Prayer and meditation

Prayer, in Hindu tradition, is one of the gateways to liberation. Of the four available methods, puja, prayer, japa and dhyana, prayer is considered the second slowest method to cleanse the mind. Dhyana and Japa are considered to be the most effective methods to cleanse the mind.

There are three types of prayers according to Hindu tradition. The three types are (

1) petitionary prayer, (2) intercessory prayers, and (3) prayer for moksha. A prayer is petitionary when the person praying asks for material things from God. Asking God to help cleansing one's mind or for love is not considered to be petitionary in Hindu tradition. A prayer is intercessory when the person praying asks God to help another person.

 

Hindu tradition differentiates between prayer and dhyana or meditation. While prayer is about asking an external power for help, dhyana is about purifying one's mind in order to unlock the treasure of Brahman within. Dhyana is considered more powerful than prayer because one directly tries to cleanse one's mind in dhyana unlike in the case of a prayer. 

I have given below 2 examples of prayer for moksha:

Sri Chaitanya's prayer

Chant the name of the Lord and His glory unceasingly
That the mirror of the heart may be wiped clean
And quench that mighty forest fire,
Wordly lust, raging furiously within.
Oh name, stream down in moonlight on the lotus heart,
Opening its cup to knowledge of thyself.
Oh self, drown deep in the waves of His bliss,
Chanting His name continually,
Tasting His nectar at every step,
Bathing in His name, that bath for weary souls.

Various are thy names, oh Lord,
In each and every name Thy power resides.
No times are set, no rites are needful, for chanting of thy name,
So vast is Thy mercy.
How huge, then is my wretchedness,
Who find, in this empty life and heart,
No devotion to Thy name!

Oh, my mind,
Be humbler than a blade of grass,
Be patient and forbearing like the tree,
Take no honor to Thyself,
Give honor to all,
Chant unceasingly the name of the Lord.

Oh, Lord and soul of the universe,
Mine is no prayer for wealth or retinue,
The playthings of lust or the toys of fame;
As many times as I may be reborn
Grant me, oh Lord, a steadfast love for Thee.

A drowning man in this world's fearful ocean
Is Thy servant, oh sweet One.
In Thy mercy
Consider him as dust beneath Thy feet.

Ah, how I long for the day
When an instant's separation from Thee, oh Govinda,
Will be as a thousand years,
When my heart burns away with its desire
And the world, without Thee, is a heartless void.

Prostrate at Thy feet let me be, in unwavering devotion,
Neither imploring the embrace of Thine arms
Nor bewailing the withdrawal of Thy presence
Though it tears my soul asunder.
Oh Thou, who stealest the hearts of Thy devotees,
Do with me what Thou wilt-
For Thou art my heart's beloved, Thou and Thou alone.

(Translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood)

Sri Ramakrishna's prayer

O Mother. I throw myself on Thy mercy;
I take shelter at Thy hallowed Feet,
Be gracious and grant that I may have Pure love for Thee,
A love unsmitten by cravings for earthly things,
Untainted by any selfish end.
A love desired by the devotee
For the sake of love alone.
And grant me the favor, O Mother,
That I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching Maya;
There is no one but Thee whom I may call my own,
Mother, I do not know how to worship,
I am without austerity,
I have neither devotion nor knowledge,
Be gracious, Mother, and out of Thy infinite mercy
Grant me love for Thy lotus Feet.

(Translated by Swami Nikhilanda)

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