The Hanuman Chalisa, a devotional hymn of 40 verses was written by the poet-mystic Sant Tulsidas, in the ancient (and still living) city of Varanasi, also called Kashi. Tulsidas was a devotee of Lord Rama and Lord Hanuman, who was himself a devotee of Rama and is considered a reincarnation or avatar of Lord Shiva. Lord Rama is of course immortalized in the great epic Ramayana, one of the longest poems written by Sage Valmiki. And Hanuman is of course most famous through the Sundara Kanda section of Ramayana from Valmiki. Tulsidas’ Hanuman Chalisa is next in fame only to his Ramcharitmanas, the story of Rama. Both these works are written in the Awadhi language in poetry format, quit common in the Hindu devotional genre.
The Hanuman Chalisa consists of chaupai or 40 stanzas, which in Hindi means chalis, thus the chalis in Hanumn Chalisa. Below is the video of Hanuman Chalisa are rendered by the inimitable Ms Subbalakshmi, the nightingale of India, who unfortunately passed away a few years ago. Below those are the 40 stanzas in Hindi Devanagari script, followed by Hindi in transliterated English script, and finally the English meaning of the Hanuman Chalisa. Below that is more information about Sant Tulsidas and Hanuman.
Hanuman Chalisa by MS Subbalakshmi – MP3 Download
You can download the mp3 here.
Hanuman Chalisa Hindi Lyrics
श्रीगुरु चरन सरोज रज निज मनु मुकुरु सुधारि ।
बरनउँ रघुबर बिमल जसु जो दायकु फल चारि ॥
बुद्धिहीन तनु जानिके सुमिरौं पवन-कुमार ।
बल बुधि बिद्या देहु मोहिं हरहु कलेस बिकार ॥
जय हनुमान ज्ञान गुन सागर ।
जय कपीस तिहुँ लोक उजागर ॥१॥
राम दूत अतुलित बल धामा ।
अञ्जनि-पुत्र पवनसुत नामा ॥२॥
महाबीर बिक्रम बजरङ्गी ।
कुमति निवार सुमति के सङ्गी ॥३॥
कञ्चन बरन बिराज सुबेसा ।
कानन कुण्डल कुञ्चित केसा ॥४॥
हाथ बज्र औ ध्वजा बिराजै ।
काँधे मूँज जनेउ साजै ॥५॥
सङ्कर सुवन केसरीनन्दन ।
तेज प्रताप महा जग बन्दन ॥६॥
बिद्यावान गुनी अति चातुर ।
राम काज करिबे को आतुर ॥७॥
प्रभु चरित्र सुनिबे को रसिया ।
राम लखन सीता मन बसिया ॥८॥
सूक्ष्म रूप धरि सियहिं दिखावा ।
बिकट रूप धरि लङ्क जरावा ॥९॥
भीम रूप धरि असुर सँहारे ।
रामचन्द्र के काज सँवारे ॥१०॥
लाय सञ्जीवन लखन जियाये ।
श्रीरघुबीर हरषि उर लाये ॥११॥
रघुपति कीह्नी बहुत बड़ाई ।
तुम मम प्रिय भरतहि सम भाई ॥१२॥
सहस बदन तुह्मारो जस गावैं ।
अस कहि श्रीपति कण्ठ लगावैं ॥१३॥
सनकादिक ब्रह्मादि मुनीसा ।
नारद सारद सहित अहीसा ॥१४॥
जम कुबेर दिगपाल जहाँ ते ।
कबि कोबिद कहि सके कहाँ ते ॥१५॥
तुम उपकार सुग्रीवहिं कीह्ना ।
राम मिलाय राज पद दीह्ना ॥१६॥
तुह्मरो मन्त्र बिभीषन माना ।
लङ्केस्वर भए सब जग जाना ॥१७॥
जुग सहस्र जोजन पर भानु ।
लील्यो ताहि मधुर फल जानू ॥१८॥
प्रभु मुद्रिका मेलि मुख माहीं ।
जलधि लाँघि गये अचरज नाहीं ॥१९॥
दुर्गम काज जगत के जेते ।
सुगम अनुग्रह तुह्मरे तेते ॥२०॥
राम दुआरे तुम रखवारे ।
होत न आज्ञा बिनु पैसारे ॥२१॥
सब सुख लहै तुह्मारी सरना ।
तुम रच्छक काहू को डर ना ॥२२॥
आपन तेज सह्मारो आपै ।
तीनों लोक हाँक तें काँपै ॥२३॥
भूत पिसाच निकट नहिं आवै ।
महाबीर जब नाम सुनावै ॥२४॥
नासै रोग हरै सब पीरा ।
जपत निरन्तर हनुमत बीरा ॥२५॥
सङ्कट तें हनुमान छुड़ावै ।
मन क्रम बचन ध्यान जो लावै ॥२६॥
सब पर राम तपस्वी राजा ।
तिन के काज सकल तुम साजा ॥२७॥
और मनोरथ जो कोई लावै ।
सोई अमित जीवन फल पावै ॥२८॥
चारों जुग परताप तुह्मारा ।
है परसिद्ध जगत उजियारा ॥२९॥
साधु सन्त के तुम रखवारे ।
असुर निकन्दन राम दुलारे ॥३०॥
अष्टसिद्धि नौ निधि के दाता ।
अस बर दीन जानकी माता ॥३१॥
राम रसायन तुह्मरे पासा ।
सदा रहो रघुपति के दासा ॥३२॥
तुह्मरे भजन राम को पावै ।
जनम जनम के दुख बिसरावै ॥३३॥
अन्त काल रघुबर पुर जाई ।
जहाँ जन्म हरिभक्त कहाई ॥३४॥
और देवता चित्त न धरई ।
हनुमत सेइ सर्ब सुख करई ॥३५॥
सङ्कट कटै मिटै सब पीरा ।
जो सुमिरै हनुमत बलबीरा ॥३६॥
जय जय जय हनुमान गोसाईं ।
कृपा करहु गुरुदेव की नाईं ॥३७॥
जो सत बार पाठ कर कोई ।
छूटहि बन्दि महा सुख होई ॥३८॥
जो यह पढ़ै हनुमान चालीसा ।
होय सिद्धि साखी गौरीसा ॥३९॥
तुलसीदास सदा हरि चेरा ।
कीजै नाथ हृदय महँ डेरा ॥४०॥
पवनतनय सङ्कट हरन मङ्गल मूरति रूप ।
राम लखन सीता सहित हृदय बसहु सुर भूप ॥
Hanuman Chalisa English & Hindi Lyrics
श्री गुरु चरण सरोज रज नीज मना मुकारा सुधारी, Shree Guru Charana Saroj Raja Nij Man Mukura Sudhari,
बूढी हीन तनु जानिके सुमिरौ पवन कुमार, Budhi heen tanu janike sumiro pavan kumar,
बल बूढी विद्या देहु मोंही हरहु कलेसा विकार, Bal Buddhi Vidya Dehu Mohi, harahu kalesh vikaar
जाया हनुमान गयाना गुना सागर, Jai Hanuman Gyan Gun Sagar,
जाया कपीस तिहूँ लोक उजागर, Jai Kapis Tihun Lok Ujagar,
राम दूत अतुलिउट बल धामा, Ramdoot Atulit Bal Dhaamaa,
अनजानी – पुत्र पवन सुता नामा, Anjani Putra Pavansut naamaa,
कुमति निवारा सुमति के संगी, Kumati Nivaar Sumati Ke Sangi,
कंचना वरना वीराजा सुवेसा , Kanchan Baran Biraaj Subesaa,
कनाना कुण्डला कुंचित केसा, Kanan kundal kunchit kesa,
हाथ वज्र अरु ध्वजा विराजे, Haath Bajra Aur Dhvaja Birajey,
कंधे मूंज जनेवु साजे, Kandhe Moonj Janeu saaje.
संकरा सुवना केसरी नंदन, Shankar Suvan Kesari Nandan,
तेजा प्रताप महा जग बंदन, Tej Pratap Maha Jag Vandan.
विद्यावान गुनी अति चातुर, Vidyavaan Guni Ati Chatur,
राम कजा करिबे को आतुर, Ram Kaj Karibe Ko Atur,
प्रभु चरित्र सुनिबे को रसिया, Prabhu Charittra Sunibe Ko Rasiya,
राम लखना सीता माना बसिया, Ram Lakhan Sita man basyia,
सुक्ष्म रूपा धरी सियाही दिखावा, Sukshma roop Dhari Siyanhi Dikhawa,
विकता रूपा धरी लंका जरावा, Bikat roop Dhari Lank Jarawa,
भीमा रूपा धरी असुर संहारे Bhim roop dhari asur sanhare,
रामचंद्र के कजा सवारे, Ramchandrajee Ke kaaj Savare,
लाया सजीवन लखना जियाये, Laye Sanjivan Lakhan Jiyaye,
श्री रघुवीर हरषी उर लाये, Shri Raghubir harashi ur laye,
रघुपति किन्ही बहुत बडाई, Raghupati Kinhi Bahut Badaai,
कहा भरता समां तुम प्रिया भाई, Tum Mum Priya Bharat Sam Bhai.
सहस वदन तुम्हारो यश गावे, Sahastra Badan Tumharo Jas Gaave,
अस कही श्रीपति कंठ लगावे, Asa kahi Shripati Kanth Laagave.
सनाकादिका ब्रह्मादी मुनीष, Sankadik Brahmadi Muneesa,
नारद सरदा सहित अहीसा, Narad Sarad Sahit Aheesa.’
यामा कुबेर दिगपाला जहाँ त,े Jam Kuber Digpal Jahan Te,
कवि कोविद कही सके कहाँ ते, Kabi Kabid Kahin Sake Kahan Te,
तुम उपकार सुग्रीविएना कीन्हा, Tum Upkar Sugrivahi Keenha,
राम मिलाये राजपद दीन्हा, Ram Milaye Rajpad Deenha,
तुम्हारो मंत्र विभीशाना माना, Tumharo Mantro Bibhishan Maana,
लंकेश्वर भये सबा जगा जन, Lankeshwar Bhaye Sab Jag Jaana,
युग सहस्र योजन पर भानु, Juug Sahastra Jojan Par Bhaanu,
लील्यो ताहि मधुरा फल जानू, Leelyo Taahi Madhur Phal Jaanu,
प्रभु मुद्रिका मेली मुख माहि, Prabhu Mudrika Meli Mukha Maaheen,
जलधि लांघी गए अचरज नही, Jaladhi Langhi Gaye Acharaj Naaheen,
दुर्गम काज जगत के जेते, Durgam Kaaj Jagat Ke Jete,
सुगम अनुग्रह तुम्हारे तेते, Sugam Anugrah Tumhre Tete,
राम दुलारे तुम रखवारे, Ram Duware Tum Rakhavare,
होत आग्न्य पिनु पैथारे, Hot Na Aagya Bin Paisare,
सब सुख लहै तुम्हारी शरण, Sab Sukh Lahen Tumhari Sarna,
तुम रक्षक कहू को डरा न, Tum Rakshak Kaahu Ko Dar naa,
आपना तेजा तुम्हारो आपे, Aapan Tej Samharo Aapei,
तीनो लोक हांका ते कम्पी, Tenau Lok Hank Te Kanpei.
भूत पिसाचा निकट नहीं आव,ेBhoot Pisaach Nikat Nahi Ave,
महाबीर जब नाम सुनावे, Mahabir Jab Naam Sunavei,
नसे रोग हरे सब पीरा, Nasei Rog Hare Sab Peera,
जपत निरंतर हनुमत बीरा, Japat Niranter Hanumant Beera,
संकट से हनुमान चुदवेय, Sankat Te Hanuman Chhudavei,
मन क्रम वचना ध्यान जो लाव,े Man Kram Bachan Dhyan Jo Lavei,
सब पर नामा तपस्वी रजा, Sub Par Ram Tapasvee Raaja,
तीन के कजा सकला तुम सजा, Tinke Kaaj Sakal Tum Saaja,
और मनोरथ जो कोई लावे, Aur Manorath Jo Koi Lave,
तासु अमिता जीवन हल पवई, Soi Amit Jivan Phal Pave.
चारों युग परताप तुम्हारा, Charo Juug Partap Tumhara,
है पारा सीधा जगाता उजियारा, Hai Parsiddha Jagat Ujiyara.
साधू संत के तुम रखवारे, Sadho Sant Ke Tum Rakhvare,
असुर निकंदाना राम दुल्हरे, Asur Nikandan Ram Dulare,
अष्ट सीधी नौ निधि के डाटा, Ashta Siddhi Nau Nidhi Ke Data,
असा वारा दीं जानकी माता, Asa Bar Din Janki Mata,
राम रसायन तुम्हारे पासा, Ram Rasayan Tumhare Pasa,
सादर तुम रघुपति के दस, Sadaa Raho Raghupati Ke Dasa,
तुम्हारे भजन राम को भावी, Tumhare Bhajan Ramko Pavei,
जन्मा जन्मा के दुख बीस रवी, Janam Janam Ke Dukh Bisravei,>
अन्ता काला रघुपति पुरा जाई, Anta Kaal Raghubar Pur Jai,
जहाँ जन्मा हरी – भक्तअ कहाई, Jahan Janma Hari Bhakta Kahai,
और देवता चिट्टा न धरई, Aur Devata Chitt Na Dharai,
हनुमता से यी सर्व सुखा करायी, Hanumant Sei Sarva Sukh Karai,
संकट कटे मिटे सब पीरा, Sankat Kate Mitey Sab Peera,
जो सुमिरि हनुमंत बल्बीरा , Jo Sumirei Hanumant Balbeera,
जय जय जय हनुमान गोसाई, Jai Jai Jai Hanuman Gosai,
कृपा करहु गुरुदेव की नीई, Kripa Karahu Gurudev Ki Naiee,
जो सत् बार पाठ कर कोई, Jo Sat Baar Paath Kar Koi,
छुतही बंदी महा सुख होई , Chhutahi Bandi Maha Sukh Hoi.
जो यह पढ़े हनुमान चालीसा , Jo Yah Padhe Hanuman Chalisa,
होय सिद्धइ सखी गौरीसा , Hoy Siddhi Sakhi Gaurisa,
तुलसीदास सदा हरी चेरा , Tulsidas Sada Hari Chera,
कीजे नाथ ह्रदय माह डेरा .Keeje Nath Hriday Mah Dera.
पवन तनया संकट हरन मंगला मूर्ति रूपा, Pavan Tanay Sankat Haran , Mangal Murti Roop.
राम लखन सीता सहित हृदय बसहु सुरभूप, Ram Lakhan Sita Sahit, Hriday Basahu Sur Bhoop.
Hanuman Chalisa English Meaning
After purifying the mirror of my mind with the
dust from the lotus feet of my guru, let me
describe the shining, untainted glory of Lord
Hanuman, a member of the Raghu dynasty,
one who is capable of bestowing the four
purusharthas1 on his devotees.
Knowing myself to be ignorant, lacking in
intelligence and wisdom, I remember
Hanumanji, the son of Pavana (the wind
god) and invoke His grace to forcibly remove
all the afflictions of my body and impurities
of my mind and bless me with strength,
wisdom, and discriminative knowledge.
Glory to Lord Hanuman who is the
boundless ocean of knowledge and virtues.
Glory to Lord Hanuman who is the king of
the monkeys and the light of whose fame
illumines the three worlds.
O Lord Hanuman! You are the messenger of
Lord Rama, the abode of incomparable
strength, the son of Anjani, and known also
by the name Pavanasuta (son of wind god).
You are the greatest warrior, possessed of
valor with a body that is as strong as steel.
You have the power to destroy all the
negative tendencies of the mind and You
are the constant companion of those who
are discriminating and wise.
Your complexion has a golden glow and
your appearance is enhanced by your
beautiful clothes, earrings and curly hair.
You have a thunderbolt in one hand and the
flag of Lord Rama in the other. The sacred
thread made of munja grass on your
shoulder adorns you.
You are the incarnation of Lord Siva and the
son of Kesari. The whole world sings the
glories of your shining prowess and valor.
You are possesed of knowledge, great
virtues, a sharp intellect, and are ever eager
to serve the lord of your heart, Rama.
You take great delight in listening to the
glories of Lord Rama, who along with
Mother Sita and Lakshmana have take up
permanent residence in Your heart.
Having reached Lanka, You assumed the
most minute form and appeared before
Mother Sita. With her permission, You then
assumed a huge, fierce form and burnt the
city of Lanka.
In order to accomplish the mission of Lord
Rama, You took a gigantic form and slew
many demons in Lanka.
You brought the sanjivani plant from the
Himalayas, which revived Lakshman thereby
bringing great joy to Lord Rama’s heart.
Lord Rama praised You profusely and said
that You are as dear to Him as Bharat.
“The thousand-headed snake (sheshanaga)
sings Your glories”, thus saying Lord Rama,
the divine consort of Mother Sita, embraced
Hanuman. This also refers to Lakshmana
who is considered an incarnation of shesha.
Your glories are also sung by great sages
like Sanaka and Narada, gods and
goddesses like Brahma and Sarasvati.
wealth, the guardians of the directions, great
poets and scholars have all tried to sing
Your glories, but they have not been able to
You obliged Sugriva by introducing him to
Lord Rama who helped him to regain his
Vibhishana became renowned all over the
world as the king of Lanka by heeding your
advice to surrender to Lord Rama.
As a child You leaped up thousands of miles
with ease and swallowed the Sun thinking
him to be a sweet fruit.
Therefore it is not a subject of wonderment
that You flew over and crossed the ocean
with Lord Rama’s ring in Your mouth.
All the tasks of the world, regardless of the
level of difficulty, are accomplished easily by
You guard the entry to Ramji’s palace where
none can enter without Your permission.
All joys are to be found in Your refuge and
with You as the protector there is no cause
You alone are capable of controlling the
blazing splendor of Your powers. The three
worlds tremble with fear when they hear
Your thunderous roar.
Ghosts and demons do not dare to come
near when they hear the name of Mahavira
All ailments are destroyed and all pain and
suffering are removed by constant repetition
and rememberance of Your bravery.
You remove all the difficulties of those who
meditate on You in thought, deed and
speech with sincerity and faith.
You were successful in carrying out the
missions of Lord Rama, the supreme
ascetic, who is the ruler of all.
You grant the desires of all seekers by
giving them the fruit of immortal life.
Your glory is renowned in the four yugas
and its glowing radiance shines forth all over
You are the protector of all who are
righteous, the destroyer of those who are
evil and very dear to Lord Rama.
Mother Sita has granted You the boon of
having the power to grant eight kinds of
suddhis and nine forms of wealth4 to
You possess the elixir of devotion to Lord
Rama, and You remain His ever-devoted
Singing Your praises, aspirants attain Lord
Rama and forget the misery of countless
At the time of death such a person will go to
the abode of Lord Rama where he will take
birth as a devotee of the Lord.
One who worships Hanumanji with single-pointed
devotion enjoys all bliss.
All difficulties and sufferings are destroyed
for the devotee who lives in the constant
rememberance of the valiant Lord
Glory, glory, all glory to Lord Hanuman who
is the master of His organs of perception
and action. Please shower me with Your
grace just like my own guru.
He who recites this Hanuman Chalisa a
hundred times is released from the bondage
of birth and death and enjoys the absolute
bliss of immortality.
Lord Siva Himself bears witness that one
who recites this Hanuman Chalisa regularly
will be successful in accomplishing his goal
of attaining perfection.
Tulasidasji says that he is ever in the service
of the Lord and requests Him to come and
reside in his heart.
O Lord Hanuman, You are destroyer of all
miseries and the very embodiment of all
auspiciousness. O king of the gods! Please
come and dwell in my heart along with
Ramji, Lakshmanji and Sitaji.
Sant Tulsidas: Composer of Hanuman Chalisa
Here’s a beautiful description of Sant Tulsidas’ work in the book by Atkins on Tulsidas and his works.
“When the Purushottama who is the object of worship in the Vedas agreed to be born in this world to go through the sufferings and privations of human life on earth and to destroy the evil forces that had attained dominance, the Vedas also simultaneously came to take shape as the Ramayana of Valmiki. This is the reverential tribute paid by every devout Hindu before he begins the daily reading of the Ramayana of Valmiki:
It may be said without exaggeration that when the study of classical Sanskrit decayed, Valmiki came down among us as Tulsidas in the North and Kamban in the South. Through Tulsidas the Vedas took shape as the Rama-Charita-Manasa. Just as Shri Rama was mare human than Varaha or Narasimha or Vamana, so is Tulsi’s Ramayana is a bhakti-infused avatara of Valmiki’s epic, fitter for the elevation of the mortals of today who, alas, are far down below the level of the rishis that were enraptured to hear Lava and Kusha sing the great epic of Valmiki.
The first verse of the invocation for the daily devotional reading of Ramayana is more applicable to Tulsidas and his Ramayana than even to Valmiki and if we pay this tribute to the spiritual son, it would not be an offence to the father that gave to us the great and elevating epic story of the Prince of Ayodhya:
Who can fail to be elevated in spirit and walk in the straight path to Heaven that has heard the story of Rama ‘as told by Tulsidas and has let the sweet music of it vibrate his inner being?
Tulsidas made his vision of God into a concrete reality for the commonest of men around him. Tulsidas could have made himself as grand or obscure as any philosopher, ancient or modern; for he had learning enough for it, but he was too pious to lose himself in that manner. His great love of the common folk enabled him to produce a work that has stood the test of centuries like a rock among philosophers, pandits and lowly men and women.
Mr Atkins monumental work and his Introduction arc a revelation of hope for those who desire to see all the great religions of mankind come together. Here is a pious citizen of Britain and a Christian who, after having spent as many as ten good years of his life to make the Ramayana of Tulsidas available to English-speaking people for loving study, has crucified as true a bhakta as any among our own people. Although he does not refer to it, his service is not only to English-speaking people but also to that very large number or Hindus In India who do not speak the Hindi language and to whom English has become a very familiar medium. The English rendering of the epic of Rama done by Mr Atkins wilt enable this class of people to be tuned to the great piety that enriches the life of their Hindi-speaking brethren and sisters.
Westerners may find it difficult to reconcile belief in the theory of Maya with that sense of moral responsibility which is essential for right conduct. Human sin under God’s rule is a mystery that truly passeth understanding Any “explanation” is bound to be unsatisfactory, although when one is brought up in that explanation from childhood it may acquire a familiar ring that may pass for logical satisfaction. The Christian doctrine is a mystic blend of man’s free will with the omniscience and omnipotence-‘ of God. The fact is there, sin and the unmistakable desire at the same time to be free from it The Hindu theory of Maya and Karma satisfies the Hindu mind. According to this, man’s sin is a part of the Leela or play of God, but the law of Karma makes the play a dreadful reality, as long as it lasts, and sin cannot be “worked out except through right action which of course includes genuine penitence and prayer. Yet is not easy either for a nation or for an individual to rise again after a fall. It requires much work and much steadiness of purpose and much guidance. But more than work and steady purpose and guidance from outside, the inner being must be spiritualized. It is only then that mutual trust and co-operation and courage become possible and even. easy. / It is the root of the matter. A million people that do not believe one another and therefore do not help one another in true and effective manner cannot produce any result. Man-power does not count when there is no cooperation. Greedy men that do not believe in God and do not trust one another and will not be good except under supervision and except when they cannot evade legal authority will pull in different directions, and the total result of all effort after an infinitude of waste will be but small. Purify the inner being and produce piety and honesty then the effort of each will be added unto every other’s and the harvest will be plenty!} If all men will begin reading Tulsi, they cannot help becoming good again and thereby strong and brave and happy as a people. [May the story of Rama and Sita, the tears of Rama’s great brother Bharata, the devotion of Lakshmana and the perfection of Hanuman inspire and elevate our souls]
Atkins’ Introduction to Hanuman Chalisa
About thirty-five years ago I began to read the Ramayana or the Rama-Charita-Manasa of Tulsidas; it was a task set in connection with the language study and examinations required of a missionary. But I soon became interested m the poem with its moving story, vivid pictures and devout thought; fascinated too with the easy swininmg rhythm and music of the language. I had become somewhat familiar with, this type of language and poetic form by the use of bhajans (religious lyrics) in our regular worship. When I began to study the Ramayana I found great help in understanding and interpreting passages from the prose version of F. S. Growse, first published more than seventy-five years ago. But it was evident that Growse did no more than give, very prosily, the meaning of the passages, and did not at all represent the literary quality and music of Tulsidas. So when, about twelve years ago, the Rev. George Bnggs, D.D., formerly a missionary in India, then a teacher in Drew University) U.S A., suggested that I try to put Tulsidas’s great work into English verse, I was gripped by the idea. Though at first 1 hardly thought it possible, a beginning was made and I soon became keenly interested in it.
I have tried to give varied metres somewhat comparable to those of, Tulsidas, changing as he changes which breaks monotony in reading; also rhyme where he gives it, and language that is clear and simple in verse form. Some friends have seen portions and have encouraged me with commendation notably my wife to whom the whole has been read aloud (knowing her, I can say that her approval is not due merely to the fact that it is her husband’s work; if it were not of value or fitness, she would have said so frankly); also two friends of my early days in India, now retired, whom I have always respected as my gurus, both of them literary-minded and versed in Hindi the Rev. J. Z. Hodge, D.D., and the Rev. P. O. Wynd. It has been a long effort, as usually no more than small portions of time could be spared from ‘a busy life; and since the rhythm and rhyme had to be carefully thought out, it meant that much more time had to be spent over a passage than otherwise often one couplet taking an hour of thinking. Ten years have thus been spent at the work, but I have enjoyed it. Now it is offered to the English-speaking people of India and of other countries in the hope that they will enjoy a literary masterpiece of India, though presented imperfectly and at second-hand, and that through it they will come to understand something more of the background of the faith and thought of a large number of India’s people.
The Ram-Charita-Manasa is much more than the life-story of a great figure in Indian history. Prince (later King) Kamachandra of Avadh or Ayodhya, a kingdom in North India. Tulsidas takes the foundation of his work from the Sanskrit Ramayana of Valmiki, which belongs to a period at least 2,000 years earlier and which tells of this great figure of many centuries earlier still. Already in Valmiki a great deal of mythology is woven round the figures of Rama and Sita, especially in what are commonly regarded as additions to Valmiki’s actual work, but there it is not the figure of a divine incarnation as later understood, holding the earnest, loving religious faith of men as Lord and Deliverer, Tulsidas takes the outline of that story, changes many of the episodes, omits some and adds others, and uses this to express his own loving devotion (bhakti), and his message to men concerning this as fundamental m true religion. He adds much from his own background of theological thought and religious practice, adds also mythological material to strengthen his message and deepen its impression. It is in this that the chief significance of his work lies, so that it is much more than history or biography.
Here one reads the longing and faith of the more earnest and spiritual-minded Hindu, as contrasted with the worldly-minded and godless on the one hand and the formalist or abstruse philosopher on the other. Tulsidas condemns the former in unmistakable terms for their materialism, selfishness and sensualism. He includes the latter in his picture of current Hinduism, and makes some concessions to religious and social ritual as of value, in some cases essential (e.g. veneration of Brahmans and observance of caste rules as religious duty); he also acknowledges the Pantheistic Impersonal teachings of the Hindu philosopher, with the practice of abstraction in contemplation. He especially emphasises the doctrine of Maya (Illusion) as a divine expression and activity, in all material and personal diversity which is delusive and unreal; all things are due to this, specially man’s offences and mistakes with their disastrous consequences. Salvation with him is from the consequences of wrong action resulting in birth after birth, and may be salvation either to the condition of cessation of personal being in the Supreme Impersonal (Brahma), or which is more desirable in his message to a place forever in personal bliss in the Realm of Rama. But all else fades into insignificance before the things of the highest and ultimate value, true devotion in heart and life to the Supreme conceived in Personal Form here Lord Vishnu incarnate as Ramachandra (also named Raghubir, Raghubar, Raghu-pati, head of the family of his ancestor, Raghu of Avadh). With this goes a worthy outlook in moral ideals and religious relationships. All impurity, untruth and jealous enmity are condemned. Tolerance in religious difference and variety is urged, even while presenting Rama as Supreme. It is noteworthy that here is hardly any reference to Krishna, the Lord of the Bhagavad Gita, around whom with incarnation mythology are woven many sensual episodes (by some interpreted as figurative). There are many references to Siva, but it is always with respect and with condemnation of the partisan bitterness that has marked many phases and groups in Hinduism, but is contrary to its true spirit. Tulsidas also shows little respect for the lesser gods of Hindu mythology, especially Indra, greatly revered m Vedic times. He honours formally the Hindu Triad Brahma the Creator (a rather vague figure); Vishnu the Preserver (conceived as incarnate to meet vital emergencies); and Siva the Destroyer (who tells the story of Rama with deep reverence). But all through there is the conception, which Tulsidas uses all his powers to express, that it is the Supreme Spirit who is incarnate in Rama and who claims supreme devotion.
Thus we find expressed sincerely and fervently love for the Supreme and Divine One, the outreach of faith and devotion after some personal concrete form of God m whom faith may rest. The figure laid hold upon by faith inspiring imagination is the ancient hero, an ideal human and royal figure such as one romes across in the dim past of other peoples, e g, Saint George and King Arthur in the early history of England, the king-priest Melchizedek and the idealised David of the Hebrews. But here this figure, Ramachandra, is enshrmed by devout imagination in the faith, love and worship of the heart, as the one making the Supreme Spirit concrete and personal. Moved by love and longing, the heart reaches out to seek God Himself through the figure so enshrined. This movement and experience expresses what in Christian “been to the masses what Tulsidas has heen to the people of this land.” (Edwin Greaves in A Sketch of Hindi Literature.) ‘One most commendable feature of the Ramayana (of Tulsidas) is its pure and lofty moral tone is this feature of his poem which has given it so much value in holding up a high moral ideal before its “readers .Many passages show that Tulsidas was a true observer and lover of nature. The Ramayana is undoubtedly a great poem, worthy to rank among the classical masterpieces of the world’s literature (Tulsidas) knew he would meet with his critics, especially among the Sanskrit pandits, who would affect to despise his work as a concession to the uneducated multitude.
Appreciation for Tulsidas and Hanuman Chalisa
The wonderful acceptance, however, which the poem of Tulsidas has received has been its greatest vindication.” (F. E, Keay in Hindi Literature.)
The Hindi Ramayana js emphatically the book of the common people. To those who would really know the heart of India with all its longings and aspirations, this work will have far more significance than the ancient Sanskrit classics which are unknown to all but the “most learned pandits.” (Author unknown; in a small work on Divine Incarnation.)
“The whole of Tulsidas’s Ramayana is a passionate protest against the virtual atheism of metaphysical Hindu philosophy. Tulsidas insists that they derogate from divine perfection who divest it of personality and reduce it to an abstraction. Professional Sanskrit pandits still affect to despise his work as an unworthy concession to the illiterate masses. With this small and solitary exception, the “book is in every man’s hands from the court to the cottage, and is “read, or heard, and appreciated by every class of the Hindu community, whether high or low, rich or poor, young or old. The purity of its moral sentiments and the absolute avoidance of the slightest “approach to any pruriency of idea.. .render it a singularly unexceptionable text-book.” (F. E. Growse, B.C.S., in the Introduction to his prose translation.)
“The best known and most famed book in Hindi literature. It is ¦known among all classes and no other religious book is so much revered as this. The world now so honours the simplicity, purity and devout worship of Goswamiji that every place where he lived, or even where he “stayed, is honoured as a place of pilgrimage, and a temple or gathering-place has been set up in his revered memory.” (Pandit Vijayanand Tripathi, Banaras, in the Introduction to the version put out by the Bharati Bhandar, Allahabad)
“The fame of Tulsidas as a writer rests wholly upon the Rama Charita-Manasa the crown of the world’s literature. The poetry of this master-poet is unequalled in the Hindi language.” (Shri Ganesh Bihari Misra in a long critical study of Tulsidas, with other Hindi writers, in Hindi Navaratna the Nine Gems of Hindi Literature.)
Mahatma Gandhi on Tulsidas and Hanuman Chalisa
Finally, Mahatma Gandhi has written in The Story of My Experiments With Truth. “What, however, left a deep impression on me was the reading of Ramayana before my father During part of his illness my father was in Porbandar There every evening he used to listen to Ramayana The reader was a great devotee of RamaLadha Maharaj of Bileshvar. I must have been 13 at that time, but I quite remember being enraptured by his reading. That laid the “foundation of my deep devotion to Ramayana. Today I regard the Ramayana of Tulsidas as the greatest book in all devotional literature.”
Such appreciations will, I am sure, amply justify the attempt to give the Ramayana in this form to English readers. The Western reader will find in this work many odd ways of expression, often much extravagance in descriptive and imaginative wnting. There is also much legendary and mythical material, symbolic and interesting. For instance, there is the figure of the monkey-hero and devotee Hanuman (whose simple picture appears on each page of this edition) who performs incredible and monkey-ish feats, but is greatly revered virtually worshipped by many in India, not so much for these feats as for the fact that he embodies humble adoration and devotion to the Lord Rama He and Kakabhusundi (the crow who gladly accepts this form as enabling him to express with supreme humility the lesson he has been taught by hard experience, that devotion to the divine without partisan bitterness is the essence of true religion.
Tulsidas’ Ram Charita Manas
On the human level, the princes Bharat and Lakshman and the low-born boatman, and with the demon prince Vibhishan, are outstanding examples of what the whole poem is trying to express in vivid imagery. On the other hand, there is literary beauty with moral and spiritual worth which a reader even in English may appreciate and find deeply moving as I do. If readers find the first pages, a long introduction by Tulsidas, somewhat tiring at first, I suggest they turn to Book I, chaupai 44 onward (The Conversation of Bharadvaja and Yajnavalkya); but they should certainly come back to the early stanzas, and will be well repaid when they have the spirit and movement of the author with them There is wit and imagination, a clever adapting of pictures to comparison and to moral teaching that is not mere cleverness, but great ability consecrated to a high task. Every now and then there is a couplet or sentence that is like a rapier thrust to the mind and conscience. Underneath the Eastern dress and atmosphere the reader will feel the spirit and nature that make all men akin.
In brief, the story foundation of the poem is as follows: After some interesting preparatory stories from mythology, chiefly showing the need of a divine deliverer on earth, or for the gods, following on the birth of demon Ravan and the establishment of his demon kingdom, the story is given of the birth of Rama and his three brothers as sons of King Dasrath Book I, chaupai 194. As a young man, in a bow-trial at the court of Janak, a neighbouring king, Rama wins Sita as his bride, his brothers also wedding prmcesses of that royal family. They return happily to Avadh. King Dasrath plans to leave the throne to Kama and to end his days in religious retirement; but misled by her maid, Queen Kaikeyi (one of Dasrath’s three wives) demands fulfilment of two boons promised her long before, only now expressed that the kingdom be given to Bharat, her son, and that Rama be banished to life in the forest for fourteen years. Sita accompanies Rama, as does also Lakshman his brother, this tragedy leading to the death of Dasrath. Bharat, devoted to Rama, takes the throne only as deputy for his brother. One day in the forest, while Rama is away and Lakshman is lured off by a false call, Sita is captured by the demon king Ravan; he takes her to his fortress in Lanka (Ceylon) and shuts her up there, trying to win her love. Rama is distraught (Tulsidas says it is but Maya). Eventually with the help of monkey allies, notably Hanuman, he finds out where she is. After a great battle between Rama with his monkey and bear allies on the one hand and Ravan with his demon army on the other, Ravan is killed and Sita is released. The two brothers and Sita return to Avadh at the end of the period, and the joyous prosperity of Rama’s reign is established. There are interesting and vivid episodes and conversations added to all this, notably the conversation at the end between the crow Bhusundi and the eagle Garuda, the former being in that form a supreme devotee of Rama and the other king of birds; in this the true meaning and value of devotion to the Supreme in the form of Rama is expounded.