Prayer- A Contemplative Conversation

Martin Luther King Jr. said

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step”.

Most of us in our times of our difficulties question our faith, beliefs as to whether God exists or no? If he does why the suffering? In such times, it is important to hold ourselves as firmly as possible. No matter how painful the situation, no matter how bad the day goes, ‘Be Strong’. Don’t forget, a diamond undergoes a lot of grinding, cutting and polishing before you see it as it is.

You may wonder, what is it that will hold me together? The answer is Optimism, Faith and Prayer.

Believe it or not, a prayer is man’s greatest power. It enables us to maintain a rapport with the Supreme. A prayer in layman terms would be “Conversation with God”. Prayer can be the unfolding of your innermost emotions, thoughts, a few verses in His glory. A prayer doesn’t change God or affect Him in anyway. It brings about a transformation in the person who has said the prayer.

A question may arise- If it’s a conversation, where’s the part where God talks to you?

The fact is God does talk to you. All you need to do is ‘listen’. There is a huge difference between listen and hear. Listening involves your mind as well whereas hearing doesn’t. In other words, you register what is being spoken to you while in hearing you do not. You always listen when you are calm and quiet. A calm mind can empower the body with tremendous energy. The best way to calm the mind down is to meditate. Meditation means to contemplate and what better way than to contemplate on the Supreme.

BG 9.22

ananyas cintayanto mam
ye janah paryupasate
tesam nityabhiyuktanam
yoga-ksemam vahamy aham

But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form-to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.

Srimad Bhagavatham 6.1.19

“Although not having fully realized Krishna, persons who have even once surrendered completely unto His lotus feet and who have become attracted to His name, form, qualities and past-times are completely freed of all sinful reactions, for they have thus accepted the true method of atonement. Even in dreams, such surrendered souls do not see Yamaraja or his order carriers who are equipped with ropes to bind the sinful”.

It is clearly stated, one who simply surrenders to Him, has nothing to fear.

Always remember,

“God is the best listener. You don’t need to shout or cry our loud because he hears even the very silent prayer of a sincere heart”.

Moksha comes with a price ( Part 1)

The ultimate aim of spiritual life.

Moksha… many spiritual practioners strive to attain moksha. Well, there are primarily four types of moksha:

  1. Saalokya Mukti (Going to same abode as per form of the Lord)
  2. Saamipya Mukti (Being close to that form of the Lord)
  3. Saarupya Mukti ( Attaining the same form of the Lord)
  4. Saayuja Mukti  ( Merging with the Supreme Lord)

To attain moksha, one must be pious- in thoughts, words and deeds. To be pious one need not bathe in the Ganges or trek the Himalayas. It all begins with the simple yet important decision of surrendering to the Almighty. It is stated in the Bhagavad Gita

BG 18.65

man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo ‘si me

“Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend”.

Krishna promises Arjuna that those who worship him with faith will undoubtedly reached Him. Krishna is self sufficient, He can protect and serve Himself yet He choses to be served by His devotees inorder to give them the chance to come back to Him.

The tale of Gajendra Moksha is a well known story told to kids in their early stages in order to instill the faith in them that God always hears you in whatever situation you are. In short, a king was cursed to become an elephant by the great sage Agastya. One day, the elephant was wading in the waters of the Mandara hills. A crocodile caught hold of the giant’s leg and dragged it into the water. Due to king’s pious karma, he remembered a prayer to the Lord and in its dire situation with utter devotion called out Lord Vishnu’s name. Lord Vishnu arrived at the scene and liberated both the crocodile( who was also cursed for his insolant behaviour towards a sage) and the elephant( who attained Saarupya mukti). This story truly tells us the Lord is hearing us and all we need to do is call out to Him sincerely.

In the olden days, sages and kings would perform penance for thousands for years( I am pretty sure that you would have read/heard stories at least). Their penance was not a simple one, it would be a one of utterly back-breaking(Literally). Imagine standing on one toe for 10000000…… years just to please a diety to get a boon.In todays world and current scenario, its obvious that one cannot stand one a toe for thousands of years on a hilltop with nothing but a loin. Let alone one toe, the average lifespan of humans have dropped down to 68 years( male) and 72 years for female. So what is the solution if one can’t perform such penances to please the Lord? How are we supposed to attain liberation from this cycle of birth and death?

The Answer is simple: chant His names– be it the Vishnu Sahasranamam, Achyutastakam, Hare Krishna Mantra, Narasimha Kavacham and thousand others. Even visiting temples to pray to the diety is a form of expressing your devotion. Visiting temples with devotion can indeed wash away the sins accumulated over many life times. For example, the tirupati temple, located in Andhra Pradesh, the second richest temple in the world is a must visit! Located on the Tirumala hills also known as Venkatachala hills, the literal translation is Ven meaning sins and kata meaning destroyed. According to scriptures, if one visits these hills with utmost devotion inorder to see the Lord, his/her sins are washed away.  Not only tirupati, but any temple visited with sincerity and selflessness i.e., if one goes to a temple with no other intention except to seek the Lord’s  mercy and his grace one is sure to receive His protection.

So why does Moksha come with a price? And most importantly, what is the price that one must pay inorder to get liberated from this “material world” ?

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita was spoken by Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra to deliver mankind by giving a message which is very relevant in the modern ages. The Bhagavad Gita in a nutshell is “You have the right to perform your prescribed duties but you are not entitled to fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the result of your activities and never be attached to not doing your duty. Perform your duty and have faith in the Supreme Lord”.  It is in fact a boon to mankind and its significance can’t be given in a few words.

This book of 18 chapters and 700 verses.  is the ideal source of inspiration we can look up to. If one looks at the book deeply, one will observe that the solution to every problem in the world is encoded in it be it- controlling the mind, desires, lust, anger, taking a decision. There is no simpler book that enlightens us on the five truths: The jiva( the living), Isvara( The controller), Prakriti( The material nature), karma( Activity) and time.

The Bhagavad Gita is the essence of all scriptures. Reading and contemplating it is equivalent to mastering all the scriptures.One who reads the sacred conversation of Krishna and Arjuna with faith and without envy becomes free from sinful reactions and his /her ignorance will be dispelled. But the necessary condition is “without envy”. Krishna’s concluding statements are “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear”.