Vaisnava Sharana is a well-loved vaisnava song, part of a larger work glorifing the followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, composed by Devakinandana dasa, who, it is understood, was known as Gopal Chapal prior to receiving Mahaprabhu's grace and becoming a Vaisnava himself. The translation here is from a lecture by HDG Srila Gour Govinda Swami given in 1986.
It is explained by Sriman Mahaprabhu in Sri Caitanya bhagavata, (antya lila 3rd chapter)
ei satya kahi toma sabara kevala
na janiya ninda yeba karila sakala
ara yadi nindya-karma kabhu na acare
nirantara visnu-vaisnava stuti kare
e sakala papa ghuce ei se upaya
koti prayascitte o anyatha nahi yaya
*What I say is the truth, if a person has commited blasphemy stops blaspheming others and instead praises Lord Visnu and the vaisnavas, then all of that persons sins and aparadhas will be destroyed. That is the correct way to destroy them. Otherwise crores of ritual atonements will not destroy them.
Why this prayer ?
The poem known as Vaisnava Sharana is chanted on a daily basis by many Gaudiya Vaisnavas, as it is known help purify it’s chanter of vaisnava aparadha, and also to prevent future offenses.
This poem is actually the final portion of a much larger work, Vaisnava-vandana, a prayer mentioning by name many of Mahaprabhu’s most important associates. It was written by Sri Debakinandana das Thakur.
translation by HDG Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja.
Vrndavana-basi jata vaisnavera gana
Prathame vandana kori sabara carana
*The Vaisnavas residing in Vrindavan, first I pay obeisances at their lotus feet. I worship their lotus feet.
Nilacala basi jata mahaprabhur gana
Bhumite padiya bandon sabara carana
*Mahaprabhur gana, the associates of Mahaprabhu, the Vaisnavas residing in Nilacala dhama, Jagannath Puri dhama, I, falling flat on the ground, worship their lotus feet.
Navadvipa-basi jata mahaprabhur bhakta
Sabara carana bandon hana anurakta
*The devotees of Mahaprabhu who are in Navadvipa, I worship the lotus feet of one and all of those devotees. That is stated. This is humility, invoking the mercy of all the Vaisnavas.
Mahaprabhur bhakta jata gauda dese sthithi
Sabara carana bando koriya pranati
*The devotees of Mahaprabhu who are resding in Gauda desh, Gauda Mandala bhumi, I worship the lotus feet of one and all. I pay my obeisances at the lotus feet of one and all.
Je dese je dese baise gaurangera gana
Urdhva bahu kori bando sabara carana
*Gaurangera gana, Gaurangera jana, Gaura bhaktas, the devotees of Gauranga, they may be residing in any country, eastern country, western country, wherever they are, raising up my hands I pay dandavats to one and all at their lotus feet.
Hanacena haibena prabhura jata dasa
Sabara carana bandon dante kori ghasa
*Those who are already devotees of Mahaprabhu, and in the future, those who are coming in the future, those who will be the devotees of Gauranga Mahaprabhu, those who will be Gaura bhaktas, I worship the feet of one and all.
Brahmanda tarite shakti dhare jane jane
E veda purane guna gaya jeba sune
*Even a single pure Vaisnava, jane jane, he can deliver the whole world, he has such potency. This is the Vedic conclusion. One must listen to it. One must glorify the Vaisnavas. One who glorifies the Vaisnavas, he is very fortunate, all of his sinful reactions will be annihilated. Such Vaisnava charita is all spiritual, that is stated in the Vedas, Puranas.
Mahaprabhura gana saba patita pavana
Tai lobhe mui papi lainu sharana
*The men of Mahaprabhu, the devotees of Lord Caitanya, they are all Patita pavana they are the deliverers of the patita, fallen souls. Developing this greed in my heart, I take shelter of their lotus feet.
Vandana karite mui kata shakti dhori
Tamo buddhi dose mui dambha matra kori
*I have no strength, no shakti to glorify the Vaisnavas. I think ‘Yes I can do it, I can glorify the Vaisnavas’ but this is tamo buddhi. Out of ignorance I have developed this pride.
Tathapi mukera bhagya manera ullasa
Dosa ksami mo adhame koro nija dasa
*Yet this is my fortune. I am mukha, a dumb man, I have no speaking power to glorify the Vaisnavas. Still I get pleasure in my mind by doing so. You please excuse my offences at your lotus feet, you please accept me as one of your servants.
Sarva vancha siddhi hoy janma bandha chute
Jagate durlabha haya premadhana lute
*All of your desires will be fulfilled if you get the mercy of such a Vaisnava. You will be freed from the clutches of Yamaraj. Then you will be able to achieve Prema Bhakti, which is very rare in this material world. It is only by Guru kripa, Vaisnava kripa. No other way.
Manera vasana purna acirate haya
Debakinandana dasa ei lobhe koya
*The desires that you have in your mind will be fulfilled very soon if you get the mercy of such a Vaisnava. Therefore Debakinandana das sings this song.