Vakra Tunda (Invocation of Lord Ganesh)

Vakratunda Mahakaya
Surya Koti Samaprabha
Neervignum Kurume Deva
Sarva Karyeshu Sarvada

O Lord Ganesha possessing a large body
curved trunk, with the brilliance
of a million suns, please make all
my work free of obstacles—always.

About this prayer

This invocation prayer is often sung at the start of a satsang (gathering of devotees), kirtan session, or yagna (spiritual lectures and discourses). Lord Ganesha is known as the remover of obstacles which is why we invoke this potential in us at the start of any auspicious event. In creating this environment in our mind, we aim to avoid being disturbed by aches or discomfort of the body, or the irrelevant distractions of the mind. We aim, like an elephant, to listen well to others, and to remember everything that we can apply in our lives.

Karpoora Gauram

Karpoora Gauram
(words and translation kindly contributed by Kiran Jatania)

karpoora gauram karunaavataaram samsaara saaram bhujagendra haaram

He is white like camphor and the very incarnation of mercy and compassion,
The only good thing in this world, wearing a king cobra as a garland

sadaavasantam hridayaara vinde bhavam bhavaani sahitam namaami

It is always springtime in the lotus of His heart.
I bow down to Bhava (Shiva), as well as to Bhavani (Parvati) who accompanies Him

About this prayer
Depicting Lord Shiva, this prayer, which is usually said at the end of an aarti, has a wonderful underlying message for us. As well as helping us to picture His form, it takes a particular reference to the king cobra that dresses Him as a garland.

Many great Vedantic scholars teach us that this cobra represents none other than our vasanas, or the roots of our desires. In our case, this cobra constantly attacks our mind, driving us to the satify these desires and and strengthen these vasanas. However, such is the purity and beautiful equanimity of Lord Shiva, that the mind is fully under His control. The mind is now no longer an enemy but a friend, pointing not towards the Lord but away from Him as his weapon and protector. So much so, that in fact it now becomes a decoration, His garland, leaving us ever more in awe of His splendour.