The Hanuman Chalisa
What is the Hanumân Châlîsâ?
The Hanumân Châlîsâ is a 43- verse, 92- line prayer in the Avadhi language. Read at moderate speed it takes between ten and fifteen minutes to sing. It takes even less time if chanted. I am familiar with around a dozen tunes that this auspicious prayer has traditionally been sung to. And that is because I have heard it sung in only around a dozen different regions of North India. There must be several hundred extant tunes that the Châlîsâ is sung to, each a few hundred years old. These tunes vary not only from region to region but also within the same city. Different clans use different tunes. Often members of an extended family use different tunes, having picked them up from their spouses.
What are the contents of the Hanumân Châlîsâ?
The Hanumân Châlîsâ is essentially a song and a prayer in praise of Srî Hanumân jî.
The themes covered by the Hanumân Châlîsâ can be divided into the following categories.
i)Srî Hanumân jî’s physique. ii)Srî Hanumân jî’s intelligence. iii)The kind of boons Raghubar grants. iv) The kind of boons Srî Hanumân jî grants. v)The remover of His devotees’ adversities. vi)Srî Hanumân jî’s occupation/ the kind of things He does. vii)The benefits of the Hanumân Châlîsâ. These are mentioned in verses 38 and 39.
viii)Sheer praise of Srî Hanumân jî.
ix)Supplication for favours. x)Srî Hanumân jî’s attire and ornaments.
xi)Incidents in which Srî Hanumân jî had solved problems and removed suffering. xii)The beloved of the Gods. xiii)Other incidents from the life of Srî Hanumân jî. xiv)The deity’s humble love for Srî Râm jî.
xv)Srî Hanumân jî’s parentage. xvi)Srî Hanumân jî as the means of reaching Srî Râm jî. xvii)Srî Hanumân jî’s humility. xviii)Srî Hanumân jî’s power to transform Himself physically. ix)The relationship between Srî Râm jî and Srî Hanumân jî. xx)Srî Hanumân jî and Mother Sîtâ jî.
The Hanumân Châlîsâ. a siddha grantha
Swâmi Swaroopananda said in one of his discourses, ‘The Hanuman Chaaliisa is a beautiful example of powerful prayer. [A] siddha mantra [chant] is defined as that mantra, which when chanted can bestow [siddhis] or powers. Similarly we have siddha granthas or books which have the power to grant our desires or siddhis. One such Siddha grantha is Sant Tulsidas’s Ram Charitra [sic] Manas…
‘However, the Ram Charitra [sic] Manas may be too long for some people to read on a regular basis and so it is considered that even reading the “Sundara kaanda” of the Râmâyana will be equal to reading the entire Râmâyana. For those who may find it difficult to read even the Sundara kaanda in its entirety, Sant Tulsidas has offered the essence of Sundara kaanda in 40 beautiful verses called the Hanuman Chaaliisa (40 verses about Hanumânji). The Hanuman Chaaliisa is also considered a siddha grantha and Lord Shiva himself has said [in verse 39] that anyone who chants the Hanuman Chaaliisa with reverence and faith will get all his desires satisfied.
When should the Hanumân Châlîsâ be recited?
Almost all Hindi- speaking devotees of Srî Hanumân jî recite the Hanumân Châlîsâ at least once a week, on Tuesdays. Early mornings and after sunset are favoured times. Verse 38 suggests that the Hanumân Châlîsâ should be recited a hundred times in order to obtain special benefits.
In Hindi- speaking areas, the Hanumân Châlîsâ is almost always recited before a Râmâyan PâTh. Kapur adds an unusual reason to recite the Hanumân Châlîsâ. He says that ‘this popular hymn is recommended to be recited… [in order] to subdue some formidable adversary.’