The Hanuman Chalisa – Translated and Explained

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Love is the nirvana of the buddha and the samadhi of the yogi. It is the miraculous power of Hanuman, devotee of the hermit king, Rama.

A poem of love and devotion, dedicated to the mighty hero and monkey-god, Hanuman and to his Guru and God: Rama. The poem is replete with praises for his supernatural prowess, his incredulous strength and intelligence, his childlike charm and cunning, and above all for his love and desire to serve Rama, the hermit king of Ayodhya.

This ancient poem, consists of 43 verses, describing a part of the lives of Sri Rama (the perfect indwelling spirit) and Hanumana (prana or the life force) son of the wind god, his devoted disciple and servant.He serves not out of necessity, but from choice, from love. For prana finds its fulfilment only in the perfection of the indwelling spirit. While we spend our lifetime pursuing illusions upon illusions, intoxicated by our own selves as well as the world around us, our prana grows weaker and weaker. But mighty Hanuman, growing from strength to strength, remains exclusively in service of the perfect Rama.

The poem speaks of three types of beings, their places in the world and their relationships with each other.

The three being: humans, demons and between the two are all the others, called the monkeys. All three types have divine and unlimited potential, with the monkeys having the most difficult access to this potential. Humans are those who follow dharma or righteousness i.e. strive to rise above the instinctive nature and succeed, in howsoever small measures. Demons, those who strive for the same and succeed in greater measure than the humans, which gives them superhuman skills. But the ensuing power intoxicates them and instead of freeing them, buries them deeper in the pursuits of the primal brain.

In between we have the monkeys, also a metaphor for the restless mind. A mind that can never rest on anything, like a monkey jumping from branch to branch. It is far easier to capture their attention and domesticate them than the humans or the demons. This limitation lies not in their bodies, but in their forever distracted minds.

Ancient India has always laid more emphasis on the mind than on the body. From this research and years of dedication were born the paths of yoga and vedanta. Recently the west has started to devote a lot of research to the mind, through neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology among other fields.

Ancient epics, myths, legends, poems and stories, explain the mind and its mysteries in a deep and profound manner. They are often woven into the everyday tapestry of social life, so much so that they have naturally lived in peoples hearts and minds since the past thousands of years and are often considered folklore.

One such text is the Hanuman Chalisa, dedicated to the very popular monkey god, Hanuman.

Being a text of devotion and love, it is often dismissed by the more rational as a story about magical impossible people, creatures and events. But it so much more than that. The poem speaks eloquently about the unconditional love of a disciple for his teacher, of a devotee for his god.

The science of yoga devised four paths towards enlightenment, for the different character traits that humans possess. Devotion which is one of them, is said to be the fastest and safest path. Often we admire someone who we see as perfect. They may possess qualities and virtues we would like to have and that admiration naturally blossoms into love and devotion.

The poem starts with a prayer to the sacred dust that lies at the feet of such an enlightened being: Rama – Hanuman’s god and guru. So pure and virtuous is Rama, that even the dust at his feet, says Hanuman, has the potency to clear the disturbed mind, turning it into a perfect mirror reflecting only the divine.

It is said that the very intelligent and perceptive monkey Hanuman recognises Rama’s divinity the moment he sets eyes on him in the forest. Rama, known as purushottam or the perfect man is the very personification of dharma (righteousness). Hanuman recognising this, surrenders his entire life to his service in that very instant, his heart overflowing with love.

Unmatched in strength, and full of divine attributes himself, Hanuman fights Rama’s battles, leaps across the ocean, carries a mountain of sacred healing herbs from the Himalayas to the south of the country, and above all, locates Rama’s estranged wife Sita, to whom he becomes Rama's messenger. These are just some of his feats. Highly popular in his native country, there are thousands of temples dedicated to him across the length and breadth of the country and far beyond, in Thailand, Indonesia, Burma etc.

In this poem, the path of love or Bhakti Yoga is glorified over all other paths towards enlightenment. All other paths require the perfection of techniques and many hours and years spent in practise. But love requires no such thing. It is sufficient unto itself and comes naturally to every being. True love is unconditional love, expecting nothing in return. So great is the power of Hanuman’s love that it outlives even the avatar’s themselves. While avatars born like Rama and Krishna, must return to their heavenly abodes once their work on earth is done, Hanuman is a chiranjeevi or immortal.

Legend says that he can still be seen attending spiritual gatherings where the name of Rama is sung. A special place is always reserved for him. For nothing outlives love as all else faces decay and must perish. But love being the very nature and source of the cosmos is eternal. It needs no nurturing, nor sustenance, instead it nurtures and sustains, asking for nothing in return.

Being desireless is what gives Hanuman his magical powers and strength. All human action, is geared toward the satisfying of desire, whether done consciously or unconsciously. Desire, a tenacious mistress remains forever dissatisfied, forever demanding, thus consuming life relentlessly.

Yet there is another path few are able to see. That of sublimating desire. Where nothing else but love is desired. It is the mighty hero’s path. Only for him or her who has conquered the senses and gone beyond their intoxication. For love is sufficient unto itself and needs no other sustenance. It is the nirvana of the buddha and the samadhi of the yogi. It is the miraculous power of Hanuman, devotee of the hermit king, Rama.

Hanuman Chalisa TRANSLATION

Shri guru charan saroj-raj nija manu mukura sudhaari

Baranau Raghubara Vimala Jasu jo dayala phala chari


Bowing to my Guru’s lotus feet I pray that my heart be cleansed, so it may reflect the glories of Rama;

I hear that just hearing of his life, one is bestowed with the four eternal fruits, so difficult to attain: Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha;


Buddhi-heen tanu janikay sumirow pavanakumara

Bala-buddhi vidya dehoo mohee harahu klesa mikaara


I Meditate on You, O son of Pavan, Ignorant as I am;

Bestow upon me your light strength and knowledge. So all my afflictions may be liberated;


Jai Hanuman gyan gun sagar

Jai Kapish tihun lok ujagar


Victory to you dear Hanuman, ocean of mercy and compassion;

Victory to you who illuminates all three worlds and is divine amongst monkeys;


Ram doot atulit bala dhama

Anjani-putra Pavan-sut nama


Messenger of Rama, you possess incomparable power;

Son of Anjana and of the wind God;


Mahabir Bikram Bajrangi

Kumati nivar sumati ke sangi


Great hero, stronger than a thunderbolt;

Companion of only the pure minded , please rid my mind too of falsehood;


Kanchan varan viraj subesa

Kanan kundal kunchit kesa


Your golden body shines bright;

Always beautifully dressed you are, adorned with jewels and curly locks;


Hath vajra aur dhvaja viraje

Kaandhe moonj janehu sajai

Holding a thunderbolt and a flag;

your shoulder adorned with the sacred thread;


Sankar-suvan Kesari nandan

Tej prataap maha jag bandan


Manifesting the Great Lord Shiva himself, you are the son of King Kesari;

Who in this world doesn’t revere the strong and the brave? O embodiment of both;


Vidyavaan guni ati chatur

Ram kaj karibe ko aatur

Highly learned, skilled in all Vidyas & full of virtue;

always ready to serve your Lord, Rama;


Prabhu charitra sunibe ko rasiya

Ram Lakhan Sita man basiya


You enjoy nothing more than listening to stories about Rama;

The Lord who dwells in your heart along with Lakshman and Sita;


Sukshma roop dhari Siyahi dikhava

Vikat roop dhari Lank jarava


With equal ease you transform from the tiniest to massive forms;

In front of Sita you appeared minute & humble, later becoming a fearsome giant you burnt Lanka to ash;


Bhima roop dhari asur sanghare

Ramachandra ke kaj sanvare


As a fearsome giant you slayed demons;

removing them from your Lord Rama’s way;


Laye Sanjivan Lakhan jiyaye

Shri Raghuvir harashi ur Laye


You saved Lakshman, bringing the rare Sanjeevani from far away mountains;

Overflowing with Joy, Sri Rama embraced you to his own heart;


Raghupati kinhi bahut badai

Tum mam priye Bharathi sam bhai


Rama sings praises of you; embracing you he says;

‘You are as dear to me as my own brother Bharat’;


Sahas badan tumharo jasa gaave

Asa kahi Shripati kanth lagaave


Even the Thousand Headed Seshnag Sings Your Glory;

Said Rama, taking you in his Embrace;


Sankadhik Brahmaadi muneesa

Narad-Sarad sahita Aheesa


Sanak, Brahma and other sages;

Narada, and Devi Saraswati along with the lord of serpents;


Jam Kubera Digpaal jahan te

Kavi kovid kahi sake kahan te

Yama, Kubera and all other guardians of the directions;

Poets as well as scholars find not the words to sing your praise;


Tum upkar Sugrivahin keenha

Ram milaye rajpad deenha

Eternally grateful to you is Sugriva;

You introduced him to Ram who got him back his kingdom, making him King again;


Tumharo mantra Vibhishan maana

Lankeshwar bhaye sub jag jana


Vibishana surrendered himself to you;

And you made him Lord of Lanka while the world looked on.


Yug sahastra jojan par Bhanu

Leelyo tahi madhur phal janu


Flying towards the Sun, thousands of miles away;

You almost swallowed it whole, thinking it to be a Sweet Fruit;


Prabhu mudrika meli mukh mahee

Jaladhi langhi gaye achraj nahee


Carrying Lord Sri Rama's Ring in your Mouth;

You Leapt across the Ocean. Full of wonder are you;


Durgam kaj jagath ke jete

Sugam anugraha tumhre tete


All things difficult in samsara

Are Rendered Easy by your Grace


Ram dwaare tum rakhvare

Hoat no agya bin paisare


Guardian of Rama’s kingdom;

Who can enter without your blessings?;


Sub sukh lahae tumhari sarna

Tum rakshak kahu ko darna

All joys are mine, in your protection;

With you as guardian what is there to fear?;


Aapan tej samharo aapai

Teenhon lok hank te kanpai

Who but you, can contain your glory?;

Which makes all three worlds tremble as you roar;


Bhoot pisaach nikat nahin aavai

Mahabir jab naam sunavae

No ghosts nor evil comes near;

Hearing your name o great hero;


Nase rog harae sap peera

Japat nirantar Hanumat Beera

What pain, what disease can remain?;

When I continuously utter your name?;


Sankat se Hanuman chudavae

Man, kram, vachan dhyan jo lavai

With my mind, heart and speech fixed on Hanuman;

what problems could I ever have?;


Sap par Ram tapasvee raja

Tin ke kaj sakal tum saja

When my mind is engrossed in Rama, King of yogis;

What problems can I not solve?;


Aur manorath jo koi lavai

Sohi amit jeevan phal pavai

As I bring my chariot mind to the Lords feet;

The immortal fruit of life, I obtain;


Chaaron jug partap tumhara

Hai persidh jagat ujiyara

The 4 yugas are full of your glory;

Your greatness illumines the world;


Sadhu sant ke tum rakhware

Asur nikandan Ram dulhare

Beloved of Sri Rams, o destroyer of demons;

All sages and saints take refuge in you;


Ashta-sidhi nav nidhi ke dhata

As bar deen Janki mata

Mother Sita’s boon grants upon you;

The title of bestower of all eight powers, and all nine treasures;


Ram rasayan tumhare pasa

Sada raho Raghupati ke dasa

Knower of Rama’s sweet gentleness;

You remain always his loving servant;


Tumhare bhajan Ram ko pavai

Janam janam ke dukh bisraavai

Remembering you one attains Rama;

And sorrows of all lifetimes, not just this one, are liberated;


Ant-kaal Raghuvir-pur jayee

Jahan janam Hari-bhakt kahayee

With this devoted heart of mine, known as his servant;

I enter Sri Ramas kingdom;


Aur devta chit na dharehi

Hanumat se hi sarve sukh karehi

Just through this one sadhana of your remembrance;

All delights and happiness come my way;


Sankat kate mite sab peera

Jo sumirai Hanumat Balbeera

What are pains, and what are sorrows to him?;

Whose heart is immersed in you?;


Jai Jai Jai Hanuman Gosain

Kripa karahu gurudev ki nyahin

Victory to Hanuman, master of the senses;

Bestow your kindness as supreme Guru;


Jo sat bar path kare koi

Chhutehi bandhi maha sukh hoyi

With unbroken remembrance of you in my heart;

What can bind me? All is liberation;


Jo yeh padhe Hanuman Chalisa

Hoye siddhi sakhi Gaureesa

Gauri’s husband himself, the great Shiva is witness to my devotion unto you;

Which bestows only  liberation;


Tulsidas sada Hari chera

Keeja Nath hriday mein dera

The author Tulsidas, your eternal disciple;

Prays that you live forever in his own heart; 


Pavan tanay sankat harana mangala murati roop

Ram Lakhana Sita sahita hriday basahu soor bhoop

Please dwell eternally in my heart too, son of Pavan and destroyer of difficulties;

Along with Sri Rama Lakshman and Sita.