Prayer is communication with God who is the creator of this Vast Universe and also of all living beings therein. He is also the sustaining power of life and provides us with the essential things needed for our physical and general well-being.
It is said “Ten minutes spent in the Christ society every day, aye, two minutes will make the whole day different… It will change everything, even our entire life.”
– Henry Drummound.
“The daily prayers are like fresh river waters which are ﬂowing by the yard side of your house. Whoever takes a bath therein will keep himself pure and clean.”
“The distance between us and Shiva is just the distance that our call will reach: believe in Him and call on Him. He will answer, ‘I am here’: I am with you.”
– Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Part l
Prayers, according to our tradition, are essentially of two types —
- Stuti and Stotra
Both Stuti and Stotra are derived from the root word ‘Stu’ meaning ‘praise’ so stuti and stotras are adoration of God, his supreme power, his splendour, his love and compassion for all beings. These hymns are a spontaneous overﬂow and outpouring of love and joy. They are also an expression of gratitude for all that the Lord has given us.
The second type of prayers are praarthana. This word has come from the word ‘Praarth” which means to ‘supplicate’ to request for i.e. ‘asking for something’. Thus praarthana means praying to God for succour, help, protection or for boons, either for material benefits or spiritual welfare and upliftment.
Prayers are thus a call with devotion, faith and confidence that He (God) will guide and charioteer us throughout our life and help us to cross the ocean of samsaara and attain the final goal of life i.e. Moksha or liberation.
In the Vedic literature prayers are called “Bruham”. It is derived from the word ‘bruh’ which means to rise high. Prayer therefore means that which rises up to heaven and reaches God. Prayers lift one’s mind and soul to God.
Vedic prayers are addressed to different deities like Indra, Varuna, Agni etc. Although prayers are addressed to different deities, Vedas declare ‘Ekam Sat Vipraah Bahudha Vadanti’ — meaning truth is one. The wise call it by different names. Vedic prayers like Samastaah Lokaah Sukhino Bhavantu are prayers for the welfare of the society as a whole.
Prayers which are usually chanted combine stuti, stotra and praarthanaa. Through prayers we invoke God and ask him to protect us and shower upon us his divine grace. As a cat responds when the kitten mews and picks it up similarly when we call out to God He too comes and comforts us. However one must remember that the call should be made with utmost sincerity and pure devotion. Draupadee’s call for help was responded to by Lord Krishna. Similarly Lord Vishnu came down to rescue Gajendra when he was caught by a crocodile.
Just as food is necessary for the nourishment of the physical body, prayer is equally necessary for nourishment of the mind and soul. Even for physical wellbeing and sound health, prayer is very much necessary. Whenever any action is done with an offering of prayer and by taking the name of God such an act gets transformed into an act of worship. Prayer helps us control our senses, purify the heart and awaken the soul consciousness to establish a rapport with God.
The Different modes of Omkaara chanting
Vaikharee – First stage of sound process (incantation) when it is repeated in a loud voice (to concentrate the mind).
Madhyamaa – In the second stage, the sound process (incantation) is not heard but only the lips move. It is a stage between sound and soundlessness.
Pashyantee – In the third stage, it is soundless. There is no open or covered recitation but Japa still goes on in mind without an effort.
Tureeya – In the Fourth paraa stage of Japa the Mantra itself is forgotten and only its impact remains. This is the state of complete bliss, happiness and joy.
We have to practise OMKAARA chanting with a conscious effort. We can also add the name of our Ishta-Devataa to it. This process of chanting should become a part and parcel of ourselves like our breathing.
OMKAARA bestows liberation and immortality and unites us with the God for ever. In the 8th chapter of the Bhagawad Gita the “Aksharaparabrahmayoga” Lord Krishna says “uttering the one syllabled OM, Brahman and remembering me, he who departs leaving the body attains the supreme goal.”
OM chanting should be our constant habit. Unless our breathing is deep, rhythmic and regulated our physical health suffers and mental calm and peace is disturbed. OM chanting helps us to regulate our breathing. It also bestows on us mental calm and peace. Our power of concentration and memory power increases.
Let OM chanting be our constant companion from today. Let our mind cling to it. With every single chanting of OM, we are marching one step nearer to Baba. Sooner or later, we are sure to reach his lotus feet and become the nearest and dearest to him.
Nityam Dhyaayanti Yoginah
Kaamadam Mokshadam Chaiva
Omkaaraaya Namo Namah
The OMKAARA written with a dot (bindu) signifies that we are bindus (drops) of that OM from which we have come. The yogis always meditate upon it, keeping this truth ever present in their mind. Through the recitation and understanding of the Pranava, one experiences high bliss and attains liberation. I bow down before the pranava.