How can we best offer prayers from the Bhagavatam?

by Chaitanya CharanDecember 8, 2013

Please give some details  regarding prayers offered  by different exalted devotees in srimad bhagavatam, can we choose any particular prayer and recite everyday as part of our sadhana if it is so, how much importance should we give/in what way we should understand  the  translation of the slokas  while we recite as a daily routine.

Transcription: Sapna Prakash Mataji

Question: how much importance should we give to reciting prayers from the Shrimad Bhagwatam and other devotional literature? Are there some specific prayers that we can chose and recite at different times, as per the situations that we are facing? And should we focus on understanding and reviewing the translations also, or should we just recite the verses?

Answer: Vandanam is an important part of devotional service, it’s a vital limb and it is a way by which we can personally connect with Krishna in a very sweet and close way. Now there are, and  Ripu Goswami also talks about this in the 64 items of devotional service and there is described that the prayers can be our own composed prayers or the prayers can be recit… prayers as Pramod Patra says, the reciting prayers that are given in the scriptures. So, which prayers can we recite? It, er, first and foremost in this thing is inspiration. What inspires us the most?  Which are the things with which we can connect most, er most, directly or intimately? Say if we like the past time of Gajendra and the Gajendra’s prayers we are able to connect with easily, or if we like the past time of Prahlad Maharaj then Prahlad’s prayers we would be able to connect with easily. And it is not necessary that we have to recite all the verses in the prayer, although it is nice if we can do that, the important thing is that we have a, we have a connection with Krishna through Vandanam. Now specifically how that connection will work, in the case of different devotees, that will vary. So, if you know we feel, er, we feel that we are caught by some anartha and we want to come out of it then we can recite the prayers of , er, Gajendra because he was caught by a crocodile(coughs). Hmm, If you want to focus more on the principles of pure devotion, with the mood of satisfying the lord,  then Prahlad’s prayers are also very good. Now, Dhruva’s prayers talk about how we are caught up in, you know how, even when we have the opportunity for devotional service, still we are caught up with worldly things. That is also a good prayer for that situation. And Bheeshma’s prayers are especially very good for contemplating the final moments of death and preparing for those moments. Similarly, the prayers of Kunti Maharani are also very good, especially when we are facing a challenge, in terms of say going away from devotee association, or going away from, er, something which is spiritually very stimulating. So you can pray as Kunti Maharani “Tvayimenyannivisheya” My dear Lord, let my heart stay attracted to you just as a river flows towards the Gan…er ocean.Now there are Bhadrasur’s prayers also in the sixth ___which are very beautiful. So one way is that we just select prayers and recite those prayers, select prayer on one theme from various places and recite it and the other is we take one great Vaishnava’s prayer and recite those prayers. So both are, er, fine. It will depend on what our mood is, what our inspiration is, and even when we are reciting the prayers, it is not necessary that we have to recite all the prayers. Some of the prayers may be too long and it may be difficult for us to recite them. And after the struggle of reciting them itself may be a little bit of a, a little bit of a put off for us. So we can select important prayers from there and we can recite those prayers also. Of course, if we can read all the prayers and we can connect with all of them, maybe not equally with all of them – some we may be able to connect with intimately, some not so intimately, but then still if we can recite  all of them, that’s always nice. But the important point in praying is not to get, er, get, to two extremes . One is get so caught up in the rule “Ok I have to recite all the prayers” then the purpose of connecting with Krishna at the level of intimate emotions, that is lost. And the other is, that in the name of wanting to connect emotionally, we just have no, one day we recite ten prayers, or the next day we recite only one prayer, the next day we don’t recite any prayer, next day we recite some other prayers. Then often repition also helps us to develop a connection. So for example, we have Damodar Ashtekam which we recite during the Kartik month and we have the ____ ashtekam which we recite during the,er, during the month before Goud Poornima. Now these we recite everyday, and over a period of time, there is a sweet connection that happens with these prayers. And we look forward to them. So, it is good at least to, if you are starting reciting a particular set of prayers, you recite them at least for a few days, maybe a week, or fortnight or a month. And gradually the emotional connect will be there. And its good to change also, so that we’ll be memorising more verses and then connecting ourselves with more verses also; connecting ourselves with Krishna through more verses. Now as far as the translation is concerned, it depends when we have the, we have the, er, Damodar ashtekam, ____ ashtekam we recite the translation, read the translation after the singing has been done. er, in some cases, wherever there are especially bhajan sandhyas, where there is meditation on Vaishnav bhajans, now, often Sanskrit verses may be a little difficult to memorise and will be little difficult to relate with for some devotees, so if they find that the recitation of Bengali songs from the Vaishnav song book they are able to connect with more easily, that is also a very potent source of spiritual strength and inspiration. And we can select some lines from those verses also, or from those, from one song or we can have one full song or and reciting them is also very purifiying. Prabhopad said that the songs of _____ Thakur and Bhakti__Thakur they act like thunderbolt on the heart, destroying the anarthas. So the important point is, that we be able to connect emotionally, er, through the prayers with the Lord. So often reading about those prayers means, say we can read Shri Prabhopad’s purports ofcourse or we can hear some classes if they run on those prayers and that will also help us to, to dwell deeply on those prayers and thereby deepen the connection which we have at a emotional as well as at an intellectual level. Often, if our, if the understanding is clear, that helps the emotions to develop. There are different people who work differently. For some people, thoughts come first  emotions come later. For the others, emotions come first and then thoughts don’t matter so much. Normally, we say thinking, feeling, willing so some kind of thought is always there before feeling, but I’m talking in terms of systematic contemplation. For some devotees, only when they understand the meaning of the prayer, and then they, with, while meditating on understanding the meaning of the prayer, then they focus on the, er, focus on the mood and then the mood starts welling up. For others, maybe it is the musical recitation of the prayer or just the uttering of the prayer, that itself is satisfying. Yes, I’m go..appealing to the Lord through some prayer. And that itself is satisfying and after that one as one contemplates on the meaning, the absorption is richer. So in general, it is not necessary to read out the translation or recite the translations, but it is important that we be aware of the meaning. At least a broad sense of the meaning, if we are aware, that helps a lot in deepening the contemplation. And I have done this many Holy name medidations on the spiritual scientist site, where you can get some idea of how one can contemplate in prayers. Of course, this is just one way and every individual devotee, because one has a individual relationship with Krishna, can contemplate in different ways. And the important point is, that we become absorbed and connected emotionally. So if, er, reading the translations helps, often it might be better than, to read the translation first so that we have a sense of the meaning and then we recite the verses. And sometimes if we want to do Bheeshma stuti, say there are 11 prayers in Bheeshma stuti, the last section, then, instead of reciting all the 11 prayers daily, we may decide that I will recite one verse daily, 11 times. Sometimes repeating the same verse again and again might also help us to absorb ourselves more. So, Vishu Prabhupad in the Gajendra purport says, in the Gajendra past time purport says, that it seems Gajendra was able to remember the prayers in his moment of crisis, although the prayers he had memorised in his previous life, so he said devotees should also memorise and recite prayers and he specially recommends the Brahma Samhita prayers over there and he also recommends the Narasimha aarti. So the point is that, even if we are not able to remember the specific letters of the prayers or specific words of the prayers, we can try to memorise of course, but even if we are not able to remember, the principle of we trying to have connected with Krishna emotionally, er, based on the emotions of the great, the great Vaishnavas, that will help us and that will give us spiritual strength and the capacity to call out to Krishna. If not in the words which we have memorised but in the words of our own heart to seek his mercy whenever we have the opportunity or the necessity to pray. So overall, the most important thing is that we be able to connect with Krishna emotionally and not go to one extreme of just having rules where there is no emotional connection  and second extreme is that just for the sake of emotions we just keep changing, changing the thinking and changing the prayer that we are reciting and sometimes we don’t recite any prayers. And therefore, not go deep into any prayer at all. So a balance meeting can be decided based on one’s own individual inclination and experience.

Thank you. Hare Krishna.

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Chaitanya Charan

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