Hanuman, also known as Aanjaneyar Swami, is a devotee of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita and the ‘protector of devotees’. He plays a major part in Valmiki’s epic: the Ramayana. The Ramayana is not the only text to mention Hanuman, however. As one of the Chiranjivi, he is mentioned in the Mahabharata, the various Puranas and even some religious Jain, Buddhist and Sikh texts. There are many other texts that he is mentioned in; in later ones, he is presented as an incarnation of Lord Shiva himself, others as the patron god of wrestling and acrobatics, as well as meditation and scholarship. Hanuman is son to Anjana and Keswari and also son to the wind-god, Vayu, who supposedly played a major part in Hanuman’s birth.
The first devotional significance towards Lord Hanuman was approximately 1000 years after the initial composition of the Ramayana; the second millennium CE. At this time Islamic rule arrived in the Indian subcontinent. Hanuman was expressed by many as a symbol of resistance and nationalism. In the modern-era of Hinduism, his appearance in places of Hindu worship have become increasingly common. Hanuman is now a widely worshipped deity.
The Hanuman Chalisa is a famous Hindu stotra, or hymn, dedicated to Lord Hanuman. It is believed traditionally that the 16th century Indian poet, Tulsidas wrote this stotra initially in the language Awadhi. This text is his second most known text (his best known is the Ramcharitmanas). The text is called the Hanuman Chalisa as in Hindi the word ‘chalis’ means forty and the Hanuman Chalisa originally had exactly forty verses.
The Hanuman Chalisa states the many qualities of Hanuman – his strength, courage, wisdom, celibacy, devotion to Lord Rama – and his many names. The recitation of the Hanuman Chalisa is a common Hindu practice and it is the most popular stotra praising Hanuman; because of this, it is chanted by many Hindus daily.