Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sahaj Marg Prayer: To whom should we pray?

By Sanskrit Kannan (SRCM Preceptor)

         From time immemorial, human beings have been praying to gods of various names and forms for different things.  Let us see our mode of worship from the historic past.  Rev. Chariji Maharaj has written on this aspect in an article entitled “The Beauty of Sahaj Marg” (published in the Souvenir released on the occasion of the inauguration of the Ashram at Tinsukia, Assam and subsequently published in the Principles of Sahaj Marg (Volume 1).  He has analysed beautifully the ‘aspect of worship’, how it underwent some modifications.  First the man worshipped the Nature.  Then he began to worship the powers behind the Nature.  Later on, he gave some form to each of the power and then began to worship these forms.  Thus, when we look into the earliest text of this world, viz., the g Veda, we find that nearly one-third of the text is devoted to Indra, who is the most powerful God, followed by Agni (Fire), Varua etc.  Then, as the days progressed, the worship of the Trinity, i.e., Brahma, Viṣṇu and Śiva came into prominence.  Now, we find thousands of temples in India which makes us feel as if gods are being created or invented with so many names and forms for which we do not have any reference in the scriptures.

         After the Karma Kāṇḍa portion (i.e., sections dealing with various rituals), in the Upaniadic time, Jñāna ṇḍa portion (section dealing with transcendental knowledge), the superiority of Brahman, the Absolute without names, forms and attributes was emphasised.  So, the saints exclaimed, “kasmai devāya haviā vidhema” (To which God shall we offer sacrifice).

But, how to pray to the Reality without name and form?  Can it be done?  Is it correct?  Lord Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavadgītā thus:

 avyaktā hi gatirdukha dehavadbhiravāpyate”

(“It is more difficult to worship the Unmanifest Reality.  And those who do so have to undergo lot of sufferings”).

That is why the Lord says very often in the Bhagavadgītā to worship Him, to be devoted to Him and to surrender to Him.  He was the living Guru for Arjuna and also the Personality (Avatāra)) for that period and hence, he advised so.  Rev. Babuji Maharaj has also said (Deva Vani p.284), “We should always pray to the Supreme Master, the omnipotent and the omniscient alone with a mind totally absorbed in love and submission to him forgetting even ourselves altogether.  One should always pray to Him alone who is the Master in the true sense.  I do not think it proper to pray to the slaves, i.e., to those powers which are sub-ordinate to man and which are potentialised by him.  The ravages of time have now reduced them to a consumptive state.  This is the proper way of offering prayer, which in such a state seldom goes unrewarded”.

Rev. Chariji Maharaj has told us once that when His Master Rev. Babuji Maharaj was in the hospital, even some of our senior preceptors had a doubt whether to pray to Rev. Lalaji Maharaj or God or to Rev. Babuji Maharaj Himself for His health.  Rev. Charii Maharaj said, “Even for His health, we should pray to Him alone”.  And also it is the duty of every sincere abhyāsi to pray for the health of Rev. Master.

Now, let us see our Mission Prayer.  It reads - 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”.

Rev. Babuji Maharaj has prescribed this prayer to all of us.  Regarding the mode of offering the prayer, He says, “One thing more by way of practice is to offer daily the above brief prayer at bed time in the most supplicant mood and with a heart overflowing with love for the Divine”.  He adds, “Repeat the above in your mind once or twice and meditate over it for a few minutes.  The prayer must be offered in such a way as if some most miserable man is laying down his miseries with a deeply affected heart before the Supreme Master, imploring his mercy and grace with tearful eyes.  Then alone can he become a deserving aspirant of spirituality”.

Now, let us analyse the Prayer of our Mission.  It is addressed to the Master.  Rev. Chariji Maharaj has said that God’s function was over after the creation of this universe.  Thereafter, it is the work of the Master.  The Master comes essentially for the change.  Hence, our Prayer is always addressed to the Master.  Moreover, Rev. Babuji has said, “God is mindless”.  Our sacred texts also accept that God is attribute-less.  Hence, when we pray to God, how can He receive our Prayer?  Therefore, the divine takes the human form whom we address as MASTER, only to bring us all to our Original Source, our Homeland, which is Himself!

In the human form, He possesses the mind to receive our prayer.  More than that, He has a heart which is full of love, affection, compassion to all the beings.  Thus, our link with the Ultimate is established through Him.  It is easier for the human beings to love the one with form and He exists in this form.  Nevertheless, we have to go beyond form as Rev. Chariji Maharaj said, “We have to love Him both at the human level and at the divine level”.

The first line of the prayer says, “Thou art the real goal of human life”.  It says that He is the real goal and not the stages like liberation, realisation etc. Rev. Chariji Maharaj once narrated an incident.  Once in Shahjahanpur, an abhyāsi prayed to Rev. Babuji Maharaj to bless him with Brahmanda Mandal.  After the abhyāsi left, Rev. Babuji Maharaj told Rev. Chariji Maharaj, “Look here, Parthasarathi, when I am here he wants Brahmanda Mandal.  Rev. Chariji Maharaj told us then that He felt so sad because when the Centre itself (i.e., Master) is there, the abhyāsis are craving for this region and that region etc.  Rev. Babuji Maharaj has said that if we fix our goal correctly, most of our job is over.  This first line our our Prayer gives the correct picture of our goal, what we should aspire for in this life.

The second line says, “We are yet but slaves of wishes putting bar to our advancement”.  It says that we pray with a selfish notion.  “I want this, I want that” etc.  Thus, we are only slaves of our own desires.  This is a hindrance for our progress.

The third line says, “Thou art the only God and power to bring us upto that stage”.  Here, we address Him as the God and also power.  Many spiritual leaders have said, “God is Power”.  But Rev. Babuji Maharaj has said, “God is powerless”.

Once, Rev. Chariji Maharaj clarified this point to us during a discussion.  He said, “God cannot be power, for when power is generated, there should be disintegration.  How can there be disintegration in the omni-pervasive God?”  Here comes the beauty of Sahaj Marg.  In our Prayer, we say, “O Master.. Thou art the only God and power to bring us upto that stage”.  It means that Master possesses that which God does not possess and also He brings us all towards Himself, which the God cannot do (perhaps, this is a divine mystery that God Himself has chosen!).  The Master does not merely push us or place us in that condition but He brings us.  Thus, all along we feel his presence, His company with us, starting from the beginning in our path ‘Towards Infinity’ till we find Himself as the ‘Infinity’.  On and on we go.  Nay, He brings us.  Thus, He is always in us, with us.  Therefore, we feel the manifestation of the Master at all levels.  Is it not a wonder that He transforms us into that Infinity that He Himself is!

Another aspect to be noted in the last line of our prayer is that we say to the Master that He alone is capable of bringing us to that stage in which He is and we do not crave for His power, His position etc.  It is also important to note that a disciple can always be a disciple and never a Master!  Because, in our Puraas, we find lot of stories.  The classic examples of Hirayakasipu, Ravana etc. who wanted to usurp the position of God or who wanted to be God were all destroyed.  But the devotees like Dhruva, Prahlada and others who prayed to the Lord only to surrender themselves became immortal.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Sahaj Marg Prayer: What should we pray for?

By Sanskrit Kannan (SRCM Preceptor)

         This is very important because Rev. Babuji Maharaj has said, “Whenever a man enters into that state, even for a moment, his prayer is granted”.  Therefore, having established our link with the Supreme Master through Prayer, is it not foolish to pray for petty worldly things?  Rev. Babuji Himself says, “It is folly to pray to God for petty worldly ends except in most exceptional cases when peace of mind is greatly disturbed for want of bare necessities”.  Rev. Chariji Maharaj also has said, “We should pray only for noble things and we should pray without any selfish notions.  Very often, when our prayers are answered we are in trouble”!  He has also said that we should not pray for the relief from head-ache, for getting money or even for knowledge.  Therefore, we have to be very careful even when He asks us, “What do you want?”  We should say, “Nothing except you, Master”, for everything other than Him is only transitory.

         Unfortunately, in all our religious literature, including our sacred Vedas, we find the sages praising the powers of Nature or Gods and praying to them to bless them with wealth, health, progeny, strength etc.  Even the first g of the g Veda (considered to be the oldest literature) says,

agnimīḻe purohitam yajñasya devaṁ ṛtvijam hotāraṁ ratnadhātamam

(“I worship the Fire, who is the priest, the deity of the sacrifices, the knower of Vedas, the performer and one who gives the precious jewels”).

         Similarly, all throughout the Stotra literature, we find people glorifying the various gods and finally begging the gods to bestow upon them various benefits.

         In the Bhagavadgītā (VII.16), Lord Kṛṣṇa says,
         caturvidhā bhajante mā janā suktino'rjuna
 ārto jijñāsurarthārthī jñānī ca bharatarabha

(“O, Arjuna, four types of people worship Me.  They are those who are afflicted, those desirous of knowledge, those desirous of wealth and a Jñānī”).  But of these four, who is the best?  The Lord answers (VII.17) thus:

teā jñānī nityukta ekabhaktirviśiyate
 priyo hi jñānino'tyarthamaha sa ca mama priya

(Among these, the Jñānī, who is ever established in Me with single-minded devotion, is the best.  I am dearest to him and so is he to Me”)

         This also clearly shows what we should pray for.  Rev. Chariji Maharaj referred one incident during His speech on 30th April 1986 (Rev. Babuji Maharaj’s 87th birth anniversary celebrations) at the Congress Grounds in Chennai.  An abhyāsi was about to leave Shahjahanpur after staying with Rev. Babuji Maharaj for some day.  Rev. Babuji Maharaj asked him, “What do you want?”  The abhyāsi replied, “Babuji, I want 25 paise to go to my village”.  Later, Rev. Babuji Maharaj remarked, “This man had come all the way to Shahjahanpur and what he got was only 25 paise”.

         It is also important to note that most of us pray only with selfish notions, i.e., ‘I’ predominant.  I pray for my wealth, health, to get rid of diseases, for my spiritual progress.  Rev. Chariji Maharaj said once, “To Rev. Babuji Maharaj also we prayed like that, when He was in the physical frame.  When He was in the hospital, some abhyāsis prayed to Him for liberation, Central Region, Realisation etc. before He passed away.  Just imagine, what would have He thought at that time.  How much of agony and suffering He would have undergone at that time.  He would have felt, ‘Look, these people don’t want me.  They want only Central Region etc.  There will be someone who will come next to me.  He would give them all these.  Let me go away”.  This is a very, very great lesson for us that we should be aware of what we pray for”.

         Rev. Chariji Maharaj has also said, “Wrong prayer gives you wrong result”.  We have many stories in our mythologies to illustrate this.  Let us see one simple story.  One demon (Bhasmasura) did penance for a long time and when Lord Śiva appeared before him and granted him a boon, he prayed, “Lord, on whose head I lay my hand upon, his head should be burnt to ashes”.  This was granted.  He wanted to test this on Lord Śiva Himself and poor Śiva ran from him!  At last, Lord Viṣṇu had to come in the form of a beautiful damsel and made the demon touch his own head so that the demon was burnt to ashes.

         So, we should always pray for the noble cause, for the right cause.  We should always pray for the ‘highest’ that He can give us.  And what is that ‘highest’?  Nothing except Himself!  So, we should always pray to Him for Him alone and not for the things that He can give us, however great that may be.  In The Garden of Hearts, Rev. Chariji Maharaj has pointed out this great truth with the story of Arjuna and Duryodhana.  Before the Mahābhārata war started, both of them went to Lord Kṛṣṇa seeking His help.  Arjuna said, “My Lord, I want only You”, whereas Duryodhana was happy to take all the army of the Lord.  We know what happened in the end.

         This teaches us a great lesson that when the Master Himself is with you, what is the need for anything else at all?”  I we possess all the wealth in this world and yet do not possess Him, then it is absolutely useless.  On the other hand, even if we don’t possess anything materially and possess Him in us always, we are the monarchs.  As Rev. Babuji Maharaj said very clearly that not even all the riches of the greatest emperor of this world could be equal to the one what Rev. Lalaji Maharaj gave Him.  What was that?  Rev. Lalaji Maharaj gave Himself to His disciple Rev. Babuji Maharaj. 

Therefore, we should pray to the Master that we need Him and Him alone and not for things that He can give us.  If we pray sincerely like this, even He won’t have any choice and He will yield Himself as He is always ready to give, Nay, He is always giving – giving Himself.  Once, Rev. Babuji Maharaj said, “Spirituality is a charitable work.  The Master always gives to whom-so-ever comes to Him because of His compassion and love towards all the beings.  He goes on giving.  We have to pray in such a way that He is always in us.  Now, we come to the most important and final question which will be addressed in the next article. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sahaj Marg Prayer: How should we pray?

By Sanskrit Kannan (SRCM Preceptor)

         After knowing why we should pray, we come to the next important question, how should be pray?  All of us, knowingly or unknowingly, when we go to temples or at home or when we go to saints or before the Supreme Master, offer our prayer.  At that time, we forget what we are; we do not have the feeling, “I am a Scholar”, “I am an Executive” or “I am a Scientist” etc.  Because before the Supreme Master, we are the same – His children.  He does not look at our beauty, our wealth, our health, our intelligence etc.  He looks at our heart.  So, the main attitude of our prayer should be humility.  This does not require any specific time or place.  Rev. Babuji Maharaj has said (Deva Vani p.285), “No particular time is fixed for the prayer.  One can do it when he feels inclined to it or else he should try to crete disposition for it when required”.

         Since in Prayer, we try to establish our link with God (or the Divine Master), it is necessary to offer our prayer in a supplicant mood with our heart full of love and devotion.  Rev. Babuji Maharaj has written in detail regarding this aspect.  I reproduce here the summary of His writing taken from Deva Vani (p.283-85):

         “In Prayer, we stand before Him as an humble supplicant presenting to Him our true state and completely resigning ourselves to His will.  This is the true form of prayer and as a true devotee, we must also feel satisfied with the will of the Master.

“Constant practice brings a man to a state in which he begins to feel himself in prayer all through.  This state is acquired when an abhyāsi practises in the way directed above and the divine grace sets into motion.  When the final stage is reached, he begins to dwell all through in a state of prayer even while discharging his worldly duties, and the same state prevails during all his worldly engagements without the least disturbance or interruption.

“When the world emerged into the present form, the central point was already rooted 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.  This is possible only when we create a similar state within.  This requires practice.  It can be attained by resigning ourselves to the Divine will, which is absolutely simple and tranquil.  Apparently, it seems to be very difficult but in fact, it is not so, though only for those who aspire for it.  When a man creates in him a strong craving for the Absolute, he is indeed in a state of prayer, and it is for everyone to strive for.  Whenever a man enters into that state even for a moment, his prayer is granted.  But it requires continued practice to accomplish it.  People should be exhorted to offer such a type of prayer.  If one achieves and settles down in it, what else remains for him to do except remembrance; and that too in a way that it never comes into consciousness even”.

Thus, when we read Rev. Babuji Maharaj’s advice, we can understand that the feeling ‘I’ should not exist when we offer prayer in a supplicant mood.  Then, there is a vacuum in the heart, which attracts the Divine grace of the Master.  Therefore, when we pray in this way, our Prayer is bound to reach Him.

I would also like to narrate to you what Rev. Chariji Maharaj told me during a discussion - “Rev. Babuji Maharaj said, “I know my associates love me.  But it is only skin-deep.  They also pray to me.  But it does not reach me”.

When Rev. Babuji Maharaj went on a foreign tour (in 1982), He gave special powers to two abhyāsis in India to pray for Him.  But, He told Rev. Chariji Maharaj that even their prayers do not reach Him.  Even when Babuji was in hospital in 1982, no prayer of the abhyāsis reached Him.  Rev. Chariji Maharaj also told us, “If there is fear, you cannot pray to Him.  Prayer comes only from Love”.  “All of us pray with selfish notion. “I” is predominant”.

Rev. Chariji Maharaj also told us once, “Many abhyasis say that they pray for Master’s welfare, but I don’t receive the prayer.  It is not deep.  It is only the wish of the abhyāsi that Master should live long and not Prayer.  In Prayer, ‘I’ should not be there at all.  As Rev. Babuji Maharaj has said, “You should be like a beggar with an empty bowl in your hand, without any consciousness of what you are begging for”.  I would like to add that I tried to pray as suggested by Rev. Chariji Maharaj.  After two days, I succeeded in it, but this condition for a few minutes only and I felt my ego came as a barrier to remain in that condition for a longer duration.  It was indeed a very great lesson for me and I thank my Master for the same.  Let us get to the next important question in the next article.