Wednesday, January 12, 2022
The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
My Neighbor’s Prayer: The Vocabulary of Blessing as Common Bond
Many religious traditions use prayer beads. In Hinduism, most prayer beads come in strings—called mala—0f 108 beads, with a 109th bead called the “Krishna bead,” placed strategically to guide you from beginning to end of your prayer. Each bead is held long enough to recite a mantra. Because Hinduism itself is a diverse religious tradition with many sects or denominations within it, each tradition has its own chant. The Shaivites (who worship Shiva) might say “Om Namah Shivaya” meaning “I offer my respects to Lord Shiva” while the Shaktas might chant “Om Durgayai Namah” meaning “Divine Mother Durga, come to my aid.” Each chant draws the worshiper closer to the divine with every bead that passes through their fingers. The tangible prayer beads and the feeling of the chant reverberating through your body makes for a truly rooted and concrete prayer practice.
The prayer below is a translation of (or maybe more accurately an explanation of) the chant used by the Vaishnava Hindus called the maha-mantra. The actual recitation is “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna/ Krishna Krishna/ Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama/ Rama Rama Hare Hare.” The rhythmic repetition of these three names for God—Krishna, Hare, Rama—vocalizes the desire to connect with God with immediacy and intimacy.
Prayer beads can be used at any time of day but are most often used during the “brahma-muhurta”, or the “God hour” just before sunrise. At that time the house and city is still quiet, the whole world still at rest. May we each find an entryway into the “God hour” of our lives.
My Neighbor’s Prayer
O my Lord,
O Energy of the Lord
Please engage me in Your service.
Translation of the Maha-Mantra
Vaishnava Hindu prayer bead chant