What is the importance of prayer as spiritual practice?

Contents


To awaken spiritual emotion rapidly, initially one needs to make constant efforts at the level of the mind and intellect.

1. Ritualistic worship, singing hymns, etc.

To develop spiritual emotion towards a particular deity, first one has to develop love for that deity. Worship of its manifest form by performing ritualistic worship (puja), singing hymns, etc. helps to develop love for the deity faster than repeating (chanting) its Name, that is worship of its unmanifest form. That is precisely why ritualistic worship, singing hymns amidst the ritual of moving lit lamps (arti) before a deity, etc. prove to be beneficial for awakening spiritual emotion in the initial stages. This process can be hastened if one observes the guidelines given below –

  • Every deity is a specific principle. Based on the spiritual principle that a specific energy is associated with a word, touch, form, taste and odour, when the form of a deity appears, its principle accompanies it. An idol or picture of a deity attracts the frequencies of that deity as well as transmits them. As a result, the frequencies of the deity are spread all over in the surrounding atmosphere and not concentrated only in its idol or picture. Hence one should place an idol or picture of a deity which will attract maximum frequencies of that deity in one’s temple at home. Similarly, if one performs ritualistic worship of a deity following all the norms of worship meticulously with the spiritual emotion that the deity exists there itself, the frequencies that the worshipper gets from the deity will be greater.
  • The five-fold ritualistic worship (panchopchar puja) consists of offering the deity sandalwood paste (gandha), flowers (pushpa), frankincense (dhup), a lit lamp (dip) and holy sacrament (naivedya). One should first understand the science behind performing a ritual and only then perform it, e.g. a particular flower has the ability to attract maximum frequencies of a particular deity, that is red flowers attract the Ganesh principle. One should offer flowers to a deity bearing this principle in mind.
  • If pictures of deities or strips of their Names have been hung or pasted anywhere else besides the temple at home, maintaining the spiritual emotion that deities are present there as well, those pictures should be kept clean and offered incense and obeisance.
  • One should realise that instruments in the hands of deities are not merely ornamental rather they have a specific meaning, e.g. Lord Ganesh ties distressing energies with the noose in His hand.
  • Recitation of verses and hymns are means of glorifying a deity. Since The Lord likes praise and is compassionate, if hymns and verses are sung with spiritual emotion (bhav), He is appeased. Since these hymns and verses in praise of God have been compiled by saints and evolved souls, they are enriched with divine consciousness (chaitanya). Besides, when a saint compiles this, His resolve (sankalpa) and blessings that devotees should benefit by reciting it accompanies it. Hence, a worshipper derives worldly and spiritual benefits from it.

    One definition of a hymn (arti) is ‘that which is sung with earnestness (artata)’. Some spiritual experiences narrated below will depict how spiritual emotion is awakened in a devotee who prays fervently, imagining The Lord to be in front of him and how he experiences the God principle.

    A. Spiritual emotion for H.H. Dr. becoming predominant in the mind when singing hymns (arti): On 16th October 2002, what I experienced when singing hymns at the Devrukh ashram (hermitage) in the morning was quite unusual. As I sang every line of the hymns in praise of Lord Shrirama and Lord Maruti, I could actually see the image of the deities. Finally I sang the hymn ‘Jyot se jyot jagao’ (meaning ‘Light one lamp with another’) from the bottom of my heart. At that time unconsciously I prayed, ‘We are helpless children seeking refuge at Your feet. You alone can make us evolve spiritually.’ In fact, I wished to weep before the photograph of H.H. Doctor. Thereafter I experienced a feeling of Serenity (Shanti). – Sadhika

    B. Emission of light from the hands of H.H. Dr. in His photograph, towards seekers: On 16th October 2002, as I sung the hymn ‘Jyot se jyot jagao’, I saw a photograph of H.H. Doctor bestowing blessings. In reality, there is not a single photograph of H.H. Doctor of this kind. I saw a yellow light surrounding the entire photograph and sattvik (sattva predominant) yellow rays emanating from His hand bestowing blessing traversing towards the heads of seekers. I could also perceive something over my head. – Sadhika

    C. Experiencing that ‘God exists where there is spiritual emotion’ and getting a vision of Lord Shrirama, Lord Maruti and Doctor while singing hymns: On the morning of 20th October 2002, during the ritual of waving lit lamps (arti) in the ashram (hermitage), a lot of spiritual emotion was awakened in me. When singing a hymn in praise of Lord Shrirama, I felt as if Lord Shrirama were in front of me. When singing that of Lord Maruti, I saw Lord Maruti’s colossal form. Similarly when singing the hymn ‘Jyot se jyot jagao’, I perceived H.H. Doctor to be before me and my inner flame merging with that of H.H. Doctor. After the ritual concluded I felt very Blissful. In the evening however, I could not sing the hymns with spiritual emotion, therefore I felt unhappy and begged H.H. Doctor for forgiveness. – Sadhak

    D. Obtaining a vision of Lord Shriram and Lord Hanuman on the right and left foot respectively of H. H. Dr. and a vision of H.H. Dr. offering arti to His Guru, H.H. Maharaj in place of me: At the ashram , on 10.10.2002 when offering arti in the morning and evening, I could clearly perceive myself in H.H. Doctor’s room at the Ponda ashram offering arti at His holy feet. As I sang the arti hymn in praise of Lord Shriram, I saw Shriram on His right foot and myself offering arti to Him. When the arti to Lord Hanuman began I could see myself offering arti to Him on H.H. Doctor’s left foot. Simultaneously I could visualise all the events described in the artis. Later as I sang the arti hymn ‘Jyot se jyot jagao’, I saw H.H. Dr. in my place offering arti to H.H. Maharaj seated on a bed in the state of the God realised soul (Shivadasha). – Sadhika

         (God endows such spiritual experiences to enhance the spiritual emotion towards saints. This will be understood from the vision of deities on the feet. – Compilers)

    E. Recitation of the holy verse Ramaraksha with the spiritual emotion that it is being recited to Lord Shrirama, imparting a unique experience of Serenity: On 13th August 2002, when reciting Ramaraksha I perceived that the prayer was being received by Lord Shrirama though He was far away from me. I could actually feel Him advancing towards me. H.H. Doctor (Lord Shrirama) resides within me. I was reciting Ramaraksha with the spiritual emotion that it is for Lord Shrirama. For a minute I could perceive the sattvik (sattva predominant) state of the Satyayug (era). The feeling was extremely pleasant and serene. – Sadhika

         (The spiritual emotion in the seeker is that the Guru Himself is Lord Shrirama – Compilers)

    F. Perceiving that the hymn that I was singing was reaching The Lord and perceiving the presence of Doctor constantly thereafter: On 16th October 2002, when singing the hymn in the morning in the Devrukh ashram (hermitage), my mind had become concentrated. From within I was feeling that the hymn was reaching the deity and that it was bestowing blessings as well. Ever since, I continuously perceive the presence of H.H. Doctor in the ashram and experience immense Bliss. – Sadhika

    G. Seeker getting a vision of Lord Shrivishnu, Lord Viththal and Doctor when reciting the holy verse, Ramaraksha and perceiving herself as deity Sita (consort of Lord Shrirama): On 19th September 2002, the moment I began reciting the holy verse, Ramaraksha in front of the temple at home, I saw Lord Shrivishnu upto His waist, in midair. Then I forgot that I was Mahananda, instead I perceived myself to be deity Sita, the Divine Energy of Lord Shrirama. My attire was like that of deity Sita. While reciting the Ramaraksha with every letter, word and sentence that I spoke, I was describing Lord Shrirama, His ideals and qualities. I also perceived the intense yearning with which deity Sita had beckoned Lakshman to come to Her rescue. Amidst repetition (chanting) of ‘Sitayaha pataye namaha’ meaning ‘I offer obeisance to deity Sita’s Master’, She was offering obeisance to the Earth, Her mother. The moment I offered obeisance unto Lord Shrirama while repeating (chanting) ‘Shriramachandracharanam sharanam prapadye’ meaning ‘I surrender unto You, O Lord Shrirama’, I saw a vision of H.H. Doctor in my heart with folded hands offering obeisance unto Lord Shrirama. The next moment I saw Lord Viththal standing with His hands held on His waist. I could still feel the presence of deity Sita after completing the recitation of Ramaraksha and experienced Serenity (Shanti). – Sadhika

         (This is the temporary state of attainment of Sayujya Mukti, a form of Liberation. Sita being the Divine Energy of Lord Shrirama, She is merged with Him. The fact that the seeker perceived herself as deity Sita means she merged into Lord Shrirama Himself. – Compilers)

Just as ritualistic worship with five substances (panchopchar puja) is performed to charge an idol or picture of a deity with the frequencies of that deity, so also if one wants to attract frequencies of God or the Guru and make Him operate through oneself then one has to offer prayers and undertake repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name, remain in holy company (satsang), render service unto the Absolute Truth (satseva), sacrifice oneself for the Absolute Truth, etc.

2. Prayer

Praying with spiritual emotion

2.1 Origin and meaning

The word ‘prarthana (prayer)’ is derived from two words ‘pra’ and ‘artha’ meaning pleading fervently. In other words, it is asking The Lord for something with intense yearning. Prayer includes respect, love, pleading and faith. Through a prayer a devotee expresses his helplessness and endows the doership of the task to God.

2.2 Importance

A. Protection from distressing energies: Since the mission of Spiritual Sanstha is directed towards spiritual upliftment of society, currently distressing energies are obstructing this process and tormenting seekers. Repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name and prayer are the only two weapons that seekers can use to combat this. Some spiritual experiencies given below will illustrate how God protects from distressing energies if one offers Him prayers with spiritual emotion.

  • To enable rapid manifestation of the distressing energy present in a seeker and to help him to acquire the energy being transmitted from God, seekers belonging to the ‘Subtle section’ of Sanstha use staring in the eye therapy for seekers afflicted by distressing energies. In this therapy, the affected seeker has to gaze into the eyes of the seeker from the ‘Subtle section’.

    1. Distressing energy leaving a seeker after her prayer to God during the staring in the eye therapy: On 28th February 2003, when one Sadhika from the ‘Subtle section’ was doing the staring in the eye therapy, I prayed unto The Lord thus, ‘May my entire attention be focussed here. May all my energy be utilised to combat the distressing energies within me and teach them a lesson permanently. Let them become aware that they will not be able to do anything.’ After the prayer, I perceived that one distressing energy left me and another one manifested itself. – A seeker

    2. Distressing energy leaving a seeker after her praying to the seeker doing the staring in the eye therapy on her: When Sadhika from the ‘Subtle section’ was doing the staring in the eye therapy for me, I fervently prayed to her, ‘O Aparna, only you can save me. Bestow your grace upon me and liberate me as soon as possible so that I can do spiritual practice. Purify all my seven bodies and my entire existence and make me eligible to undertake continuous spiritual practice. Do not allow the distressing energies to take away the energy generated from my spiritual practice. All the distressing energies have not left me yet, please drive them away.’ The moment I finished the prayer, a distressing energy named ‘Asaf’ left my body and another manifested externally. – A seeker

  • At times during the staring in the eye therapy sessions or group repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name, distressing energies or benevolent energies within a seeker manifest themselves and converse with seekers from the ‘Subtle section’. The manifest distressing energy then conveys how distressing energies have planned to disrupt Sanstha’s mission either in a challenging fashion or as information. The manifest benevolent energy on the other hand imparts information to seekers on how to enhance their spiritual practice.

    1. Prayer by seekers from the ‘Subtle section’ unto Doctor and Doctor’s constant presence amongst them preventing distressing energies from taking away seekers afflicted with distressing energies.
         Sadhika(Seeker): What did you do last night ?
         Distressing energy: Last night you disrupted our entire plan. Ten of us (distressing energies) were supposed to enter the ashram (hermitage). Others were supposed to remain at a distance and offer assistance. You have taught all of them (seekers from the ‘Subtle section’) to eavesdrop. So, you know our plans beforehand. We will take away all of them (seekers afflicted with distressing energies). We were supposed to receive external assistance but because you muttered to the one (H.H. Doctor) in the photograph, they (distressing energies from outside) could not enter the ashram. You had put filth (banners of Prabhat) on all of them. That one (Sadhika) is not allowing us to take them away. She was muttering [repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name] even in her sleep. She (Sadhika, Subtle section) too was accompanying her. That is why despite being a big gang we were unable to take them away. The one in the photograph (H.H. Doctor) is always with them. So we are unable to do anything. [Distressing energies are unable to utter the Name of H.H. Doctor, The Lord’s Name or words like repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name, prayer, Prabhat, etc. because of the divine consciousness in them.]

    [The above information was imparted by a seeker when the distressing energy within her manifested during group repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name on 9th January 2003. – Sadhika]

    2. A benevolent energy’s advice on what prayer to make unto the Guru to prevent distressing energies on the ground from troubling seekers.
        Vina: How far into the ground can you penetrate ?
        Benevolent energy: The earth has plenty of energies including spirits (pishach). However I can actually see Mother Earth. The small embodied souls following the Path of Distressing Energy (aghori) dwelling on Her (Earth) trouble you (seekers) by drawing out all your vital energy (pranshakti). That is why you experience problems such as cramps in the legs, exhaustion, etc.
        Vina: What is the remedy for this ?
        Benevolent energy: Create an armour around yourself. Pray unto the Guru and ask Him to protect you and to walk with you.
    [This information was imparted by a benevolent energy which manifested in a seeker in the Ashram ashram on 31st March 2003. – Sadhak]

This shows the immense prowess of prayer.

B. When a seeker endows the doership of an act to God or the Guru, a seemingly impossible task is easily accomplished by the Guru’s grace.

C. Benefits occurring at three levels, viz. action, thinking and attitude

  • Action: As a consequence of prayer, an action is performed with spiritual emotion and less errors are committed. Thus service unto the Guru occurs as per His expectation.
  • Thinking : So long as the mind is active, thoughts will continue. They pose an obstacle to dissolution of the mind. Useless thoughts also cause wastage of energy. Prayer is an extremely useful tool to prevent this. Prayer reduces worry and enhances contemplation.
  • Attitude : A prayer done with spiritual emotion initiates the process of contemplation upon prayer within a seeker and this assists him to become introverted.

D. Assuaging the ego : Since while praying we plead before The Lord, it helps to reduce the ego faster.

E. A seeker repeats (chants) the Name of his deity of worship with the aim of realising God. Only if accompanied by intense motivation for God realisation and spiritual emotion will the Name repeated (chanted) reach The Lord. Saint Tukaram Maharaj would be so engrossed in repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name that He would become oblivious of the world. One rarely finds someone who repeats (chants) The Lord’s Name with such intense spiritual emotion. However, a prayer along with the repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name helps in generation of spiritual emotion and to reach the repetition (chanting) to The Lord. Some spiritual experiences in this context will illustrate the importance of prayer.

  • Repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name reaching Lord Ganapati after a prayer: On 4th September 2002, I began repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name without a prayer unto Him. After fifteen minutes I realised that I had forgotten something. Then I realised that though I was repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name, it was not reaching The Lord. Then I prayed and thereafter perceived that the Name was actually reaching The Lord. – Sadhika
  • My repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name not reaching the sacrificial fire after a wrong prayer and it getting rectified after making an appropriate prayer: I attended the Panchamukhi Hanumatkavach sacrificial fire (yadnya) at Karad on 29th March 2003. As per instructions in the ‘Daily Prabhat’, I prayed that the sacrificial fire may occur without any obstacles and then began repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name. After undertaking repetition (chanting) for four minutes, I realised that it was revolving around me. Though the feeling was very pleasant, I wondered why this was happening. The next moment I realised that I had made a wrong prayer that the energy generated from my repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name should be utilised for the procession of repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name (namdindi) instead of for the sacrificial fire. So I made a prayer afresh and restarted my repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name. It was then that I saw my repetition (chanting) traversing towards the sacrificial fire in four rows. – Sadhika

    Every ten minutes one should pray unto The Lord asking Him to accept one’s repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name.

F. Having committed a mistake, if one makes a prayer and surrenders unto The Lord or the Guru then They forgive one for the mistake.

2.3 Types

A. Prayer with expectation (sakam) and without expectation (nishkam)

  • Prayer with expectation (sakam): This is done for fulfillment of worldly desires, e.g. wealth, progeny, worldly pleasures, etc.
  • Prayer without expectation (nishkam): This prayer means surrendering oneself unto God or the Guru without any objective. A prayer made in the context of spiritual progress or the Guru’s mission is always of this type.

    In the former, the one praying remains extroverted while in the latter, one becomes introverted. Prayer with expectation is inferior while that done without expectation is superior.

B. Individual (vyashti) prayer and prayer for the sake of society (samashti): Individual prayer is one which is made to augment one’s individual spiritual practice. Initially a seeker should make this kind of prayer. Once the prayer occurs with spiritual emotion, the seeker can pray for other seekers and the society at large, e.g. for propagation of Righteousness (Dharma). This prayer is for the sake of society. Such a prayer inculcates expansiveness in a seeker. He begins to feel love for others and his spiritual practice for the sake of society is also augmented.

Seeker devoid of spiritual emotion should not pray for the sake of society for the following reasons

  • Such a prayer made for the sake of society proves useless. Hence the seeker merely wastes his time. If he uses this time for individual prayer or spiritual practice, it will be more beneficial to him.
  • If prayer for a specific reason is made, it can also prove harmful, e.g. if one prays for elimination of a distressing energy troubling a particular seeker or that obstructing propagation of Righteousness then the distressing energy can attack that seeker.

2.4 What should one ask for in a prayer?

Since the Guru or God always says ‘So be it (तथास्‍तु)’, one can ask Him for different things that one needs in spiritual practice. For continual bestowal of His grace, service unto the Guru should also be continuous. One should ask for the following for service unto the Guru to be good.

  • That service may occur along with repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name.
  • That service unto the Absolute Truth (satseva) may occur as per expectations of the Guru.
  • That when serving the Absolute Truth one may be able to sacrifice all, that is the body, mind, wealth, intellect and ego.
  • For repeated opportunities to render service unto the Absolute Truth and for strength and benevolent intellect to accomplish those tasks.
  • After completion of the task, a wholehearted prayer should be made to express gratitude for being able to accomplish it.
  • As spiritual practice grows, a seeker should experience the presence of God in all living and non-living creation. To develop the spiritual emotion that the God principle exists in all living and non-living creation rapidly, prayers prove to be useful.

The primary seeker prays to the Guru for strength, benevolent intellect and motivation to serve the Guru as per His expectations. As a seeker makes spiritual progress, the prayer that he should make unto the Guru is suggested to him from within.

2.5 To whom should the prayer be addressed?

An average seeker should pray to his deity of worship while the one who has been blessed by a Guru should offer prayers unto the Guru.

A. Seekers in the elementary stage (30% to 40% spiritual level) should pray to both the Guru and to various deities according to the need, as given below.

B. Seekers in the intermediate stage (40% to 55% spiritual level) should offer prayers unto the Guru, different deities according to the need and everything that assists a seeker in spiritual practice.

    Importance of praying to the tools

  • Tools such as the conch, bell, lamp, etc. used in ritualistic worship (puja) are worshipped before worship of the deities because they make it possible for one to worship God. Besides, with the passage of time a devotee gets the spiritual experience that God exists in them as well. Non-duality is established between the tool (e.g. conch, bell) and the target (God realisation). According to this principle, if one has spiritual emotion for a tool utilised for spiritual practice then most certainly at some point one experiences the God principle in it. This was experienced by a seeker with respect to the japamala (Hindu rosary) as given below.

    1. Inner guidance about divinity in the japamala: On the morning of 30th August 2002, as I sat with the japamala in my cupped palms and was about to begin repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name, I had an intense thought, ‘O japamala you are my tool of spiritual practice. If not for you, I would not be able to repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name’. The next moment I wondered what a tool meant and the affectionate and peaceful response that I got from within was, ‘Whatever one uses, whatever is useful in crisis, whatever is beneficial to oneself, a weapon or whatever one uses in combat is a tool.’ Ever since, before beginning repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name with a japamala, I offer obeisance to it as I consider it as a deity and since then the japamala appears more sattvik (sattva predominant). – Sadhika

    2. Japamala of a seeker getting transformed into the ‘deity of the japamala’ and telling her so by appearing before her: On 19th December 2002, as I lay down on the mattress before retiring for the day, I realised that I had not offered obeisance to the japamala. Just then I saw the deity of the japamala standing to my right. (The box in which I keep the japamala was next to my head on the right.) She spoke thus ‘I am the deity of the japamala. I have been transformed from the japamala into a deity.’ At that moment my japamala said from within the box, ‘I have been transformed into a deity’. Then I offered obeisance to Her. – Sadhika

    3. Seeker feeling dejected because the deity of the japamala had the prowess to protect her alone but was relieved after realising that She (deity) would be able to protect all seekers in the ashram (hermitage) after her ritualistic worship (puja) and obeisance increased : On 21st December 2002, before I began repetition (chanting) around 9 a.m., I offered obeisance to H.H. Doctor. When the repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name was in progress, I saw the deity of the japamala standing in midair. Offering obeisance to Her I said, ‘O deity, instead of being happy I am sad because You protect only me. Please protect all the seekers in this ashram.’ She then responded, ‘I do not possess such prowess. I am unable to protect even you totally.’ It was then that it dawned upon me that as I enhanced my ritualistic worship and obeisance to the japamala, the potential of its deity would grow.’ – Sadhika

  • If one undertakes a task after offering obeisance to the tool which one will be using in the task then the tool assists in the task. A spiritual experience elucidated below is in this context.

    Chopping of wood occurring spontaneously without trouble after offering a prayer unto the Guru, the wood and the axe despite my not being habituated to doing this task: I was not habituated to chopping wood at all. When learning to chop wood, I became breathless, developed sores on the hands, etc. The next day, I began the same task after praying to the Guru, the wooden log and the axe and lo and behold, I was able to do the chopping of wood easily. – Sadhak

  • Just as Lord Datta chose twenty-four Gurus as well as subordinate Gurus, each one for the quality which He possessed and imbibed that quality conducive for spiritual practice from Him, so also can we from different objects, e.g. just as a pen strives selflessly to write books for others, so also we should sacrifice ourselves selflessly all the time, for the Guru’s mission without any ulterior motive.
  • Once a seeker learns to see the God principle in different tools utilised in spiritual practice, gradually he is able to view it in everything. This assists him in realising the God principle in living and non-living creation.

C. Seekers in the advanced stage (with a spiritual level of more than 55%) should pray only to the Guru.

2.6 Stages of prayer

After realising the importance of prayer, initially the number of times that one prays needs to increase. Initially, prayer is just a repetition of words, devoid of spiritual emotion. Later however, it improves qualitatively, that is it is done with spiritual emotion. Stages in praying are given below.

First stage: Here prayer has to be done with effort. It is beneficial to fold hands in obeisance (namaskar) and pray because it helps in quick generation of spiritual emotion. Once the impression of prayer is created in the subconscious mind, it can be done mentally with spiritual emotion, without folding hands. Here, prayer has a specific purpose and specific words. The feeling that ‘I am praying’ is intense.

Second stage: Once one gets used to praying and it occurs spontaneously at regular intervals, contemplation on it commences. One begins to realise that prayer is conversation with the Guru. Now it does not follow a fixed pattern but occurs wholeheartedly. The spiritual emotion here is that one is pleading to the Guru.

Third stage: Here one feels that the Guru is in front of oneself and that one is prostrating at His feet, surrendering and pleading before Him. One does not need to compose the prayer, words flow spontaneously.

Fourth stage: With passage of time, prayer occurs spontaneously without effort along with repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name as the impression of prayer is already created in the subconscious mind. It is also full of spiritual emotion. During the prayer, one recollects the Guru’s form, feet, gestures, etc. Even the words in the prayer are suggested from within. In fact, The Lord Himself suggests the prayer from within, according to the situation. The example cited here will illustrate this. One Seeker renders service at the ashram (hermitage). Once he was asked to blow the conch during the ritual of waving lit lamps (arti) amidst singing of hymns in the ashram. Since he did not know how to blow the conch he prayed to the Guru to get it done from him and was able to do so par excellence. The same day he had to wash the toilets in the ashram. As usual, before commencing the task he made a prayer unto the Guru. Then he regretted for having troubled the Guru for a mere task. So he prayed that the service he was doing may occur in a manner expected by the Guru.

Fifth stage: In this stage, prayer occurs with the sole spiritual emotion of complete surrender unto the feet of the Guru. Often prayer is devoid of words, it consists only of the feeling of gratitude. One is aware that ‘I exist for the sake of the Guru, He is my everything’. In the initial stages of prayer, gratitude has to be expressed separately, but in this stage one experiences that they are one.

2.7 Spiritual experiences as a consequence of prayer done with spiritual emotion

A few examples of how The Lord helps when one prays with spiritual emotion are given below.

  • Less injuries when rendering service after praying unto Mother Earth: When rendering service of masonry, digging, gardening, etc. in the ashram, I would pray thus to Mother Earth, ‘O Mother Earth, You will be hurt when I render this service. Please forgive me and get service done from me to perfection.’ After I started making this prayer, I noticed that abrasions, injuries, etc. which I sustained when rendering service decreased. – Sadhak
  • Enhancement in the potential to render service and no exhaustion despite rendering service when in physical distress: One Sadhak and I work in the masonry section of the ashram. On 3rd February 2003, I was entrusted with the task of mixing sand and cement and handing it over to three seekers doing masonry work. Before beginning the task, the prayer I made unto the Guru was, ‘Make me aware that I am in a team of four seekers and that I am not alone in this task.’ By the grace of the Guru, I was able to mix cement and sand and hand it over to the other three synchronously. Despite suffering from a backache, when rendering service I did not experience any pain. – Sadhak
  • An ill child seeker was able to deliver a speech in school eloquently after a prayer he made unto Saint and Doctor: On the day of Gurupaurnima of 2002, my son Saurabh, a student of Std. V was supposed to deliver a speech in his school. It was an excerpt from ‘Blessings of saints’ taken from the ‘Gurupaurnima Mahotsav souvenir’ of the Spiritual Sanstha. Though he was well prepared with the speech, two days prior to the function he had a terrible cold and had to swallow repeatedly. He was terribly upset as he felt he would be unable to speak. On the day of Gurupaurnima, when he left for school in the afternoon he had a terrible headache due to cold. When he was summoned on the stage to speak, he closed his eyes and prayed unto H.H. Maharaj and H.H. Doctor thus, ‘Please make me speak well’ and began. It is only when he heard the thunderous applause that he realised that he had spoken well. When his headmistress and other teachers praised him immensely, he told them that he had taken this excerpt from the souvenir of the Spiritual Sanstha and that he had been able to deliver it well with the blessings of H.H. Doctor. – Sadhak
  • A decrease in errors after offering them unto The Lord and making a prayer that they may not be committed again: I often told others to point out my mistakes to me but if they did, it would generate doubts in my mind and result in committing more mistakes. Then I began to pray thus, ‘If H.H. Doctor exists in everyone, then He is within me too. Then how can I afford to make mistakes ?’ and my efforts to prevent recurrence of mistakes started. Once when someone pointed out my mistake at the satsang (spiritual meeting), I sobbed miserably. Thereafter I decided to surrender all my mistakes to God and to take care that I did not commit them again. I prayed to the Guru to remind me of this time and again. That day was spent in extreme happiness. Due to constant repetition of this prayer, the number of mistakes I make has reduced markedly. – A seeker, Goa
  • Dogs stopping their barking after a prayer unto them: When in the ashram I was entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the domesticated animals there. My first job was to clean up their kennel. When I began this, the dogs started barking at me. The prayer that came spontaneously to me then was ‘All of you are servitors of the Guru. Today I have been endowed with the task of serving you. So let me do it.’ No sooner did I say this than the dogs stopped barking and I could release them from the leash. I also did not feel averse when cleaning up their excreta. – Sadhak
  • Perceiving the presence of Doctor due to the spiritual emotion of offering

    1. On 20th October 2002, while making a prayer before dinner I perceived that I was offering my meal unto H.H. Doctor and standing in front of Him with my hands folded in obeisance (namaskar). – Sadhak

    2. On 21st October 2002, as I drank water first and then tea in the evening, I felt as if I were doing so after actually offering it unto H.H. Doctor. In fact, I perceived H.H. Doctor releasing energy from His hand bestowing blessings into my glass and myself drinking it. – Sadhak

  • Seeing the holy verse Ramaraksha in the heart after praying unto Doctor and it being recited in the Madhyama mode of speech (vani): On 15th August 2002, when I was reciting the Ramaraksha in front of the temple in the kitchen with my eyes closed, seekers were passing by me. I earnestly prayed unto H.H. Doctor mentally. ‘O Lord Rama, You are in my heart. You Yourself are reciting the Ramaraksha through me. As I said this, I could see the lines of the Ramaraksha in my heart. I continued to recite the Ramaraksha seeing those lines. Since then whenever I recite the Ramaraksha, my entire concentration is focussed on my heart. I recite it with the spiritual emotion (bhav) that my Lord Rama is within me. If even for a moment my attention gets distracted away from my heart, I cannot say the Ramaraksha. After completing its recitation, I do not feel that I have said it in the Vaikhari mode of speech. I feel as if it is recited spontaneously through me.’- Sadhika

2.8 Errors in a prayer

A. Offering prayers to overcome worldly problems: Seekers should certainly pray to the Guru to guide them appropriately in overcoming certain exceptional worldly problems which pose obstacles in their spiritual practice. However they should not ask for solutions to other day-to-day problems because this unnecessarily wastes spiritual practice and draws the seeker away from his prime objective of God realisation.

B. Praying unto the Guru without making proper use of wilful action (kriyaman): Wherever possible, one should use wilful action and not trouble the Guru unnecessarily by making a prayer. Once in the ashram (hermitage), a hymn (arti) audio cassette was being played to generate more spiritual emotion. Realising that it was not sounding alright, I prayed unto the Guru for help. No sooner did I pray than it began playing properly. Actually for several days it was lying around unused. Since it was of inferior quality, it was my first duty to check that out. But without doing so, I immediately prayed unto The Lord. Due to mistakes made by seekers in their wilful action, God had to waste His energy to rectify them. – Sadhak

 

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