Prarthana: A Book of Hindu Psalms

by Arun Shanbhag

Prarthana: A Book of Hindu Psalms by Arun Shanbhag

Prarthana: A Book of Hindu Psalms
ISBN 978-0-9790081-0-8
264 pages; includes Glossary & Bibliography
Non-fiction; Spiritual; Hinduism; Religion;
September 2007

Prarthana is a compilation of sacred hymns from the Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas. In Prarthana, I have presented 36 common prayers in their original Sanskrit (Devanagiri) script, along with romanized transcriptions and modern English translations. A commentary in lay English offers a brief background and reflections on how each prayer applies to our daily life.

Visit to read prayers from the book – eventually, the entire book will be online.

You can buy hard copies of Prarthana:

  • On
  • At Strand Book Stall, Fort, Mumbai at a discounted price. Note: Prarthana is not listed on their site, but is in stock. Contact Details
  • Directly from the Author: Please send $17 ($15 + $2 S&H) by PayPal to (US Shipping only). For bulk purchases or shipping to other locations, pl contact the author

49 thoughts on “Prarthana

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  1. Brought fond memories of my childhood days where all the time was spent on repeating these prayers by rote without understanding the meaning.
    Arun’s book has a brief intro, the prayer verse in Sanskrit and the English meaning.
    Gives a beautiful explanation.

    1. Venkatesh:
      Glad you liked the book and thank you for your nice words.

      Once you know the meanings, these prayers become sublimely beautiful and … transformative.

      Thank you and Best Wishes

  2. Too often we recite our prayers mechanically. In Prarthana: A Book of Hindu Psalms, you bring ancient Hindu prayers to life, expressed in fresh, contemporary English, and insightfully illuminated with introductory remarks.
    Arun–it was such a pleasure meeting you for the first time in Boston a few days ago. I wish you and your marvelous book–which I read on my plane flight home–well deserved success.

  3. Hi, is it the Arun Shanbhag from HNHS, Colaba class of 1977?
    If so, would love to hear from you.
    Sorry if not so. I have recently heard from a lot of classmates on LinkedIn.


  4. hi Arun,

    great reading your blog..though i am not akin to blogging i just wanted to view Badami pics.and came to see ur blog.Nice pics as well as a very nice reading of the Durga image.

    Aparna R Baliga

    1. Thank you Aparna for stopping by and leaving a comment.
      Glad you liked some of the writeups. Yes, amidst all the pretty pics of kids and food, I do write about more enduring things for myself and for the readers. Please browse the archives and let me know what you think.

      Best Wishes

  5. Pandharpur is worth visiting. The Vithoba idol is very much similar to Tirupati Venkateshwara. Pandharpur is around 400 Kms from Mumbai, accessible via Expressway up to Shirval (phata) junction where you have to take a left turn towards Pandharpur. This road is good for 60-80 kmsph drive. It takes app 6 hrs drive from Dadar if you start at 6 am with very few halts.

    If you avoid festival days and week ends, you can have darshan very easily within around 1-2 hours max. If you are in a hurry and there is lot of rush, you can have Mukha Darshan ( from a distance) instead of Padadarshan (touching his feet with your forehead)

    My tips:
    i. Start at 6 am reach Pandharpur by 13 Hrs easily.

    ii.Book a night’s stay at a hotel ( I stayed at Hotel Aishwarya; A/c Room is available but dont expect any stars) and start for Mumbai next day at 6 am and reach Mumbai by 13 Hrs. Or else you can go to Alandi (check route) and reach Mumbai via Pune. This route is different from the earlier stated route.

    iii. Do not engage any middlemen (recognising your status they will come after you). No use in approaching the Temple Office for puja which are listed openly but not accessible to common man. They will ultimately direct you to middlemen. All middlemen are unauthorised extracting money post facto.

    iv. Don’t opt for any puja being offered by middlemen while in the queue which are unauthorised. Offering some cash (Rs 100) to the pujari (solicited) who are near the idol may benefit instead.

    v Free shoe keeping service is available.

    vi. Bag, camera, bottles, ladies purse and mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple. There are locker shops near the temple entrance for safe keeping these items. (avoid carrying Credit cards and lot of cash; you can leave them in your car locked and parked inside your hotel compound)

    vii Photography is prohibited in and around the temple premises. Although you can carry your camera with bag for shooting little away from the temple premises. (you may venture out separately after the darshan is over)

    viii Avoid drinking local water (always true any where in India) You can enjoy lots of fresh sugar cane juice on the way throughout (without ice only). You can enjoy Nira (from palm tree) from Pune up to Shirval junction.

    ix. Do not miss photo studio for your photograph with Vithoba model ( like in a fair).

    Best of luck


    1. Thank you for taking the time to write this detailed guide to visiting Pandharpur!

      Looks like I now have no excuse! 🙂
      Thank you and will keep it handy for our trip.

  6. Dear Arun

    I saw many of your pics on the site. The quality of pics are excellent. I am curious to know which camera you have.

    I read your blog on Idlis. Very interesting details.

    Now regarding Prarthana. I have two queries (if you can reply):

    i. Why there are two Aums in Gayatri mantra? As I understand, Aum is used at the beginning of a shloka/mantra.

    ii.The phonetic expression of “Seshadri” in Venkatesh Suprabhat is ” Sheshadri” (both the “Sh” to be pronounced as Sh in Show); whereas you have spelt it as “Se” as in Sea. Is there any reason behind this?



    1. Hi Divakar:
      Thank you for appreciating the pics on my blog. For the longest time I had used the Nikon D70, which was recently stolen and replaced with the D80.

      a. Regarding the Gayatri mantra; as you rightly point out, per tradition, when a shloka from the rig veda is chanted, Aum is used as a prefix. The actual gayatri mantra which we recognize is two separate, non-contiguous mantras in the Rig-veda. Thus each starts with the Aum and the reason for the two Aums in the Gayatri mantra.

      See, the maha mrityunjaya mantra also starts with the Aum.

      b. In the Venkatesha Suprabhatham, you have rightly pointed out the “sheshadri” expression. I have NOT spelt it as a ‘se” sound; Actually, the transliteration includes a ‘s’ with a tilde over it which is pronounced as a “sh”; the second ‘sh’ sound is slightly different and transliterated as a ‘s’ with a dot below it;

      Both of these are very different that the ‘s’ as in ‘sea’ sound which is also present in many of the verses.

      These transliterations conform to international standards and are also used by the Tirupati Devasthan in their publications.

      I hope I have clarified the points.
      Thank you for so carefully reading and evaluating the writing. It is readers like you, who appreciate the detail, that motivate me to do further research and accurately present our shlokas.

      Please continue to cast a critical eye and point out shortcomings.


      1. Dear Arun,

        Thanks for your clarification.

        I am back to Mumbai after a brief tour of Gondavale, Pandharpur and Sajjangadh at Satara. Hence could not open the mail box earlier.

        Its a coincidence; I also have D80. Great camera.

        Yesterday I had been to Strand Book stores at Fort Mumbai. I was happy to see your book on the top of one of the shelves. Hope to see few more of your works.


        1. Heh! I have been wanting to visit Alandhi and Pandharpur for the longest time. Any tips would be appreciated.
          Yaay! for seeing Prarthana at the Strand Book Stall, Mumbai!

  7. I have started reading your book Prarthana since last few days. I am impressed with your style of presentation, especially the introduction part and commentaries on each shloka. A well documented and well written (in spirit) book.

    Mere thought of such subject acknowledging the existance of the Almighty itself indicates the blessings you enjoy. No doubt you are enjoying your life. Keep it up.


    1. Hi Divakar:
      Thank you for taking the time to go through the book. It is very satisfying to hear that you found the writing useful in your spiritual journey.

      Many thanks for sharing your kind thoughts.

  8. found your blog from a NYT article. I have really enjoyed it. From the citizen reporter where I learned more than from some news stories to the personal and the spiritual, especially the Prarthana. I will send a check for this book as I love the Sanskrit chants and I love to see the original language with the translation together. Written Sanskrit is so beautiful.

    Thank you for your dedication to this blog. I am travelling to India soon and will look in for further updates from you about Mumbai. Please add more of your knowledge of Mumbai and travel around India. It would be helpful to all as your insights seem very trustworthy. I see you have almost 200,000 unique views. congrats.

    My sincere sympathies on the terrible attacks to your homeland.

  9. Dear Arun,

    I came across your Blogs mainly because I was looking at images of the Mumbai incident (I don’t find an adequate word to describe it).

    Very well written blogs and extremely well shot pictures.

    Do you have links to your interviews by the BBC and others? Would love to see them.

    Proud to share your second name.

    Thanks & best regards,

    Arun Says:
    Hi Rajesh: Thank you for your kind words and enthusiasm!
    I am still trying to compile all the links. Will make a post of that in a few days.
    Please check back, ok?

  10. Hello Arun

    Firstly, may I send you my regards following the awful events over the past few days and that I am very sorry for your family, friends, neighbours that have suffered at the hands of the terrorists.
    I live in England in a town that has a large Asian community, so I have friends that are Christian, Hindu, Muslim etc and I have been following the atrocities in Mumbai over the past few days and feel I need to drop you a note to say thank you. I log in to the BBC news website everyday but I came across your blog and have found it much more informative and ‘real’, it has given a humanistic view of the events and the photographs have been incredible. I greatly admire the Indian spirit that refuses to be trodden upon by the terrorists and the determination to try to return life to as close to normal as it can be. Especially the owners of the Leopold Cafe that attempted to reopen, I had heard about it on tv but to see your pictures made it so much more ‘ real’ I can imagine myself there. I am also intrigued by your other photographs showing your local area – I had no idea that Mumbai was sucha beautiful place. Please keep up your efforts, they are precious.
    I hope your community recover soon

  11. Dear Mr. Shanbhag,

    At the outset, my apologies for sending this email through Prarthana.

    My sincere congratulations to you! Your name was mentioned on the BBC News Channel.

    Your website is amazing and makes me proud to be an Indian. Indeed your photographs on your website were very vivid and revive my memories of Bombay, which unfortunately due to the pressures of work I have not been able to savor more often.

    However, I was pained to see that the photographs were of my dear Bombay in pain and burning. The news channels are already covering this through their live and repeated painful telecast and through their websites. Then why do we do this free lance publicity to the perpetrators of this crime though our blogger. Can we not at least blank them out and not give them the pleasure of being recognized and acknowledged. These are the small recognitions they seek.

    Can we not keep stoic silence on this aspect of the event (which is already covered by news channels) and do some other service to our beloved city and country?

    I would rather invite your views how we can contribute, that is of course, presuming that you take appreciate my views.

    Do drop a response.

    With best wishes,

    Manek Palekar

  12. We met Arun today 24th May 2008 at the Hindu Heritage fair in Marlboro,MA and immediately was drawn to ‘Prarthana’. It felt like a journey he took within himself. The blog is the same another journey through himself that he has so generously made available to us. The realization that we are one with nature and the Supreme and every minute on this earth is to enjoy and worship it – comes to all of us and we forget so easily. Thank you, Arun, for reminding us.

  13. I met Arun recently and bought a copy of his book ‘Prarthana’. It brings me back to my Hindu roots, enriching my memories of favourite prayers from my childhood, and adding a new depth. Some things that I had forgotten are now revived. Some things I never knew but have now learnt. And other prayers that I will now learn. The meanings are simple yet deep.

    This book is one of those that one goes back to over and over again, every time getting a little bit more out of it.

    Thank you, Arun, for giving these beautiful prayers new life!

  14. Your book is a gem. It has helped me start my own pooja practice daily, and I am so grateful that I was able to find my favourite stotra and stutis in one beautifully put together book. The Devi stotram specially took me back to my childhood and to the sounds of my parents’ chanting of it. Your book has also introduced me to the marvellous Venkatesa Suprabhatam

    Good luck with your second edition.

    –Naumi Kak

    (Cross-posted by A Shanbhag)

  15. Namaste Arun Ji,

    I was spellbound by your book ‘Prarthana’. I feel every home should have this book, since nowadays children are not having the fortune of reciting these Sanskrit verses daily, which are potent with meaning.I hope and pray that this generation will be able to appreciate these values.

    I like the philosophy which I read –

    ‘LIFE is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but the number of moments that takes your breath away.’

    Thank you Arun Ji

    With very best wishes,

  16. What’s a Unitarian Universalist Buddhist doing reading Arun Shanbhag’s new translation of Hindu Psalms: Prarthana? A reasonable question, unless you’d ever met the author. If you had, you’d know that Arun is the kind of person you see and think to yourself “I’ll have whatever he’s having, thanks very much!”

    A positive energy surrounds him, and his smile just glows with peace and contentment. A scientist, athlete, blogger, avid reader and photographer, Arun’s engagement with the world inspires people — I ran a half marathon yesterday because of him — and connects people.

    So when Arun told me he was working on a book of Hindu prayers, to make them interpretable to those who don’t know Sanskrit, I was intrigued. My UU faith draws from Eastern religions, and I’ve already incorporated Buddhism into my spiritual life. I wondered what Hindu prayers might offer, since they have so clearly benefited Arun.

    What I found is that these prayers speak to something common to all of humanity: a spiritual impulse for light to dispel darkness; for connection to nature, to other people, and to the universe itself; for the courage to rise above our anguish or fears, to find hope and the best within ourselves, and to share our best selves with the world. In a time of great divisions, it is heart-warming to dip into another faith tradition and find common bonds, rather than alienation.

    As a UU, I responded in particular to the tribute to the earth and the sun, and the Gayatri mantra that calls upon “that quintessence of earth, air and heaven; May it bestow wisdom, enlighten our thoughts, and energize our consciousness!”

    I was moved by the Invocation of Peace: “May She protect us friends; May she nourish us; May we work together, And learn with purpose. May we never quarrel. May we be blessed with peace, peace, and perfect peace!” These words reach all of us, regardless of our faith tradition.

    In his engaging interpretations of the psalms, Arun calls for faith to remain a grounding force, but a flexible one that changes with human development. He weaves vivid story-telling about the Hindi gods with his own childhood experiences of the prayers, making them richer and more accessible to those not familiar with them.

    Arun, you’ve given us all another gift. Thank you for sharing yourself and your understanding of these ancient prayers with the world. We need people like you — the glue that unites us.

    Ellen Duranceau

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