Eastern Spirituality

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Krishna Das: Hanuman Chalisa, Kakrighat, India

The Hanuman Chalisa (Hindi pronunciation: [ɦənʊmaːn tʃaːliːsaː]; literally Forty chaupais on Hanuman) is a Hindu devotional hymn (stotra) addressed to Hanuman. It is traditionally believed to have been authored by 16th-century poet Tulsidas in the Awadhi language, and is his best known text apart from the Ramcharitmanas. The word "chālīsā" is derived from "chālīs", which means the number forty in Hindi, as the Hanuman Chalisa has 40 verses (excluding the couplets at the beginning and at the end).

Hanuman is a vanara (a monkey-like humanoid deity), a devotee of Rama, and one of the central characters in the Indian epic poem, the Ramayana. Folk tales acclaim the powers of Hanuman, and he is considered by many to be an avatar of the god Shiva. The qualities of Hanuman – his strength, courage, wisdom, celibacy, devotion to Rama and the many names by which he was known – are detailed in the Hanuman Chalisa. There are more temples devoted to Hanuman than any other deity in India, and recitation or chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa is a common religious practice.

The authorship of the Hanuman Chalisa is attributed to Tulsidas, a poet-saint who lived in the 16th century CE. He says in the last stanza of the Chalisa that whoever chants it with full devotion to Hanuman, will have Hanuman's grace. Amongst the Hindus of Northern India, it is a very popular belief that chanting the Hanuman Chalisa invokes Hanuman's divine intervention in grave problems, including those concerning evil spirits.

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