Several months ago I began singing the Hanuman Chalisa as part of my daily puja. This is a prayer that gives praise to Hanuman, and is one of the most revered hymns of the Indian devotional tradition.
I first became familiar with Hanuman many years ago when I read the Ramayana, the great Indian epic. In this story, it tells about Hanuman and his absolute love and devotion to Ram, who is God incarnate. Without getting into a whole discourse on the Ramayana (which I feel completely unqualified to do), I will say that I loved the story. I have always been drawn towards bhakti, which is the devotional practice of yoga and the expression of love for the Divine. Hanuman is the epitome of bhakti yoga – his love for Ram is his whole motivation for everything he does.
With my introduction to Hanuman and the Ramayana, I knew about the Chalisa and for years had the desire to learn it, but its length made me put it on the back burner. I simply was always too caught up in another sadhana which didn’t allow me the time to devote to learning this prayer. However, when something calls for you, it can only wait for so long. Eventually the whispering got louder, and the pull got greater. Originally my son committed to learning it with me and we began the practice together, but he ultimately decided to let it go. I carry on, chanting for the both of us.
Chanting to Hanuman is meant to polish the mirror of our hearts so that we can see our true reflection – that of a divine being. It removes anything that blocks us from this truth, and works to destroy anything negative in our hearts and minds. In other words, it is a very cleansing practice, and brings us closer to God. The Hanuman Chalisa is the perfect vehicle for taking us deeper and deeper into the flow of love. The vibration that I experience while singing it is indescribable, and I know it’s what I’m meant to be doing.
As I was learning this prayer, the very first verse that jumped out at me and stuck in my head was: jai jai jai hanumana gosa-ee kripa karahu gurudeva kee na-ee
which translates as: Victory, victory, victory, Lord Hanuman Bestow your grace upon me, as my Guru!
Now, my experience in the past is that whenever a verse grabs you, it has something to teach you. I have an idea as to why this verse was the first one that captured my attention, but I trust that more will be revealed. In the meantime, I’ll keep chanting…