Hindu Prayers

Prayer or worship is considered to be an integral part of the Hindu religion. The chanting of mantras is the most popular form of worship in Hinduism. Yoga and meditation are also considered as a form of devotional service towards the Lord. The adjacent picture represents the Om sign, which is a sign of peace.

Universal Prayer

O Adorable Lord of Mercy and Love!
Salutations and prostrations unto Thee.
Thou art Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient.
Thou art Satchidananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute).
Thou art the Indweller of all beings.

Grant us an understanding heart,
Equal vision, balanced mind,
Faith, devotion and wisdom.
Grant us inner spiritual strength
To resist temptations and to control the mind.
Free us from egoism, lust, greed, hatred, anger and jealousy.
Fill our hearts with divine virtues.

Let us behold Thee in all these names and forms.
Let us serve Thee in all these names and forms.
Let us ever remember Thee.
Let us ever sing Thy glories.
Let Thy Name be ever on our lips.
Let us abide in Thee for ever and ever.

– Sri Swami Sivananda


A Hindu Peace Prayer

I desire neither earthly kingdom, nor even freedom from birth and death.
I desire only the deliverance from grief of all those afflicted by misery.
Oh Lord, lead us from the unreal to the real; from darkness to light; from death to immortality.
May there be peace in celestial regions.
May there be peace on earth.
May the waters be appeasing.
May herbs be wholesome and may trees and plants bring peace to all.
May all beneficent beings bring peace to us. May your wisdom spread peace all through the world.
May all things be a source of peace to all and to me.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti (Peace, peace, peace).

M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence


Let Us Be United

Let us be united;
Let us speak in harmony;
Let our minds apprehend alike.
Common be our prayer,
Common be the end of our assembly;
Common be our resolution;
Common be our deliberations.
Alike be our feelings;
Unified be our hearts;
Common be our intentions;
Perfect be our unity.

– Rig Veda


A Hindu Prayer for Peace

Oh God, lead us from the unreal to the Real. 
Oh God, lead us from darkness to light. 
Oh God, lead us from death to immortality. 
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti unto all. 
Oh Lord God almighty, may there be peace in celestial regions. 
May there be peace on earth. 
May the waters be appeasing. 
May herbs be wholesome, and may trees and plants bring peace to all. 
May all beneficent beings bring peace to us. 
May the Vedic Law propagate peace all through the world. 
May all things be a source of peace to us. 
And may thy peace itself bestow peace on all and may that peace come to me also. 
 – U.N. Day of Prayer for World Peace 


Hindu Upanishads

Lead me from death to life,
from falsehood to truth.
Lead me from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.
Lead me from hate to love,
from war to peace.
Let peace fill our heart, our world, our universe.
Peace, peace, peace.
 – Adapted from the Hindu Upanishads by Satish Kumar


O! Mother Earth

O! Mother Earth,
who has the ocean as clothes and mountains and forests on her body,
who is the wife of Lord Vishnu, I bow to you. 
Please forgive me for touching you with my feet.
 – Hindu Prayer


Bhagavad-Gita

The brightness of the sun, which lights up the world, the brightness of the moon and of fire
– these are my glory.   With a drop of my energy. I enter the earth and support all creatures. 
Through the moon, the vessel of life-giving fluid, I nourish all plants.
 – Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord)


Peace

Supreme Lord, let there be peace in the sky and in the atmosphere. Let there be peace in the plant world and in the forests. Let the cosmic powers be peaceful. Let the Brahman, the true essence and source of life, be peaceful. Let there be undiluted and fulfilling peace everywhere.
 – The Atharva Veda


Prayers for Peace

May there be peace in the higher regions; may there be peace in the firmament; 
may there be peace on earth. 
May the waters flow peacefully; may the herbs and plants grow peacefully; 
may all the divine powers bring unto us peace. 
The supreme Lord is peace. 
May we all be in peace, peace, and only peace; and may that peace come unto each of us.
Shanti (peace) Shanti—Shanti!
 – The Vedas, trans. Raimundo Panniker


Hindu Morning Prayer

May all in this world be happy, 
may they be healthy, 
may they be comfortable 
and never miserable. 
May the rain come down in the proper time, 
may the earth yield plenty of corn, 
may the country be free from war, 
may the Brahmans be secure.
 – Hindu Morning Prayer


Pure and Strong

Lord, make me so pure and strong
That all creatures may look upon me with friendship.
And may I also look upon all creatures with friendship.
 – Yajur Veda


There is a Light

There is a light that shines beyond all things on earth,
beyond all of us, beyond the heavens, 
beyond the highest, the very highest heavens.
This is the light that shines in our hearts.
 – Chandogya Upanishad


Nature’s Beauty

Nature’s beauty is an art of God. Let us feel the touch of God’s invisible hands in everything beautiful. 
By the first touch of His hand rivers throb and ripple. When He smiles the sun shines, the moon glimmers, 
the stars twinkle, the flowers bloom. By the first rays of the rising sun, the universe is stirred; 
the shining gold is sprinkled on the smiling buds of rose; the fragrant air is filled with sweet melodies 
of singing birds, the dawn is the dream of God’s creative fancy.
 – Rig Veda 1.6.3


Prayer for the Unity of All Life

May the winds, the oceans, the herbs, and night and days, the mother earth, 
the father heaven, all vegetation, the sun, be all sweet to us. 
Let us follow the path of goodness for all times, 
like the sun and the moon moving eternally in the sky. 
Let us be charitable to one another. 
Let us not kill or be violent with one another. 
Let us know and appreciate the points of view of others. And let us unite. 
 – Hindu Prayer


Prayer For Peace

I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. 
I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings. 
My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. 
Let us work together for unity and love.
 – Mahatma Gandhi


Peace Chant

Peace be to the East!  Peace be to the West! 
Peace be to the North!  Peace be to the South! 
Peace be above!  Peace be below! 
Peace be to all creatures of this universe! 
Peace be everywhere.


Hindu Prayers: The Ocean of Spiritual Pearls

GaneshaSpiritual teachings form the core and basis of this book. Repeating these teachings in one form or another would deepen the groove of our learning. All the religions of the world teach a similar philosophy in different ways. Religion is a program of self-enhancement by imbibing noble virtues, which are explained and expounded by the wisdom-filled sages and seers over a long period of time.

Hindu sages composed many beautiful universal prayers:

Common be your prayer,
Common be your desires,
Common be your hearts,
United be your intentions,
Perfect be the union amongst you.
—Rig Veda X, 191–3, 4

The universal nature of the Hindu faith is very visible in this prayer.

All that is invisible is verily the Infinite Brahman.
All that is visible is also the Infinite Brahman.
The whole universe has come out of the Infinite Brahman.
Brahman is infinite although the whole universe has come out of it.
Om Peace Peace Peace.
—Brihadarnyakopanishad V, 1, 1

The infinite and unfathomable nature of the Divine has been described securely.

Gods, May we hear with our ears what is auspicious.
O Ye adorable ones, May we see with our eyes what is auspicious.
May we sing praise to ye and enjoy with strong limbs
and body the life allotted to us by the Gods.
—Vedic

Auspiciousness and goodwill (sadbhavna) has been a marked feature in Hindu philosophy.

May there be peace in heaven. May there be peace in the sky.
May there be peace on earth. May there be peace in the
water.
May there be peace in the plants. May there be peace in the
trees.
May there be peace in the Gods. May there be peace in
Brahman.
May there be peace in all. May that peace, real peace, be
mine.
—Vedic

Peace, or shanti, is invoked repeatedly with great passion.

He, whose greatness has made Him, the one sole king of this
animate and inanimate world, who is the creator and lord of all
bipeds and quadrupeds, He is to whom we offer our prayers.
—Rig Veda X, 121.1, 2, 3, 4

Hindu sages adore God above everything else. He is the most powerful, omniscient and all-wise being.

Be of easy approach to us, even as father to his son.
Do thou, O self-effulgent Lord, abide with us and bring
blessings to us.
—Rig Veda I, 1, 9

God is regarded as a loving father and mother; his blessings are sought at every step.

Lord, Thy blissful removes all ills and roots of all pain.
Do Thou make our lives happy and fruitful.
—Yajur Veda Samhita XVI, 2

We pray to God to remove all obstacles and discomforts and to bestow happiness and success.

Lord, O Thou the illuminator, do Thou free us from sins.
Do Thou bring to us what is auspicious.
—Yajur Veda Samhita XXX, 3

God is invoked to grant us the spiritual knowledge Jnana, and make our life auspicious.

May I be able to look upon all beings with the eye of a friend.
May we look upon one another with the eye of a friend.
—Yajur Veda Samhita XXXVI, 18

Again, goodwill and auspiciousness are adored.

Lord, Thou art our father; do Thou instruct us like a father.
We offer our salutations to Thee. Do Thou not destroy us; do
Thou protect us.
—Yajur Veda Samhita XXXVII, 20

God is invoked as a loving parent; freedom from any harm and destruction are sought.

We contemplate on the embodiment of the highest wisdom.
We meditate upon the very first cause. May that Brahman—
the infinite being—ever guide our understanding.
—Taittiriya Aranyaka X, 1, 29

God is invoked as all knowing and wise being. His guidance is invoked.

Whatever sins have been committed by me, by thought,
word, or deed, may the Supreme Lord, the source of strength,
wisdom, and purity, forgive me and cleanse me of them all.
—Taittiriya Aranyaka X, 1, 48

We pray that our miskes and sins be forgiven and our inner being (antahkaran) be transformed.

Being free from sins and impurities, bondages and evils, may I
soar up to the highest heavens; may I attain to the same abode
as the almighty Brahman.
—Taittiriya Aranyaka X, 1, 52

Freedom from all impurities and sins will elevate us to the Divine; this is the Hindu belief.

Being purified by the holy, all pervading, eternal presence
of the effulgent Being, man gets rid of evil. May we too go
beyond the touch of sin, our great enemy, being free from
Impurity by that ever-holy Presence that purifies all.
—Taittiriya Aranyaka X, 11

God is invoked to remove of all evils and sins.

May the winds bring us happiness.
May the rivers carry happiness to us. May the herbs give us
happiness.
May the night and day yield us happiness.
May the dust of the earth bring us happiness.
May the heavens give us happiness.
May the trees give us happiness.
May the sun pour down the happiness. May the cows yield us
happiness.
—Taittiriya Aranyaka X, 39

All nature gods are invoked to grant us happiness and prosperity.

May my body become pure.
May I be free from impurity and sin.
May I realize myself as the light divine.
May my mind become pure.
May my self become pure.
May I be free from impurity and sin.
May I realize myself as the light divine.
—Taittiriya Aranyaka X, 66

Prayer is made to seek freedom from evil and sin.

May He, the One without a second, who, though formless,
produces by means of His manifold powers, various forms
without any purpose of His own; from whom the universe
comes into being in the beginning of creation; and to whom it
returns in the end-endow us with good thoughts.
—Svetasvataropanishad IV, I

Supreme God, transcendental and omniscient, is the creator of universe.

Thou art the imperishable, the Supreme Being, the one to be
known.
Thou art the great refuge of this universe.
Thou art the unchanging guardian of the eternal religion.
Thou art, I know the most ancient being
—Bhagavad Gita XI, 18

Thou art the most glorious cosmic being with innumerable
feet, hands, and eyes. Thou art the supporter of the world of
beings and of the earth with the mountains.
—Valmikiramayan VI, cxix, 21, 22

The Divine is eulogized as the most Supreme Being, with infinite virtue and power.

Wealth, nobility, ancestry, physical beauty, asceticism, scriptural
knowledge, power, energy, courage, might, diligence, prudence, and yogic practice—all these I deem of no avail in the worship of the
Supreme Being. For indeed, the almighty Lord is pleased with the
devotee; not for anything else but for his great devotion.
Unconditional surrender and devotion are considered as the
most proper way for worshipping the Divine.
—Bhagvatam VII, 9, 9

I consider even the lowest-born man, who has dedicated his
thoughts, words, efforts, riches, and life to the Lord, to be
worthier than the Brahmin—the highest-born—who, though
possessing the above mentioned twelve qualities, is disinclined
to worship the lotus feet of the lord; for the former sanctifies
his race, but not so the later who is puffed with immense
conceit.
—Bhagvatam VII, 9,10

True and sincere worship is more worthy than any caste factor.

Let our speech be devoted to the narration of thy excellence,
our ears to the hearing of thy wonderful glory, our hands to
the performance of thy work, our minds to meditation on thy
holy feet, our heads to bowing to the world—thy abode—and
our eyes to seeing the righteous who are thy body.
-Bhagvatam X, 10, 38

Adoration of the Divine at all times is the principal activity of a true devotee.

Thou art the self of all, O Lord of all and the indweller of all
beings.
What then shall I speak unto thee who knowest my inmost
thoughts.
-Vishnupurana I, 12, 72

The Divine is hailed as the omniscient and all-knowing wisdom.

Salutation to thee who art ever interested in destroying the
miseries of devotees. Thou art the infinite ocean of grace to the
weak and lowly. Salutations unto thee.
—Skandapurana II, ii, Ch. XXVII

God alone protects us from any harm and miseries. We bow
before him.
Lord, thou art the one Brahman without the second.
Thou art everything. Thou art the one Truth, and verily there
is nothing but Thee. O Thou destroyer of misery, Thou alone
dost exist eternally, and none besides. Therefore I take refuge
in Thee, the supreme Lord.
—Skandapurana IV, Pt. I, Ch. X, Verse 126

God is but everything that we perceive and feel. There is nothing apart from God.

Mother divine, thou art the giver of success and intelligence.
Thou art the giver of both worldly enjoyment and liberation.
The mystic sound symbols—the mantras—verily constitute
thy form. Mother auspicious, I bow to thee always.
—Mahalakshmyashtaka 4

God is prayed on the form of the Divine mother.

NOTE: All prayers are adapted from Swami Yatiswarananda, Universal Prayers. Chenai, India: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 2001.


Varuna, Vedic god associated with water, is 10 times glorified as ‘asura’ in Rigveda (image from between 1675 and 1700)

Vedic Literature

Initial Prayer:

Achutaaya namaH.
Anantaaya namaH.
Govindaaya namaH.
Salutation to the Indestructible,
Salutation to the Infinite,
Salutation of the manifestor of knowledge in all.
[Go means Knowledge]

The Universal Prayer (Gayathri)

Om Bhoorbhuvaha Swaha
Thath Savithur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayath

Prayer by Shankaracharya
Translation & Commentary by Vimala Thakar

(1)

Pratah smarami hridi samsphura ta twam
Satchitsukham paramahansa gatim turiyam
Yat swapna jagara sushupta mavaiti nityam
Tad brahma nishkalamaham na cha bhuta sanghaha.

In the morning as I meet the dawn, I remember that my heart contains the God, the Beloved, who has not yet been defined and described. I remember that it is He who vibrates within my heart, enables me to breathe, to talk, to listen, to move. When I am thus aware, that it is He who lives and moves within me, then the three phases of consciousness, jagrat, swapna, sushupti : wakefulness, dreaming, and profound sleep, they are transcended into turiya, the fourth dimension, which is behind the wakefulness, the dream-consciousness, and the sleep-consciousness.

When I thus remember, that the underlying current behind the wakefulness, the dream, and the sleep-consciousness is He, who lives and moves within me, then that awareness gives me sat chit sukham, the flavor of the truth, the reality, and the bliss that is the nature, the basic primary nature of life.

Sat chit sukham. When I am always thus aware of the real nature of life, then I arrive at paramahansagatim turiyam. I arrive at a state of being that has been called by the ancient wise Indians “Paramahansa”, a swan that swims through the waters of duality. That is how a sanyasi is called a paramahansa, one who lives in the renunciation of that austere awareness that it is not he who lives, as separate from the universe, but that he is only an expression of the universal..

The state of paramahansa is the state where a person is aware that he is not a conglomeration of sense organs and only the five elements, but he is the nishkala Brahman, the supreme Brahman, the divinity, who has taken the dense form of a mind and a physical body.

(2)

Pratara bhajami manaso vachasam agamyam
Vacho vibhanti nikhila yadanugrahena
Ya neti neti vachanaih nirgama avochu
Tamdeva devam ajam achyutam ahuragryam

But my mind, when I am awake, needs some work to do. It cannot remain without movement. So I give it a job. “Pratara bhajami manaso” – by the mind – “vachasam agamyam” – by the mind I move. On the frontiers of the mind I give the mind a job to explore that which lies beyond its own frontiers, that which is not accessible to the word, to the speech, as well as to the mind.

My mind asks me, “How shall I do it?” And I ask the mind to travel back, through the word, to the source of the word, the sound, and find out how the sound is born. I ask my mind to travel with the breath, to go inside: with the breath to travel. That is the only way you can find out how the sound is born, because breath and sound are woven together.

All speech and all sound is a blessing of that unspoken, unstruck sound. And unless one discovers the source from which all sound is born, one shall never set oneself free from the power of the word, that intoxicates and distorts the mind; that intoxicates the mind and sweeps it off its balance.

All the Upanishads and the Vedas have been searching for that source of sound. That source of breath. They arrived only at two words: na iti, na iti: it is “not this”, it is “not this.” So even the Vedas arrive at the point where nothing can describe and define. The source can only be experienced, the source can only be perceived and understood, but never defined and described. That is how the mind becomes silent. Not because I ask it, but while it is searching for the source of its own activity it takes a dive deep into silence, where the mind becomes the no-mind, where the knowing becomes the not-knowing.

Then I understand that silence is the only speech through which life speaks, and I feel blessed when I am in that silence.

(3)

Pratarnamami tamasah param arkavarnam
Purnam sanatana padam purushottamakhyam
Yasminnidam jagadashesham ashesamurtau
Rajjuam bhujangama iva pratibhatitam vai.

But then comes the body. It wants to do something. To worship, to admire, to adore. So I give it a job. I ask my body to bow down before the light of the earth, the sun, who dispels darkness from all the corners of the earth. And I ask my body to expose itself to that darkness dispelling sun – ask it to find out how that sun enters into the body through the doors of the eyes, and through the pores of all the veins and nerves, every pore of my being. I want my body to find out which are the avenues through which the light is received.

And when the body says, “It is the eyes through which the light enters,” I say, “Find out how the eyes can see the light. Is the light outside the eyes, or is it inside?” With the help of the mind, the body travels inward, to find out the source of the light.

And it discovers that it is not a blind person who can receive the light from outside. He who has an eye can receive the light. So that which receives the light is greater than the light seen from outside.

So I arrive at the source of light within me. And the awareness of that light dispels the illusion – the illusion and the fear that a man experiences when he see “rajo bhujangama” : when he see a rope in the darkness and he mistakes that for a snake, a cobra. I had mistaken the rope of duality for the snake and cobra of misery and sorrow. But the light dispels the darkness and I see that the duality is only a rope that cannot bind me in any way unless I bind myself with it.

That light is the purushottam, that is sanatana – eternal. Purnam – that is perfect. The perfect eternity. The God divine. That is really my nature. I had mistaken the tensions of duality to be me, but then the light dispels all the darkness, and I get rooted back into the ajam, the aychutam – that which can never be swept off its feet. Ajam – that which was never born, and can never die. I am that.

This is the prayer composed by Shankaracharya, the majestic exponent of the philosophy of non-dualism, vedanta or advait. This was sung by Vivekananda very often, and it is really on this prayer that Vivekananda’s “Song of Sanyasin” is based, where he sings, in great ecstasy:

They know not truth who dream such vacant dreams
As father, mother, children wife and friend –
The sexless Self, whose father, whose mother is he?
The self is All in All,
None else exists, and thou art that,
Sanyasin bold, say ‘Om Tat Sat Om’.

Where seekest thou that freedom?
This world nor that can give you.
Thine only is the hand,
that holds the rope that drags thee on.
Then cease lament, let go thy hold!
Sanyasin bold! Say ‘Om Tat Sat Om!’

Vimala Thakar
Hunger Mountain, MA
October, 1972


A Prayer of Love

“My soul listen unto me!
Love thy Lord as the lotus loves water
Buffeted by waves its affection does not falter.
Creatures that have their being in water,
Taken out of water, die.

My soul if you have no such love
How will you obtain release?
If the Word of the wise is within us
We shall accumulate a store of devotion.

My soul listen onto me!
Love Your Lord as a fish loves water.
The more the water, the greater the joy,
Greater the tranquility of its body and mind.
Without water it cannot live one watch of the day
Only God knows the anguish of its heart.

My soul listen onto me!
Love Your Lord as water loves milk.
It takes on the heat, boils and evaporates before the milk can suffer.
He alone unites, He alone separates
He alone bestows true greatness.

Without the wise, love cannot be born
The dross of the ego cannot be rinsed away.
He who recognizes God within
Understands the secret of the Word and is happy.
O soul! There is but one gate to the Lord’s mansion
And there is no other sanctuary.”


Prayer of Good Over Evil, Light Over Dark

Fill the Heart with the oil of love.
Place in it the wick of single-pointed mind.
Light it with the Knowledge of Truth and remove
the darkness of ignorance around you.
Just as one lamp can light many lamps; let each
youth kindle this Light in many hearts.


The Gyatri Mantra

May my intellect be steady without agitation.
May it be clear without anger or passion.
May the brilliant light of the sun beam though my intellect so
that perception of the world may be clear, my discrimination
subtle, my judgment correct and quick, and my
comprehension of persons and situations precise and wise.


Grama Geeta (India)

May he bestow prudence on all of us!
May he inspire us towards the righteous cause!
May he guide us to speak the truth!
May he make us conscious about spirituality!

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