WHAT IS PRAYER? BY SANSKRIT KANNAN, SRCM PRECEPTOR
According to the Dictionary, Prayer generally means solemn request to God or the Supreme Being. However, this definition is not comprehensive. Prayer includes in itself many aspects and different meanings. The popular understanding of this word is ‘to beg before the Lord’ by glorifying Him and also expressing one’s own sufferings. We have a vast literature in almost all the languages of this world where we can find words either in prose or in verse form glorifying the God. There are a lot of stories in which even the animals and trees pray to the Lord for His support and protection and blessings.
People often think that by prayer they should chant the name of God, to praise God, to glorify God in many thousands of names, as if God cannot be pleased by the recitation and contemplation of a single name. On one hand, we say that He is nameless, formless and attribute-less, but, on the other hand, we give Him so many names, forms etc. And we blame God if our prayer is not answered or if we do not get a positive result. But is it right? The mistake is only on our part because Rev. Babuji Maharaj has aptly said that God is mindless. In the Vedas also, we find “Aprāṇo hi amanāḥ” etc. So, we have been praying to the gods we have created and we have become slaves of these gods. In other words, we have becomes slaves of our own creations! Hence, our prayer has lost all its importance and significance. No doubt, Rev. Babuji Maharaj has said, “Prayer is begging and Meditation is having”. But Rev. Chariji Maharaj has said, “Prayer is not merely begging”.
In this connection, I am reminded of an incident that took place in Chennai about a decade or earlier. On an invitation from a sister abhyāsi, Rev. Chariji Maharaj, his wife, his father and some of us were assembled in her house for house-warming ceremony. We had satsangh at 06.30 p.m. (conducted by Rev. Chariji’s father) and there were a few speeches. After dinner, Rev. Chariji Maharaj was talking to us on some aspects of Sahaj Marg. He told me, “Prayer is not begging and we should not merely stop with Prayer”. Just then we heard the voice of a beggar at the entrance of the house. Immediately, Rev. Chariji Maharaj smiled and told me, “You see, Master’s grace. Now, I get an idea like a flash. You heard the voice of the beggar from outside the compound. So when you beg, your approach is only up to the gate (or door). When some friend comes to your house, you receive him and take him to the drawing room. So his right stops there. But when it is your wife, she has full freedom to go anywhere in the house – the kitchen, bed-room etc. So, if the relationship is based on LOVE, there is no limitation. That is why I say you should not merely pray, but ‘Love’ the Master! Do you understand now?” Well, it was a beautiful way of Rev. Chariji Maharaj’s teaching us, isn’t it?
From this, we can understand that even when we offer our Prayer to Rev. Master, it should be from the heart and with love. So, Prayer is not mere uttering of words, be it in any language, or any ritual that has been enjoined in our scriptures. Rev. Babuji Maharaj has defined prayer in a very simple way. “Prayer is the easiest and surest way of establishing our link with God”. This profound statement has a lot of meaning. In order to understand the different aspects of prayer, we have to look into its various aspects. These are explained in further posts.