In the last two blogs, we read two prayers to Thakuraji- Good morning Thakuraji and It’s time for me to go to work Thakuraji, written by HG Srimati Mataji. The first prayer is to recite when we take the morning darshan of our Thakuraji and the second prayer is when we are ready to leave our home/temple for office/ preaching/ household chores, etc. I hope reading these prayers is proving to be a spiritually nourishing experience for our hearts.
Today I am sharing one more prayer to Thakuraji. We can recite this prayer when we come back from our office/work in the evening. We will find two prayers instead of a single one. The reason is that no two days are alike. Some days we come back home still charged up with spiritual energy while on some days, which is more often, our spiritual energy is almost discharged, we feel tired and sapped of any energy. There is a different prayer for each type! Such is the compassion of Vaisnavas upon us. These prayers have also been written by HG Srimati Mataji. I pray that simply by reading these prayers with a sincere and honest heart we can again connect back to the lotus feet of Krishna, the Supreme energetic.
Let me share a small experience. Today morning, instead of addressing the ‘Good morning prayer’ to Lord Jagannath, I addressed it to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada. It was a different experience for me. I felt more connected and also more grounded as I could better see my actual current spiritual status against the words and aspirations of the prayer. And yet at the same time, it was spiritually more nourishing as I experience some resonance in my heart.
I also realised that daily reading a prayer to Thakurji is not very difficult. I can also temporarily muster some feelings behind those words. However, the difficult part is walking the talk- being able to apply what I am praying for, it seems lightyears away. Still, daily reading a personalised loving prayer to Thakuraji/Srila Prabhupada/Spiritual master is turning out to be a spiritually nourishing experience for my heart. I hope that by Krishna’s mercy desire or aspiration of these prayers may get fulfilled in some lifetime. I have hope and faith in the potency of prayers of the kind-hearted Vaisnavas and in the causeless mercy of the lotus feet of Sri Guru and Gauranga.
The power of the prayer to Krishna is known to all the devotees both new or old. The power lies in the process of praying itself. And when that prayer to Krishna comes from the heart of His pure devotees then it has added potency.
We have access to many wonderful prayers to Krishna. There are excellent prayers spoken by great devotees in Srimad Bhagavatam like Gajendra, lord Siva, lord Brahma, Prahlada Maharaj, Dhruva Maharaj, and many others. There are prayers to Krishna in the form of bhajans by our Acharyas. We also have prayers coming from the heart of senior Vaisnavas. They are all potent. If we recite them daily with a sincere and open heart then not only these prayers help us in setting the right mood to approach the lotus feet of Krishna but they also have the potency to gradually change our consciousness. Senior Vaisnavas advise us that prayer to Krishna should be part of our daily sadhana.
In the next four blogs, I will share four special prayers to Krishna written by HG Srimati Mataji for aspiring and struggling devotees like us. They are unique in their approach and can help us raise our consciousness so we can get access to the lotus feet of Krishna- in a very natural and personal manner. When I read them for the first time they immediately struck a chord. I am sharing them with you hoping that they will touch your heart as they touched mine.
‘Good morning Thakuraji‘ is the first in that series of prayer to Krishna. We can daily read it to our Thakuraji when we receive His first darshan in the morning.
I will be happy to hear about your experience of reading them aloud to Krishna.
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.
Since last many days few terms are coming again and again as I read and hear various lectures, become conscious in Krishna consciousness, shelter, surrender and ‘conscious cooperator’. Of course it helps that these days most of my hearing is from lectures from HG Srimati Mataji. These topics are too subtle for my conditioned heart but slowly they are entering my consciousness or let me admit that I trying to imbibe them, struggling but trying is my current state.
As I was trying to get a grip on what is actually meant by the term ‘conscious cooperator’, I wrote a mail to Srimati Mataji and received the below reply
Conscious cooperator’ is a multi-level and very subtle field. It begins with us taking into our heart the very essence of the teachings and mood of Srila Prabhupada and the acaryas he represents so wonderfully.
Then as luck would have it in the next session Mataji broached this topic briefly and I am sharing the same.
Srimati Mataji : As aspiring devotees we should see Krishna’s hand in our daily lives, that whatever is happening in our life, there is certain reason for it. It is there to teach us a certain lesson or redirect us in a certain way.
Another Devotee: When something happens to us many a times we feel we don’t deserve it, so we ask other devotees to pray for us! In a way this also means that Krishna is not intelligent enough that I am receiving something which I don’t need. We should know that everything which is happening to us has a purpose. We should not take on a victim’s mentality and think, even subconsciously, that we are victims. We should see Krishna’s hand in everything happening to us.
Srimati Mataji: Right. If there is something in our life which is causing us disturbance or difficulty, the first thing we should ask is that
Krishna what are You trying to tell me?What am I supposed to learn from this?
Because it will keep coming up again and again and again until we have learned the lesson.
Then Mataji asked another devotee to share her experience of Ouch ! This devotee shared that for a long time she has been praying to Krishna to make her remember His name under all situations. The devotee said that in past she has twice broken her wrist, an elbow and her hip but every time this happened only one word comes out of her mouth… Ouch! She admitted that she is unable to remember Krishna instinctively at such moments and her list of injuries continue!
Srimati Mataji : So there is always a reason why things are happening to us and unless we become a conscious cooperator it won’t help. Our mood should be that I want to learn, that I am trying to understand what I am supposed to learn under these circumstances. What change I am supposed to make in my consciousness and my life.
It is a good practice, if we do not understand the reason, to sincerely pray to Krishna to inspire us in our heart to make us understand what do You want me to learn from it?
I am quoting two paragraphs from the Prayer Srila Prabhupada wrote on board the ship Jaladuta to show the mood of our founder acharaya. This too is from a book Srimati mataji has written on Srila Prabhupada, Mataji entitled these paras as a
O Lord, I am just like a puppet in Your hands. So if You have brought me here to dance, then make me dance, make me dance, O Lord, make me dance as You like.
bhakti nāi veda nāi nāme khub daro ‘bhaktivedānta’ nām ebe sārthak koro
I have no devotion, nor do I have any knowledge, but I have strong faith in the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. I have been designated as Bhaktivedānta, and now, if You like, You can fulfill the real purport of Bhaktivedānta.
(His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada at Boston Harbor, September 17, 1965)
The principle here is that Srila Prabhupada is seeing this arrangement as Krishna’s arrangement. And actually we also have to try to develop this vision, to see Krishna’s plan in everything, to see Krishna’s arrangement in everything- that we have surrendered to Him, and so he is taking care of us.
Sometimes we may experience setbacks or disappointments ,but actually Krishna has some reason for giving them to us. We should try to understand that, and if we do we’ll never be disappointed in life.
Prabhupada’s complete surrender is amazing: “I am Your instrument. You can use me. You can engage me as You wish. I have no agenda of my own, no personal agenda. My agenda is whatever You desire. I am here to accept Your desire as my life and soul, to give everything to please You, to serve You.
(Markine Bhagavata-Dharma commentary by HH Giriraj Maharaj, Three rivers, CA-2002)
So we get some idea as to what should be the mindset of a devotee of Lord Krishna:
See Krishna’s hand in all our circumstances
Have complete faith and dependence on Krishna’s intelligence
Learn to become a ‘conscious cooperator’.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
PS : I have received many mails requesting me to share Srimati Mataji’s lectures. Many of her lectures are private but here is the link to an amazing seminar on the Holy Name mataji gave at Sri Sri Radha Gopinath temple, Chowpatty, some years back. If we hear it sincerely and seriously then there is no reason why our quality of japa would not improve. Press here for the link.