Prayers to the Holy Name at the South African Japa Retreat

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Child praying
Falling down at your feet with a straw in my mouth, with whatever humility I may be blessed with, offering my respectful obeisances to Shrila Prabhupada, my shiksha gurus, the previous acharyas, six Goswamis, my exalted Godbrothers and Godsisters, and the most merciful Lords, Shri Shri Gaura Chandra and Nitaisundara, I present my hopeful prayers and beseech you dear Harinam Prabhu to bless me to always have your pure association in love and Vaishnava humility.

You know my actual character, falling short of the ideal in countless ways, which I greatly lament. At the same time, by your grace, I have some desire to obtain your mercy in the shape of the striving for the goal of Krishna-prema, so please let this be this goal be guiding light in my life.

You are the most merciful manifestation of my worshipable Lords, Shri Shri Radha-Gopinatha, and so by your kindness and the mercy of my worshipable gurus, let all attraction for anything which doesn't foster pure love and service to my Lords, fall away from me, through spiritual awakening.

I pray for the opportunity to help your devotees by having a friendly, caring, compassionate and spiritual attitude toward everyonel, without having any other need to maintain my existence. I have been serving the bad masters of my mind, intelligence and false ego for countless births and I pray to be finished with their service except as it relates to you.

May I remain externally in the material world, but internally united with you in love and affection, dedicated to serving Prabhupada and his disciples in helping reclaim the forgetful souls and serving the devotees in their spiritual lives in becoming balanced, joyful human beings and sadhakas (spiritual practitioners of bhakti).

May I be willing to accept you instructions and those of your pure devotees. May your will be done through me, within me, and around me. May I have no separate, selfish interest.

May I always take shelter of you in all circumstances and know the means and loving words to help others also do this.

Thank you for the opportunity to pray to you and be with your faithful devotees who want to improve their chanting and be fully engaged in bhakti-yoga or loving service to Shri Radha Krishna and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu! Please help me to always be grateful for this good fortune and to share my good fortune with others!
Praying together 2
The picture above was taken at the reception to His Holiness Giriraja Maharaja at the Durban Temple. It was a very moving experience to see the beauty of the Deities and service attitude of the devotees, and I felt very humbled to be given such honor. I was gradually able to see it as an expression of loving exchanges and I tried my best to give as much as I could to the devotees and reciprocate with their kindness and devotion. I placed the picture here, because it illustrates to me how supremely blessed we are to be given the gift of the holy name, and also the humility that is required to keep things in perspective. Everything comes by the grace of the holy name, and we have to constantly give credit to our gurus, Lord Chaitanya and Nitai and those who follow them, and of course holy name who so kindly remains with us despite our inattention and lack of purity. We live by the mercy of our superiors alone--and in the spiritual world, everything, even the dust, is our superior and guru!

Combined comments from old site

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 11:18 — Karnamrita.das
Personal prayers

Though it may not always be appropriate to share our personal prayers with others, I do so only to try to be an example of praying for our advancement. Since I didn't do this for many years, and suffered from this lack, I want to emphasize the importance. I don't mean to put myself forward, but as a teacher I am trying to practice what I preach. I also write in a very personal way, as this is more natural for me. Being real is of paramount importance in my life. Many devotees have suffered from the lack of a way to be real with others, so I highly recommend you have a support system of trusted, confidential devotee friends, in addition to emptying your heart to our dear Lord and best friend, Shri Krishna.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


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Fri, 01/08/2010 - 17:31 — abrennan
Praying

I think it's important for us to see how we can pray to the Lord. Thanks for posting this

When I look at the prayers of the Acharyas it seems to me there is a pattern, or form. It usually starts with praising Krishna and his qualities, then recognizing ones constitutional position then the actual subject of the prayer. Something like that.

What do you you think about that.


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Fri, 01/08/2010 - 19:45 — Karnamrita.das
Yes

You are correct. In addition to those formal type of prayers I encourage devotees to offer their heartfelt prayers in any form that comes naturally. In the more formal prayers, submission or longing are often the two categories of Vaishnava prayers. Upon reflection and studying different faith traditions I have unpacked these two primary categories into prayers of petition, of glorification, of praise, and thanksgiving. At least for me, this has made the topic of prayer more accessible and relevant to my life, whereas some devotees may prefer to stick to the two traditional divisions. First we submit, then we actually have attraction for the Lord and share with him our intense longing. Of course we may have some longing in our beginning stages, but this is the way our acharyas have explained it.

We are advised by Rupa Gosvami in his Bhakti Rasamrita Sindu as summurized by Prabhupada in his Nectar of Devotion, to "offer notable prayers", so we can choose traditional prayers in scripture or by our acharyas. Then we are advised--as I have mentioned in other blogs--to "submit to Krishna whatever distress or confidential problem one has". Or just speak to the Lord what is going on. We used to give the Temple Deities daily or weekly reports of Temple activities, so we can do this at home as well, with the addition of more personal matters.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


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Sat, 01/09/2010 - 08:10 — Karnamrita.das
Unlimited

What can be said about prayer is really unlimited, yet I forgot to add to the thought about "Reciting notable prayers" Prabhupada's explanation of this in N.O.D: "According to great learned scholars, the whole Bhagavad-gita contains many authorized prayers, especially in the Eleventh Chapter, where Arjuna prays to the universal form of the Lord. Similarly, in the Gautamiya-tantra all the verses are called prayers."

"Again, in Shrimad-Bhagavatam there are hundreds of prayers to the Lord. So a devotee should select some of these prayers for his recitation. In Skanda Purana the glories of these prayers are stated as follows: 'Devotees whose tongues are decorated always with prayers to Lord Krsna are always given respect even by the great saintly persons and sages, and such devotees are actually worshipable by the demigods.

"Those who are less intelligent want to worship different demigods for some material gain rather than worship Krsna. But here it is stated that a devotee who is always engaged in offering prayers to the Lord is worshipable even by the demigods themselves. The pure devotees have nothing to ask from any demigod; rather, the demigods are anxious to offer prayers to the pure devotees."

"In the Nrsimha Purana it is stated, 'Any person who comes before the Deity of Lord Krishna 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 Vaikunthaloka.'"

Also in N.O.D., "sober devotees" are avised to offer submission in these three ways: 1) Very feelingly offering prayers 2) humbly submitting oneself and 3) desiring some perfectional stage.

And to end (is it possible?):"Anyone who prays unto Me and takes shelter of Me, becomes My ward, and I protect him from all types of calamities." Lord Nrisimhadeva in the Nrsimha Purana


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 04:13 — Karnamrita.das
Examples

Shrila Prabhupada's prayers coming to America are extrodinary, and exemplary, not to mention very inspiring, and should be studied.

In explaining that we should offer our confidential problems to the Lord, Shrila Prabhupada gives this example: "Krsna, I am suffering in this way. I have fallen in this tossing ocean of material illusion. Kindly pick me up. I understand now that am simply put here, as if thrown into the Atlantic Ocean. I may not in any way identify with the Atlantic Ocean, but I am subject to the tossing of the ocean. Actually I am a spiritual spark, a fragmental part of You." Raja Vidya 2: Knowledge Beyond Samsara

In his Krishna Book, Prayers By the Personified Vedas, Prabhupada gives us a verse by the venerable Shridhar Swami:
"My dear Lord, I am eternally a part of You, but I have been entrapped by the material potencies, which are also an emanation from You. As the cause of all causes, You have entered my body as the Supersoul, and I have the prerogative of enjoying the supreme blissful life of knowledge along with You. Therefore, my dear Lord, please order me to render You loving service so that I can again be brought to my original position of transcendental bliss." KB 87: Prayers by the Personified Vedas

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


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Sat, 01/09/2010 - 06:12 — Karnamrita.das
More examples

I have already cited some of these elsewhere, but repetition is the mother of skill so here are a few more references to prayer:

"Thus it is said that if we pray to the Supreme Lord in every transaction of our material existence, everything will be done very nicely and just suitable to our heart's desire. In other words, in all circumstances we must take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and depend completely on His decision. Man proposes, God disposes. The fulfillment of desires, therefore, should be entrusted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead; that is the nicest solution. Kardama Muni desired only a wife, but because he was a devotee of the Lord, the Lord selected a wife for him who was the Emperor's daughter, a princess. Thus Kardama Muni got a wife beyond his expectation. If we depend on the choice of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we will receive benedictions in greater opulence than we desire." SB 3.21.28 pp

"Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the all-auspicious Lord Sri Krsna, about whom glorification, remembrances, audience, prayers, hearing and worship can at once cleanse the effects of all sins of the performer." SB 2.4.15

"By glorifying the Lord with exalted verses, one becomes purified. Although we are unable to offer prayers to the Lord in an adequate fashion, our duty is to make the attempt in order to purify ourselves. It is not that we should stop our glorification because demigods like Lord Brahma and Lord Siva cannot adequately glorify the Lord. Rather, as stated by Prahlada Maharaja, everyone should glorify the Lord according to his own ability. If we are serious and sincere devotees, the Lord will give us the intelligence to offer prayers properly." SB 4.16.2

I tried to bring these points out in my free writing blog about what prayer is. Basically when we pray to Krishna we remember him, and it is understood that we are totally dependent on him for success in any activity--even to attempt anything we are dependent. So praying helps me put Krishna into any activity. My most common prayer is just "Krishna please help me". And when we become habituated to praying, it becomes part of who we are--and ultimately we are Krishna's, and in the higher stages, we think "Krishna is mine". May we identify with Krishna and his will, not our separate material ego, and its selfish demands! O Lord, when will I have no separate interest--only yours? When will I see your interest, as my interest? When will service be the only "food" I seek?

Certainly chanting is the best prayer--though it is easy to do so mindlessly, just out of duty or routine, and let the mind wander in boredom. So while we chant we have to reflect on what the mantra means, who we are and who the Lord is, and for me that also means praying while I chant to remember Radha and Krishna, and hear attentively. And we can just say, "My dear Lord, please allow me to be able to offer prayers that please you. Guide me and direct me. Let me offer my life, and heart and my entire being, and everything I possess or deal with to you. I am meant for this, as it is my natural condition."

So really, our life is a prayer, and our life is about prayer, and from one angle of vision, prayer is all there is. Prabhupada said that our desires are a type of prayer! Krishna is our everything, and we are endeavoring through spiritual processes to practice this as much as possible, eventually with every breathe!

So pray to live for Krishna, and live to pray to Krishna! Recite the great prayers in scripture and from the acharyas, especially that speak to you. And offer your heartfelt personal prayers, and pray to cry for the Lord, and for the eagerness to serve and give your all and all!

My dear Guru Maharaja, please bless me to be Krishna conscious. My dear Krishna please help me to serve my Guru and the devotees!

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


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Wed, 01/13/2010 - 09:41 — KamalSrinivas
Questions

Dear Sir,

Recently I watched the "Mahabharatha" which has made me raise few questions and I donot know who to ask.

First Question is about Sex:

Krishna had "Rasaleela's" and had lot of Girlfriends including Radha why is Sex seen as some forbidden part of life in the society and why is it not preached. While Watching Ramayana Guru Valmiki teaches Lord Rama that according to Dharama there are four stages for men, First is Education, Second is Enjoyment, Third is Responsibilities and Fourth and the last is walking on the spiritual path. If this is right what is enjoyment if having sex is not considered as enjoyment why did people write "kamasutra". And if the spiritual path has to be taken once you have completed your duties and responsibilities why are children and young men encouraged to walk on the path which should be on their last stages of life.

Second is Krishna had fought off and killed his maternal Uncle Kamsa because he was a "Adharmi". And said it is a duty of a man to punish people who commit crime against innocent and If a person has walked on the path of "Adharma" he does not deserve Dharma nor can he speak about it. It was said by Krishna when Arjuna killed Karna when he was off the chariot. So at Krishna consiousness why is this part not being thought or why do HareKrishna devotees go away when somebody makes fun of them or assaults them. Is it not the duty of a Krishna's follower to stand against the individuals who are troubling the devotees.

thanks,
Kamal


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Wed, 01/13/2010 - 12:52 — Karnamrita.das
Material Dharma, and Prema Dharma

To really understand Krishna's rasalila, one has to be very spiritually educated from such books as the Bhagavad gita and the first 9 Canto's of the Shrimad Bhagavatam--the rasalila is in the 10th Canto. You should understand that Krishna's activities with his devotees, including the milk maids or gopis, is completely pure and has nothing to do with material lust and sex. God appears human, yet he always has his pure spiritual body. Krishna is atmarama, self satisfied. He doesn't require anyone for his enjoyment, and has no need of material sexual relations. The gopis are completely surrendered souls, who have no interest in their own selfish satisfaction. They only live for Krishna's pleasure, and are total givers, not exploiters as we are. There is a whole theology to explain how this is light years above lusty attraction between ordinary men and women on this planet or even among devas in heaven.

We must be educated that we are souls having a human experience and that material existence is actually miserable compared to spiritual eternal existence. People think they are happy--that is another thing, but Krishna, and all incarnations of God as well as the great saints teach this. So the soul is in a predicament entangled in "samsara" or repeated birth and death fueled by our desires to enjoy matter with no consideration of the Supreme God.

Materialist lusty sex is considered a binding force in this world, because it epitomizes this attempt to exploit matter for our own interest. Therefore, there is sacred marriage or "Grihastha ashrama" to spiritualize marriage and make it favorable for spiritual realization. We purify sex by doing purification rituals before hand, and prayers for purification in order to use it to beget God conscious children. At least this is the goal if one is interesting in making spiritual progress. At the time of death, one takes another birth according to what they are thinking of at death--and this is determined by how we live our life, and what our attachments and desires are. We can't expect to live a sensual life, and suddenly in old age become a spiritual person!

As you mentioned, in a loose definition of the four orders of life, brahmacari--celebate student life, grihastha, or sacred marriage, vanaprastha or retired life, and sannyas, or renounced. The so-called "enjoyment" of the second stage in not just living like the animals, but is regulated enjoyment in relationship to spiritual practice--at least if it is done correctly according to the scriptures. Actually everyone is meant to practice detachment and self control, bu under different rules. And in Bhakti, our detachment comes as a by product of attachment and love for Krishna.

For military people or the maritally inclined Kshatriyas, yet there is violence, but not for the brahmanas. They practice restraint and tolerance, and forgiveness, yet the devotees, are pacifists. For themselves they tolerate, yet to protect Krishna other devotees they will do what is required. Still, they try to live in sattva or goodness and are peaceful. Even Vaishhava's have different natures and may come from all sections of socieity...most are not violently inclined and try to follow brahminical principles.

You would do better to see dharma through the eyes of bhakti, rather than bhakti through the eyes of dharma. Krishna devotees, following Shri Chaitanya practice, Prema Dharma, which is different than the rules of karma or material dharma. You have asked questions which require more explanation than I have given, though perhaps it will help. And it is better to ask in another forum besides this. You can also email me, and I will try to be of service to you.

Hare Krishna.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita