Pray! who, me?
As aspiring devotes we should know that it is spiritual ‘best practice’ to make prayers an important part of our daily sadhna.
Of course, we are aware (but are we conscious of it?) that prayer, vandanam, is part of nine limbs of bhakti and even following a single limb perfectly can help us reach our final goal. We should also know that each pranam manatra which we speak is a prayer to Krishna, Deity, Acharaya & Guru. Being aware of the importance of power of prayers, Srila Prabhupada very much ingrained them into daily program of our society. In fact reading and meditating on our daily temple prayer’s translation alone is a most purifying and uplifting experience.
Yet many a times we fall into laziness, lack of faith, ignorance- I am too junior for Krishna to hear me, I am not surrendered enough,….. a long list of excuses. But actually it is to overcome these very impediments we need to pray more. Personal prayers also help us establish a very solid relation with Krishna, our favorite Deity , Srila Prabhupada, Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad Gita…. What matters most , at our baby stage, is our sincerity and an open heart.
Yet many, if not most, of the times, as conditioned Kali-yugians, whenever we are faced with some challenge, we invariably fall for the below two standard options
- I will sort it out.
- I will figure it out.
In reality we can neither sort it out (karma) nor figure it out (jnana). And even when we come into devotional life, due to past conditioning, our standard reaction is for most of the situations is still to opt for these two solutions. We swing like a pendulum between these two options. Unfortunately they have a very limited, if at all any, role to play in our daily struggle whether, so called, material or spiritual. The real solution lies in taking shelter of lotus feet of Krishna and our prayers form a very important part of this very process of taking shelter.
Lamentation is useless!
Both the mother and the son were lamenting Dhruva Mahäräja’s having been insulted by his stepmother and his father’s not having taken any step on this issue. But mere lamentation is useless—one should find out the means to mitigate one’s lamentation. Thus both mother and son decided to take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord because that is the only solution to all material problems.
We are in a helpless condition..accept it..pray for help…and get released!
This is struggle for existence… Everyone is struggling. But what you will struggle in the ocean? You may be a very big swimmer, but how long you shall swim? You will be tired. The only means is to take you out of the ocean. Even one inch above the ocean is your safety. It doesn’t matter how many inches you are taken from the ocean. Similarly, the prayer is, “My dear Lord Kåñëa, I am your eternal servant. Somehow or other, I am now fallen in this ocean. Please pick me up and fix me again as the dust of Your lotus feet.” This is the prayer. So we should know in what dangerous position we are. Then there is necessity of prayer. And prayer to whom? To the Supreme Person to save us. Therefore there are so many prayers in the çästra. Prayers means addressing the Lord to save us from this. The real saving is to pick us up from this ocean of nescience, ignorance. Then everything is all right.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Durban, 7th Oct, 1975)
Krishna is known as Uttamshloka!
Another name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Uttamaçloka, which means that He is offered prayers with selected verses. Bhakti means çravaëaà kértanaà viñëoù [SB 7.5.23], chanting and hearing about Lord Viñëu. Impersonalists cannot be purified, for they do not offer personal prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even though they sometimes offer prayers, the prayers are not directed toward the Supreme Person. Impersonalists sometimes show their incomplete knowledge by addressing the Lord as being nameless. They always offer prayers indirectly, saying, “You are this, You are that,” but they do not know to whom they are praying. A devotee, however, always offers personal prayers. A devotee says, govindam ädi-puruñaà tam ahaà bhajämi : “I offer my respectful obeisances unto Govinda, unto Kåñëa.” That is the way to offer prayers. If one continues to offer such personal prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is eligible to become a pure devotee and return home, back to Godhead.
Krishna accepts our prayers
No amount of chosen words are sufficient to enumerate the Lord’s glory, yet He is satisfied by such prayers, just as a father is satisfied even by the broken linguistic attempts of a growing child.
(TQK, chapter 26)
Difficult made easy for kali-yugians!
Lord Siva says:
Although rendering devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and worshiping Him are very difficult, if one vibrates or simply reads this stotra [prayer] composed and sung by me, he will very easily be able to invoke the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
To become a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva, is very, very difficult. The word especially used in this connection is durārādhyam. The worship of the demigods is not very difficult, but becoming a devotee of Lord Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, is not so easy. However, if one adheres to the principles and follows in the footsteps of the higher authorities, as advised by Lord Śiva, one can easily become a devotee of Lord Vāsudeva.
Sing prayers written by previous acharayas and Mahajans
Just like we offer prayers from Brahma-saàhitä. We cannot offer prayer from any other persons, written by any other nonsense. No, that is not possible. Viriïca-gétäù. There is power. If you recite the prayers composed by mahäjana, it has got spiritual power.
( Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Mayapur, 25th Feb 1976)
What should be my mood while praying?
Prahläda said, “I am not proud of being able to offer prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I simply take shelter of the mercy of the Lord, for without devotion one cannot appease Him. One cannot please the Supreme Personality of Godhead simply by dint of high parentage or great opulence, learning, austerity, penance or mystic power. Indeed, these are never pleasing to the Supreme Lord, for nothing can please Him but pure devotional service. Even if a nondevotee is a brähmaëa qualified with the twelve brahminical symptoms, he cannot be very dear to the Lord, whereas if a person born in a family of dog-eaters is a devotee, the Lord can accept his prayers. The Lord does not need anyone’s prayers, but if a devotee offers his prayers to the Lord, the devotee benefits greatly. Ignorant persons born in low families, therefore, can sincerely offer heartfelt prayers to the Lord, and the Lord will accept them. As soon as one offers his prayers to the Lord, he is immediately situated on the Brahman platform.
(SB 7.9 summary)
Then the final result..
According to great learned scholars, the whole Bhagavad-gétä contains many authorized prayers, especially in the Eleventh Chapter, where Arjuna prays to the universal form of the Lord. Similarly, in the Gautaméya-tantra all the verses are called prayers. Again, in Çrémad-Bhägavatam there are hundreds of prayers to the Lord. So a devotee should select some of these prayers for his recitation. In Skanda Puräëa the glories of these prayers are stated as follows: ‘Devotees whose tongues are decorated always with prayers to Lord Kåñëa are always given respect even by the great saintly persons and sages, and such devotees are actually worshipable by the demigods.’….
In the Nåsiàha Puräëa it is stated, ‘Any person who comes before the Deity of Lord Kåñëa and begins to chant different prayers is immediately relieved from all the reactions of sinful activities and becomes eligible, without any doubt, to enter into the Vaikuëöhaloka.‘
(NoD, chapter 9)
Prayers of Vritasura
- O my Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, will I again be able to be a servant of Your eternal servants who find shelter only at Your lotus feet? O Lord of my life, may I again become their servant so that my mind may always think of Your transcendental attributes, my words always glorify those attributes, and my body always engage in the loving service of Your Lordship?
- O my Lord, source of all opportunities, I do not desire to enjoy in Dhruvaloka, the heavenly planets or the planet where Lord Brahmā resides, nor do I want to be the supreme ruler of all the earthly planets or the lower planetary systems. I do not desire to be master of the powers of mystic yoga, nor do I want liberation if I have to give up Your lotus feet.
- O lotus-eyed Lord, as baby birds that have not yet developed their wings always look for their mother to return and feed them, as small calves tied with ropes await anxiously the time of milking, when they will be allowed to drink the milk of their mothers, or as a morose wife whose husband is away from home always longs for him to return and satisfy her in all respects, I always yearn for the opportunity to render direct service unto You.
- O my Lord, my master, I am wandering throughout this material world as a result of my fruitive activities. Therefore I simply seek friendship in the association of Your pious and enlightened devotees. My attachment to my body, wife, children and home is continuing by the spell of Your external energy, but I wish to be attached to them no longer. Let my mind, my consciousness and everything I have be attached only to You.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.