Hanuman Chalisa literally translates as “Forty chaupais on Hanuman”. “Chaupais” means poems. The Hanuman Chalisa is literally forty poems honoring Hanuman. Hanuman is a Hindu god and an ardent devotee of Rama. He plays a mighty part in the Indian epic Ramayana.
The Chalisa is believed to be authored by the 16th-century poet Tulsidas. He wrote the Chalisa in his native language of Awadhi. The word Chalisa comes from the Hindi, “chalis”, which means the number forty. As indicated by this, the Chalisa has 40 verses, in addition to 2 introductory verses, called doha (couplet) in the beginning and one doha in conclusion.
The 40 verses of the Chalisa honor the various qualities of Hanuman, including his strength, courage, wisdom, celibacy, devotion to Rama and the many names by which he was known. Reciting the Chalisa is a common religious practice for Hanuman’s devotees and is often heard in the many temples devoted to Hanuman.