Commentary on Hanuman Chalisa verses 15, 16 & 17

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Insight into verse 15

Sahastra badan tumharo jas gavain // Asa kahi shripathi kanth lagavain

Shesha-naga, the thousand hooded divine serpent sings your glory. Saying thus the husband of the Goddress Shree embraced you.

In the previous verse, Rama is expressing gratitude to Hanuman for saving Lakshmana’s life. In verse 15, Rama continues. With great emotion for saving Lakshmana’s life, Rama praises Hanuman with the words “the thousand hooded serpent sings your glory”, and embraces Hanuman.

The thousand hooded serpent is “Shesha Naga”, who according to Puranic legends upholds and supports the universe. Vishnu is also depicted as resting on Shesha Naga in the ocean of eternity. Shesha Naga has a deep mystical symbolism. He is time, eternity and energy. ‘Shesha‘ means which remains in the end and ‘Naga‘ is a Hindi word for snake. Serpent power is used to represent energy. So the word ‘Sheshanaga‘ (Shesha + Naga) translates to the “energy which will remain in the end“.

Through his words, Rama is offering the highest praise to Hanuman, namely that the eternal energy that spans all time and creation praises and will remember Hanuman’s deeds and qualities. All of our karmas reverberate in eternity.

Hanuman is embraced by Lord Rama. This is one of the greatest moments of happiness for Hanuman. For a devotee, there is a great preparatory phase when we purify our nature and remember our Ishta Devata. Yet the highest test and that which is most pleasings to our Ishta Devata is when we offer our worldly actions to Him/Her despite danger and adversity.

Insight into verses 16 and 17

Sankadik brahmadimunisa // Narad sarad sahita ahisa
Sanaka, Brahama and others, all the munis, Narad, Sharada, including the Lord of serpents Praise you all the time

Jam kuber Digpal jahan te // Kabi kodida kahi sakai kahan te
The Lord of death, Kuber, Dikpala, and all the poets and seers Praise you again and again. All of them cannot be enumerated.

Hanuman’s actions and quality are of such power, grace and beauty that celestial sages and Devatas praise him all the time. He is the beloved champion of all the Divine (Devic) beings.

It is difficult enough to win the praise of the world, but when Beings to whom the span of human life is a mere blink of the eye also are spellbound and in awe of one’s deeds, that is something truly outstanding. The Devatas and munis also measure actions and qualities by a more incisive and discerning yardstick than the consciousness of the mortal world in which we dwell.

The various Devatas, Rishis and Munis all have a particular focus. Meditation and communion with any of the celestials (for example through mantra japa and other spiritual practices) aids us to bring certain energies, abilities and guidance into our lives. These energies and their associated qualities can be quite different. For example, wisdom and eloquence are the domains of deities such as Sarasvati, and fierceness and courage are the domain of other deities. Hanuman, uniquely, harmonised all the qualities and energies, hence held all the celestials simultanously spellbound. He was simultaneously graceful, fierce, learned, intensely devoted yet wisely detached and so much more. Taking his shelter and guidance we can fulfill our own deepest potentials.

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