This is called the "TriEak Pameshwar Mahamantra" (i.e. "the great meditative prayer to the Triune God"). It has been adapted from what is called the "Mahamantra" and is especially popular among members of the ISKON or Hare Krishna movement. The text of what I am saying is as follows:
हरे पिता हरे पिता, पिता पिता हरे हरे
हरे पुत्र हरे पुत्र, पुत्र पुत्र हरे हरे
हरे आत्मा हरे आत्म, आत्मा आत्मा हरे हरे
त्रिएक परमेश्वर हरे हरे,
त्रिएक परमेश्वर हरे हरे ।
Hare Pita Hare Pita, Pita Pita Hare Hare
Hare Putra Hare Putra, Putra Putra Hare Hare
Hare Atma Hare Atma, Atma Atma Hare Hare
TriEak Parmeshwar Hare Hare,
TriEak Parmeshwar Hare Hare.
Which may be translated as:
Father, remove my sin
Son, remove my sin
Holy Spirit, remove my sin
Triune God, remove my sin.
Now the concern raised by my YouTube viewer seemed focused on the use of the word "Hare" (हरे). Here is the comment:
As I said, a very graciously and kindly written comment. The above comment (with the exception of the kindly tone, which is sadly rare) is actually a pretty good representation of the kind of opposition that is leveled by Christians against the efforts of other Christians to pursue contextualization.
The commenter's basic mistake is a misunderstanding of the word "hare" (हरे) which he incorrectly identifies as a name for the god Vishnu. It seems that the commenter has confused the Sanskrit terms "hare" with "hari" (हरि). The latter is a term which has the basic meaning of yellow, green or "fawn-colored". It has come to be popularly associated with the gods Vishnu and Krishna and is sometimes used simply as a proper name in reference to one or the other (or both) of them. The former (hare) is a variation of the Sanskrit word हर (hara) which means "taking away" or "removing". Connotative use in prayers by Hindus carries a meaning of "take away my sin" or "take away my evil". In one Nepali tradition, devotees of "Mahadev" will take a ritual bath while repeating "hara-hara". In that case, the sense of meaning is clearly "wipe away my sin".
The popular "mahamantra" prayer contains the refrains, "hare Krishna, hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, hare hare" and "hare Rama, hare Rama, Rama Rama hare hare". There also, the meaning is clear. The word is हरे and should be understood to mean, "Krishna, take away my sin" and "Rama, take away my sin." It does not mean "Vishnu Krishna" and "Vishnu Rama". Nor does it mean "Green Krishna" and "Green Rama". The word is not हरि (hari) but हरे (hare). One Hare Krishna devotee explains it this way:
"The word hare has come from 'haran' which means 'to take away' or 'to end'. So when one says 'hare Krishna', he requests the God (the supreme consciousness) to take away his sorrows, his shortcomings, his failures, and pains. This Hare Krishna Mantra is actually a little prayer to God for taking away all the sorrows, pains and shortcomings of the chanter and provide him bliss and joy."
The above, I hope, illustrates why it is important to seek proper understanding before leveling criticism. My experience has taught me that followers of Jesus can be very quick to condemn things that they don't understand. This can have the effect of obscuring the message of Jesus Christ to our listeners. They may hear us saying something like "Jesus hates you" when that isn't what we meant at all. Again, we may look to Jesus who didn't hesitate to prophetically critique the societal sin that he saw in his day. While his opponents sometimes reacted very strongly against him, they never accused him of not understanding. My commenter is concerned that contextualization sometimes "fades the power of the gospel". Setting aside for a moment that nothing can actually do that (i.e. fade the power of the gospel), what should be of a bigger concern is whether or not it is actually the gospel that is being communicated.
Billions of Names Off-Limits?
Beyond this, however, I need to highlight another element to my commenter's argument. There is an unchecked assumption that undergirds his critique that must not be left unexposed. That is, while we've refuted the notion that "hare" is to be understood as a name for Vishnu, there is still the underlying assumption that any name given to Vishnu by the devotees of Vishnu cannot be used by followers and devotees of Jesus in their worship of the Triune God. Still further below this is the assumption that no name used by devotees of any other god can be used by the followers of Jesus. This assumption however, must be rejected outright.
In the first place, my commenter is probably getting his idea of "hari" (again, not "hare") as a name for Vishnu from stanza 69 of the Shri Vishnu Sahasra-Nama Stotram (although he may have arrived at this idea in a very indirect way). The title of this ancient Sanskrit text can be translated as "The Thousand Names of Vishnu". Again, stanza 69 features the name "hari" (not "hare", which doesn't appear in the text) as one of the names of Vishnu. That is, one of a thousand names for Vishnu! What are some of the other names? Just to mention a few: paramaatma (supreme spirit), saakshee (witness), prabhu (lord), pavitram (holy one), sharanam (refuge), satyah (truth), guru (teacher), sarva shaktiman (all mighty), and parameshwar (supreme god). A natural question flowing from my commenter's argument would be "upon what basis do Hindi and Nepali-speaking Christians justify the use any of the above terms in their worship of Jesus Christ?" These are all "names of Vishnu". If we accept the premise that any name used in reference to Vishnu cannot be used in reference to Jesus (or the Father, or the Holy Spirit), then we cannot use any of the above names. Moreover, much of South Asian hymnody, Christian theological literature, and Bible translations would need to be scrapped as they make great use of the above terms. Once we've then cleaned up the Church from all of these names of Vishnu, we would then have to proceed to the thousand names of Shiva, Lalita, Ganesh, Lakshmi, Durga, and 330 million others. I highly doubt that we'd be left with any language at all.
No, this assumption must be discarded. The question is not whether or not a name has been used in reference to another deity. It is, after all, undeniable that words like Christ, Lord, God, Adoni, El, Theos etc. have all be used in reference to other gods and did not emerge from the mysterious ooze of some primordial Christian "super-culture". The question must be whether or not a particular word can be appropriately used in reference to the Triune God of the Bible. Is he Master (swami), Lord (prabhu), all-mighty (sarva shaktiman), the light (jyoti), savior (muktidata)? And does he remove sin (hare)?
To the one who desires to share the hope of the Lord Jesus with the Hindu world, I would ask that you consider the following:
- What is your Hindu friend praying? Do you understand it?
- Are they asking for something that they shouldn't desire? Or is their desire legitimate and commendable (e.g. forgiveness, illumination, eternal life)?
- Is part of the "good news" of the gospel the fact that the person and work of Jesus Christ actually offers an answer to that request?
In the case of the traditional "mahamantra", what we have done is simply to let people know that we resonate and empathize with their desire to have their sins and failures removed. "Hare-hare" is a legitimate prayer to pray. We then offer both the form and substance of the "TriEak Parmeshwar Mahamantra" -- pointing people to a fulfillment that can be found in Christ. In response to our "hare-hare", Jesus, by virtue of his atonement on the cross says, "Yes!" He has accomplished by his blood what countless Hindus pray for daily.