Types of prayers

Types of prayers

(from Gauòéya Vaiñëava 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.


We can see that out of the ten types of prayers listed, three express feeling "bad." So these feelings are not useless. They can be incorporated into devotional service. We shouldn't think: First let me become a pure devotee, free from all lamentation, no problems - then I can come before the Lord and offer nice prayers. No. A pure devotee feels his deficiency so he comes before the Lord and prays.


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