rama was the eldest of four sons of Dashrath from his eldest Queen, Kaushalya of his three queens. His second and favourite queen was Kaikayi who was the mother of Bharat. Queen Sumitra had two sons named Lakshman and Shatrughan. All four brothers received training in warfare in addition to princely subjects. Ram had been exiled by the King on the wishes of Queen Kaikayi who had wanted her son Bharat to ascend the throne in favour of Ram. Wife of Ram, Seeta and Lakshman opted to follow Ram to the forests for a period of fourteen years.
Ravan abducted Seeta from their dwelling and held her captive in a Garden in Sri Lanka, leaving Ram and brother Lakshman in grief searching for Seeta. During this search in the forest they came across Hanuman and King of monkey people, known as Vanars. Hanuman played a major role in the location of abducted Seeta and later in the battle between Ram and Ravan. Ravan was killed in this war. Hanuman continued to serve Ram even after he returned to Ayodhya, his State Capital till the end of the epic. In Ram’s heart he enjoyed the same position as Bharat.
Tulsidas, had taken incidents and acts concerning Hanuman from his Ramayan and put together the Chalisa as a special tribute to Hanuman even though he was portrayed as a humble helping hand. His contribution to the unfurling of the Ramayan were perhaps even more important than those of any one else. Hanuman acted out of sheer reverence for his idol whom he had recognized as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and displayed his loyalties without any inhibitions or reserve. Just as a brick and mortar temple exists in the real world, a deeply cherished psychological temple exists in the heart of Hindus.
In everyday context a rendering of Sri Hanuman Chalisa serves as a daily prayer, a mantra when faced with dire situations an index of ones spirituality or just as a soother to the mind when one has time at hand. What ever be the cause, there is a sense of divine blessings while rendering this great creation of Tulsi Das.
In the following text , it is my endeavor to bring out some associated meanings of the Chaupais (the four liners) so that while reciting these a meaningful understanding enhances each verse.
Sri guru charan saroj raj nij man mukur sudhar
Barnau Raghubar bimal Jas, jo daayak phal chaar
Literal meaning is I meditate on the feet of my Guru and apply the flower dust form his feet to clear my mind. By repeated description of the spotless glory of the Lord I attain the four fruits of life.
The opening lines are a prayer to ones Guru the dust from his feet are considered to be the cleansing and polishing agent of ones sullied mind. By the thought process of uttering the Chalisa gives access to the four fruits of ones Karma. These fruit or sweet results of good Karma are Dharma (social duties), Artha (Riches and its powers), Kaama (Pleasures0 and Moksha (end of birth and death cycle).
It is a practice to pray to elements that may effect ones prayers offerings so that the main course of the prayer goes through without any impediments.
Budhi heen tanu jaan ke sumirau Pawan Kumar
Bal budhi bidya dehu mohe, harau kalesh vikaar
Literal meaning is, Having the awareness that I am without an intelligence, I seek the son of the Pawan (Wind) God. In his kind response to my appeal may he grant me Strength, intelligence and knowledge, in the process take away my sorrows and abnormalities.
This is like a mental undertaking (a Sankalpa) that is a statement form the devotee at the beginning of the prayers stating the idea behind the ritual. Hanuman is referred to as son of the Wind Lord to bring stress to his qualities of Power he has inherited. The expressed desire is to be blessed with good things we do not have and be rid of those evil things that cause uneasiness and problems as they have faults.
It is also an acceptance of our lacking good qualities and being unequal in praying to a powerful God whose mercies we seek to obtain self improvements. We seek Intelligence, Knowledge with Strength as these would be of little use unless blessed with the strength. In a combination of these together, one can be an asset to the society at large and be a more accomplished person individually.
Gyan gun saagar
Tihun lok Ujagar
Literal meaning is, Victory and Hail to Hanuman who is an ocean of the quality of knowledge. Victory to the Lord of Monkeys, who is instrument of divine brightness of all three worlds.
“Jai”, here, means Victory where there are no winners or losers. It is a mental state where one acclaims the acceptance of a thing or a person. Therefore with Victory on ones side one can proceed with highest regard for the context of this God without offering any competition or aspersion to any other God.
The monkey God, perhaps, draws his name from his ape like jaw line which could have been a signature feature of people of vaanar cast. Hanuman was born to Anjali,a lady of the vaanar tribe, fathered by Lord of Wind- Pawan. The wind-god is an all powerful God having the power of tempests and gale force. Hanuman gets his physical prowess of strength and speed of movement from his father.
Another reason for his name Hanuman could be because he hurt his chin (hanu) in early childhood. Soon after birth in a field, the infant felt terrible pangs of hunger. To quench his hunger he sprung upwards to get what he thought was fruit in the sky. Actually, it was the Sun. When Indra, the King of Gods realized the situation he chased Hanuman to stop him from devouring the sun. but tis divine Child was unstoppable and Indra had to cast his vajra as a last attempt. The unfailing weapon struck the infant on his chin and caused the damage that was to be there forever; also giving him the name Hanuman- one with a crooked jaw.
Hanuman was born in the context of the Ramayan to serve as a trusted lieutenant to Ram for conduct of his daily chores by the blessings of Lord Shiva who blessed him with not only super strength but also speed and power to vary his size to suit any contingency. Shiva also gave him access to all types of sciences and scholarly text. Therefore, despite being a vaanar he was endowed with vast knowledge. Tulsidas evokes this aspect in this Chaupai to lay foundation to other verses yet to come.
In the second part he is described as Lord of Monkeys, or the vaanar race. He therefore had authority over others of his race and due to his blessings and natural traits, he was considered as the Tej or glory or enlightenment, the power of which was sufficient to lighten up all the three Lokas or worlds. In the Hindu scriptures it is believed that apart from the bhulok where we live there is one such lok above and one below. Both these loks consist of seven strata each. The ones above are referred to as Swarg and those below as Patal. The intent her is not illumination by light but glory because of the powers and deeds of Hanuman.
This Chaupai praises the qualities of the God as prelude to the other verses of prayer
A doot is a messenger, representative or an ambassador of a king or an authority. To represent God himself is a matter of great honour and respect. Hanuman is bestowed with great strength of body and mind being the son of the Wind God.He is portrayed here as a Power store-house which has no equal.
He also is revered as son of the vaanar woman-Anjani, thus acquiring the traits of Monkeys as part of his nature. As a being he is wedged between the humans and jungle people and animals. He is therefore fickle-minded, agile and fearless. He also has energy to be engaged in activities, non-stop. Despite this he is better named Pawan-sut or Son Of Pawan, the wind God as it better describes him as a powerful person. To sum up, his name reflects hi power, boldness and super strength.
Kumati ke Nivaar
Sumati ke sangi
Mahabeer is a person with supernatural courage. He has absolute powers of body and mind. With this he can take care of his worshipers physical as well as mental problems. The next line portrays him as a winner and valiant (Bikram), who has the power to change a defeat into victory, an evil into good and a nothing into positivity. The word Bajarangi is composed of bajar or Vajar and Angi. Vajar is the thunderbolt weapon of Indra which the king of Gods uses to kill the demon Vritrasur . The demon could not be killed by ordinary and other divine weapos and had to be killed using this horrible astra. The later part of this means one with a body like the vajra. This body therefore has undefeatable winning qualities. We also recollect that the same weapon was used on Hanuman to stop his flight in space to gobble up the sun when he was an infant
The blessings of such a powerful God instantly removes the evil thoughts of darkness in his worshippers mind and instills positive and bright thoughts. Essentially, he is able to change the worshippers mentality of being a mundane human being into some one who has positivity and knowledge along with capability to distinguish between good and bad.
This Chaupai dwells on the physical traits of Hanuman. He is described as one of Golden appearance. Generally humans are described as fair, dark (Shyamal) or wheat coloured, and the animals are said to be of their observed colour, e.g. black, silver etc. etc. Here the word Golden is described to denote his colour and the glow of gold in his aura.
Since Hanuman is said to have been born with a divine loin cloth and earrings, there is a reference to both. The loin cloth perhaps brings about is qualities of celibacy and the material this was vajra, either diamonds or the Thunderbolt weapon of Indra. In any case the derived meaning is he was to never use his body for recreation and use his strength in the cause of Sri Rama.
When his mother was pregnant, Indra heard that her son would be more powerful than himself, so he cast his vajra to impair the child’s body. By divine grace the effect was to convert the weapon into earrings and also perhaps the loincloth. He is also said to have cropped hair. Thus the appearance is like a deity seen in a temple so that the devotee is able to visualize the God to whom he is in prayer
Aur dhwaja biraje
This verse is describing the accessories on his body. He is said to hold weapon in his hands, but it is not the thunderbolt of Indra. Instead, because of his monkey nature he uses peaks of mountains, rocks and huge uprooted trees as his ammunition to fight his opponents. These are found in abundance and can be picked up from any location of a war. He is also credited with carrying a dhwaja or an insignia. Doubtless, that this would carry a message that he represented Rama, however, in his portraits and pictures nothing clear has been shown to declare a message. .
The presence of a grass (moonj) worn as a sacred thread (janeu) declares that he is from the dwij or upper class of people. Sacred thread is the equivalent of ones initiation to religious ways or vedic rituals. Essentially, a person with janeu is credit with living a controlled life as ordained by the ceremony which observes a thrice a day reverence by the conduct of a ritual called Sandhya- a laid down format in the Vedas and the Purans. A person of this description is ready for war laid out within the religious scriptures.
Maha jag vandan
Hanuman is the Eleventh Rudra and is described as an element of Shiva, in some Purans he is said to be an incarnation of Shiva. While desiring a son, Anjani and Kesari prayed to Lord Shiva and the Lord had granted them the wish. It is believed that when Vishnu decided to incarnate as Rama to annihilate Ravan and other asuras, Shiva too incarnated to assist Vishnu in his wont. Ravan had received boons from Shiva and these had to be undone before Vishnu could finally kill the demon. Besides, Ravan had offered his ten heads to Shiva, but Shiva manifests as Eleven Rudra (Angry) forms, so one Rudra was not propitiated and this was incarnated as Hanuman. Hanuman is variously called as Raudreye.
In any case Vishnu and Shiva being manifestation of the same form are no different and are always together in the act of ridding the Earth of evil. Being of this descent the Monkey God possesses unlimited Power and Glow of every thing, such as strength, knowledge, understanding etc.. Therefore all over the world he is held in great reverence. His devotees pray to him for power, strength, freedom from fear and worldly difficulties. The mere utterance of his name assures success and denies failure.
karne ko aatur
Vidyavaan is a term used to describe a learned person; someone who has knowledge, analytical power, understanding and application. Being the element of Shiva, Hanuman retains all worldly knowledge and he is able to get his way with success through intelligent use of his gift. He imbodies smartness which is essential to use ones knowledge, power and body strength, hence, heis said to be ati chaatur- very smart. He displays this prowess in so many situations which he confronts on and off the battle field in Sri Lanka.
Hanuman is also gifted by a strong urge to serve his Master. He is always looking for any indication from Rama just in case a need may arise. There is a story that when he was removed by Rama’s presence for a while he began to click his fingers as one would do while yawning, in divine response Rama’s mouth fell open and his family began to wonder what was happening. Rama said this was so because Hanuman was clicking his fingers. This made the family wise and he was readmitted to where Rama was relaxing. This brings about the dedication and willingness of Hanuman to be of service to his God.
Sunbe ko rasiya
Ram, Lakhan, Sita
In fact Hanuman is so dedicated to Rama that he is keen to hear about the deeds of valour. Kindness, or just mundane doings of his Master when he is not serving. A folklore says that whenever there is a gathering to pray, chant , do yagna or in any way revere Rama, Hanuman takes an imaginary form and quietly attends incognito.
He has made his services completely indispensable and thus he dwells in the heart of not just Rama, but also of Laxman and Sita. Both of these were also in dedicated service to Rama but Hanumans service was so well recognized that he surpassed those of his brother and wife. Not just this but also the pleasant nature had endeared Hanuman to the family in exile.
Sookhshma roop dhari
Vikat roop dhari
Goswami Tulsidas describes the super powers of Hanuman where he can vary his size or assume other forms by divine grace. This is a trait that all sidhdha (proven)Gods and Rishus develop through Tapasya (Penance). Thus God may appear or disappear from a devotee in any form that he may chose. Hanuman was born with all the Vedic knowledge and has these qualities inbuilt to his being. When he first went to Lanka as an emissary of Lord Rama, he had not seen Sita before that. He was aware that being in Ravan’s captivity she was in great danger and as such was heavily traumatized. In order not to scare her further he decided to reveal himself as a tiny loveable monkey, having done that he dropped Rama’s ring gently in front of her and thus broke her into gentle conversation to reveal the fact that he was in fact in search of her on behalf of her husband . This was a very laudable approach he had taken for this mission as they soon developed a feeling of respect and confidence.
Soon after he had assured Sita of Rama’s love for her and the fact that very soon she would be rescued from the clutches of Ravan he decided to meet with the Asuras and complete the final part of his mission. For this it was essential to take up a towering presence, so with the consent of Sita he grew to an enormous size and began to systematically destroy the Garden horticulture and uproot the trees to create panic in the minds of the keepers. He permitted them to capture him and take him to Ravan who was angered by such misbehavior. After the Monkey God told him of the purpose of his visit and advised him to return Sita unharmed to Rama he teased the assembly of Ravana’s ministers , who ordered that while it was not right to kill an ambassador of another King, it was alright to dismember him. They decree passed against him was to wrap oil-soaked cloth to his tail and set it afire.
The intelligent monkey used this to grow additional length of his tail and began to jump from towering building to another, thus setting them on fire. This caused untold damage and misery to the Lankan people before he decided enough was enough and jumped into the sea to put out the fire. His form was truly vikat or out of proportion and caused deep rooted fear in the hearts of all the population.
Bheem roop dhari
Not only during the final war between Ravan and Rama’s forces of Monkeys and Bears but also in many other cases Hanuman is faced with Demons which he overpowers or kills. Even during his mighty jump from main Land to Sri Lanka he was faced wit three female demons who lived in the sea as outer protective rings of Sri Lankas defense preparations.
The first was Simhika who grabs the Shadow of Hanuman and gobbles him up. Hanuman first assumes a small stature so that the demoness is forced to swallow him and later, in side her belly, he decides to assume a huge form thus breaking out of her entrails. The second was Surasa who openly invites him into her mouth and if he escapes then he would be free to proceed. Hanuman increases his size enormously and the demoness keeps increasing her jaws size accordingly/ Hanuman then abruptly assumes a tiny fly form and goes out through her open teeth, thus intelligently meeting the criteria set by Sursa. In the case of the third Demoness, Lankani, he simply battles her to the ground and makes her admit her defeat. In each of these cases he had increased his size at will to kill the asuras.
The killings of these or many other demons was not to quench personal enimity but were in the line of duty to his Lord and Master, Sri Rama. Thus he annihilated demons in the line of duty to make the humongous task of Rama to rid the Earth of evil
Harshi ur laaye
After building a bridge over the sea Rama’s forces went to war with Ravana’s Demon forces. This is in context of the battle between Laxman and on of Ravana’s powerful sons, Meghnad by name. Meghnad was so powerful that once he had defeated King of Gods and earned the reputed name of Indrajit - conqueror of Indra. In this battle Meghnad had let lose a weapon with effects of snakes. After being hit Laxman slipped into unconsciousness and had to be rescued, The only anecdote was Sanjivani Herb which grew in the heights of Himalayas. The riding factor was to apply the anecdote before dawn next day.
Hanuman volunteered to fetch this invaluable herb, but was not sure what it looked like, nevertheless, he started his jump from Sri Lanka to the Himalayas. Ravana came to know this and he deputed his trusted commander, Kaalnemi, to confuse the Monkey God and firstly to not let him get the herb ab secondly, to make sure that if this fails Hanuman was not to return before dawn. By magic, Kaalnemi arrived in the Himalayas. He welcomed Hanuman’s arrival and began t o confuse him. However, Hanuman found his gambit and killed him. Even today, many of Hanumans images portray him standing on a body. This body is believed to be that of Kaalnemi.
As darkness grew it was impossible to see and identify the Sanjeevani herb, so Hanuman uprooted the whole peak and carried it back in a mighty leap. He reached the casualty area on time and Laxman was soon on his feet, having been treated by a paste of the rare herb. Every one around was very happy that Laxman had been revived from certain death.
Most pleased was, of course, Rama to see his dear brother alive and fit to fight another battle. He was so happy that he forgot his position as Leader of Forces and instantly held Hanuman to his bosom in a rare display of affection. Tulsidas has brought this aspect to help us understand that whenever Rama is pleased with a person he holds nothing back and loves his bhakt with equal love.
Tum mum Priya
Bharat hi-sum bhai
Even though the war of Lanka is still in progress and Rama has not been crowned as King, Tulsidas calls him Raghupati- master of the Raghu clan. This is perhaps to indicate the greatness of Rama to acknowledge the feats of Hanuman. Rama burst into a series of praises and good words from his heart to glorify the Monkey God. Who in turn had wanted nothing from his master but to serve him without self-interest.
Praising Hanuman, he granted him the position of a family member from the mundane position of just a doot. His comparisons to Bharat is deliberate. Bharat is his brother through another Mother, Kaikayi who is the third and youngest wife of his father, Dashrath. Seeking her personal interest to make her son accede the throne, she had connived to send Rama to the forest for fourteen years. When Bharat came to know of her trick he was livid with anger and set out to urge Rama back to Ayodhya and to take over the Kingdom from his father who had since died in grief for what he had done to appease his wife. When Rama had refused to return Bharat carried bak his elder brothers footwear as his penance and to rule on behalf of his elder brother. All this , then endeared Bharat very closely to Rama’s heart.
So, the comparison with Bharat is extraordinary respect that Rama showered on Hanuman by this utterance.
Tumhre jas gaave
Sripati kanth lagaave.
In this Chaupai Rama is referred to as Sripati. Sripati name was given to Vishnu as he was the Lord of all things favourable and auspicious. Tulsidas thus links Rama to his divine who has incarnated himself as Rama in the treta yug. Vishnu’s consort is Laxmi, thus Sita is also linked to Vishnu through reference to Laxmi. Here it is relevant as Rama is honour in Hanuman for a feat that was near impossible and had resulted in giving life to his brother who had almost died at the hands of Meghnad. Ina prayer it is common to describe both personal attributes and the attire of a God. Many times the feats, such as killing a demon, is also stated to bring to ones mind the greatness of the event as the demon himself may have been known for his strengths. Here, Hanumans personal attributes were stated in earlier Chaupais and now it is time to speak about his glory.
As a boon or blessing to his devotee Rama bestows upon him that he will be revered by thousands of bodies ( read here as a gathering as body of people in prayers). In their prayers his devotees will sing of his glorious deeds that have lent popularity and acclaim to Hanuman. Having granted the boon Rama further amplified his gratitude and thanks by hugging him tight to his chest. In India it is still common to hold a person close to the chest to convey love and affection
In the preceding verse Hanuman’s glory has been sung. Who sings about this glory? It is Vishnu. The trinity God of wellbeing, now incarnated as Rama, thus it comes from the highest echelon and from there it is picked by Brahma and others. The others mean Brahmas’ sons and other creations that he had created out of his mind. Some of his creations were the Sanat Kumars, Narad, saptrishis and so on. This was the common order till Shiva postulated that two complementary bodies when united in sexual desire will give rise to off springs who will have birth at one end and Death at the other. Since Brahma had initially created beings from his mind, all his children were like him and would pick up a Kamandal and proceed for penance. All modified creations too were not interested in procreation.
Here the verse says sankadik to mean all the mental creations of Brahma who became involved with Tapasya and were hence called Munisha. Then Narad’s name is listed as he had initially canvassed against creation, bringing in the topics of sufferings, death etc. till he was cursed and specifically told to change his teachings. Even today a person speaking against establishment is nicknamed Narad to bring about his inflammatory and negative character.
Shaarad word come from Sharada, another name for Saraswati- goddess of learning and knowledge. All the people who had received boons from the Goddess or were her devotees are called Shaarads. Because of their knowledge such people also sing about Hanumans verses that bring out his glory. Finally,as in those days serpants were also prayed to and had a very special standing in the Hindu mindset they too have been included in the verse as Ahisha or devotees and children of the snake tribe.
Digpal jahan te
Kahi saken kanhate
Hanuman had received the Vidyas from birth and he is known widely to educated in the Vedas and other sciences. He also indulges in story telling as he narrated the story of Rama to Bharat who had brought Hanuman down to earth as he was returning back to where Laxman was lying unconscious and everybody anxiously waited for the Sanjeevan herb. After hearing the story of Rama Bharat put him at the end tip of his arrow and delivered him post-haste. Even then his own achievements and deeds have been appreciated by all and sundry. These, themselves are an unending saga of valour.
Jam or Yama and Kuber have been known for their story telling and Hanumans’ deeds are talking points on all angles of the compass. Dig means directions and Pals mean care takers, thus dipal means caretakers in all directions. The direction have been identified by Dhruv as the cardinal point in the North and Other seven directions being the other cardinal and intercardinal or the ordinal directions. Literally it can be taken to mean far and wide. Theother stalwarts who may narrate are the poets and the writers. Here, it is said that if all these persons were to assemble and narrate thw doings of Hanuman, they too will never be ableto do justice to the various tales. We understand that Hanuman’s glory is beyond narration.
From qualities of strength and valour we come to his nature of being helpful and his nature to help and assist people in need. There is little wonder that we reach for Hanuman when faced with dire situation and little time to respond. The Monkey God steadies the mind when people embarking on difficult or perilous mission start off with a prayer to Hanuman. In a situation when one feels one has hit the cul-de-sac, it is Hanuman who finds a solution to the problem and success of ones mission.
In this context his part is lauded in Sugreeva’s case when Hanuman went down with great uncertainty when he saw Ram and Laxman wondering in the forest in search of Seeta. After meeting Rama he was convinced that the stranger alone can fight Sugreeva’s brother Bali, who had usurped not only the Kingdom but also the wife of sugreeva. Hanuman tactfully introduced the two explaining to each how they were mutually useful to each other. Rama engaged wit Bali and Killed him covertly, thus making possible for return of Sugreeva to his Kingdom and wife. This undoubtedly was a turning point in the story of Ramayan where not only the whereabouts of Seeta are found but also good will was built to establish an undefeatable army of Monkeys and Bears- the jungle folks. Ravan could not have thought of an attack by this Army even in his wildest dream.
Sab jag jaana
In Ramayana written by Tulsidas there is no mention of Hanuman’s meeting with Vibhishan- Ravana’s brother. However, in Ram Charit Maanas, written by Valmiki some 1500 years before Tulsidas penned his version of the epic does have verses on this meeting.
Hanuman heard aa man’s voice reciting holy verses and decides to investigate. He finds Vibhishan and asks him his credentials. Once satisfied the the man was pious and dedicated to God he befriends him instantly. Then he advices Vibhishan on two matters, firstly, that Loyalty is not above Dharma. It is inappropriate for Ravan to abduct someone’s wife as well as for Vibhishan himself to overlook such a misdeed. Secondly, to be of service to Rama he must adopt the path of goodness and distance himself from Ravana. In turn, Vibhishan again raises the issue of Sita’s abduction in the court of Ravana and in turn he is demeaned and insulted by the king in presence of other Ministers. When Vibhishan reiterated his advice, Ravana flew into rage and threw him out of his Kingdom. Vibhishan, with his followers then approached Rama for asylum and protection. This event is another turning point in the battle that followed as it was Vibhishan who advised Rama at a crucial moment that Ravana’s praan or life force rested in his naval. Rama then let fly his arrow to the Naval which was the shot that eventually killed the demon.
After the battle, Rama performed all rituals for Ravana as he was a Brahmin. After suitable time of his cremation, Vibhishan ascended the throne and also married Ravana’s wife as per practice prevalent in those times. Tulsidas raises this point here and says the renown of Vibhishan as King of Lanka spread in all corners of the world.
Jojan sau Bhanu
Madhur pali jaani
The last Chaupai brought out the persuasive power of Hanuman, this one speaks in contrast of his simplicity.
The story of Hanuman’s birth says he was delivered by Anjani, his mother in the fields while she was working there. After giving birth she went on to conduct post natal chores, leaving the newly born Hanuman on a small bed of straws. When Hanuman got his senses, he was overpowered with a feeling of great hunger. He looked around but nothing caught his fancy. Then his eyesfell on the son. As a monkey he thought it was a colourful fruit. Hanuman coiled his body like a taut spring and jumped up into the skies. As he approached the sun, his shadow created darkness on the Earth and in Heavens. This alarmed the Gods and Indra launched hi Vajra to stop the flight of Hanuman to gobble up the Sun. He was struck on the chin and dropped back to the Earth, crying. Lord Shiva and other Gods who were also alarmed and came to investigate found the Baby inconsolable. Because of injury on his Chin the Gods gave him the name of Hanuman.
It is interesting that here the distance os Son os very close to what scientists have found in modern times. This exemplifies that even in those days our scriptures had good knowledge of the Solarsystem.
Mel much maahi
Jaladhi laangh gaye
Hanuman was honoured to agree to jump across the sea to Lanka. But the problem was that he had no idea of whom he would be looking for. He had not met Sita till then, so the courtiers described Seeta’s physical traits to ease matters. However, the second part of the problem was yet to be addressed. How would Seeta know that Hanuman was the emissary of Rama and not part of Ravana’s plan to break her will? Sri Rama solved the problem by giving Hanuman his ring which Seeta would certainly recognise. Hanuman gladly accepted the ring and came to his launching site close to the coast. He did not realise that this ring would bring on an end to finding seeta’s location
Another minor problem arose, where could he stash the ring during the flight as he wore no other garment other than the loin cloth. He resolved this in the simplest of ways of his monkey nature. To Hanuman the ring was only a piece of jewelry and nothing more, he could be explained its value as gold but he was not aware of its intrinsic nature. So his simple monkey ways did not lend such thought of respecting Rama’s ring. He put it in his mouth as the safest place that would neither alter the characteristic of the ring nor effect his own flight. To the human mind this act would definitely make the ring impious and dirty. To Hanuman it was only a solution.
He leapt across the seas and enroute he had tiffs with three female demons Lankini, Sursa and Simhika and a submerged mountain, who arose from undersea to touch the feet of flying Hanuman.
Jagat ke jete
Another name for Hanuman is Sankat-mochan- or one who gives succor from eventualities that others may be facing. He is said to make passage of a bhakta easy whenever he is faced with difficulties and impediments. Such a God would naturally be able to overcome his own hardships with much ease.
By the grace of Hanuman the bhakt gains psychological strength to face his problem and the through application of his own mind a workable solution is reached even for problems where finding a solution was considered nearly impossible. This is the reason why, in the face of an adversity the bhakta always prays to Hanuman, thereby calming his nerves and conjuring up a right response. With the Hindu mindset the credit for such an eventuality was ascribed to Hanuman. Thus a person on a journey through a forest or when faced with dire consequences automatically sings out Hanuman Chalisa. Incidentally, most people have byhearted the forty Chaupais.
Hout na aagya
If one has a close look at a Siva temple , one will not miss the lone bull statue outside the temple but his eyes fixed unblinking on the image or Shiv Ling within. Actually, the Bull form of Nandi is the depiction of Sivas trusted Gana or force that takes care of Sivas security and his mundane needs. Thus the Lord time and efforts or his Tapasya are unhindered from unwanted visitors. In Jagannathan temple in Orissa the image of Hanuman exists for a similar role.Even Ravan had deputed the Demoness Lankani who ensured that no one went past her who was unwelcome to Ravana’s presence, and she had challenged Hanuman on his maiden flight to the Kingdom of Lanka.
Thus an image or statue of Hanuman outside the Rama temple has the same role. Brahmin. Vaishya and Khshatriya are called cwij and have by and by a clean role in society. Therefore, with their clean bodies they may enter a temple. But, some casts are engaged in physically dirty professions such as sweepers, tannery workers, butchers and so on. These people are known in society as untouchable only because of an unwelcome attire or appearance, hence, they were not permitted to visit an upper cast temple and had to do with the old guard outside the temple. The masses got an opportunity to see the deity when he would be taken out in a procession, such as the one we see as Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri.
One story has it that the God Sun rides his Chariot nonstop. He is preceded by a group of twenty Daanavas’ who specialize in various traits such as defenders from attacks, group that facilitates the running of the chariot or a group that will take care of any road blocks etc. etc.
In Rama’s case, Hanumans’ presence outside makes him approachable to all and he decides if a certain visitor is to be let in. For all else, he himself has all the powers to grant the desires of general public. In case someone has to be admitted the he is granted proper permission to the chamber of Rama.
Sab such lehon
Kahoo ko darna
In Hindu Philosophy submission to God is not as a slave, it is as Meera loved Krishna, or as a Mother loves her child or as Rama’s love for Hanuman. This way Hanuman has been accredited with control of all kinds of pleasures (sukh) thus, he can bestow these to his bhakta without any favour or prejudice. The element of taking care of a person in ones care includes his well-being, safety, fulfillment of desires and general guidance in life and many such acts.
To the Bhakt who knows his God has all the powers puts himself at the total disposition of the deity. The deity in turn due to his inherent benevolent nature will impart what is good and in favour of the bhakt. The confidence that comes to the devotee is absolute and is well expressed by saying to the Deity that when the Deity is the Guarding angel then there can be no other fear.
Here the submission and protection are both without any qualifications. The Bhakt leaves himself at God’s mercy and God grants all the boons favouring the Bhakta
Hank te kaaanpen
Here, reference is made to tihun Lok or the three worlds. As per the Gyatri mantra these are said to be earth, atmosphere in between and the sky. Accordingly, the Gods are classified as those that live in the sky like the Sun, the Moon, those that live in the atmosphere such as Hanuman’s father, the Wind God and those that reside on the earth such as Agni. But the Purans call these to be Swarg or the seven heavens above, Patal, the seven hells below and
the third is the Earth itself. Whatever, be the understanding, his power of physique and voice are so overpowering that the residents of all the three worlds live in mortal fear of aggression from Hanuman for any of their misstep.
Where does Hanuman get his Physical power and deafening roar of a voice? Indeed from his father, the wind God himself and from the blessings of all the Devas who had come to see himafter Indra felled him on his flight to the Sun as an infant. Different Gods are credit with different powers and each God, when pleased can bestow the power that he is known for. Thus Indra can give hardness of his vajra, Saraswati can give the gift of knowledge and so on. With so many os such blessings heis the ocean of strength and mental abilities. Hence the prayer to Hanuman is to control his physical and mental powers as the people of three worlds already acknowledge them.
Nikat nahin aaway
Jab naam sunaave
In the Hindu context Bhoot and Pisach are different, though they are both bodyless souls of people who have died. Bhoot is what is popularly conceived as Ghost or Soul. After death of a person his soul leaves the body but fails to go across to the Vaitarni river and be born as Pitar. The soul needs to travel from the land of the living to the land of the dead across Vaitarni river, however due to some over riding concern or death in accidents etc. may cause the soul to be wandering about in the land of the living. It is believed that they can be driven away by chanting God’s name or holding special prayers.
The Pisach is considered as oneborn from one of the wives of Brahma’s son- Rishi Kashyap. The other births from different wives are Deva, Asur, raakshas, yaksh, nag, garud, gandharv, apsara, and kinnar. These bodyless souls usually are nocturnal and reputed to hang upside down on trees. They are believed to survive on the meat of the dead but have frequent skirmishes with the living who may have harmed them in some way. The Pisach are more vindictive as opposed to bhoot as they pick a victim to avenge some wrong doing . Bhoot on the contrary are always trying to get across the river and be born as Pitar or achieve due status depending on his karmic quotient.
Both categories are mortally scared of God, in the past Vedic Mantras were chanted to ward them off and in some cases to grant them relief. However, in these time people don’t even know Sanskrit, let alone the meters of the Vedas. The common man recites aloud these very lines when faced with danger, fear, or any unfavourable situation. The mere mention of the name of Hanuman does wonders to chase away ghosts and pichas and this four line Chaupai is the ultimate protection, hence, the most sung part of the entire Hanuman Chalisa
Hare sab peera
We have seen that the mere utterance of the name chases away ghosts. Today, a Ghost is considered as a remaining memory or phobia from an unhappy event, giving very little or no credence to its meaning in olden times. However the belief that the Chalisa will accord due relief has grown stronger in the Hindu mind. This, then, being the case, still makes Hanumans name as an unfailing medicine to overcome both paranormal and mental trauma. In this Chaupai it is said to be a relief to physical discomfort and disease.
Hanuman was sent to get Sanjeevani herb when Laxman was knocked unconscious in battle for Lanka by Indrajeet. Hence he has credit for some knowledge of Ayurveda which was the system of medicine that was in vogue. Ayurvedic treatment were administered for both body ailments and disease. Hanuman was an exponent of Yogic sciences as well. This science applies to sickness of mind and body and constant practice will ensure that one remains bodily and mentally agile. These days the most catchy aspect is the pranayama or breath control as cure to along list of sickness. The Monkey God is said to have devised Surya Namaskar which is a continuous series of set of Asanas or poses. Deligent execution of this exercise keeps one fit and fine.
Here, it is said that if one chants Hanuman’s name and stories of his valour without a break the God will banish body illness and give respite to the worst kinds of aches and pains. It can be constued as having unshakable faith in the God’s abilities to healthy and be fit.
Dhyan jo lave
The Hindus speak about worship of Hindu deities in the same breath as speaking of complex Vedic sense. This calls for the worship itself being according to Vedic rites and therefore, the three aspects of mind (man), action (karam) and speech (vachan) have to be mastered together in support of each other. Thus, just bhakti without donation or karmic performance of yagna etc. is ineffective. This coordinated effort calls for dhyan or concentration. Dhyan is one of the 8 steps to reach divine Samadhi in search of the Ultimate God and is accessible by controlling the always outwards looking mind to focus on the inside, completely ignoring the five sensory indriya and thus the mind itself.
In the Chaupai this is emphasized upon to have a sincere and faithful approach to ones problem when invoking Godly relief. Hence, once a sincere appeal is made to Hanuman, having the mind-action and speech sincerely controlled the God’s intervention will provide due succor from whatever sankat (problems) that have been addressed to him. Problems referred here could be of three types, namely, Physical-such as sickness, Psychological- such as ghost phobia, or of a social nature such as misfortune. Whatever, be the problem it has to be taken up with utmost sincerity.
Sab par rama
Sakal tum saajha
Even though the prayer is being made to Hanuman who is in an inferior position in Rama’s service, yet, like a masters’ benign disposition towards his devotee Hanuman’s first thought is Rama. In Rama’s name Hanuman does all his acts. Here Tulsidas acknowledges this fact by saying that Rama is a tapasvi or performer of austerities , and he is a King of all subjects. Hanuman takes care of all small and big chores of Rama and thus earns for himself the benevolence and powers by which he, in turn, takes care of the needs of his devotees. It is by the grace of such a master that Hanuman is able to smooth out problems of his own devotees. One can say that Rama is the incarnation of Vishnu and Hanuman is part of Shiva. Thus, can infer that it is Shiva who does all the small and big works for Vishnu.
Jo koi laave
Jeevan phal pave
The reference is to a personal ambition. Thus a mothers wish for her son or a husband’s wish for his wife is not being discussed. In this world gains and losses are stacked together, so a gain will come at the cost of a loss. In most cases an individual will gain at someone else’s cost, but, it is equally said that one must pay for his own gains. While praying to God in a temple we make offerings of fruit, flower, wealth and promises. Frequently we hear that a prayer has been made for some thing, (may even be a son or a job or a court case), the devotee promises (Sankalp) that he will return the favour by heavy donation or an act or even austerity in some field. This is a thought deed without making anyone else party to it so it is said to be mano or mental and arath or meaning. So once a person has strongly undertaken this Sankalp he will sincerely work for it himself and by Godly intervention he will meet success of his cherished dream.
There may be a wish that one wants to beget at the cost of someone else and he knows that if his desire comes true then the other person will be a loser. Such desires are obviously unbalanced and the person desiring it may eventually be convinced that he is not well deserving and he may genuinely accept that due benefit goes to one who deserves it. This is ones own mental reconditioning.
Then, again, most of our events are Karmic in nature. The deeds may result in Good (punya) or bad (paap). These results are returned to us, only the timeframe varies. We stash the results of our actions in three ways. Namely, Sanchit or those repercussions that will bear fruit in a cycle of many births, prarabdha , these are the plus and minus we have earned in our previous lives or even in the current one, but they have been made part of our current destiny which we will go through resulting in pain or pleasure; success or failure and so on. Lastly, agam or those that instantly convert into due reaction or are more likely to be carried forward and will bear returns in future lives. The result of desires also convert to results in a similar way or under similar time frames. But by Hanuman’s grace the wish is fulfilled in an undying way, or positively as a fruit of ones life time (amit phal).
The granting of ones wishes and desires by Hanuman’s intervention is because of super natural prowess of strength and well-meaning where he grants these to his devotees. His fame and acclaim for granting wishes is well known as his capabilities and benign nature. The devotee has complete faith that if he is sincere in his own approach to seek Hanuman’s blessings he will definitely be blessed
As per the Puranic thought, the life cycle of the world is called one Kalp. The kalp itself consists of four Yuga’s of specified durations. The division is based on the three gunas or qualities of sat (truth), Raj (kingly control) and Tamsik (lack of knowledge). In the first Yug called Satyug everyone lives the life of Vedas and there is no untruth or wicked ways. In the next phase called tretayug some of the Vedic qualities are compromised and people selectively circumvent the right path. In the next phase called dwapar evry thing gets eroded but people are still aware that they have deviated from the path of righteousness but still continue to be followed by an evil desire and finally in Kalyug all the Vedic qualities are forgotten and only wicked paths are followed. This leads to a total collapse of worldly values and people kill each other, the earth grows less of produce , environment is severely compromised and eventually living becomes an unbearable ordeal.
In this Chaupai it is meant that Hanuman’s field of grace exists far-and-wide and the world is illuminated by his tej or divine powers to help all his devotees.
Sadhu sant ke
It is Hanuman’s nature to be protective towards righteous people who are described as Godfearing (sadhu) and People of knowledge (sant). This is natural because Rama had incarnated to correct the evil that had set in after the passage of Satyug. Though the drop in Vedic duties was not too much but the world was sized by evil asuras who were an impediment to saintly people following Vedic rituals The asuras would frequently harm the saints or disturb their religious procedures. They had become so strong that they would ask people to follow their dictates, if the saints desired to live in social harmony.
Ravana, the most evil of them all was said to live Lanka which is said to be south of Bharatvarsh. However, the word South refers to a direction in ones mind where the good becomes bad, knowledge becomes lack of it, good acts become sins and so on as a sliding from a positivity towards its own negativity. Even Lanka as an imaginary name perhaps signifying Ravana’s regimen of evil and high handedness. Associating Sri Lanka in this context does not seem to be just.
Hanuman went all out against these Asura’s whose boss was Ravana and whose death put an end to such forces that were working against the doctrine laid down by the Vedas. This act made matters easy and eliminated many Asuras that were of lowly status that did not deserve action by Vishnu’s incarnation as Rama. Thus Rama’s energies were better applied for his cause of coming to this world. This made him very pleased that his reliable lieutenant took care of chores and so he grew very fond of him (dulare) .
Nav nidhi ke data
As bar deenh
Siddhi and Nidhi are blessing forms from Shakti or lady Gods. Seeta was the Shakti incarnation and had power of granting boons. She had granted these to Hanuman in return of his services to Rama and the family.
Siddhi are the powers to the physical form that enable it to adopt various forms. These are nine in numbers and are powers to increase ones body size, reduce the body size, make the body heavy, make body weightless, acquire any worldly stuff, satisfy any desire, make the body appear as multiple and finally dominate all. Respectively they are called , mahima, anima, Garima, laghima, prapti, prakamya, ishtva, and vastva.
Nidhi pertains to secret treasures that are classified as Mahapadma, padma,shankha, makara, kachchapa, Mukund, Kunda, Nila and Kharva, total nine in numbers. Both together make an unlimited strorehouse of physical powers and secret treasures. In his kindness, Hanuman, will bestow any of these on his devotees. In fact most of the desires and wishes of his bhaktas are based on these and this bon comes to Hanuman from Sita whom he revers as his Mother. In Hindu ways it is right to call even a younger person as ones mother indicating ones worship of her for any reason.
Raghupati ke daasa
Here Rama is invoked by referring to him as a scion of Raghu or the originator of his Surya-Vansh. Hanuman serves Rama in every way making it a parallel that he has been associated to the family ever since. Like all Gods there is an aura of their greatness that surrounds them and a mere glimpse of it is beneficial to the devotee and the personification of Vishnu himself has a greatly influencing Chemistry of appearance. Hanuman has served Rama so selflessly and closely that Rama’s Chemistry has rubbed itself on the Monkey God. This has imparted Rama’s grace and Godly ways to Hanuman who follows these in all his actions.
It is said that once Hanuman had asked Sita as to why she had a gerua (red) (bindi) dot on her forehead. She had replied that she wore that as a mark of her love for Rama. Hanuman was impressed and went about in simplistic Monkey ways and coloured his entire body gerua to show his love for Rama. Seeta was so overcome by this emotion that she blessed him to always be in service of his beloved God, Rama. One track devotion to Rama and service to Rama had one Hanuman several blessings.
Rama ko bhaven
The effect of being in prayers to Hanuman brings about two fold boons. Firstly, one gets the fruits of ones wish and secondly, mental sorrows and depressions are also overcome. These sorrows may have been caused by ones wrong-doings in the past lives.
Our everyday actions are based on Karmic reactions of past lives. When ever we confront a situation in this life we have clear options and what we choose becomes action or karma. If we have chosen the action in a righteous mind taking care that no one was hurt and actions were done in right faith, then, all is well and there may not be any carry forwards. However, if the results had been in Vedic accord and many had benefitted then this becomes a punya and will be coming ones way in a future life. If we had chosen a wicked action in contravention to the scriptures and possibly against the interest of the society then in a future life the result will revisit as sorrow.
In this life we will still have to undergo effects of our previous deeds, but by Hanuman’s grace there will be either an alternative or there will be courage to face it. Rama was exiled for fourteen years for no fault of his as Dashrath’s son. With a newly wed wife he could have landed up in all kinds of troubles but by divine grace Laxman followed them, making all of life’s struggle easy. Then, to assist these hermit rothers came Hanuman who had performed many other noble services to Rama. Thus, we see that faith in God is all that we need to face karmic sorrows and misadventures.
The theory of rebirth comes from the Upanishads and the progress of the Jeevatma to yonder worlds. The atma is said to be indestructible and free from blemish, it does not pick up any stains from the passage of a person. A person is born and bears the body made of five elements (panchbhoot), namely earth, water, sky, fire and wind. Upon death he loses air functions with his last breath then the body is consigned to flames where fire, water and sky return to their origins and dust or ash is left as residue, this is customarily consigned to rivers or to the sea. The atma then gets a divine sharira or body and that goes to heaven or hell or to the pitar yoni to live the fruits of ones karmas in his past life. After he has gone through the good or the bad results he drops back to the earth to be reborn.
A person who had followed the Vedic path and had held unwavering faith in Hanuman, will , after passage from this world, go to the divine Lok ruled by Rama who has here been referred to as Raghubeer to bring out his qualities of sublime power. This person is called as Haribhakt as Rama was the incarnation of Vishnu and as such Ramas’ Lok will identify as the Lok of Vishnu or Hari. Once a soul goes up to This Lok then it does not come under the administration of other Gods and has full blessings of Vishnu, thus earning for oneself the title of Haribhakt or devotee of Vishnu. Thus the atma is freed from the cycle of birth and death.
Chit na dharai
Sarva such karai
In Hinduism various aspects of living are attributed to different Gods and Goddesses. Thus, Laxmi gives, riches, Saraswati gives Vidya Ganesh takes away impediments, Indra gives rain and so on. These Gods have these divine powers for people on the earth and other Lokas, but within the Lokas of Vishnu all the happenings and boons are by the grace of Vishnu himself and these are executed by his assistants, here, Hanuman.
In . Henceany case, a soul or atma in a Lok where it has been freed from birth and death does not have the needs of one who is undergoing the rigours of life with a body. Hence, the values added to other Gods is not compromised by saying that Hanuman fulfills all desire without the intervention of Gods associated to a particular boon. It simply means that there is no need for such intervention as whatever be the need Hanuman will attend to it. The life in the Harilok is full of bliss and happiness.
Mite sab peera
Back again into the worldly ways, when one is faced with problems or pains of daily living he resorts to remembering and uttering Hanumans name to rid himself of unhappiness. The name of Hanuman itself has the potential to destroy all woes as we have seen in preceding Chaupais.When a person completely loses himself in the bhakti of Hanuman while seeking his kindness he praises so many events where Hanuman had used his strength and force to overcome problems that had seemed to be impossible to overcome
In amind that is recalling the deeds of Hanuman he is praising Hanumans physical strength, knowledge, mental ability, divine powers, dedication to Rama, thoughtfulness etcetera. These and many other qualities of Hanuman’s persona are his strengths and one or all of these will put an end to the devotees woes thus releasing him from the bonds of problems and agony of whatever was the cause
In his life he solved Sugreeva’s problem by getting Bali shot by Rama and thus returning Power and Kingdom to Sugreeva. He even helped Rama by locating Seeta, then by retrieving Sanjeevani herb to count few occasions. He had also solved the problem for Vibheeshan who was living a pitiful life under his tyrant brother, Ravana. Likewise Hanuman will solve the issues with his Bhaktas who seek his blessings.
Jai, jai, jai
Gurudev ki naai
Gosain or Goswami is made of two word parts, namely go, meaning sensory stimulus and swami, meaning Lord. Hence the first part prays to Hanuman as a Guru for the first time in this Chalisa. He has been said to have knowledge of all studies and subjects, that makes him an ideal teacher and one who will benefit his Bhaktas with all the knowledge at his command
Our own perceptions come from the sensory organs and are processed by mind, vetted by our intelligence and executed through our five action organs. The Bhakta may not have suitably chosen the right action and had faltered in his response to a situation. To have it corrected hail to the Hanuman as Guru who will show the right alternative. Here “Hail” has been repeated thrice to stress on the value attached to uttering the name of the God whose help is sought.
A Father or Mother or any body who can bestow his kindness is always sought. Hanuman is sought as Guru as he is the only person who imparts knowledge to his students without any compulsion or greed of a return. A guru is also knowledgeable and knows the exact response what the student has posed as a question.
Jo shat baar
Path kar koi
Maha such hoi
Our material happiness come from satisfaction of our desires. However, once one desire materializes, another one crops up. Overall the cycle of working out the desires is endless and can give sporadic happiness. But spiritually happiness is when “Desire” itself is dispensed with and there is no room for any kind of emotions leading to Bliss.
By chanting the Hanuman Chalisa and understanding its undercurrent as a salvation prayer will grant us freedom from all kinds of mental and physical bondages. The term “such” here is used to denote not just liberation from sorrows but also for the state of happiness that prevails when there are no desires. Thus, the Chalisa is an instrument that , when repeated a hundred times gives us the greatest of happiness.
In fact when one understands the covert and overt meaning of the words used and their composition there is an altogether different meaning. A meaning that is above the mundane and into the metaphysical world. This gives an insight to the religious meaning and not one would interpret in terms of physical being, bringing to the heart a divine tranquility and peace. This peace is not just akin to what a yogi may achieve through Samadhi but exactly what even a householder (grihastha) or a Celibate (brahmchari) acquires by Vedic execution of prescribed duties, hence the word Greatest bliss (mahasukh) has been used.
Jo yeh padhe
To understand this Chaupai we have to understand what is meant by the term ‘Gaurisha’. Gauri or Parvati is the consort of Lord Shiva, she is his ‘Sakti’ which also includes ‘Vidya”. Isha or ish means a title for Lord. Thus the word by implication means Lord Shiva himself, who is also the creater of this world and the divine ‘Absolute’.
Who-so-ever studies the Hanuman Chalisa becomes established in every way, and, to that, the witness is Shiva himself. The calling of witness is like a promise to the truthfulness of the statement that is made. An unerring statement.
There is a lot of truth in this. When one speaks of, say, a gold ornament the he understands every thing about Gold and everything about that type of ornament. So when he needs to buy another Gold ornament he has an eye for the truthfulness of Gold- only the shape of the ornament may vary. Thus, by making an in-depth study of the Chalisa one gets to understand God in the core sense and that makes it easy for him to grasp any other matter that may be different only in its casting. Just a mechanical reciting of the Hanuman Chalisa is like skimming along the surface for a duty that is not taken as truthful devotion to God, one must understand its explicit and other derived senses.
Hriday mah dera
This the last of the Chaupais and marks the end by calling out the name of the author and his prayer to be in his thoughts all the time. Having created this wonderful, and perhaps the most popular prayer even today, some 2500 later after he had cast it from the bhakti in his heart, Tulsidas rates himself as the eternal servant (chera) of Hanuman. He also addresses Hanuman as his Master (nath) . By asking Hanuman to reside in his heart Tulsidas is hopeful to gain not just bliss and happiness but also total relief from aches and pains of life. To put an end to the uncertainties in daily work-outs and awaken divine knowledge in him so that he can negotiate through his life effortlessly by the guidance and blessings of his ishta ( one’s personal) God.
Usually while ending a prayer the last line is repeated- uttered twice to indicate the end of the pryer and to highlight what the prayer was invoked for. Here, Tulsidas does not want any thing above the fact that he is requesting Hanuman to make his heart his abode.
Tulsidas is credited for writing several poems and also the Rama Charit Manas several years after it was originally written by Maharshi Valmiki
Pavan-tanay sankat-haran, mangal moorat roop
Rama-Lakhan Sita sahit, hredaya baso sur-bhoop.
Just the way in which this prayer had been begun it is coming to its closure. All three Dohas are not the explicit part of the prayer but are as prelude and post-script to the Chalisa itself. Thus, it is an appeal to Hanuman, addressing him as the Son of Wind God- Pawan and describing his physical appearance to be the embodiment of auspicious form. Such descriptions reveal that the idol form of the God has a vey beneficial and auspicious purpose, hence a devotee passing by a roadside Hanuman temple or an icon under a tree automatically folds his hands in reverence, inwardly desiring peace by the grace of the form alone.
In his appeal to Hanuman , Tulsidas also prays to him that when he graces his heart, Rama, his brother, Lakshman and his wife Seeta also dwell there. These were the winning force of good over evil and together they make for the most powerful Godly presence. In the closing Hanuman is also called sur-bhoop or the King of Gods. This is not to compromise Indra who is de facto King of Gods but the reference is made in a more affectionate way to describe ones personal God as the best- the most Royal.
Ek Dayitva- Ek Duty
Naveen Chandra Trigunayat
Pt. Gokul Chand Sharma was head of Department at DS College in Aligarh. He had authored Eighteen Prose-Verse books in Hindi and several short works for literary events. As a teacher, I consider him to be my Guru. Even though I was too young to learn any thing at an age under five I still call him my Guru. He used to conduct morning prayers that he called Dharma- Naad or simply, a clarion call of Dharma. He had based most of his Shlokas from the Linga Puran, Padma Puran and a lot from the Mahabharata . This was a daily ritual that woke the family in time so that everybody was seated on his rag chatai. I concluded that Dharma equals ones duty to grab the Chatai and be seated. Initially, he would say words in Sanskrit that I never understood and later he switched to Hindi rendering of well known Aarti and Bhajans, these, the whole family would sing in unison. Later, everybody dispersed and Panditji carried on his pursuit of God alone. In later years my Guru’s words went beyond the Chatai and almost took the form of a Question Mark.
Pandit Sharma was my grandfather and I his loving Grandson. One day I asked him what Dharma Naad meant. He said Dharma was our Duty by which we pleased every one around and Naad was just a call. Then, I was happy that my limited guess was right but now the exact and more evolving meaning of the word leaves me confused. He did not care to elaborate, and I was quite satisfied that I had asked an intelligent question for the day.
‘Naad’ word went away after his demise but the word ‘Dharma’ became queer as days rolled by and I got a better understanding of the world. No one supported the belief that Dharma meant duty; the general meaning I gathered was that it was a prayer form, like saying my prayers before bed-time. A form of Religion.
Much later, I tried to find the implication in scriptures that were commonly available at home, but the word meaning remained elusive and mysterious. I could not interpret the Puranas or the Mahabharata in the way he may have. As years have kept up with me, I am trying to learn how my Guru was right. The following work is my attempt to share with the reader what I have learnt in my quest for Dharma
Dharma, A Responsibility
We live in a world that has just too many of us. To have a reasonable standard of living we have squeezed the resources to ridiculous limits, as a result, we are running short of fresh air, clean water and healthy food. This crowding in the World is now affecting us in every sphere of life, be it housing, jobs, opportunities, whatever…. One can not care for masses so that all of have a fair share of what is available. Governments and institutions constantly try to give us the minimum but they can never succeed in this endeavour. If failure has to be an unfailing end-result should one just forget the concept and do what is best for our own well-being? This would place us in the midst of a whole lot of unhappiness; unhappiness arising out of our own Happiness.
As a person, as an individual we have to act in a way that we get our fair share and help the other less fortunate ones to get as much of resources as we can. One asks, ”How much help”. That is not a good thought as there can be no answer to quantify. So, the help could be as an undercurrent of what we do for ourselves so that people about us also benefit from our well-being. The problem is that the crowd around us is not manageable with so many more people being added every moment making the gap between the Haves and the Have-nots even greater.
This creates power struggles, conflicts and unfriendly overtures from the less blessed ones who are tempted to up their might and Military even if it is unaffordable. Case in point is Pakistan with all its nuclear arsenal and missiles but with not enough money to feed all its citizens. There can be no progress to employ or feed the citizens when a negative path and a dwindling Economy is being confronted. The social values can not be upheld on an empty stomach and good thought can cross a depleted mind.
This gives the appearance of a cul-de-sac. To bring about help a positive attitude has to be adopted and emphasis has to be given to practice of virtue and righteousness. The responsibility of sharing benefits to all will come from ethical approach towards considerations towards neighbours at all levels- Street, city, state, Country or just whatever be the working unit. The question remains, can there be genuine social and Moral standards in the world where culture, learning, well-being, education, religion, social preferences and such values are so varied.
This is where, each individual has to have an inherent commitment to the society at large, that what ever action one does for his own uplift will in someway help the others and nothing will be done at the expense of another. This needs to be given a name. We call it Dharma and it is a very basic thought. Our ancient scriptures highlight the actions required, perhaps an insight of these is the order of the day.
For the humanity to overcome its sufferings and shortcomings we need to adopt an increased commitment to Real Virtue, Kindness, Non-violence, and Generosity. All these are big words and to put any or all of these to practice is a herculean task. This thought is the basis of our initial foray to understand Dharma. Problem is that all our Saints had visualized this concept in many different ways, much like the five blind men assessing an elephant for what he is. There is no cut and dried formula
In India, the word is referred to mean various things, seldom connected to Spirituality. Since India saw the Dharma Yudhdh between the Kauravas and Pandavas during the Mahabharat. The epic lays stress on the evil ways of the former and the righteousness of the later. This lays the foundation of Adharma and Dharma, both. Around this time “Dharma” word implied the characteristics defining an act, making what the act actually is. In the case of a Human it does precisely what the person is. As the word gained more acceptance, it got associated to describe a persons conduct of ethical or other ways. Thus a person who lives a life more acceptable to the society is of Dharmik exposition than one who is not. A Dharmik person was compassionate to his fellow beings and sought their welfare even at some social cost to himself; one who sought harmony for the society.. If this is indeed the case, then, Dharma does
not have an exclusive religious connotation.
Put in a more matured way, Dharma can be said to mean, ‘Consideration of ones actions for self interest after the actions to the interests of the Society, Nation or cause.” This is not always possible, as we see most world religions laying down firmly what actions need to be done and what need to be shunned. If we take Dharma to be a state of ones mind where one consciously strives to uplift the society ahead of ones self interests, then no guidelines or strictures will be needed casting religion completely apart from our discussion. Thus a Dharmik person will be an asset to the welfare of the society irrespective of religion, cast, status and so on. One odd person of this mindset will never make a sizeable change, but if the whole society is of this mindset then there will be greater welfare and understanding et.al.
This is theoretical for in any society there are people who are terribly rich and there are people who are terribly poor. The rest are in between, not sure of their own status. With varying lifestyles the considerations towards fellow beings also varies. So the cocept of self interest fails in a society and to keep it in circulation it becomes an inescapable need to associate it with ones religious belief. This gives rise to two moralities; one what we preach and the other what we practice.
Theory and Practice are very well differentiated aspects of Indian Philosophy, hence, pegging the word ‘Dharma” to religion is neither completely correct nor justified. In this context one recalls the story of Yudhishthir going to the Heavens with his worldly body as a reward for his practice of Dharma. All his life he did what was right and justified by his Dharma and in the final test of his astuteness of practice of it involving a lowly street dog on his final journey to the Himalayas. The past story is that after relinquishing the Kingdom to Parikshit, the Pandava brothers and their wife Draupadi undertook their sun-set march. They were joined by a dirty dog who perhaps followed them for the sake of a few morsels now and then. One by one the wife and brothers of Yudhishthir fell and died en-route. In the final Phase Indra met him and welcomed him to the Heavens, body and soul. Yudhishthir appreciated the Gods’ offer and insisted that the Dog will come to heaven just as well. He was now under the influence of his Dharma and to protect one so loyal and so helpless as the animal was of paramount importance. When Indra did not permit the passage of the Dog to heaven Yudhishthir too denounced the offer. This was his steadfast practice of Dharma. To end the story on a happy note, the Dog turned into King Dharma of the Gods and blessed him and Yudhishthir entered Heaven for all times.
It was an important insert here to stress that Dharma has to be associated with Religion only for its propagation, by itself it is still a trait of ones character. There are no laid down criterion for resolving a right or a wrong but it is a subtle state of mind in deciding precisely in matters of daily conduct. The issue needs to be resolved by a fundamental application of mind to decide whether an act or its omission follows the Principles of Dharma. Whatever, be the basis of ones moral action, the individual has to decide whether he is completely honest in decision making or not. Making an unfailing decision in the way of Dharma is not always right nor practical. For example, a sum of money saved for a child’s school fees can not be spared for another pressing need of another family member on a cause that heavily warrants appropriation of the money, even if it results in deliberate harm to that member. This is not hypocrisy, it is simply an acknowledgement of the fact that we can not always live up to our beliefs.
Absolutism in making decisions is a bad concept, our response should be based on partial or gradual adherence to our precepts of Dharma. This morality is not false as it just shows our lack of execution in face of several other demands. This then, is the approach Indians most often take. The partial favour to the action is often weighed against its short range results on all the concerned issues. There should be no feeling of remorse or guilt in a case decided on its merits because Guilt is an absolute negative feeling that will never ever achieve a positive.
In practice of our Dharma we must be kind to others and above that be kind to ourselves as well. Though we make very high standards we must understand that it is only a goal that one has to strive for and if there has been a shortfall then we must accept it with humility. Thus a gradual and gentle application every time will lead to more successful resolves in the Dharmik way in cases that we will face in future.
From the reading so far, there is a case for keeping Dharma away from religion and also to keep them intertwined. The question is, ‘What is the necessity of a Religion, at all?”
It is true that people following the same God are inclined to share the same society and gathering. These people form a more cohesive group and stand-by each other with greater conviction in comparison to blood relatives and descendants of the same family. Thus the Dharma of the Group gains strength and rules crop up to make this strength into bonding of the group. It is then, that, religion originates in the personification of the power of Nature itself. Alternatively, it is true that religion has its roots in the personification of Nature. This makes it a strong vehicle for the propagation of Dharma or Duty-sense so that the society follows it in a way that is well understood. Dharma converts into an eternal moral Law and that moral Law is not reasoned out in any sense of the word, but carries the same weight as the religion itself. A huge statement is made by all religions that the Human mind transcends not only the limits of the senses but also the power of reasoning. It comes face-to-face with facts which it could never have sensed or have ever reasoned out.
This takes away from the believer that the Religion is debatable and along with that, even Dharma is not debatable. We renounce the very thought of an act not in accordance with the Belief; renunciation itself is the basis upon which ethics are built
Katha Upnishad tells us the story of Nachiketas, a very young boy who was assigned to Death by his angry father, Rishi Gautama. The boy considers his Dharma to obey the father in letter and spirit and promptly reaches the abode of Death (Mrityu). Death God appreciates the boys convictions and grants him three boons. He is surprised that the boy asks him, amongst other boons the coveted clarification to a doubt that arises consequent to death of a person. Some say it ‘exists’ while some say ‘it does not exist’. Death God desires to keep this secret to himself and entices the boy in many stages , one after the other, to accept worldly things. The boy shows a fine example of sticking rigidly to his Dharma and is not swayed.
We come across the several stories of people who traded their lives and all their worldly wealth to uphold their Dharma. Not all of these have religious overtones. For example the lone wounded soldier at the front with just a machine gun fighting against a Tsunami of enemy soldiers armed to the teeth. Is it then, that Religion alone builds the Dharma to be sacrosanct? Perhaps not. The foundation of Dharma lies in the fine grain of life itself. A mother deer will take on the fiercest carnivore who attacks her offspring and she has never been told a word about Dharma. In Humans we find that the concept is so commonplace that there are people willing to decide its worth and how it can be circumvented. This is not Dharma it a cunningness that is also a rudimentary gift to the Human race alone.
If at all a decision is to be made to seek a play in Dharma it must be made on selfless considerations only. Lord Krishna had said in the Mahabharata sermon that anyone who blindly adheres to the principle of speaking only the truth is no better than a fool. This tenet was applied when we read about the Death of Guru Dronacharya. Yudhishthir said to him that Ashwathama (his son’s name and also the name for a well known Elephant) had been killed. To uphold his wow to speak the truth he ended his sentence softy saying it could be a man or an elephant. In a war it may be alright to use deceit but he upheld his Dharma of speaking truth.
While following one’s Dharma what could be the criterion to decide between Right and Wrong? There can not be Rule-of-Thumb to apply in any condition, therefore, Dharma is a subtle undercurrent to one’s thought. Action must follow due deliberations. In a mind where Dharma has been firmly engrained then the act will always be done in accord with the nature of reaction under a Dharmik sense. The only criteria would be to be honest and true to one’s own self. One source of guidance could be from Scriptures and teachings of a Guru. Resorting to truth is a way to follow Dharma as truth is a big Virtue. However, whether that truth needs to be spoken or not will be product of one’s wisdom. A lie that does not harm any one is more of a tactics rather than fundamental violation of Dharma, for example when you speak to a toddler to pacify or to a person hell-bent on committing suicide and so on. Thus a mindset of always speaking the truth is nothing short of foolishness and stupidity.
Shruti and Smriti are the foundation of Hindu scriptures and we have said that these be used to seek guidance. These too can not be a blind quick fix, we need to also use deliberation. Dharma is one’s approach to action that are in the interest of others as well as one’s self. When deliberations are used to solve a problem in the background of scriptures the action usually will favour gains to the others and the society without harming self-interest, this is then an ideal Dharma. It is not truthfulness or lying- the execution of an act must be in favour of good being done to a person or society.
Being Honest and Truthful is a recognised virtue but if an act under this great virtue is detrimental to the interests of the Society then the application of the greatest virtue will result in the greatest fiasco. Thus a rigid application of Dharma is always not possible, one must deliberate and decide how much of virtue should be applied for best benefits to a society. This thought should not be made a tool of deceit for fooling the Society as some Politicians do but an Honest heartfelt untruth should be used as a greater public result. This is Morality.
There can not be rules to define or practice morality, likewise, there can not be rules to follow one’s Dharma. We have our intelligence and if can apply it to our Honesty and Integrity we get a basis to consider our actions in the light of goodness and out of the ambit of prejudice- always resulting in the correct action. We must also be aware that it is not always wise to take an action no matter what the gravity of a situation may be.
We have intentionally arrived to a stage where it seems Dharma is a debatable issue, but we all know that Dharma is steadfast and the only way to resolve an issue is to subject it to the prescription of the scriptures. Precisely, that is where the debatable content has arisen from. To achieve steadfast practice of Dharma one has to live life in accordance with Yama and Niyam. These two put together are a conditioning of a person where the mind automatically follows the prescribed method of making Dharma a practical application.
Yama is described as the base quality of mind which prescribes Ahimsa- not killing, Asteya- not stealing, brahmcharya- practice of celibacy of mind and body, Kshama- to pardon, Daya- compassion, bath three times a day along with prescribed Saandhyas, Agnihotra- yajna or practical offering of prayers and material in practice of Religion, Sleeping on the floor, Fasting and Prayers. Thus Yama is mental conditioning that will make the tendency of resolving a situation in support of Dharma.
Niyam is pretty much the same as Yama but it is the practical aspect of the qualities listed . The traits have to be followed in thought, action and speech. Both of these are the prescribed first steps to achieving Union with God (Yoga) among a total of eight, the others being Asana, Pranayam, Pratyahar, Dharna, Dhyan and finally Samadhi. When the Living being gains an insight to the absolute then he is said to have achieved godhood, but the concentration and one-track effort comes from the blessings of the God himself. The control of the sensory nerves by the mind is the ultimate Yoga. Thus we see achieving Godhood begins with the Control or achievement of Dharma as one’s second nature.
Keeping the others interest as one’s own, in the heart, and constantly working to advance their interest is one’s Dharma. Dharma is not a duty, but it is one’s responsibility to act in ways favourable to others. When one has mastered Dharma as his basic instinct he can then proceed to strive for his Moksha as guided by the scriptures and Guru.