A request and a disclaimer: Before you begin to read this blog, request you to read the earlier published blogs under the main title ‘MAnvi, her thAthA and their discussions’. Reading the earlier blogs in this series may help in an easier understanding to what is discussed in this blog. Teachings of pUjya SwAmi Dayananda Sarawati in his books titled ‘Purpose of Prayer’ and ‘Prayer Guide’ are my main source of references in this blog series. The language and explanations used by pUjya swAmiji in both the books are profound; and I pray that I do justice by aligning my understanding to his explanation, as I parallelly try to relate it to day to day living.. Any error in the way I have blogged upon, on the topic of ‘Prayer’ is due to an error in my understanding alone.
MAnvi: thAthA, what do you mean by praying and what is a prayer?
thAthA: MAnvi, in English, the word pray is what part of speech?
MAnvi: It is a verb.
thAthA: And a verb is something that denotes an action. So when you pray, you are taking an action towards something. Is that right?
MAnvi (thinking to herself that thAthA sure knows what example to take which she will connect to easily, gets even more curious): Correct, I pray to achieve or gain something for either myself or others.
thAthA (smiling): MAnvi, do you also pray to lose something or get rid of something?
MAnvi slowly digs into her pocket to take out a small notepad and a pen, and quickly notes that question down.
thAthA (once she completes writing, he waits for a few seconds and begins speaking): MAnvi, most of us or perhaps all of us at sometime or the other, pray to gain or lose something. Every time we pray, there is a purpose behind it. Who do we pray to? We pray to a force or power that is higher than us, who people refer to as god, lord, IswarA etc. I am going to refer to this power as IswarA and what this word means, I will tell you later. We are at that time expressing in our own way that we have our own limitations and we accept that IswarA has no limits or should I say limitless!!
MAnvi (writing something down in her notebook again): I will come back later to what you said, thAthA but what is a prayer then?
thAthA: Prayer could be a physical ritual that you perform which could be with flowers, lighting of a lamp etc, or it could be an oral prayer which would be saying aloud or singing aloud in praise of IswarA or it could be a mental prayer in the form of a meditation or a japA.
MAnvi: I could do any one of these or a combination of these?
thAthA: Yes, you could. You could also do these either thinking of a purpose for either yourself or for the others. Remember MAnvi, whether you pray for yourself or for others, you are also doing it for own happiness.
MAnvi: How thAthA? When I am praying for others, I am praying for them and their happiness, isn’t it? So how will it be for my happiness?
thAthA: MAnvi, when someone else is disturbed, it disturbs us also. So we pray for them so that they will have the strength and courage to face and handle what they are going through. In a way hence, these prayers are also for ourselves to handle what disturbs us. So if you ask me, I don’t think anyone can be selfless. We would perhaps be ‘less of self’ 🙂
MAnvi: You know thAthA, you always tell me to give my best in whatever I do. I give my best but I sometimes end up getting much lesser marks than my friend who I don’t think put in so much effort. I pray also that I should get good marks but I don’t. Why does that happen?
thAthA: MAnvi, praying and prayer is a huge topic but I will discuss with you to the extent that your doubts are clarified and let us see how much ground we can cover.
To answer your question – Prayer bring two kinds of results – drshta-phalA which are the results you see immediately and adhrshta-phalA which are the results that are unseen and will perhaps be seen in course of time, much later in this life or since we believe in rebirth, this unseen result could also be experienced in some life later. We will discuss adhrshta phalA later, when I know you are ready for it.
MAnvi: That could be many years later also thAthA, which could be really adhrshta phalA then 🙂
thAthA (smiling at the way she learns) : So you are saying that you will take so many years to be ready for it then? 🙂
MAnvi loves the way her thAthA just catches on something she says and banters with her. Sometimes, he seems that he is more her friend than her thAthA.
thAthA: MAnvi, I will explain this in two parts, first about prayer and then about drshta phalA.
When you say a prayer, you are praying for a purpose. This prayer could be through a song or a verse in praise of IswarA. Sometimes you may just express your needs or desires and seek help from IswarA. For example – you are in a disturbed frame of mind and you say a prayer seeking calmness of your mind. This prayer could be a song, or a verse, or in words in a language familiar to you, to seek help. However, as I said earlier whichever way it is, you are accepting the fact that you are limited by your limitations. When you do that, you are also accepting the fact that there is a power who has no limits or limitless, whose help you are seeking.
Let’s say a little while later you are in a calm state of mind. This means you have seen the result of that prayer.
MAnvi: That seems like instant gratification, thAthA!! Are you also saying that when I say, “Oh god, give me the strength to bring myself to be calm”, it is also a prayer?
thAthA: Put that way, it actually is, isn’t it? 🙂
MAnvi (after being lost in thought for a while): thAthA, the other day I was really disturbed and I was sitting in the garden and praying that I would calm myself down quickly. Just then I got a call that I have been waiting for, for two years – to play the piano in my school choir. This made me so happy that my disturbed feeling just vanished. So is this drshta phalA of the prayer and me getting the call to play in the school choir? Or is this adhrshta phalA which you said are unseen results that is seen in the course of time?
thAthA (saying to himself that knowing his grand-daughter, he should have seen this coming): MAnvi, I need to think before I answer this question to you. Can we discuss on this some days later?
MAnvi: Sure thAthA. By then I will have some more questions 🙂