Monday, February 29, 2016

Sahaj Marg Prayer: Why should we pray?

Why should we pray?
By Sanskrit Kannan (SRCM Preceptor)

         There are many among us claiming to be rational and argue that if at all there is God and if He knows everything, why should anyone pray to Him to be redeemed of his or her sufferings?  If He is full of mercy and love, why should He make you suffer?  This is a basic question anybody could ask us.  To arrive at a solution, we should try to understand what suffering is.  This question was asked to Rev. Chariji Maharaj once during a discussion.  In a flash, Rev. Chariji Maharaj replied, “That which you don’t like”.  This very crisp and apt answer of Rev. Chariji Maharaj points out that when we are faced with some situations which we do not like, we try to escape from there.  Then we try to find means for it.  We have to spend a lot of time and energy over this.  Thus, we suffer.  If we do not get the desired object, that leads us to dejection and despair forming impressions and subsequently we have to suffer.  So, it is understood that God does not make you to suffer.  He has given us, as Rev. Chariji Maharaj used to say, two potential objects, ‘Will to act’ and ‘Intellect to judge’.  If we use it in the right way, even the sufferings become His blessings!  In fact, the fifth maxim of Rev. Babuji Maharaj says, “Be truthful.  Take miseries as Divine blessings for your own good and be thankful”.  It is clear from this that we should not pray to get away from sufferings.

         Rev. Chariji Maharaj used to quote one poem of Saint Kabir which sys, “When I am happy, I don’t think of the Lord.  When I am suffering, I think of Him. Therefore, I prefer suffering than to be happy”.  Rev. Babuji Maharaj has said, “Where can we find such matchless Ṛṣis of India who prayed to God that all the sufferings of this world should come to them?”  So, we do not pray for getting rid of petty problems, be they of any nature.

         Then why should we pray?  First of all, when we pray sincerely, we try to establish our link with God.  So, Prayer plays an important role in our union with God.  Secondly, when we pray, we submit before the Lord Almighty our meekness, our inability and accept his superiority and greatness.  Thus, automatically humility sets in our mind and when practised sincerely our attitude towards others also changes.  It is worthwhile to remind here what Rev. Chariji Maharaj said about the need for an abhyāsi.  He said, “An abhyāsi should always have humility”.  Thirdly, when we pray to the Lord, we forget ourselves, i.e., we do not pray with the consciousness that ‘I am a millionaire’, ‘I am healthy’, ‘I am an intellectual’ etc.  During the Prayer, everyone bows his/her head before the Lord or the Master and everyone becomes equal before Him!.  Fourthly, Rev. Babuji Maharaj has said, “When the world emerged into the present form, the central point was already rooted deep in all the beings.  This central point rooted in us being a part of the Supreme, turns our attention towards the Source.  In Prayer, we try to reach upto the same central point”.

         There is also another important reason for resorting to Prayer as an effective means in our sādhana.  What cannot be achieved by human strength, human effort, human knowledge and will power can be achieved by our sincere prayer, from the deep core of our hearts.  We have thousands of examples, where lives of people have been saved not due to the best available medical facilities but miraculously due to the ‘Prayer’ of the people from their hearts!  

         In Voice Real, Rev. Babuji Maharaj has given one example of a person who went to Him and said that he was not feeling the transmission though he had been trying to do meditation regularly for months.  Rev.Babuji Maharaj has stated that though He was transmitting it was not going into the heart of the abhyāsi.  It was not penetrating as there was resistance or a block like a big rock.  So, he asked the abhyāsi to pray for six months sincerely.  And after six months, Rev. Babuji was happy to find that the transmission, indeed, could enter the heart of the abhyāsi.  So this is the efficacy of Prayer.  Hence, Prayer forms an important role in our sādhana.

We can realise from this the efficacy of the Prayer and hence Prayer proves to be an indispensible aspect of our sādhana.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sahaj Marg Raja Yoga: The importance of mind

By Sanskrit Kannan (SRCM Preceptor)

         Mind plays a vital role in the human existence, for it is the mind which distinguishes man from other species.  The word manuya (man in English) is derived from the root ‘man’, i.e., to think.  Hence, Raja Yoga (the royal path of Yoga) mainly focuses its attention on the mind. Every action is preceded by thought and mind is the origin for it.  Hence, by cleansing the mind, by transforming it from its animalistic tendencies to human and divine level, it becomes purified and becomes the divine mind.  Patañjali has defined ‘Yoga’ itself (YS I.2) as “yoga cittavtti nirodha”, i.e., the cessation of the tendencies of the mind is Yoga.  In his Yoga Sūtras, he has given prominence to the mind and not to the other physical activities like the Āsanas, Prāāyāma and there is no mention about the later texts of Haha Yoga.  Even the texts which extol the merits of Haha yogic practices, say that Haha Yoga is only the preliminary step to Raja Yoga.

         Sahaj Marg has fully understood this aspect and it focuses its attention on the mind, the root of everything.  The Amtabindu Upaniad, which is one among the Yoga Upaniads say,

         mana eva manuā kāraa bandhamokayo|
 bandhāya viyāsakta muktyai  nirviaya smtam” ||

(“The mind is the root cause for both bondage and liberation.  If the mind is attached with worldly things, it is bondage and if it is not so, it is liberation”).

         One important aspect of Sahaj Marg teaching and training is that the mind should not be controlled by force.  Here, the mind is slowly and gently refined and regulated in a very natural way by the transmission of divine energy by the Master and the Preceptors appointed by Him.  The cleaning practised regularly by the abhyāsis backed up by the meditation as prescribed by the Master, strengthens the mind and will power and checks the outward tendencies of the mind.  Thus, slowly the mind is transformed and gets divinised by attaching oneself with the Master.

         The mind is the seat of emotions and feelings.  The Bhad Ārayaka Upaniad (I.5.3) says,

         kāmasakalpovicikitsāśraddhā'śraddhādhtiradhtirhrīrdhīrbhīrityetatsarva mana eva

(“Desire, resolve, faith, lack of faith, steadfastness, lack of steadfastness, shyness, intellect, fear – all these are the mind only”)

         That is why Sahaj Marg emphasises the need to regulate the mind and not control it by any forceful means.  It may also be noted that Patañjali, who propounder of Yoga system of thought has recommended Samādhi by giving more attention to the mind.  The word ‘Samādhi’ can be explained as Sama + Ādhi, i.e., equilibrium of the mind (Ādhi means mental disturbance).  The word vyādhi is used to denote physical disease, which means that our ancients know that the mental disturbance could cause physical ailment too.  Hence, even in the Haha Yoga, control of mind is considered as a very important aspect and different means are adopted for the same.  But Sahaj Marg teaches a gentle, soft, natural and highly efficient path for this.  It says, “As you have to ride on a horse to train and master a horse, you have to start with the mind, train the mind and become the master of it”.  Training in Sahaj Marg gives more prominence to the mind than to the other organs.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sahaj Marg Prayer: What is Prayer?


         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 “Aprāo 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. 


By Sanskrit Kannan (SRCM Preceptor of Sahaj Marg)

         As we all know, Prayer forms an important aspect in the Sahaj Marg daily Sādhana, the other two being Meditation (in the morning) and Cleaning (after the day’s work is over).  In our Sahaj Marg system, we are advised to offer our Prayer at bed-time, i.e., before going to sleep in the night in a supplicant mood with our heart full of love.  A separate Prayer containing just three sentences is prescribed by the Master.  It reads thus:

         O Master
          Thou are the real goal of human life
          We are yet but slaves of wishes putting bar to our advancement
          Thou art the only God and power to bring us upto that stage”.

         Before we go into the details of the Prayer in our Shri Ram Chandra Mission, let us try to find out what we understand by the term ‘Prayer’ and through this understanding, try to answer the following questions.

Ø  What is prayer?
Ø  Why should we pray?
Ø  How should we pray?
Ø  What should we pray for?
Ø  And finally, to whom should we pray?

All these questions will be answered elaborately in the subsequent posts.