कपि कें ममता पूँछ पर सबहि कहउँ समुझाइ।
तेल बोरि पट बाँधि पुनि पावक देहु लगाइ॥24॥ SunderKand, 24
Ravan, in his dire ignorance, thinks that the ideal way to decimate a monkey would be to soak its tail in oil and burn it; for a monkey’s tail is the seat of its loyalty and love. Apparently, even with his ten heads, the demon king fell short on genius; he didn’t realize it was Lord Hanuman facing him. That tail on fire was the demise of Ravan’s Lanka. Love & Loyalty conquered all.
Growing up in the late 70s/80s, I remember quietly sneaking up to my daddy as he settled on the diwan for his daily meditations. He would gently signal for me to come and sit next to him. He always began with reciting the Hanuman Chalisa from a small booklet. A 24 x 30 framed image hung on the wall in front; an image of Hanuman with a reflection of Sita Ram in the “Hriday Videern” avatar. What started as a curious inquiry for me became a habit and then a necessity. I would recite the chalisa with my dad at every opportunity I got, keeping up with the rhythm, going down with him into the peaceful abyss only to imagine Hanuman’s Sukshma Roop (diminutive form) at the low notes and springing up joyfully at the high ones as if watching Him take on the Vikat Roop (infinite form). In the months to follow we would just close our eyes and chant without having to read. Somehow for me, a mental repetition of “Jai Hanuman Gyan Goon Sagar” became a personal shield against every childhood fear; fear of school final exams, of snakes, of burglars even the roller coaster at Nauchandi ka Mela, a popular local fair that we went to each year! “Bal, Buddhi Vidya” is the only phrase that effortlessly still comes mind when the hands are folded in obeisance at the temple or puja at home. It, sort of, tops the wish list.
A few decades later and continents apart, the same framed picture still adorns my father’s meditation room and my daughter mentally sings along with the Hanuman Chalisa’s iTunes version every morning on her way to school.