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Types of prayers

(from Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidhana)

1. Samprarthanatmika - direct prayer glorifying the Lord. We have many examples of this type of prayer in Narottama Dasa's Prarthana.

2. Svadhainyabodhika - expressing humility and embarrassment, informing the Lord: I am very fallen.

3. Manah-siksa - examples are Bhajahu Re Mana by Govinda das or Manah-siksa by Raghunatha das Gosvami. In this type of prayer the mind becomes a disciple and we teach it how to deal with the senses and relate to intelligence. We consider the mind a separate entity and tell it: Pull yourself together! Meditate on Krsna! The challenging spirit of intelligence becomes manifest. One function of the intelligence is to challenge the mind.

4. Vilapatmika - statements of supreme lamentation. This may be confusing; we hear the devotees are always happy, so how can a devotee lament? But this kind of lamentation is a type of devotional ecstasy - it draws a devotee closer to Krsna.

5. Vaisnava Mahimaprakasika - revealing the greatness of the Vaisnavas. Krsna doesn't want to be considered separately from the Vaisnavas, therefore we can please Him by glorifying them.

6. Sri-Guru-Vaisnava-vijnapti-rupa - statements of submission and glorification of the Vaisnavas, especially of the guru. The example is Bhaktivinoda Thakura's Ohe! Vaisnava Thakura.

7. Sridhama-vase-lipsatmika - expressing the desire to live in the holy places. There are many prayers of this kind, composed by Prabodhananda Sarasvati, glorifying Sri Vrndavana. In one of them he says: Anyone who desires to leave Vrndavana I consider to be a madman.

8. Sadhaka-dehe-lalasa-sucika - expressing the desire to practice devotional service.

9. Siddha-dehe-lalasamayi - desire to attain siddha-deha and serve Krsna in this spiritual body.

10. Aksepabodhika - lamentation again: extreme grief and sorrow that we have fallen to this material world.
"Vandanam. Although prayers are a part of Deity worship, they may be considered separately like the other items, such as hearing and chanting, and therefore separate statements are given herewith. The Lord has unlimited transcendental qualities and opulences, and one who feels influenced by the Lord's qualities in various activities offers prayers to the Lord. In this way he becomes successful. In this connection, the following are some of the offenses to be avoided: (a) to offer obeisances on one hand, (b) to offer obeisances with one's body covered, (c) to show one's back to the Deity, (d) to offer obeisances on the left side of the Deity, (e) to offer obeisances very near the Deity."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7:5:23-24
"Prayer means vandanam. So this is also service. Either you take all the nine different items, or you take some of them, or at least one of them, then you will make progress in spiritual life. So some of them offer prayers, just like Christians, Muhammadans, they offer prayer. So it is as good as the Hindus give service in the temple, decorates the Deity, cleanses the temple and offers food. In this way they are engaged. This is called arcanam. Arcanam is also devotional service as well as offering prayer. So by this devotional service one makes progress in spiritual life, and when he is sincere in his service, then God is within him, He takes charge of him and gives him instruction how quickly and swiftly he can approach God. So this is fact. Our... He is not hankering after our service. He is complete in Himself. He doesn't require anyone's service. But if we offer service to Him, then we become purified, and... (break) ...complete purification. We can talk with God, we can see God, we can take His instruction, as Arjuna is talking with God, personally taking His instruction and acting according to His instruction."

Philosophy Discussions, Kierkegaard
"We should always speak of Krsna in a pleasing way; then we will be benefited. Another name for Krsna is Uttamasloka, which indicates that He is worshiped by the best selected words. It is not that we should use any words we choose. There are many prayers in the Vedic scriptures and also in the Bible and Koran. Although the Christians and Muhammadans do not worship the Deity, they offer prayers to the Lord, and that is also bhakti. Arcanam vandanam."

Teachings of Lord Kapila, Verse 35
"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 Srimad-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 Krsna 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."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9
"Akrura: The commander in chief of the Vrsni dynasty and a great devotee of Lord Krsna. Akrura attained success in devotional service to the Lord by the one single process of offering prayers. He was the husband of Sutani, daughter of Ahuka. He supported Arjuna when Arjuna took Subhadra forcibly away by the will of Krsna. Both Krsna and Akrura went to see Arjuna after his successful kidnapping of Subhadra. Both of them presented dowries to Arjuna after this incidence. Akrura was present also when Abhimanyu, the son of Subhadra, was married with Uttara, mother of Maharaja Pariksit. Ahuka, the father-in-law of Akrura, was not on good terms with Akrura. But both of them were devotees of the Lord."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1:11:167
"Lord Sri Krsna was very pleased by Akrura's offering of prayers. His smile was captivating Akrura more and more. The Lord replied to him as follows: "My dear Akrura, in spite of your submissiveness, I consider you My superior, on the level with My father and teacher and most well-wishing friend. You are, therefore, worshipable by Me, and since you are My uncle, I am always to be protected by you. I desire to be maintained by you because I am one of your own children. Apart from this filial relationship, you are always to be worshiped. Anyone who desires good fortune must offer his respectful obeisances unto personalities like you, you are more than the demigods. People go to worship the demigods when they are in need of some sense gratification; the demigods offer benediction to their devotees after being worshiped by them. But a devotee like Akrura is always ready to offer the greatest benediction to the people. A saintly person or devotee is free to offer benediction to everyone, whereas the demigods can offer benediction only after being worshiped. One can take advantage of the place of pilgrimage only after going there. By worshiping a particular demigod, it takes a long time for the fulfillment of the desires; but saintly persons like you, My dear Akrura, can immediately fulfill all the desires of the devotees. My dear Akrura, you are always Our friend and well-wisher. You are always ready to act for Our welfare."

Krsna Book, Chapter 48
"The soles of the Lord's lotus feet are marked with sankha-cakra-gada-padma--conchshell, disc, club and lotus--and also by a flag and a thunderbolt. When Krsna walks on this earth or in the heavenly planets, these marks are visible wherever He goes. Vrndavana-dhama is a transcendental place because of Krsna's walking on this land frequently. The inhabitants of Vrndavana were fortunate to see these marks here and there. When Akrura went to Vrndavana to take Krsna and Balarama away to the festival arranged by Kamsa, upon seeing the marks of the Lord's lotus feet on the ground of Vrndavana, he fell down and began to groan. These marks are visible to devotees who receive the causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (tavanukampitam)."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 10:2:38
"The Bhagavad-gita also declares that the Supreme Lord is responsive to the devotional service rendered by the devotee. Akrura thought that Krsna was like the desire tree in the heavenly planets which gives fruit according to the desire of the worshiper. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is also the source of everything. A devotee must know how to render service unto Him and thus be recognized by Him. In the Caitanya-caritamrta it is therefore explained that one should serve both the spiritual master and Krsna simultaneously and in that way make progress in Krsna consciousness. Service rendered to Krsna under the direction of the spiritual master is bona fide service because the spiritual master is the manifested representative of Krsna. Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that when one satisfies the spiritual master, he satisfies the Supreme Lord. It is exactly like service in a government office. One has to work under the supervision of the departmental head. If the supervisor of the department is satisfied with the service of a particular person, a promotion and increase in pay will automatically come.

Akrura then thought, "When Krsna and Balarama are pleased with my prayers, certainly They will take my hand, receive me within Their homes and offer me all kinds of respectable hospitalities, and They will surely ask me of the activities of Kamsa and his friends."

In this way, Akrura, who was the son of Svaphalka, meditated on Sri Krsna on his journey from Mathura. He reached Vrndavana by the end of the day. Akrura passed the whole journey without knowing how long it took. When he reached Vrndavana, the sun was setting. As soon as he entered the boundary of Vrndavana, he saw the footprints of the cows and Lord Krsna's footprints, impressed with the signs of His sole, the flag, trident, thunderbolt and lotus flower. Upon seeing the footprints of Krsna, Akrura immediately jumped down from the chariot, out of respect. He became overwhelmed with all the symptoms of ecstasy; he wept, and his body trembled. Out of extreme jubilation upon seeing the dust touched by the lotus feet of Krsna, Akrura fell flat on his face and began to roll on the ground.

Akrura's journey to Vrndavana is exemplary. One who intends to visit Vrndavana should follow the ideal footsteps of Akrura and always think of the pastimes and activities of the Lord. As soon as one reaches the boundary of Vrndavana, he should immediately smear the dust of Vrndavana over his body without thinking of his material position and prestige. Narottama dasa Thakura has sung in a celebrated song, visaya chadiya kabe suddha habe mana: "When my mind will be purified after leaving the contamination of material sense enjoyment, I shall be able to visit Vrndavana." Actually, one cannot go to Vrndavana by purchasing a ticket. The process of going to Vrndavana is shown by Akrura.

When Akrura entered Vrndavana, he saw Krsna and Balarama engaged in supervising the milking of the cows. Krsna was dressed in yellow garments and Balarama in bluish. Akrura also saw that Krsna's eyes were exactly like the beautifully grown lotus flower of the autumn season. He saw both Krsna and Balarama in the spring of Their youth. Although both were similar in bodily features, Krsna was blackish in complexion, whereas Balarama was whitish. Both were the shelter of the goddess of fortune. They had well-constructed bodies, beautiful hands and pleasing faces, and They were as strong as elephants. Now, after seeing Their footprints, Akrura actually saw Krsna and Balarama, face to face. Although They were the most influential personalities, They were glancing at him with smiling faces. Akrura could understand that both Krsna and Balarama had returned from tending cows in the forest; They had taken Their baths and were dressed with fresh clothing and garlanded with flowers and necklaces made of valuable jewels. Their bodies were smeared with the pulp of sandalwood. Akrura greatly appreciated the aroma of flowers and sandalwood and Their bodily presence. He considered himself very fortunate to see Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His plenary expansion, Balarama, face to face, for he knew that They were the original personalities of the creation.

As stated in the Brahma-samhita, Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead and the cause of all causes. Akrura could understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared personally for the welfare of His creation, to reestablish the principles of religion and to annihilate the demons. With Their bodily effulgence, the brothers were dissipating all the darkness of the world, as if They were mountains of sapphire and silver. Without hesitating, Akrura immediately got down from his chariot and fell flat, just like a rod, before Krsna and Balarama. Upon touching the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he became overwhelmed with transcendental bliss; his voice choked up and he could not speak. Due to Krsna's transcendental presence, incessant torrents of tears fell from his eyes. He remained stunned in ecstasy, as if devoid of all powers to see and speak. Lord Krsna, who is very kind to His devotees, raised Akrura with His hand and embraced him. It appeared that Lord Krsna was very pleased with Akrura. Balarama also embraced Akrura. Taking him by hand, Krsna and Balarama brought him to Their sitting room where They offered him a very nice sitting place and water for washing his feet. They also worshiped him with suitable presentations of honey and other ingredients. When Akrura was thus comfortably seated, both Krsna and Balarama offered Him a cow in charity and then brought very palatable dishes of eatables, and Akrura accepted them. When Akrura finished eating, Balarama gave him betel nut and spices, as well as pulp of sandalwood, just to make him more pleased and comfortable. The Vedic system of receiving a guest was completely observed by Lord Krsna Himself to teach all others how to receive a guest at home. It is a Vedic injunction that even if a guest is an enemy, he should be received so well that he does not apprehend any danger from the host. If the host is a poor man, he should at least offer a straw mat as a sitting place and a glass of water to drink. Krsna and Balarama welcomed Akrura just befitting his exalted position."

Krsna Book, Chapter 38


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