Popular mythological writer Devdutt Pattanaik is out with another book, and the widely read Hindu text Hanuman Chalisa is the latest subject of his exploration.
Pattanaik, who had earlier penned the much-acclaimed My Gita, has this time chosen Hanuman Chalisa as the theme of his latest book, My Hanuman Chalisa, to understand what the text actually is and what is in it that makes it so popular.
“I have always wondered what the Hanuman Chalisa is about and what is in it that makes it so popular. Its language – Awadhi – is an old dialect of Hindi, one of the many languages of India,” he said.
“Do people reading it understand what they are reading? Or does the gentle poetic rhythm calm the nervous heart, as it prepares to face the day? Or is it simply a ritual exercise, where the point is to do, not think or feel,” Pattanaik asks in the book.
The author mentions that it was primarily these questions which led him to explore this “popular religious work” through which a Hindu God is “made accessible” to the masses. Pattanaik says that its “ordinariness makes its sublime” and that its popularity is completely organic.
“Every time I experience negativity in the world, and in myself, every time I encounter jealousy, rage and frustration manifesting as violation and violence, I hear, or read, the Hanuman Chalisa,” he said.
“As verse follows verse, my frightened, crumpled mind begins to expand with knowledge and insight, and my faith in humanity, both within and without, is restored,” Pattanaik said.
Apart from providing simple translation of every verse from the Hanuman Chalisa, Pattanaik’s book also presents insights into his understanding of these verses and the situations under which they were originally penned.