New Year 2014 Message from HH Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji
A baby, when born on earth, involuntarily looks for its mother. God has provided ‘motherly love’ in the parents of all creatures, so that they take care of their young. When we have any needs or wants, we do not hesitate or feel shy to ask our parents. We have the right to ask and they have the love to give us what we want.
In the same way, the Supreme Lord, who is the mother of all beings, is pleased when we ask Him in our own simple but truthful way. There are no rites, rituals or money involved in prarthana (prayer). We ask out of our right and He gives out of His mercy and love.
But for a prayer to be fulfilled, there is one important requirement. We need to have the belief that God exists and with that faith, the prayer is fulfilled.
There was a person who had some problem. Every person he met suggested that he should pray to a different deity in a particular manner. His pooja room was soon filled with pictures of all the deities, like Lord Ganesha, Lord Muruga, Lord Venkatesha and Goddess Lakshmi. Finally he brought in Lord Hanuman and somehow his mind was taken up by Him. One day, while doing his daily rites, the man was upset that none of the gods had helped him. He decided that he would pray only to Hanuman and thought, “Okay, no more fragrance of incense for any of the others!” He started to stick tape on all the other gods’ noses on the pictures, and to his surprise, he suddenly felt the presence of all of them!
The moment he felt that They were not just pictures but that the god was actually present there and could smell the fragrance – that faith really brought in Their divine presence! It was his faith that brought the divine presence. Faith makes prayer a beautiful poem that pleases the Lord.
Similarly, there was a simpleton who lived on an island. He prayed to the Sun God everyday by talking to Him in simple words, like “You are my sole protector. I don’t know anyone else. You please protect me always.”
A swamiji who was visiting that island noticed this. He told the man that his method of praying was not correct and taught him his own way of meditation. The next day the swamiji was leaving to a different village. This person had innocently started to practice what he had been taught by the swamiji. But he got stuck at a point in his meditation and had to rush to find the swamiji who would leave soon. The swamiji was already on a boat out in the water. The man, in his earnestness, ran to reach the swamiji; and did not notice that he was walking on water! Seeing this the swamiji was awestruck and told him to not to worry about what he had learnt from him, but instead to just do whatever he had been doing earlier, in his own simple faith-filled, loving way.
Prayer has to come from the heart. The greatness of these kinds of prayers are sometimes not understood even by great sanyasis.
Once Totapuri, a advaita sadhak (adherent of Advaita philosophy) who practiced nirguna upasana (meditation on the formless Brahman), visited Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa at Dakshineshwar near Calcutta. He used to mock at Sri Ramakrishna’s way of praying: he would pray to Mother Kali in a simple way by singing Her glories. Totapuri did not believe in the simple prayers and wanted Ramakrishna Paramahamsa to learn nirguna upasana from him. Sri Ramakrishna, after taking permission from Mother Kali, learnt it from Totapuri and effortlessly attained the high state of samadhi that Totapuri had attained only after 40 years of struggle! Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, even after attaining this supreme state, enjoyed singing the divine names of God on the banks of river Ganges.
Totapuri was once affected with severe stomach pain. When nothing would relieve the unbearable pain, he was about to jump into the Ganges to give up his life. Sri Ramakrishna was chanting the divine names of the Lord. By his prayer, he relieved Totapuri from the pain. Totapuri finally understood the greatness of loving prayer by chanting the divine names of the Lord!
Sage Vishwamitra, who was first a valiant king, tried to attain the status of a great sage through severe penance. Each time some obstacle would come up – Trisanku, Menaka, etc. – that would cause him to reduce his tapas through krodha, kama, etc., and thus he would have to perform even more severe austerities. Sage Vishwamitra finally reached the state of a Brahma Rishi only after a lot of struggle.
On the other hand, Sage Valmiki was earlier a hunter and a robber. He was initiated by Sage Narada into the simple but profound ‘RAMA’ nama, and became a great sage just by chanting the Rama nama!
It is said that the Lord runs our lives based on our previous karma (actions) and that He doesn’t interfere when we suffer. But when Uttara’s unborn child was attacked by Ashwattama’s brahmastra, she called out to Lord Krishna and He came to save the child there. When Draupadi was being disrobed, she called out to Krishna and He came to her aid. When the elephant king Gajendra called out to Lord Narayana, He came to save him.
All we have to do is call out the Lord’s Name earnestly, and despite our karmas, He will interfere to save us from trouble!
When we keep chanting the Mahamantra all our needs will be automatically taken care of.
Papa Ramadas, while answering a devotee’s question on how our past sins can be cleaned by Mahamantra, said, “If we need to bring down a large banyan tree, we need a big bulldozer, machinery, etc., but the Mahamantra is like a bunch of termites that can effortlessly bring down the tree!”
By chanting the Mahamantra all sins are totally vanished and even the tendency to sin is got rid of!
Let us all pray to the Lord for few minutes and chant the Mahamantra in unison to get our prayers answered.
Excerpted from Sri Swamiji’s speech at the New Year Mass Prayer held on Jan 1, 2014
at Theni/Periyakulam, Tamil Nadu, India