There is not an Indian who hasn’t heard of Hanuman Chalisa, some may have recited them, but many are unaware of its deep underlying meaning which is obscured behind its Awadhi quatrains. Devdutt Pattanaik’s My Hanuman Chalisa is undoubtedly the most interesting take on it.
With stories drawn from the puranas, the tantras and the folklore Devdutt provides us a sumptuous read. The book is overflowing with interesting nuggets like in the Telgu Ramayana, despite knowing that Ravana’s life resided in his navel, Ram shot only at the head of Ravana as he was too proud a warrior to shoot below the neck and it was Hanuman who sucked air into his lungs and caused the wind to shift direction making Ram’s arrow turn and strike Ravana’s novel.
Connecting Hanuman with Shiva, the author says as the centuries passed the overtly masculine nature of Hanuman was toned down. Just as Shiva was domesticated by Shakti Hanuman’s gentle side is evoked by Sita. Since there can be no Shiva without Shakti may say that Shakti took the form of Hanuman’s tail and always accompanied him. According to the author at one time women were not allowed to worship Hanuman. But now that Shakti resides in his tail, they worship him.
According to the author by repeating the story or Ram again and again, Hanuman understands Ram, and discovers the Ram within him, the ability to be dependable for those who are dependent , even those who are unworthy, like the stream of hungry and frightened devotes who venerate him in his temples.
Beautiful drawings by the author adorn the pages of this book and makes the reading an enjoyable experience. At places the connections appear too far stretched, but that does not take away the tenuous research which the author has put in shaping this book. If you are a Devdutt Pattanaik fan, you must have lapped the book by now, and if you aren’t you will not repent reading this book.