Prayers, Chants, Music

Brahman and Shakti are identical,
like fire and its power to burn.
When we talk of fire we automatically mean
also its power to burn.
Again, the fire’s power to burn
implies the fire itself.
If you accept the one you must accept the other.
— Sri Ramakrishna

Breaker of This World’s Chain

Interpretation by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood
of Khandana Bhava Bandana by Swami Vivekananda

Breaker of this world’s chain, we adore Thee,
whom all men love.

Spotless, taking man’s form, O Purifier,
Thou art above the gunas three,
Knowledge divine, not flesh;
Thou whom the cosmos wears,
a diamond at its heart.

Let us look deep in Thine eyes;
they are bright with the wisdom of God,
That can wake us from maya’s spell.

Let us hold fast to Thy feet,
treading the waves of the world to safety.

Oh, drunk with love, God-drunken Lover,
in Thee all paths of all yogas meet.
Lord of the worlds, Thou art ours,
who wert born a child of our time;
easy of access to us.
O Merciful, if we take any hold upon God in our prayer,
it is by Thy grace alone,
Since all Thine austerities were practiced for our sake.

How great was Thy sacrifice,
freely choosing Thy birth in this prison, our Iron Age,
To unchain us and set us free.

Perfect, whom lust could not taint,
nor passion nor gold draw near,
O Master of all who renounce,
fill our hearts full of love for Thee.

Thou hast finished with fear and with doubt,
standing firm in the vision of God;
Refuge to all who have cast fame, fortune,
and friends away.

Without question Thou shelterest us,
and the world’s great sea in its wrath
Seems shrunk to the puddle that
fills a hoof-print in the clay.

Speech cannot hold Thee, nor mind,
yet without Thee we think not nor speak.
Love, who art partial to none,
we are equal before Thy sight.

Taker-away of our pain, we salute Thee,
though we are blind.
Come to the heart’s black cave, and illumine,
Thou light of the light.

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 quenched that mighty forest fire,
Worldly lust, raging furiously within.

O name, stream down in moonlight on the lotus heart,
Opening its cup to knowledge of Thyself.

O 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, O 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!

O, 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.

O 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, O Lord, a steadfast love for Thee.

A drowning man in this world’s fearful ocean
Is Thy servant, O 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, O 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.

O 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