सब सुख लाहे तुमरी सरना।
तुम रक्षक काहू को डरना
All joy exists in your shelter.
With you as guardian, there is nothing to fear.
How many times have you recited this? Countless times I bet. I have lost count about the number of times I have recited the Hanuman Chalisa in a loop during all the troughs of my life. I have reminded myself that he is around, and everything shall be taken care of and that I will survive.
I am certain this has happened to many of us. Such is the belief in Hanuman, our dependable one.
But how many of us can comprehend the meaning of all the 40 Chaupai’s and 3 Doha’s that essentially come together to make Hanuman Chalisa? Whenever we read the Hanuman Chalisa we either do it like an everyday ritual or maybe when we are in distress. Oftentimes we are unable to fathom the miracles and meanings that have been woven so delicately by the poet.
My search for finding the meaning of this holy text in entirety led me to this book.
To begin with, the book doesn’t just give you a translated version in English language. It takes us into the magical world of Hanuman.
All through childhood and the adolescent years, children in India, are told about the famous incident where Lakshman loses consciousness and is on the verge of dying and how the monkey God- Hanuman, manages to procure the lifesaving herb Sanjibani from across mountains and oceans. Isn’t that the only story we know? This book explores the life and character of Hanuman beyond that. The most incredible thing about this book is that every verse carries a story on its back. Every story has been thoroughly researched. And most of the stories aren’t known to us. And even though there isn’t any sequence to the events presented in Hanuman’s life in the Hanuman Chalisa, the reader’s fondness for the character of Hanuman only grows along through the 43 verses.
Another striking feature of the book would be the commendable way in which the author has provided knowledge and perspective on the many facets of Hinduism. He has provided an unbiased account of the religious beliefs of Hinduism without an iota of exaggerated glorification. Words like Karma, Dharma, Adharma, moksha, Bhakti which are used callously by the common man, have been elucidated with consciousness, cognition, and conviction. The author needs to be lauded for researching Hanuman not just as a deity but as a positive energy field, whose presence is felt not just in Indian culture but several other South Asian cultures as well.
The book is a treat for any soul exploring spirituality or trying to make an inner connect. The most powerful and unique aspect of the book is the way in which Hanuman has been presented in the book. It is endearing to discover that Hanuman is playful like a child, mischievous like a monkey, is innocent and vulnerable and dependable despite all of that.
The language used by the author is simple and comprehensible. It invokes the right sentiment in every verse leaving the reader more connected with Hanuman Chalisa.
There are several visually appealing illustrations and sketches of Hanuman in the book.
I would like to quote from the book, one paragraph that stayed with me even after its completion. It reinforced my belief that the Hanuman Chalisa gives us strength and hope when our hearts have literally stopped beating out of fear. How?
“In this verse, the protection is a kind of spiritual hug from God that comforts the frightened and lost devotee. The emotional aspect of the divine elevates the stature of the otherwise rustic guardian and fertility gods of the village. From material, he becomes spiritual, transcendent. He makes the devotee feel that he matters, for there is someone celestial watching out for him, even if fellow humans do not. Thus, the devotee is granted meaning.”
MY HANUMAN CHALISA by Devdutt Patnaik is a precious book.