It is said that millions of Hindus in India chant the Hanuman Chalisa every day without fail. Many people who belong to other religions too put a lot of faith in this stotra or hymn dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Most people talk about how reciting this Chalisa has helped them keep their mind focused at all times and use their energy and other resources for fruitful and positive purposes. But the most popular use of this Chalisa known to several people is that it can help one stay protected against ghosts, evil spirits and influences should they chant this Chalisa as it has special protective powers.
The word “chalisa” is derived from the Hindi word “chaalis,” which represents the number 40. Written by Sage Tulsidas in Awadhi (he’d also written the Ramacharitamanas in the same language), this chant consists of 40 Verses and mainly revolves around knowledge, courage, serving god and others without expecting anything in return. It is a well-known fact that Lord Hanuman considered Sita his mother, and they both loved and cared for each other a lot which is perhaps why Lord Hanuman was able to help Ram with such passion and anger to get Sita back.
The chalisa, which consists of 2 introductory Verses (dohe), 40 chaupais, and a concluding doha, is a great way for one to become mentally and physically strong. So let’s now look at and understand this great hymn in detail:
Opening Doha 1:
Shri Guru Charan Saroj Raj Nij mane mukure sudhar !
Varnao Raghuvar Vimal Jasu Jo dayaku phal char !!
Using the dust (or pollen) which covers the lotus feet of my guru (he refers to Mata Sita here); I now cleanse the mirror of my mind. I chant about the greatness of Lord Rama, the finest of the Raghu dynasty and the provider of my four achievements in life.
The most common interpretation of the four fruits referred to are the 4 Purusarthas (goals of human life): dharma, artha, moksha, and kama.
Opening Doha 2:
Budhi Hin Tanu Janike Sumirau Pavan Kumar !
Bal budhi Vidya dehu mohe Harahu Kalesa Vikar !!
I know my body and mind lack the required amount of knowledge or intelligence, and I so take the name of Hanuman in remembrance, the son of Vayu. Grant me with power, intelligence, and knowledge, and eliminate all illnesses (kalesa) and pollutants or impurities (bikara).
The Shri Hanuman Chalisa
Jai Hanuman gyan gun sagar।
Jai Kapis tihun lok ujagar॥ 1 ॥
Salutations to Lord Hanuman, the ocean of knowledge and talents; salutations to the leaders of the vanaras who is famous across all three lokas (Swarglok, Patalok, and Prithvi), may you be victorious always.
Ram doot atulit bal dhama।
Anjani-putra Pavan sut nama॥ 2 ॥
You are the most trusted messenger of Ram and also the place of residence (or fountain) of power that cannot be found anywhere else. You also go by the names of Anjaniputra (son of Anjani) and Pavanasuta (the son of Vayu)
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Hanuman is the child born with the powers of Lord Shiva but the powers were actually put into Anjani, the mother’s womb, by Lord Vayu (the god of winds). Anjani herself was a beautiful angel (apsara) and who was called Puñjikasthalā. Due to a curse of Sage Agastya, Lord Hanuman was born as a vanara.
Mahavir Vikram Bajrangi।
Kumati nivar sumati Ke sangi॥ 3 ॥
You are the great courageous warrior who is blessed with valour and who is as strong as Lord Indra’s Vajra. You are one who destroys all evil thoughts and who is fond of accompanying those with a pure mind (intellectual minds).
Kanchan varan viraj subesa।
Kanan Kundal Kunchit Kesa॥ 4 ॥
Your skin is the shade of melting gold and you are dazzling when you are in your handsome form. You wear kundalas (small earrings worn by both men and women of ancient India) and you have curly hair.
Lord Hanuman is said to have appeared in the subsea (handsome) form thrice in Ramacharitamanas. He had taken the form of a Brahmin to appear before people.
Hath Vajra Aur Dhuvaje Viraje।
Kandhe moonj janehu sajai॥ 5 ॥
In your powerful hands you carry the vajra and the flag of victory. Your shoulder is decorated with the sacred thread (janeu, also known as yajnopavita) that was made out of munja grass.
Sankar suvan kesri Nandan।
Tej pratap maha jag vandan॥ 6 ॥
O son of Lord Shiva (or the son who was born out of the powers of Lord Shiva that were transported by lord Vayu), the delighter of Kesari, your radiance and greatness unite in impressing the people all over the world.
There are different explanations of how Lord Hanuman is considered as the son of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vayu. In various texts, it has been mentioned that Lord Vayu is in fact one of the 8 ways in which Lord Shiva manifests himself which lends truth to this statement. The other explanation, as mentioned earlier, is that Lord Vayu was the carrier of the power of Lord Shiva to the womb of the mother so he too had a role to play in Lord Hanuman’s birth.
Vidyavan guni ati chatur।
Ram kaj karibe ko aatur॥ 7 ॥
You are the place in which all 18 types of vidya (knowledge), talents, and cleverness reside. You are always zealous about performing tasks for Lord Rama.
Prabu charitra sunibe ko rasiya।
Ram Lakhan Sita man Basiya॥ 8 ॥
You take pleasure in listening to the praises and narration of activities o Lord Rama. You reside in the minds of Ram, Lakshmana, and Sita.
Some suggest that the last sentence can also be interpreted that Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana are always present in the mind of Lord Hanuman as they were all very fond of each other.
Sukshma roop dhari Siyahi dikhava।
Vikat roop dhari lanka jarava॥ 9 ॥
You are capable of assuming the most minute form or diminutive disguise to appear before Lady Sita in Ashok Vatika. But you were also able to assume the most magnificent and gigantic form burn down the city of Lanka.
Bhima roop dhari asur sanghare।
Ramachandra ke kaj sanvare॥ 10 ॥
Assuming your gigantic form, you were able to destroy the asuras (army of Ravana). You were thus able to perfectly perform all the duties and responsibilities of Rama.
It is also believed that the word “bhima” has particularly been used in this Verse because Lord Hanuman had also appeared in his large and fearsome form before a very important character in Mahabharata, who also has the same name, Bheeshmapitamah, or Bhima.
Laye Sanjivan Lakhan Jiyaye।
Shri Raghuvir Harashi ur laye॥ 11 ॥
You were the one who brought Sanjeevani (which is one of the most famous herbs mentioned in several Hindu scriptures and which is said to have high healing properties, and which Lord Hanuman is said to have brought from Dronagiri in the Himalayas) using which Lakshmana could be revived. Raghuveer (another name of Ram) hugged you with joy at that time.
Raghupati Kinhi bahut badai।
Tum mam priye Bharat-hi sam bhai॥ 12 ॥
Raghupati (Yet another name of Ram), who is one of the most revered of Raghu’s descendants, called you as dear to him as his brother Bharata was to him in deep gratitude and appreciation.
Sahas badan tumharo yash gaave।
Us kahi Shripati kanth lagaave॥ 13 ॥
Different historians have interpreted this Verse in slightly different manners. According to the historian’s duo of Mehta and Rao, this Verse means that Ram told Hanuman that “thousands of people will continue to sing praises of your bravery” while hugging him once again.
According to Rambhadracharya, another historian, this Verse alludes to the god of snakes, Shesha Nag, who was supposed to be a serpent that had 1,000 snakes. So accordingly, this Verse means that Ram told Lord Hanuman that “even Shesha with his 1,000 mouths sings and will always sing praises of your glorious achievements” and saying so embraced him.
Verses 14 and 15:
Sankadik Brahmadi Muneesa।
Narad Sarad sahit Aheesa॥ 14 ॥
Yam Kuber Digpal Jahan te।
Kavi kovid kahi sake kahan te॥ 15 ॥
Like the previous Verse, this one too has been described in different ways by the same historians. According to Rao & Mehta, the meaning is:
Sages like Sanka, Brahma, Munisa, Narad (one of the most famous devotees of Lord Vishnu), Sarad, Sahit, and Ahisa have blessed you, Lord Hanuman. Even Yama (the god of death), Kubera (the god of wealth), Dikpala (the god who looks after all 8 directions), poets, and folk singers (kovidas) will fail to describe your reputation.
Rambhadracharya links these two Verses with the word “gavai” which appears in the 13thVerse. His interpretation, which runs along similar lines of the other historians, is as follows:
Celibate sages (rishis) Sanka, gods such as Brahma, Narada – one of the best of the munis (sages), Sarawati along with Shiva and Vishnu (according to him, ahisa refers to these 2 gods), the 8 dikpalas including Lords Kubera and Yama – they shall all always sing your praises. To what limited extent can ordinary poets, Vedic scholars, and folk singers, who are ordinary mortals, sing about your greatness and praises which are never ending?
Tum upkar Sugreevahin keenha।
Ram milaye rajpad deenha॥ 16 ॥
You did a great favour to Sugreeva (the king of the monkey kingdom) by helping him meet Ram, and by bestowing upon him the power to rule the monkey kingdom Kishkinda.
Tumharo mantra Vibheeshan mana।
Lankeshwar Bhaye Sub jag jana॥ 17 ॥
It is a well-known fact that Vibhishana (one of the younger brothers of Ravana) chanted a mantra dedicated to you which helped him become the ruler of Lanka (after the war ended).
Jug sahastra jojan par Bhanu।
Leelyo tahi madhur phal janu॥ 18 ॥
You had once consumed the entire sun, which is located very far away from the Earth because you mistook it to be a sweet fruit. It is interesting to note that even in that era, people were able to calculate the approximate distance of the sun from earth quite well, as seen in this Verse. It is as follows:
1 yug = 12,000 years
1 Sahastra = 1,000
1 yogan = 8 miles
So the first line of the Verse could be interpreted as follows: 1 yug x 1 sahastra x 1 yogan = 12000 x 1000 x 8 miles = 96,000,000 miles. Now if you convert miles to km (1 mile – 1.6 km), then that would be 96,000,000 x 1.6 = 153,600,000 km.
The Ramayan itself doesn’t make any reference to this act of Lord Hanuman swallowing the sun, but it has been mentioned in Vinayakapatrika, another famous Hindu scripture, written by Tulsidas.
Prabhu mudrika meli mukh mahee।
Jaladhi langhi gaye achraj nahee॥ 19 ॥
By placing the ring that was given to you by Rama, you were able to travel great distance (or cross the entire expanse of an ocean), and there is no mystery about how you could do this wonderful work.
Durgaam kaj jagat ke jete।
Sugam anugraha tumhre tete॥ 20 ॥
All the tough tasks in the world are made conquerable by you, and all good times and benefits are made possible with your presence.
Ram dware tum rakhvare।
Hoat na agya binu paisare॥ 21 ॥
With you as the guardian of the door that leads to Ram, there is no way for one to move forward (across the threshold) without your permission or orders. Some texts also refer to the threshold to be the door that leads to the abode or court of Ram.
Sub sukh lahai tumhari sarna।
Tum rakshak kahu ko dar na॥ 22 ॥
It is possible for one (such as a sadhaka) to receive or enjoy all the benefits and joys under your benevolent presence or refuge. With you as the protector, this is absolutely no reason for one to be afraid or worried.
Aapan tej samharo aapai।
Teenhon lok hank te kanpai॥ 23 ॥
When you exhibit your prowess (or when you let out your roar) and when they are remembered, all three worlds tremble with fear.
It is said that the context of this Verse lies in the fact when Jambavan was encouraging the worried and sad Lord Hanuman to fight for Ram and protect Sita with his fierceness and full powers.
Bhoot pisach Nikat nahin aavai।
Mahavir jab naam sunavai॥ 24 ॥
Deviles, ghosts (bhoot), and spirits that devour flesh (pishacha) cannot come close when your name – that of a mighty brave warrior is chanted out loud.
Nase rog harai sab peera।
Japat nirantar Hanumant beera॥ 25 ॥
When the name of the courageous Lord Hanuman is chanted incessantly (non-stop) by one, illnesses are destroyed and all trials can be triumphed by a person.
Sankat se Hanuman chudavai।
Man Karam Vachan dyan jo lavai॥ 26 ॥
Those who remember Lord Hanuman and chant his praise in their mind, by their deeds, and by their words are able to get rid of all troubles and dangers.
Sub par Ram tapasvee raja।
Tin ke kaj sakal Tum saja॥ 27 ॥
The most common way to understand this Verse is that Ram, the greatest of kings, the King of Kings, is also the kind the best king of meditation (tapas). All the duties of this god were executed by you while he was meditating.
Aur manorath jo koi lavai।
Sohi amit jeevan phal pavai॥ 28 ॥
Anyone who approaches you with a wish or request is blessed by you as their dreams are made come true even better than what had been expected, without any limits, right in this lifetime. In a more literal sense, it can be said that one gets the “unlimited fruit of wish” if they chant your name and ask for a boon.
Charon Yug partap tumhara।
Hai persidh jagat ujiyara॥ 29 ॥
Your essence and honour is renowned in all four eras or timeperiods (yugas), and these are the elements which light up the world. It can also be understood that since the birth of Ram, four cycles of the four yugas have elapsed, and the reference to Lord Hanuman’s praise in all of them points in the direction of Lord Hanuman’s immortality.
Sadhu Sant ke tum Rakhware।
Asur nikandan Ram dulhare॥ 30 ॥
You are the protectors of mendicants and sages; you destroy any ausras or evil people who try to get close to us. You are the beloved of Ram. One of the best explanations of the words “sadhu” and “santa” by Rambhadracharyarespectively are: sadhus are those bhakts or sages, who are engaged in meditation (or sadhana) and santas are those saints, who have attained sainthood after they have completed their dhyan (meditation).
Ashta sidhi nav nidhi ke dhata।
Us var deen Janki mata॥ 31 ॥
Mother Sita has bestowed upon you a boon using which you can bless your disciples with the gift of the 8 siddhis (extraordinary talents which are Garima, Anima, Laghima, Mahima, Isitva, Vasitva, Prakamya, and Prapti) and 9 nidhis (which are priceless divine treasures names Padma, Mahapadma, Makara, Sankha, Mukunda, Kacchapa, Nila, Kharva, and Kunda).
Ram rasayan tumhare pasa।
Sada raho Raghupati ke dasa॥ 32 ॥
You have the ability to please and remain devoted to Rama (some equate “Rama rasanya” to “bhakti for Rama”), and you will forever remain the servant of Ram (meant in a respectful and honorary sense).
Tumhare bhajan Ram ko pavai।
Janam janam ke dukh bisravai॥ 33 ॥
By singing your praises, one can get closer to Ram and all the pains and sufferings of birth after birth can be forgotten. In this context, it is important to note that Lord Hanuman is considered the face of knowledge (janana) and vairagya (renouncement), which are the two ways in which one can reach Ram, according to Tuslidas in his book Ramacharitamanas and Kavitavali.
Anth kaal Raghuvir pur jayee।
Jahan janam Hari-Bakht Kahayee॥ 34 ॥
At the end of one’s physical life, one will reach raghubarapura (SaketaLoka) if they remain devoted to you. After reaching raghubarapura, wherever a devotee may take rebirth, he will remain a bhakt (devotee) of Hari. A simpler way to understand this verse which deals about afterlife and rebirth is that a devotee of Lord Hanuman can attain moksha and avoid the fires of hell. In all future births, no matter in which place or what form, the person will remain a devotee of Hari (Lord Vishnu).
Aur Devta Chit na dharehi।
Hanumanth se hi sarve sukh karehi॥ 35 ॥
If one can focus only on Lord Hanuman and on no other Devata, one can be blessed with happiness or boons now, and forever.
In this verse, Tulsidas explains to us that it’s not just Devatas or the traditional gods, who have the power to grants us boons as their devotees; even Lord Hanuman has the right and ability to bless his true devotees with worldly and other-worldly bliss.
Sankat kate mite sab peera।
Jo sumirai Hanumat Balbeera॥ 36 ॥
One who remembers the mighty and powerful Lord Hanuman and his prowess will be able to destroy all dangers and erase all forms of pain.
Jai Jai Jai Hanuman Gosahin।
Kripa Karahu Gurudev ki nyahin॥ 37 ॥
O Lord Hanuman, the Lord of all senses, victory be to you, victory be to you, victory be to you! Bless me with the knowledge of devotion to Ram and shower me with your benevolence and love as a Guru does.
It is said that the traditional “jayajayajaya” salutation is made to “satchidanandas” who are the personifications of the coming together of three aspects sat (existence, or being), chita (consciousness or realisation), and ananada (bliss). One who exalts to this level of living is known as a satchidananda experienced the reality called “Brahman”.
Jo sat bar path kare kohi।
Chutehi bandhi maha sukh hohi॥ 38 ॥
When one recites the Hanuman Chalisa 100 times a day, he will be freed from all bindings and attain great levels of contentment.
Some think that shata bara refers to 100 days (as the Sanskrit word forday is vara), and some think the chanting of Hanuman Chalisa 108 times every day for 108 days can free them of mortal bindings and attain moksha.
Jo yah padhe Hanuman Chalisa।
Hoye siddhi sakhi Gaureesa॥ 39 ॥
One who reads this Hanuman Chalisa will be enlightened and attain liberation or great successes, and the witness to this is Lord Shiva himself.
Another explanation of this verse by Rao and Mehta is that one who reads the Hanuman Chalisa shall become a fried of Lord Shiva as they would attain siddhi, one of the best ways to find and be in the presence of Lord Shiva.
Tulsidas sada hari chera।
Keejai Das Hrdaye mein dera॥ 40 ॥
There are several explanations to this verse which vary a bit from each other. One explanation is as follows:
Tulsidas shall always remain a devotee of Hari, make my heart your abode forever.
Ramabhadracharya, however, interprets this verse a little differently and says that it means, “Lord Hanuman (as he is a vanara and vanara is one of the forms in which Lord Hari takes birth), Tulsidas is your devotee, make my heart your residence for etenrnity.
Pavantnai sankat haran, Mangal murti roop।
Ram Lakhan Sita sahit, Hrdaye basahu sur bhoop॥
O Lord Hanuman, one who defeats danger, one who is the face of auspiciousness, may you reside in my heart forever together with Ram, Mother Sita, and Lakshamana, O lord of all devatas.
The final verse contains several compliments paid to Lord Hanuman because it tries to convey four specialities of Lord Hanuman, according to Rama Bhadracharya. It is said that with the blessings of Lord Hanuman, one’s mind is cleansed (manas), one can become knowledgeable (buddhi), one can become pure of heart (Chita), and one can relinquish ego and pride (ahankara). With these qualities, one becomes eligible to let the gods reside in his heart, and Tulsidas had ended the Chalisa by advising people that one who prays to Lord Hanuman will have the ability to be rid of all negative qualities and be left with only positive ones. This will help one remain blessed and content always.
Lord Hanuman is not just a god in an unusual form. He is not only the devotee of Rama and the most beloved of children to Sita Mata. He doesn’t just play an important role in the Ramayana. His name isn’t to be invoked only when we are surrounded by evil spirits. This god, unlike many others, doesn’t indulge in the pleasures of the flesh as he is a strict brahmachari (celibate) and his devotion for Ram, his idol, was so great that he split his chest open to show that Ram did reside in his heart. Lord Hanuman is known for many other reasons which go to prove that he is indeed a powerful yet just and mighty lord. He is known to have freed Shani dev when he was trapped by Ravana in Lanka, he is a “chiranjeevi,” which means immortal and omnipresent, and people who suffer from the undue influences of planet Saturn (shani) can be free of them by chanting the Hanuman Chalisa just 8 times in the night on Saturdays.
Some people say that the best time to recite the Hauman Chalisa is early morning, at the start of the day, and ending the recitation by chanting “Om” 108 times.
Many people have been benefitted from reciting the Hanuman Chalisa. His mother, who was cursed by a saint and transformed into a person with the face of a monkey when she fell in love with Kesari, the king of monkeys, was a great devotee of Lord Shiva, and it is evident that Lord Hanuman remained blessed with the powers and guidance of the Nataraja always. He showed his steadfast devotion to Ram in several ways, one of which was by applying sindoor (vermilion) all over his body when Sita Mata told him that she used to apply sindoor to her forehead a mark of love and care for Ram, her husband. Although a celibate, Lord Hanuman was blessed with a son, Makardhwaja, because his sweat poured into the sea when his tail was dipped in it after fighting a tiring war in Lanka. His sweat was consumed by fish and through which his son was born.
Lord Hanuman had such loyalty to Ram that he had the ability to stop even the most dangerous weapon, the brahmastra, which was fired by none other than Rama at him. This goes to show that true devotion like that of Lord Hanuman can help us overcome even the biggest obstacles in life.
Jai Shri Hanuman!