The Hanuman Chalisa is a revered devotional hymn dedicated to Lord Hanuman.
Hanuman Chalisa Chaupai 1 in English with Meaning & Analysis
Hanuman Chalisa Chaupai 1 Why Monkey as God
ज्ञान गुन सागर ।
तिहुँ लोक उजागर ॥
gyan gun sagar
tihun lok ujagar
Victory to Hanuman
who is the ocean of wisdom and virtue.
Victory to the divine amongst monkeys
who illuminates the three worlds.
Hanuman Chalisa Chaupai 1 Meaning in English
In this verse, Hanuman is addressed for the first time by his most popular name, Hanuman, and identified as a monkey (kapi). Classically, Hanuman means one with a wide or prominent or disfigured jaw, indicating a monkey. Colloquially, in the Hindi belt of India, the name means one without ego, pride and inflated self-image (maan), a meaning that makes sense when we appreciate the structure of the epic Ramayana, where Hanuman appears for the first time.
Some scholars have proposed that the word Hanuman comes from a proto-Dravidian word-an-mandi, which probably means male monkey-later Sanskritized to Hanuman. They also point to Hanuman being called Anuman in Thailand and Andoman in Malaysia, lands where Dravidian culture spread a long time ago.
It has even been proposed that the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal got its name from sailors who told stories of the great monkey who had the power to leap across the sea and reach distant islands. Those familiar with early Tamil Sangam literature dispute this theory. The Ramayana reached its final form roughly 2,000 years ago, and is one of the first epics to be composed in India with the intention of communicating Vedic ideas to the masses. It marks the birth of a new phase of Hinduism known as Puranic Hinduism, which is also marked by the rise of temple culture.
Before the Ramayana, for over a thousand years, may be more,Vedic ideas were communicated using chants, melodies, rituals and conversations, not stories. This had a limited audience, the intellectual elite, such as priests, philosophers and aristocrats, with ample time on their hands. To reach out to a larger audience, Vyasa-the man who is credited with organizing Vedic hymns composed the stories and epics compiled in the Puranas, including the story of Ram.
Some say Vyasa composed the stories himself, some say he compiled stories he heard from other sages, like Markandeya, and still others say he heard it from Shiva, or from the birds and fish who in turn had overheard the conversation between Shiva and Shakti. Amongst the birds was a crow called Kakabhusandi who told the story of Ram to the sage Narad who passed it on to the sage Valmiki, who transformed the story into the world’s first poetry, which is why the Ramayana, the maha-kavya, is also called adi-kavya.
In the Ramayana, we find three sets of characters. In the north are the humans (nara) in Ayodhya, led by sages (rishis) who seek to enable humans to expand their mind, discover their divine potential (brahmana), which is the essence of Vedic wisdom. In the south, beyond the sea, on the island of Lanka are the demons (rakshasas) led by Ravana, son of a rishi (Vaishrava, son of Pulastya), who uses Vedic knowledge for power, and fails to internalize Vedic wisdom. In between, live the monkeys (vanaras).
Words like ‘north’ and ‘south’ in the Ramayana need to be read metaphorically, not literally, because Vedic thought is all about the mind, and secks to inform how we ‘see’ the world. Ram is a metaphor. So is Ravana. So is Hanuman. The Ramayana takes place in the landscape that is our mind.In nature, animals, including monkeys, compete for food, and so dominate and mark territories to secure their food. All behaviour is aimed at ensuring the body survives. This is the jungle way (matsya nyaya).
To outgrow these animal instincts is the hallmark of humanity; it is our divine potential. To walk this path is dharma. But when we indulge in competition, domination and territoriality, we become worse than animals; we become demons, who subscribe to adharma. Ram embodies dharma. Ravana embodies adharma. Hanuman, from amongst all the monkeys, makes the journey towards Ram.
The world is composed of the self (sva-jiva) who lives in the ecosystem of others (para-jiva). For animals, monkeys included, the other is predator or prey, rival or mate. But humans have the ability to outgrow these hardwired animal instincts. The ‘north’ in the Ramayana is the highest potential that we can realize where the self is not consumed by its own hunger for, and fear of, the other, but by empathy for other people’s hungers and fears. This caring world is the world of Ram.
The ‘south’ in the Ramayana is where there is so much hunger and fear that the other is seen only as food and enemy, and the self (jiva-atma) twists itself and transforms into the ego (aham), unable to appreciate the divinity in the other (para-atma), hence the continuum of divinity that permeates the whole infinite universe (param-atma). This self-indulgent world is the world of Ravana.
The rishis, who Ram defends, are sages who go from the north to the south to enable, empower and enlighten the hungry and the weak. They know that the other will see the sages from the north either as invaders or as patronizing benefactors, who seek to destroy their way of life. The rishis also know that should their wisdom slip, they will themselves be enchanted by the knowledge and power they are revealing.
Ravana, a son of one such rishi, embodies what can go wrong. Ravana uses his great strength, knowledge and intelligence to exploit those around him, be their lord and master, make them followers, rather than liberating them to find their own path. The liminal or in-between space between the north and the south is the land of the monkeys, our animal core, that can move either way, towards Ram or towards Ravana, towards empathy or towards exploitation, towards dharma or adharma.
The hungry and the frightened seek combat and conquest, hence vijay-victory where someone is defeated. The wise seek a different kind of victory, jai-where no one is defeated, where the self is able to conquer its own hunger and fear to acknowledge, appreciate, even accommodate the other. Both jai and vijay seem to mean the same thing, ‘hail’ or ‘victory’, but there is a nuance in the meaning, the preference for internal victory in the case of jai over external victory in the case of vijay. This jai is what we want for Hanuman, and from Hanuman, as we read the Hanuman Chalisa.
Many people are uncomfortable with such symbolic, structural, or psychological readings of the Ramayana and want it to be historical. So vanara becomes forest (vana) people (nara), or primitive (va) humans (nara). They see north as the Aryan homeland in the Gangetic plains and the south as the Dravidian homeland south of the Vindhyas.
Such rationalizations are often seen in people who are unable to differentiate the physical from the psychological, the measurable (saguna) from the non-measurable (nirguna), the form (sakar) from the formless (nirakar). Since the world is diverse, diverse readings of the Ramayana must be appreciated with empathy so that we appreciate the diverse needs of the human mind.
Hanuman Chalisa Chaupai 1 Analysis in English
jaya hanumana gnyana guna sagarai
jaya kaplsa tihu loka ujagara || 1 ||
Hail Hanuman, an ocean of
knowledge and virtues
The Lord of monkeys who illuminates
the three worlds.
It is said that a fool is recognized the moment he opens his mouth. And a wise man remains unnoticed unless he opens his mouth. Speech reveals the level of your knowledge. Hanuman was such an ocean of knowledge that it was through his speech that Rama realized what a powerhouse Hanuman was! The first sentence of the first doha of the Hanuman Chalisa brings out the profound abundance of knowledge and virtues packed in Hanuman
When Lord Rama and Lakshmana met Hanuman for the first time on the foothills of the Rishimukha Mountains, Hanuman captured Rama’s heart with the first few words he uttered. On hearing only a few words from Hanuman, Rama pulled Lakshmana aside and extolled the glories of Hanuman.
Rama shared with Lakshmana that Hanuman was an ocean of knowledge and virtues. He had yet to meet someone like Hanuman who was as vaakya kushala or a magical weaver of words. Rama estimated that Hanuman must have spent a large quantum of time studying under expert masters. The quality of his speech reflected the quality of his education.
Hanuman must have been so highly qualified that Rama couldn’t detect a single flaw in either his speech or his body language, which is simply an extension of one’s speech. Rama was convinced that Hanuman had complete mastery over the Vedas. Why? Because mastery over the Vedas manifested itself through expertise in different aspects of communication and self-expression. Mastery over Atharva Veda brings in natural humility that reflects in one’s words and gestures.
Mastery over Yajur Veda, is indicated by lavishness in one’s vocabulary and a great retention power conferred by Yajur studies. Mastery over Rig Veda gives one the power of reproducing things verbatim on hearing just once. Mastery over Sama Veda adds a charm, suppleness, and melody to one’s voice. Eloquence in speech is strength derived from digested knowledge.
Definitely Hanuman knew vyakrana or grammar to perfection. He was expert in mimamsa as he made no mistake in sentences. He was definitely proficient in tarka or logic, as he made no mistake in the tone in which different words were spoken. While talking, his body was so still that the listener was entirely focused on his speech alone. He knew which words were to be uttered from his palate, which to be uttered from the stomach, and which to be uttered from the nasal passage.
The effect of producing sound from different locations created different emotions and had desired effects on the listener at subtle levels. Rama deciphered all this simply by hearing a few words from Hanuman! In fact, Rama was of the opinion that if a cruel enemy with a raised sword heard Hanuman speak, he would drop his weapons. Hanuman could win hearts just by speaking a few words.
When Hanuman was a small child, he expressed his desire to gain knowledge from the best teacher in the universe. His father Kesari directed him to Surya, the sun god, whom Hanuman had intuitively and spontaneously selected as a storehouse of knowledge that he could devour. When Hanuman approached the sun god for admission into his school, Surya declined him stating lack of place in the classroom as the reason. There were already six million sages occupying, the orbiting chariot which was Surya’s mobile classroom.
But nothing could deter Hanuman. When there is intense eagerness, there can be no obstacle big enough to stop you. Hanuman reasoned with his teacher that he didn’t really need a place to sit. All he needed was his permission. Surya, of course, happily gave permission to such an enthusiastic student. For Hanuman, hearing was the most important part of education. As long as he could hear his teacher, nothing else mattered.
Any inconvenience was a price he was willing to pay for the good fortune of hearing from a great preceptor. As the flying school floated around the earth’s orbit, Hanuman flew outside the classroom, parallel to them, facing his teacher. Sometimes Hanuman had to fly forward and sometimes backward, depending on the orientation of the chariot. Though faced with constant inconveniences, Hanuman paid rapt attention to the lessons being imparted and absorbed every word like a sponge.
The master had no need to repeat a single concept and the student did not forget a single lesson. In a matter of just sixty orbits of the sun, Hanuman had mastered all the Vedas and their auxiliaries. In addition, he had mastered the nine vyakranas or rules of grammar in just a matter of nine days, what would take years for normal students. But the most amazing aspect of Hanuman was his humility. Although he was amongst the most knowledgeable people in the world, he served Sugriva who possessed not even a fraction of that knowledge. He served Sugriva simply because his teacher wanted him to do so. To serve someone who is inferior to you in every way requires real humility.
It is often seen that those with vast knowledge tend to become arrogant. They develop a sense of superiority that eclipses humility. But not so with Hanuman. Though he was most erudite even amongst the greatly learned (buddhimatam varistham), his humility stole Rama’s heart. Hanuman was not just an embodiment of knowledge but also the embodiment of every virtue, as a result of having digested that knowledge. He was not just gyana sagar or an ocean of knowledge but also guna sagar or an ocean of virtues, jaya hanumana gnyana guna sagara The word kapi means vanara or monkey. When Lord Vishnu was about to incarnate as Lord Rama, he had instructed all devatas to take birth on the earth as vanaras.
When he heard of this, Lord Shiva also became extremely eager to appear as a vanara. Lord Shiva explained to his wife Sati that he had been waiting for an opportunity to serve Lord Rama. Since his desire was to serve the Lord who was to appear in a human form, Shiva felt that it would be best to take a form that was less than a human form.
Thus a monkey form would be most apt. A human being may hesitate to engage another human in menial service, but a monkey’s service would be acceptable unhesitatingly. Thus Lord Shiva chose the form of a monkey to make his contribution to Rama lila. Since he wanted to focus on his service and not be distracted by the presence of his wife, he decided to remain a celibate in that role.
Sati became sad and dejected at not being able to participate and assist her husband in this incarnation. Then she was suddenly struck by a brilliant idea that would satisfy both of them. She proposed to Lord Shiva that she could incarnate as the tail of the monkey that Shiva became. Shiva agreed and thus Hanuman was bom who was Rudra and Shakti combined together.
The word kapi also has another underlying meaning. This is in connection with its Sanskrit roots. Pi in Sanskrit means to drink and ka means joy. So kapi in this connotation means to drink joyfully. But drink what? Kapi refers to Hanuman as the one who joyfully drinks the nectar of Rama katha.
The word kapish is derived from the words kapi and isha, which means king of monkeys. This verse refers to Hanuman as Kapish, the king of monkeys, when he was clearly not the king. When Vali was alive, Vali was the king of monkeys and after his death, Sugriva became the king. Hanuman was not a king but a kingmaker. Whosoever stood by his side, that person became the king. Then why is Hanuman called the king of monkeys?
This is because true leadership is always measured by influence. Vali and Sugriva only sat on the throne, but Hanuman sat in every heart. Sitting on a throne is easy, but to rule hearts is difficult. Not only did he rule over the hearts of every citizen of Kishkinda, he also ruled over the hearts of Sita and Rama. Not only did he rule over the hearts of Sita and Rama, but by their blessings, continues to rule over the hearts of unlimited beings even today.
Thus he is rightly addressed as kapish or king of Vanarasaya kapisa tihu loka ujagara. The universe was trembling thanks to Lord Vishnu’s pastimes. Because of this, Lord Brahma who was sitting on the lotus and meditating, opened his eyes. The ewer (kamandalu) slipped from his hand. Now this was not an ordinary kamandalu. It held all future events within it. The kamandalu falling meant all the future events stored inside it also fell out. Brahma being alert, gathered all of them meticulously and filled them back in the kamandalu. No harm done, so he thought.
Meanwhile, Indra discovered two galaxies missing from the universe. He informed Lord Vishnu and the two of them went to Brahma to find the cause behind it. Brahma revealed to them how the kamandalu had fallen from his hand and future events had scattered too. Lord Vishnu requested Lord Brahma to check if anything was missing from there. Searching through, Brahma recalled that a demon named Kaalant had also been stored inside the ewer but was missing now.
Kaalant was to be born at the end of Brahma’s life, 33 years later. But the mishap had released him much before his time. He had the power to eat all the universes including galaxies, planets, and stars. He could also swallow Adityas, Arun Deva, and celestial chariots belonging to Indra and Surya. His release could create a dangerous situation for one and all.
Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma wondered what to do. Unfortunately, Lord Shiva was deep in meditation and could not be disturbed. Pushed into a comer, Lord Vishnu remembered Hanuman. Hanuman was one person who could save the world for sure! Lord Vishnu left to meet Hanuman who was at that time an adolescent.
As usual, Lord Vishnu found Hanuman in meditation on his master Lord Rama. Being an emergency, he apprised him of the situation faced by the universe. Things were so bad that Kaalant had even swallowed the Kaal Chakra. Without wasting a minute, Hanuman knew what he had to do and set off in search of Kaalant. All the demigods blessed Hanuman and empowered him to overpower Kaalant. However, Kaalant was not an ordinary demon. He was made of antimatter. When he swallowed matter, it collided with antimatter and both got destroyed. That was the secret of his strength.
Hanuman first tried to persuade him to go back to the kamandalu and come when it was the right time. Kaalant refused point blank. He challenged Hanuman to a duel. During the fight, Hanuman stepped into the Kaal Chakra and got transported to Fairyland. Fairyland was also in chaos. A demon had kidnapped the queen’s daughter and all the angels were wallowing in sorrow.
Hanuman went to the demon to rescue the damsel in distress. The demon shared his woes with Hanuman about a curse upon him by a vampire. To undo the curse, he needed a special pearl from the queen of angels. The glow of the pearl was sufficient to release him. But the queen had refused to part with her pearl leaving the demon with no option but to kidnap her daughter.
From the queen of angels Hanuman learnt that her pearl was in safe custody in Challoka, the world of cheats. Hanuman reached there too but the planet had been captured by dwarfs. Hanuman fought the dwarfs and restored Challoka to its original king who happily gave Hanuman the special pearl. Hanuman dropped the dwarfs to their planets but being in a hurry, he reached the wrong planet which was underwater. He saved the king of that planet too who in turn gave him a compass, a direction indicator. Hanuman used it to come out of the Kaal Chakra and go back to his universe.
Back home, he pursued Kaalant and engaged in another battle with him. Kaalant being antimatter, Hanuman thought of a novel strategy to defeat him. He allowed Kaalant to swallow him. Diving into his stomach, he found all the galaxies and planets that had gone missing. He also found Arun Deva and requested him to rotate the Kaal Chakra in a clockwise direction. Not surprisingly, everything started falling back in its place. Everything but Kaalant who started experiencing severe pain in his abdomen vomited Hanuman out.
Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma then reasoned with Kaalant that if he kept Surya Deva hidden then he would also die before time. Everything should happen in its own time. Kaalant had suffered enough so he understood their logic and agreed to go back into the kamandalu. Before that, he released Surya Deva, the galaxies, planets, and stars and normalcy was restored. Hanuman had saved the world once again, jay a kaplsa tihu loka ujagara.