Prayers and Mantras for Lord Rama

The Bhagavad Gita classifies devotees into four types: (I) artharthi, (II) aarta, (III) jigyasu, and (IV) jnani (7: 16). These basically include (I) a person who wishes to gain material blessings, (II) a person who requests divine help during difficult times, (III) a person who wishes to gain knowledge about God, and (IV) a person who is God-realized, respectively. From this classification, we can infer that human beings pray to God with four different objectives. Moreover, a devotee who belongs to Category I today may become a Category III devotee tomorrow. Alternatively, someone may be a member of both Category I and  Category II at the same time.

God has applauded devotees from Category IV in the Bhagavad Gita; their devotion generally involves nishkama (without desire; selfless) prayers. At the same time, God does understand, as the abovementioned classification itself suggests, that human beings in need may opt for sakama (with desire) prayers. There is nothing wrong in asking God for money or rescue from sorrow when needed, but we must try to add elements of selflessness in our prayers whenever possible by not requesting material blessings. As spiritual seekers, our long-term objectives should include nishkama bhakti (devotion), liberation from the universe, and proximity to God.

Given below are some prayers for Lord Rama (God).

  • The name of Rama itself is admired as one of the biggest mantras in mainstream Hinduism. If you are looking for a longer mantra, one famous mantra is given below:

Sri Rama Jai Rama Jai Jai Rama

You can also check out some mantras on this page of the Divine Life Society.

  • The verses (chaupai) given below are two of the most famous verses from the Ramacharitamanasa, written by Goswami Tulasidasa. These two verses, together, can be used as a prayer.

मंगल भवन अमंगल हारी | द्रवउ सो दसरथ अजिर बिहारी ||

mangal bhavan amangal haari | dravau sau dashratha ajir bihari ||

(Bal Kand 111-2B)

Applied Meaning: May Lord Rama (God), the abode of auspiciousness and the destroyer of inauspiciousness, who plays as a child in the courtyard of King Dashratha, bestow his grace on me.

दीन दयाल बिरिदु संभारी | हरहु नाथ मम संकट भारी ||

deen dayal biridu sambhari | harahu nath mama sankat bhari ||

(Sundar Kand 26-2B)

Applied Meaning: O Lord Rama (God), please recall your glory of bestowing compassion on the needy and please remove my burdensome crisis.

  • Sri Ramachandra Kripalu Bhaja Mana is a famous devotional poem from the Vinay Patrika by Goswami Tulasidasa. This can be used as a prayer.
  • You can recite the popular Sanskrit verses given below as a prayer.

Ramaya Ramabhadraya Ramachandraya Vedhase

Raghunathaye Nathaye Sitayah Pataye Namah

  • There is a prayer called Sri Rama Bhujangam, written by Adi Shankaracharya, on this page.
  • You can read a prayer called Ramashtakam, written by Maharishi Ved Vyas, on this page.

Free eBook: Hanuman’s Adoration for Lord Rama

I have put together a free eBook (through Draft2Digital) that includes an English translation of the Hanuman Chalisa (with my notes added) from this blog and my summary of the Sundar Kand from the Ramayana. It is available at Nook, Kobo, and Scribd. The links are given below:

Nook

Kobo

Scribd

When Krishna accepted Sudama’s rice

Sudama was a poor Brahmin who had been Lord Krishna’s classmate as a child. Following his schooling, Sudama spent most of his time in remembrance of the Lord. Because his family did not even have enough for food, once his wife asked him if he could visit Krishna’s palace to ask for some alms. Sudama accepted the proposal, not for the monetary gain, but for the darshan [1] of Krishna, the Supreme Being, that the visit would lead to. As soon as Sudama reached Krishna’s palace, Krishna, along with his queen Rukmini, started serving Sudama. Krishna gave the frail jiva [2] a hug and washed his feet.

After giving Sudama a majestic reception, Krishna inquired if Sudama had brought any gifts for Krishna. Sudama had brought some puffed rice for Krishna but hesitated to offer it to Krishna, the wealthiest amongst kings. Krishna, the knower of all, understood what was in Sudama’s mind. Krishna immediately grabbed the rice and ate some of it. Sudama was over-whelmed at how Krishna treated him, a weak jiva, in his palace. The love for Krishna in Sudama’s mind did not allow Sudama to ask Krishna for a monetary loan. Consequently, Sudama left the palace empty-handed. He was, in fact, pleased by not receiving any monetary gifts from Krishna, for this implied, in Sudama’s mind, that Krishna did not want Sudama to be trapped in materialism, according to the Srimad Bhagavat Purana.

As soon as Sudama reached home, Sudama was surprised to see that his hut had turned into a grand and luxiruious palace, and his family had been blessed with incomparable status, wealth, and servants. He at once understood that Krishna had blessed him with riches. The Srimad Bhagavat Purana says that when Krishna blesses his devotees, he does not inform them beforehand, for Krishna considers many of his blessings humble. On the other hand, when he receives a tiny gift, like fruits or rice, from an individual soul, he accepts it as an enormous offering because it is laden with devotion for him. Because Sudama was already saturated with love for Krishna, Sudama accepted all the material benefits that Krishna gave him but his mind never got attached to them and his love for Krishna increased progressively. This interaction between Sudama and Krishna supports Krishna’s statement in the Bhagavada Gita that Krishna accepts any gift that is offered with devotion (Bhagavad Gita 9.26).

[1] face-to-face meeting with God

[2] individual soul

Who is a Bhakti saint?

In order to answer this question, we will first take a look at the simpler question, “Who is a saint?” and then simply add the element of bhakti to the answer. As my reference, I am selecting the discussion between Garuda and Kakbhushandi in the Ramacharitamanasa [1], where one of the questions asked by Garuda is, “Who is a saint and how can we differentiate a saint from the unsaintly?”

“Saints accept sorrow for the good of others, while wrongdoers accept sorrow for hurting others,” replies Kakbhushandi, adding “Beneficence is the innate nature of a saint.” This answer stresses that it is the capability to experience pain for others that makes one a saint [2]. Though the finest qualities of beneficence (paropkara) may be difficult to obtain without self-realization, saintliness is unrelated to the possession of mystical powers, type of dress worn, or the number of one’s spiritual disciples and followers.

Would Hindus label anyone who has the capacity to experience pain for others and is devotional as a bhakti saint? Not so soon…the individual being’s acceptance by Rama is significant too. And this is where the darshan of Rama comes in [3]. The biographies of bhakti saints show us how they have all experienced suffering for other human beings, possessed the bhakti of Rama/Shiva, and were blessed enough to meet the Divine every once in a while. Birth as a bhakti saint is never easy…it undoubtedly remains the greatest phenomenon in Hindu spirituality.

Goswami Tulasidasa believes that virtues, niyams, meditation, charity, and austerity are all habits worth possessing, but they cannot eliminate material attachments and non-discrimination from our mind; the only actual savior for beings trapped in this universe is — the bhakti of Rama.

[1] This comprehensive discussion in the Uttarkand focuses on our spiritual evolution. It is a must-read for all devotional seekers.
[2] What is the biggest happiness that a person can experience? Meeting a saint, according to the Ramacharitmanasa.
[3] Also check out this post; it explains how Shabri obtained the darshan of Rama.

Krishna’s last lesson for Arjuna

As soon as Lord Krishna concluded his divine play on Earth and left the planet, Arjuna understood that it was not Arjuna’s own power that had won the Mahabharata war but that he was only an instrument that Krishna had nurtured to carry out parts of Krishna’s divine play. It is interesting to note that Arjuna, in spite of his nearness to Krishna, took an entire lifetime to understand this, reflecting the situation of a typical spiritual seeker.

Earlier, Arjuna had seen his own chariot turn into ashes after the Mahabharata war was over and had heard the Bhagavad Gita directly from Krishna’s mouth. Yet, being a human being, Arjuna could not understand some of the important points. Sometimes, difficult lessons in living may be understood by revising the related theoretical concepts again and again; when this approach does not work, we may have to learn lessons by experiencing difficulties and creating our own possible solutions. Now that Arjuna’s time to leave Earth was nearing, Nature delivered the final lesson: Arjuna lost a battle to ordinary thieves who were fighting with wooden clubs and running away with Dwarka’s wealth. To make it worse, Arjuna even forgot how to discharge his arrows from the bow. For a warrior who possessed most of the divine weapons reachable in the solar system, this defeat was a major blow to the ego — the biggest loss that Arjuna had ever experienced. Possibly, this event was much bigger for Arjuna than the destruction of the major Kaurava warriors in the Mahabharata war.

As the Vishnu Purana tells us, when Arjuna visited Maharishi Ved Vyas after losing this last battle and asked why this had happened, Vyas said, “Everyone that is born must die. Everyone that rises must fall. A union always ends in a separation, and all accumulation ends with a loss.” Vyas further advised the Pandavas to renounce everything, leave the kingdom, and spend their remaining days in the forest.

Nine forms of Bhakti

We have already talked about the Navadha bhakti summarized in the Ramacharitamanasa. For a quick comparison, the nine forms of bhakti from the Puranas are listed in the table below.
 
FORM
FOCUSES ON
AN EXEMPLAR
Shravana
Listening
Kakbhushandi
Kirtana
Chanting
 Valmiki
Smarana
 Remembrance
 Kaushalya
Padasevana
 Lord’s Lotus feet
 Bharata
Archana
 Worship
 Shabri
Vandana
 Prayer
 Vibhishana
Dasya
 Service
 Jambavan
Sakhya
 Friendship
 Nishadraj Guha
Atmanivedana
 Surrender
 Lakshmana

Though the examples selected in the table above are all from the Ramayana, the nine forms of bhakti, being timeless, are experienced by contemporary devotees of all forms of the Divine. Also, because one form of devotion generally attracts the other forms of devotion in the heart, most bhaktas radiate more than one type of bhakti.

And if you are searching for Lord Hanuman on the list, he has been excluded. Why? Because his name can not be placed on a list with others; all beings, mortals and immortals, receive Rama-bhakti solely by his grace.

Please feel free to use the comments section to share the name of your favorite bhakta/saint (Vaishnava, Shaiva, and/or Shakta) and indicate the type(s) of bhakti that he or she focused on.

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