The Hanuman Chalisa was written by Goswami Tulasidasa in a dialect of Hindi. Given below are a simple English translation of the Hanuman Chalisa and my notes. (Goswami Tulasidasa’s words in Hindi are in italics.)
sriguru charan saroj raja, nija mana mukuru sudhari
barnau raghbar bimal jasu, jo dayaku phal chari
“After cleaning the mirror of my mind with the dust from my guru’s lotus feet, I recite the pure glory of Sri Rama, which provides the four fruits of life.”
buddhiheen tanu janike, sumiron pavankumar
bal buddhi bidya dehi mohin, harhu kalesa bikar
“Having understood that I am devoid of intellect, I am remembering Hanuman, the son of Pavan. I request him to grant me intellect, power, and knowledge and to remove my flaws and sufferings.”
Notes: The mirror of our mind is covered with the dust of ignorance. But we can clean it with the dust of our guru’s lotus feet. As soon as our mind starts getting purified, it voluntarily aspires to recite the glories of Sri Rama (God), who is always present in every mind. Chanting Rama’s name and singing his glories then provides the four aims of life: dharma (righteousness and fulfillment of duties), artha (wealth), kama (pleasures and fulfillment of dreams), and moksha (liberation).
If we think we possess the mental faculties to reach God or fully know him, we may be karmically obstructed, at least according to the devotional traditions of Hinduism. Even if we are powerful and knowledgeable, chances are that we may be misusing our resources. Once we understand our own limitations and surrender our self to Hanuman, we can expect him to grant us the intellect and the knowledge that can be used for our absolute advancement towards God and for removing the cause of our sufferings.
jai hanuman jnana guna sagar, jai kapisa tihun loka ujagar ||1||
rama doot atulita bal dhama, anjani putra pavan suta nama ||2||
“Salutations to Hanuman, the ocean of jnana (knowledge) and virtue; salutations to the king of vanaras, who is renowned in the three worlds. You are the messenger of Sri Rama, possess incomparable strength, and are known as Anjani-putra (“child of Anjani”) and Pavan-putra (“son of wind-god”).
mahavira bikrama bajrangi, kumati nivara sumati ke sangi ||3||
kanchan baran biraj subesa, kanan kundal kunchit kesa ||4||
“O Hanuman! You are supremely powerful and heroic, have a physique like lightning, ward off evil thoughts, and grant the companionship of wisdom. You possess a golden complexion, wear auspicious attire, are adorned with ear-rings, and have curly hair.”
Notes: The Hanuman chalisa begins with salutations to Hanuman, who, as everyone knows, is the ultimate savior and can bestow all sattvic qualities upon beings remembering him. Besides incomparable strength, knowledge, and power, Hanuman also possesses perfection in utilizing his powers only for Rama. The golden complexion of Hanuman is a reflection of his pure devotion for Rama as well as his position as a universal guru.
haath bajra au dhwaja biraje, kandhe moonj janeu saaje ||5||
sankar suvana kesari nandan, tej pratap maha jag bandan ||6||
“You carry lightning and a flag in your hands and wear a sacred thread over your shoulder. You are the son of Lord Shiva and the son of Kesari. The whole world praises you for your brilliance.”
bidyavana guni ati chatur, rama kaja karibe ko aatur ||7||
prabhu charitra sunibe ko rasiya, rama lakhan sita mana basiya ||8||
“You are extremely intelligent, virtuous, and smart and are always keen to work for Rama. You enjoy listening to Rama’s praise and live in the hearts of Rama, Sita, and Lakshman.”
Notes: Though Hanuman is an eternal ocean of knowledge and virtues, Hanuman’s unique stylishness gets highlighted in the Ramayana during his first visit to Lanka. The beauty of his divine plays in Lanka is a major focus of the Sundar Kand in the Ramayana.
Hanuman has been listening to Rama’s praise from all Rama devotees and to every being’s viewpoint on the Ramayana for ages, but he never gets satisfied. Out of his grace on all souls, he continues to visit places where Rama’s praise is sung by devotees to ensure that we, the imperfect jivas, do not forget Rama-nama (the name of Rama). Unsurprisingly, he lives in the hearts of Rama, Sita, and Lakshman, just like they also live in Hanuman’s heart.
sukshma rupa dhari siyahi dikhawa, bikata rupa dhari lank jarava ||9||
bheem rupa dhari asura sanhare, ramchandra ke kaaj sanware ||10||
“Though you appeared before Devi Sita in a tiny form, you assumed a fearsome form to burn Lanka. You assumed a gigantic form to annihilate asuras and made preparations for Rama’s divine play in Lanka.”
laye sajivan lakhan jiyaye, shriraghubir harashi ur laye||11||
raghupati kinhi bahut badhai, tum mam priye bharathi sam bhai ||12||
“By bringing the Sanjivani (an herb) to revive Lakshman’s life, you filled Sri Rama’s heart with happiness, who then embraced you. Rama praised you extensively and stated that you are as dear to him as Bharata, his brother.”
Notes: Hanuman, who possesses all mystical powers and can change forms, assumed different appearances during his visit to Lanka. When he saw Devi Sita under the Ashoka tree, his form was so weak, tiny, and child-like that the Mother Goddess doubted his potential as a warrior (she was performing a leela). Later, Hanuman assumed a gigantic form to annihilate asuras and assumed a very frightening form while burning down Lanka.
Sri Rama’s comparison of Hanuman with Bharata shows Rama’s impartial affection towards all his devotees. At the same time, the comparison is more a compliment and praise for Bharata than for Hanuman, who, like Rama, is beyond all comparisons and had showered his grace on Bharata as well. Just like Hanuman removed Lakshman’s suffering from Meghanada’s weapon, he also eliminated Bharata’s sorrow in the Ramayana when he informed Bharata about Rama’s arrival (near Ayodhya) from Lanka.
sahas badan tumharo jasa gavein, asa kahi shripati kanth lagavein||13||
sanakadik brahmadi munisa, narad sarad sahit ahisa||14||
jama kuber digpala jahan te, kabi kobid kahi sake kahan te||15||
“After saying that the thousand-hooded Sheshnaga sings your praise, Rama, the Lord of Shri, embraced you. When Sanaka and his brothers, Brahma and the munis, Narada, Devi Saraswati, Yama, Kubera, and Digpala cannot describe your glories, how can poets and scholars describe them?”
Notes: Sheshnaga — the divine serpent who forms the coils on which Lord Narayana rests and who has incarnated on Earth as Lakshmana — is selective in praising others. Besides Sita-Rama (or Lakshmi-Narayana), it appears that he has found only Hanuman worthy of his praise. Tulasidasa, one of Hinduism’s foremost devotional poets, finds all scholars and poets (including himself) unqualified for describing Hanuman’s glories. Moreover, Tulasidasa feels that describing the greatness of Hanuman is an unachievable task for even divine beings.
tum upkara sugreevahi kinha, rama milaye raja pada dinha||16||
tumharo mantra vibhishan mana, lankeshwar bhaye sab jaga jaana||17||
“As a result of your beneficence, Sugreeva met Rama and got his throne. The world already knows that Vibhishana became the king of Lanka by following your advice.”
juga sahastra jojan par bhanu, leelyo taahi madhur phal jaanu||18||
prabhu mudrika meli mukha maahi, jaladhi langh gaye achraja nahin||19||
durgam kaaj jagat ke jete, sugam anugrah tumhare tete||20||
“You swallowed the sun, located thousands of miles away, believing it to be a sweet fruit. It is unsurprising that you jumped over the ocean with Rama’s ring in your mouth. The impossible tasks of the world become easy with your grace.”
Notes: Hanuman’s grace on Sugreeva and Vibhishana was similar. Both were more worthy of Hanuman’s grace, in terms of dharma, than their respective brothers. As a result of their meeting with Sri Rama, who is the king of the Universe and the sustainer of dharma, both Sugreeva and Vibhishana got enthroned in their respective kingdoms, Kishkindha and Lanka. A face-to-face meeting of a jiva with Rama (darshan) rests in Hanuman’s domain, for Hanuman can make is possible for a being.
Though jumping across an ocean and reaching the sun to engulf it may appear impossible tasks to even seers and gods, nothing is impossible for the incarnation of Shiva who was born to help Para Shakti (the Supreme Shakti) and Parameshvara (the Supreme God) in their divine play on Earth.
rama duare tum rakhware, hota na aagya binu paisare||21||
sab sukh lahe tumhari sarana, tum racchak kahu ko darna||22||
“You guard the door to Rama’s abode, which no one can enter without your approval. Your refuge provides absolute happiness, and no fears exist with you as one’s protector.”
aapan tej samharo aape, teenon loka haank te kaapen||23||
bhoot pishach nikat nahin aavein, mahavira jab naam sunavein||24||
nase roga hare sab pira, japat nirantar hanumat beera||25||
“Only you can control your energy and brilliance; the three worlds quiver when you roar. Evil souls do not approach a person who recites the name of Hanuman. The continual chanting of Hanuman’s name removes all diseases and sufferings.”
Notes: Hanuman is considered the real guard to Rama’s abode because Hanuman’s blessings are essential for Rama’s grace on a being. Though Hanuman is fully calm, the universe does fear his potential anger. However, a devotee of Hanuman, who is always protected by him, has no reason to fear, for chanting of Hanuman’s name removes all three types of sufferings — spiritual, mental, and physical.
sankat tein hanuman chhuravai, mana krama bachan dhyana jo lave||26||
sab par rama tapasvi raja, tin ke kaaj sakal tum saaja||27||
“Whenever someone remembers Hanuman using his or her mind, actions, or words, his or her hardships are removed. O Hanuman, you even fulfilled the objectives of Rama, the ultimate yogi who rules over the entire universe.”
Notes: It is advisable to remember Hanuman if one needs help in any sphere of life. If one cannot meditate upon him (using the mind) or bow one’s head before his murti (an example of a devotional action), Hanuman can be remembered simply by uttering his name from the mouth. When Hanuman could fulfil the wishes of Rama, the Supreme Soul, he can definitely fulfil the wishes of a weak soul.
aur manorath jo koi lavai, soi amit jeevan phal paavai||28||
charon jug partap tumhara, hai parsiddha jagat ujiyara||29||
sadhu sant ke tum rakhvare, asura kinandan rama dulare||30||
“Whoever discloses his or her hopes before you attains incalculable fruits of life. Your brilliance and glory span all the four yugas and brighten up the entire universe. You are the protector of seers and saint, the destroyer of evil beings, and the dearest to Rama.”
ashta siddhi nau nidhi ke data, asa bar deen janaki mata||31||
rama rasayan tumhare paasa, sada raho raghupati ke dasa||32||
“As a result of a boon from Mother Sita, you can bestow the eight siddhis and nine riches upon anyone. Because you hold the nectar of Rama bhakti, you always remain in Rama’s service.”
Notes: Like Lord Shiva, Hanuman can provide immeasurable blessings, both worldly and spiritual, to beings who remember him and share their dreams with him. As a result of a boon given by Devi Sita, Hanuman can provide all kinds of mystical powers and riches to his devotees at his discretion. Though Hanuman was born on Earth in the treta yoga, his glory spreads beyond time and space. He is, therefore, revered in all the four yugas (even in the sata yuga) and by everyone in the universe, including divine beings. A major characteristic of Hanuman’s bhakti is his perfection in dasya bhava for Lord Rama.
tumhare bhajan rama ko paave, janam janam ke dukh bisrave||33||
ant kaal raghubar pur jayee, jahan janma hari bhakta kahai||34||
“Your adoration leads a being to Lord Rama, and he or she forgets the sufferings experienced over previous lifetimes. After concluding one’s time on Earth, the being reaches the abode of Rama and eternally remains Rama’s devotee.”
aur devata chit na dharahi, hanumat sei sarba sukh karai||35||
sankat kate mite sab pira, jo sumire hanumat balbira||36||
“A devotee of Hanuman need not worship any other god, for Hanuman’s devotion is sufficient to grant complete bliss. All misfortunes and pains are eliminated by remembering the supremely powerful Hanuman.”
Notes: Some of the perceptible fruits of Hanuman’s bhakti, as summarized by Goswami Tulasidasa, include liberation from the karmic cycle and eternal nearness to Rama. Because Hanuman acts like a guardian, provides all material and spiritual blessings, and eventually hands over an individual soul (jiva) to Rama, the Supreme Soul, Hanuman’s devotees find little need to worship anyone else. The world has not heard of a bigger protector and savior than Hanuman.
jai jai jai hanuman gosain, kripa karahu guru deva ki nain||37||
jo sat baar path kar koi, chhutahi bandi maha sukh hoi||38||
“Hail to you, Lord Hanuman! Please grace me as my guru. Whoever recites this prayer a hundred times is liberated from bondage and experiences the greatest joy.”
jo yeh pade hanuman chalisa, hoye siddhi saakhi gaurisa||39||
tulasidasa sada hari chera, kije naath hriday mahan dera||40||
“Whoever reads this Hanuman Chalisa becomes spiritually accomplished; Bhagavan Shiva himself is the witness to this. Tulasidasa is an eternal servant of Sri Rama. O Lord Hanuman! Please dwell in my heart.”
pavantanaye sankat haran, mangal murati rupa
rama lakhan sita sahit, hriday basahu sur bhupa
“O son of Pavan! You are the remover of miseries and the embodiment of auspiciousness. Please reside in my heart, O King of gods, with Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita.”
Notes: Hanuman, out of his limitless grace, has stayed on Earth to guide individual souls towards Rama. All Rama devotees, including some of the biggest bhakti saints ever born, have depended on Hanuman’s grace for reaching Rama. This explains why Hanuman can be called the ultimate guru for every soul who has uttered even a single name of Rama. Though Hanuman’s worship can provide mystical powers as well as immeasurable riches, true bhakti, for us, lies in remembering Hanuman selflessly. Only then can we expect him to reside in our hearts with Sita-Rama and Lakshmana.
Edited on May 19, 2019.