Category

Importance of Prayer& Omkar

PRAYERS

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 bath therein will keep himself pure and clean.”

-Prophet Mohammed

“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 Sivam Sundaram, Part l

Prayers, according to our tradition are essentially of two types — 1. Stuti and Stotra and 2. Praarthanaa. 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 types of prayers are praarthanaas. This word has come from the word ‘Praarth” which means to ‘supplicate’ to request for i.e. ‘asking for something’. Thus praarthanaa 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’ 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.

GLORY OF THE DIVINE NAME AND ITS SAVING POWER

It is believed that the names of God are more powerful than the Lord himself. It is said when Shri Rama who is the Parabrahman himself dropped a tiny pebble into the waters of the Sharayu river, it just sank down, whereas the heavy and massive boulders thrown by the Vaanaras into the sea with the name of Rama scribbled on them subdued the mighty waves and made a bridge over the vast ocean. Baba says that the name of the Lord is like a thunderbolt that destroys mountain loads of sins. In the Kali Yuga through Naamasmarana or mere chanting of Shri Krishna’s name and glories one is freed from the worldly bondage and attains Moksha. Prayer and stotras have a great power within them. For e.g. Raama’s name has the illumining power of the sun, the evil destroying power of the fire and the peace and joy giving power of the moon. In this body of ours, there are certain definite centres, which correspond to our various stages of consciousness. When our mind dwells persistently on lower centres, by indulging in vulgar thoughts and in common-place and dissipating activities and ideas, we exhibit anger, fear, envy, jealousy and all manners of physical ills and mental unrest. The one way to lift the mind from the lower centres is by clinging to the Lord’s Name. We have to rope the mind to the Lord’s Name. The mind gets uplifted and purified.

Just as an air conditioner takes away the heat from the body and in return gives you its cool air, so also prayers instil in us virtues (Daivi sampat) and destroy the evil tendencies present in us.

Prayer is the essence of all religions and we must have equal regard and respect for all prayers of all religions. Baba says. “Every religion is a facet of the same Truth. Every Name is a signpost to his glory. Every form is a reminder of His beauty, His compassion…. fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man is the only truth.” The sacred symbols of all the religions – the Pranava symbol of the Hindus, the Dharmachakra symbol of Buddhism, the Fire symbol of Zoroastrianism, the Star and Crescent symbol of Islam and the Cross of Christianity all represent one God only (Ekam Sat), and our veneration should flow to all of them alike. Our prayers should be for the welfare of all.

Prayers should he offered with one pointedness of mind and in a spirit of total surrender to the Lord. Purity of feeling the most important in prayer. A spirit of total surrender should fill our whole being. Prayers should spring forth from the depth of the heart lifting the soul to God.

Prayer should become a daily discipline and constant habit. Baba insists that we should begin the day with prayer, do all our duties with prayer and even go through our aahaara and Vihaara (food and recreation) with prayer and end the day with prayer. Prayer should eventually become a constant habit. We have a vast heritage of stotras and prayers on different Gods and this is the richest legacy given to us by our Saints and Seers. At a young age it is easy to learn by heart the traditional shlokas, as the mind is very receptive. These prayers are a shower of nectar to your ears and heart. Shlokas learnt at an early age will be our best companion and guide in our life’s journey. They will give us peace of mind and solace in times of turmoil. Prayers become the greatest armour of strength and protection during struggles of life. They help us to reach the lotus feet and attain the ultimate goal of life i.e. Moksha. In short they make our life a grand pilgrimage.

   Deepam Jyothi Para-brahma
   Deepam Jyothi Parayana
   Deepo Haratume Papam
   Sandhyaa Deepam Namostute

“I prostrate to the dawn/dusk lamp whose light is Supreme Knowledge which removes the darkness of ignorance and by which all can be achieved.”

SARVA DHARMA PRAYER: (A Universal Prayer)

Om Tat-Sat Shri Naaraayana Tu
Purushottama Guru Tu
Siddha Buddha Tu
Skanda Vinaayak Savitaa Paavaka Tu
Brahma Majda Tu
Yahav Shakti Tu Ishu Pitaa Prabhu Tu
Rudra Vishnu Tu
Ramakrishna Tu Rahim Taao Tu
Vaasudeva Go Vishwaroopa Tu
Chidaananda Hari Tu
Adviteeya Tu Akaala Nirbhaya
Aatmalinga Shiva Tu

Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityormaa Amritam Gamaya.

UPANISHADIC PRAYERS:

Om Poornamadah Poornamidam
Poornaat Poornamud achyate
Poornasya Poornamaadaaya
PoornamevaaVashishyate
Om Shantis Shantis Shantih

That (Brahman) is whole
This (Creation) is also whole
From that whole (i.e. Brahman only)
this whole has come out (Creation)
but even though this whole has come out of that whole
yet that whole remains whole only
(i.e. Brahman remains unaffected, retains His/Its fullness and completeness.)

Let there be no discord anywhere in the world. Let peace prevail.

Om Ishaa Vasyamidam Sarvam Yat Kincha jagatyaam Jagat.
Tena Tyaktena Bhunjeethamaagridhah Kasyasvid Dhanam.

Mahatma Gandhi said that even if all the Upanishads and other scriptures happened all of a sudden to be reduced to ashes and if only this shloka were left in the memory of Hindus, Hinduism would live for ever.

All this that we see in the Universe is all pervaded by God. Therefore we must give up the idea of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’, accept gratefully whatever is given to us by God and use it sharing it with our fellow beings. Eschew all feelings of greed and selfishness. Remember that everything really belongs to God alone.

These two upanishadic shlokas teach us that we should cultivate a .sense of constant awareness of the omnipresence of the Lord and his presence in all beings. We should have love for all beings and have a spirit of surrender to God who is the all-pervading truth and the reality immanent in all beings and things.

OMKAARA

“Listen to the primeval Pranava, OM, resounding in your heart as well as in the heart of the Universe”.

OM is the sacred symbol for the Hindus. For them it is synonymous or equivalent to God. It is an all comprehensive symbol and name of God. It is also called the Mahaamantra, the best aid and means for man to realise God. In the Shri Satya Sai Sarva Dharma symbol Hinduism is represented by OM.

In the timeless beginning it is said Brahman alone was. It was a nature of supreme silence. Out of this emerged the Naada Brahman or the sound aspect and expression of God. This was the primeval sound OMKAARA. Out of this primeval sound emerged the creation composed of the five elements: space, air, water, fire and earth. OMKAARA is the life principle of creation. That is why it is also called Pranava meaning that which runs through Praana or pervades all life. There is a lot of literary work available on the significance of this word. Nowhere in the world can we find another sacred symbol that has got such a vast significance.

The entire history of this syllable is given in the vedas and upanishads. There is a Vedic Verse as follows:

   Prajaapatir Vai Idam Agra Aaseet
   Tasya Vaak Dviteeyaa Aaseet
   Vag Vai Paramam Brahma

“In the beginning was prajapati, The Brahman with whom was the word, the word itself was the supreme Brahman”.

The same idea is expressed in the Gospel of St. John in the New Testament:

“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God”. OM is itself God and it is also a means for realising God. Other faiths too have a holy word like this OM but is in a little different form. To the Christians it is Amen. Muslims call it Amin; although their interpretation and usage is not quite identical with that of OM.

OM symbolises the names and forms of personal God. Since it is difficult to concentrate on a formless (Niraakaara) Brahman we have various forms of Goddess and God suited to our liking so we have the tradition of Ishta devataas. OM however encompasses all the names and forms of God.

Every name has a key letter-Beeja Akshara. Based on this A is believed to represent Brahmaa, U – Vishnu & M – Maheshwara as OM encompasses the triple aspect of God. Since Saraswatee resides on the tongue of Brahmaa and Lakshmi on the Vakshasthala of Vishnu, OM includes the names of these two Goddesses as well. Paarvati being the shakti aspect of Shiva and a part and parcel of the half form of Shiva, who is Ardhanaareeshwara, the half male and female form, the M symbol of OM indicating ‘Maheshwara’ thus includes Paarvati also. In other words all forms of God respond when OM is chanted. That is why it is said that OM is the direct telephone number of Baba. If we say OM, we are instantly connected to Baba, whether He be in Puttaparthi, Brindavan, Anantapur or anywhere on tour. Baba says Omkaara and Raama’s name are identical. Raama is symbolised by the pranava and the supporting sounds A, U and M represent Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrugna respectively.

OM is the material and basis of the world of sounds and is the basis for the science and phenomenon of phonetics. All sounds and words have their origin in pranava shabda. All sounds that can be produced or uttered by combination of different letters or any alphabet come under the three main sounds produced by A, U and M. Since it (pranava shabda) contains all the breath sounds, it is said the OM is the sum and substance of the Vedas. Pranava contains all the names; is the basis of all different forms of worship and all names by which God is adored.

OM represents all the states of consciousness, the physical as well as the spiritual and our awareness from the physical to the transcendental (divine) state.

The Upanishads say that OM represents self (the non-dual reality, Brahman or Aatmaa). This self has four states of Consciousness –
1. Waking – Jagrat
2. Dreaming – Swapna
3. Deep Sleep – Sushupti

Most of us experience these 3 states.
4. Tureyaavasthaa – higher plane of consciousness (only Yogis experience this). This is also the Samaadhi Avasthaa. Thus we see that OM signifies all these four states of consciousness.

A – represents waking state
U – represents dream state
M – represents deep sleep state

When OM is pronounced there is a telling silence (Ashabda). This rich humming sound of silence is Amaatra OM, self or Aatmaa. This is the basis and substratum of our very being (state of divine consciousness).

OM must be chanted as slowly as possible. A emerging from the throat (originating in the region of the navel and U rolling over the tongue in the ascending tone until the sound reaches the peak and ending in M at the lips. Then, it must take a curve at M and descend as slowly as it rose, taking as much time as it took to ascend, and with Amaatra OM it must gradually merge into the silence reverberating in the cavity of the heart.

One who has a subtle ear can hear OM, proclaiming the Lord’s presence in every sound. All five elements vibrate with this sound. Like the temple bell ringing AUM, the OM sound constantly goes on silently in our body. This silent sound in our sushumnaa naadi, which our gross hearing facility cannot hear; is AUM only. It goes on humming, “SO HAM”. SO means He and HAM meaning I (Aham) (individual self). Thus it is a medium connecting Man to God.

The names of God although they are great in themselves need to be preceded by OM. Before any ritual or worship, a Ganesha pooja is done. Likewise OM has to precede all sacred chantings, even chanting of the Name of Ganesha who is Himself Pranavaakaara.

We say “OM GANESHAAYA NAMAH” etc. It is therefore understood that when OM is added as prefix to any name or mantra the power of the Mantra or name increases several fold.

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).

The second stage is Madhyamaa where the sound process (incantation) is not heard but only the lips move. It is a stage between sound and soundlessness.

The third stage is Pashyantee where it is soundless. There is no open or covered recitation but Japa still goes on in mind without an effort.

In the Fourth paraa stage of Japa the Mantra itself is forgotten and only its impact remains. This is the tureeya 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 Geetaa 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.

Omkaaram Bindusamyuktam
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 the high bliss and attains liberation. I bow down before the pranava.

JAYA GURU OMKAARA, JAYA JAYA SADGURU OMKAARA

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