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Hanuman Chalisa

During my current tour of South Africa, a gentleman asked me to explain the deeper meaning of the Hanuman Chalisa, Goswami Tulsidas’ wonderful poem. Here’s a brief note on it.

The word Hanuman comes from ‘han’ meaning to kill, man is ‘mat’ or intelligence; the intelligence to kill the negativity within our psychic nature.

The poem starts with a doha, where the poet says he has cleaned his mind with the dust of his Guru’s feet. He uses the word ‘raj’, meaning both, dust and pollen. The dust of the higher was pollen to the lower, exposing us to a deeper law of higher and lower cosmoses. For instance, if we take off some dead skin from our fingers, ants immediately come to eat it up.

When his mind was clean, it became a two-faced mirror. One side reflected life and in the other he saw Ram, Sita, and Lakshman. Here the technique of double arrowed attention is being talked about; the disciple aims one arrow of attention on the events of life and the other towards his reactions to them, leading to a state of self-observation.

Lakshman comes from ‘lakshya’, or aim. Our aim is to awaken from the dream we call life, and we should always hold our aim in the mirror of our mind. Ram means to play; the art of moving towards our aim with an attitude of playfulness and not as if we are carrying a heavy burden. Ram also means fire, to take the fire of suffering as if it is just a play.

Sita means bliss or ‘masti’. When we live in playfulness, we extract bliss and enjoyment from every moment and event of life. Whether an event brings joy or sorrow, Ram is still married to Sita.

The poet says he was without intelligence, in a state of darkness called ‘buddhihin’, from which he awakens by remembering ‘sumirau Pavan Kumar’ or son of the wind. Each moment we live in the darkness of our hypnosis to the events of life. To awaken from this and realise our aim, my teacher taught rhythmic breathing. He said ‘sumirau pavan kumar’.

By ‘sumirau’ he gets ‘bal’ or will, ‘buddhi’ and ‘vidya’ to overcome his weaknesses or ‘kleshas'.