“You are courageous. You are qualified. You are intelligent. O best of the Vanaras, this place of the Rakshasas has been taken on by you alone.” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.7)
vikrāntaḥ tvam samarthaḥ tvam prājñaḥ tvam vānara uttama |
yena idam rākṣasa padam tvayā ekena pradharṣitam ||
Let’s say that you really like someone. They mean a lot to you. You think back and realize that without them, you’d be in a lot more pain today. The suffering of this world would overwhelm you. The direction in life, the purpose to an existence, a meaning to get you out of bed each morning – these might be absent. This person has had a profound impact on everything about the way you live.
A good way to honor them is write a song. Sure, it might embarrass them. But if the love is strong enough, there is no stopping the outpouring of affection. The interesting thing with the Hanuman Chalisa is that the subject is not someone who is technically present in a manifest form. Still, that person had a profound impact on the author.
Goswami Tulsidas understood that he could never have properly known the Supreme Personality of Godhead Shri Rama without the help of Hanuman. The dedicated servant is the gatekeeper to that particular kingdom of the spiritual world, where Rama lives with His dearest associates like Sita Devi and Lakshmana.
The saint wrote the song to honor Hanuman, to remember him, and to also help others to remember. Yet other benedictions are supposedly there; cleverly embedded by the author. If you’re in trouble, recite the Hanuman Chalisa. Go through it at a set time each day. Even if you know nothing about spiritual life, if you are not even sure of the existence of the Divine, use it to find peace.
The influence of the saintly person is so powerful that a person can even accidentally find bliss, happiness, and peace of mind through basic association. And so today the Hanuman Chalisa is one of the most popular songs ever written. There are no royalties accrued by Tulsidas; just the satisfaction of knowing that so many people are honoring the one who had such a great influence on him.
One way to get further information about Hanuman is to consult the opinion of people who have spent significant time with him. Hanuman is so amazing that he makes an impact rather quickly. In his first meeting with Rama, the Supreme Lord took a liking immediately. He remarked as such to His brother Lakshmana.
“Whose heart is not moved by these wonderful words, which emanate from three places [the chest, throat, and head]? Even an enemy, who has his sword uplifted, would be touched by such words.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.33)
From the above referenced verse from the Ramayana we get the opinion of Sita Devi, Rama’s wife. She has met Hanuman for the first time, and for only a brief period. Yet she gives us great information about the dedicated servant.
Sita says that Hanuman is vikranta. This means courageous, valiant, or mighty. She also says he is qualified and intelligent. The reasons are obvious. All by himself, Hanuman has come into a foreign territory populated with Rakshasas. These are cruel, ogre-like creatures. Sita has seen their power firsthand, and also their wickedness. Sita was brought to Lanka against her will by the leader of the ogres, Ravana.
Sita says that Hanuman is the best of the monkeys, Vanara-uttama. This makes sense because there were a lot of Vanaras helping Rama in the search for Sita. Only Hanuman was able to complete the final step, the crossing of the vast ocean for reaching the island of Lanka.
Sita is very pleased while offering this kind and accurate praise. She has just received Rama’s ring, verifying the authenticity of Hanuman. Indeed, this is the way to properly assess any person claiming to be a messenger of God. Do they carry something of His? Do they take risks to please Him? Are they happy bringing others closer to Him?
Hanuman meets the qualification in all of these areas, and it is no surprise that to this day he constantly chants the name of Rama. Sita gives him everything he needs for the worship to continue; so there are no worries. In the same way, the bona fide representative today returns a person to their forgotten relationship with God. The ensuing practice of bhakti is then supported by the goddess of fortune, who knows Hanuman so well.
Of his qualities can tell,
Since knowing him so well.
In Ashoka grove of Lanka set,
From him Rama’s ring to get.
For Lord every risk taking,
A bona fide messenger making.
Tulsidas praise of him bringing,
Daily his glories singing.