For the past couple of years I’ve gone, with hundreds of others, to the Tibet House on January 1 to chant the Hanuman Chalisa under the leadership of renowned devotional musician Nina Rao.
Chanting this ancient mantra invokes the Monkey God’s fierce dedication to and love for Lord Rama (an incarnation of Vishnu) and his bride Sita. Images of Hanuman show that couple resplendent in the beating heart of his ripped open chest.
Many believe that Hanuman is ever alive. And, if Hanuman is alive, so is his omnipotent devotion.
Hanuman’s story is a reminder that good does overpower evil, but it is a war that is waged passionately and continually, over and over again.
There is no end of evil in this world and there is correspondingly no end to good.
So in each moment, each engagement we must pick which side we are on.
And, it is not always so clear. The side of evil is not horrible all the time. The side of good has its faults.
In the Ramayana, we ally ourselves with either a convincing strongman, who has a tremendously loyal family, the powerful leader Ravana or take the side of the humble and bereft Rama who wanders the forest for years saddened by the abduction, under his watch, of his beautiful and saintly wife.
In the Ramayana, Hanuman makes his choice with complete conviction because he knows that the only thing that can grow from evil is destruction but that we, as a society, have a shot at survival if we can embody goodness. It’s why he’s still here…a recognition that his work is never done and that we always need to shore up against the influence of those who are deceitful, corrupt and wicked.
I think many of us could use a visit to Hanuman’s abode, buried under the snow of the
So this year I’ll be reciting the Hanuman Chalisa with vigor. Maybe he’ll hear my call.
I know I’ll personally need all the bravery, compassion, wisdom and clarity of purpose I can muster in the coming years ahead.