How do Hindus pray?

Do they say “Amen” like Christians do? What is an outline of a Hindu prayer, to, say, Shiva?

Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:

If you have A2A-ed many Hindus on this question, you can expect just as many variety of answers. Because there is no hard and fast rule as to how a Hindu can/should/must pray.

We are free to meditate on anything – the form of a deity, the word OM, maybe a shape like a spiral or so. Or to chant the names of a deity we adore. Or to sing hymns in praise of the deity. Or just talk to God. Yeah, even just having a normal one-to-one conversation is perfectly acceptable.

We do have elaborate prayers that basically are either chanting of the various names of God, or devotional hymns. Some are tiny parts taken from our various holy scriptures. Complex Sanskrit prayers may not be everyone’s cup of tea. And it is advised not to chant Sanskrit prayers unless you are sure of the pronunciations of the words. Sanskrit is a very tricky language that thrived through centuries before the written script came into being. It was passed on from generation to generation by oral tradition only. Hence the finest of nuances in the pronunciation are of utmost importance. Elongating a syllable of a word in a prayer (for instance) may even completely alter the very meaning of the prayer to mean something just the opposite. And these mantras were supposed to be very powerful. So it was oft advised that if you are not sure of the pronunciation, it would suffice if you would just fold your palms together in a respectful ‘Namaste’ pose, close your eyes and just listen to the prayer being chanted.

What is vital is that you establish a connection with the Almighty…in whichever form you choose. It could be Krishna, it could be Shiva, it could be Ganesha, it could even be the formless Parabrahman.

Prayer is one thing. The mode of worship is another story altogether. That differs from community to community and from region to region. But prayer is each person’s individual choice.

On a side note, did you notice that Hindus pray to God and traditionally greet each other with the same gesture?

There is a very beautiful reason why this is so. One of the core Hindu philosophies talks about how each one of us is a part of one Power. There a small bit of that Power in each one of us. There is a little bit of God in each one of us. And when we greet another person with our folded palms, we are paying obeisance to the divinity within the other person.

And this is officially one of my most favorite parts of my faith. The fact that it advises to view everyone and everything around you as a part of the Almighty.

May we all be blessed abundantly! _()_

How do Hindus pray?


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