May 14: The power of prayers

14 May

Sri Narayananji from Boston delivered the satsang lecture.

The Vedas are the generally basis of our Sanatana Dharma unlike other faiths where a religious text is more sacred. The Vedas are infinite since the Lord is infinite. So what does the Vedas show us? Vedas show us two things. It first shows us the path of Dharma. Dharma in sanskrit translates to nature. Dharma can hence be para-phrased as the basic inborn quality [nature] for a particular thing. The dharma of a flower is to be colorful and the dharma for a tiger is to pounce on its prey. The dharma of an elephant is its ego and it thrives with that ego. Dharma is the very nature of a particular being or an entity.

Sanatana Dharma speaks about dharma in particular it speaks about human dharma [manushya dharma]. As we all know there are different stages of life for a human being and hence the Vedas talk about the nature of the different stages of this human being. It expounds the nature for a Brahmachari, Grihastha, Vanaprastha etc. The underlying human nature has some qualities. That nature is called as Bhagavata Dharma.

Vedas go to show the nature of a human being and we see that in each of these phases, the human being is seeking happiness. Vedas also talk about the supreme happiness. It talks about the nature of that human being, and in the due course when following the very nature, the end goal is to attain the Lord. The Vedas talk about the dharma and describe the infinite Lord. When describing the Lord, the Vedas themselves surrender unto the Lord as the Lord can never be fully described. We can take the whole of this earth as a sheet of paper and all the oceans as the ink to describe the Lord and even then the Lord’s glories cannot be fully described.

The brahmam is formless and cannot be comprehended. It is the source of everything but cannot give us anything. This is akin to a person having million dollar money in the bank but he will not be able to fully see the million dollar money in his hand. The brahmam needs to be stimulated in order to shower his grace. Lord Krishna is known as “Poornam brahma sanatanam”. He is considered as the ultimate Brahmam. But we worship Lord Krishna along with Radha Devi. She is an epitome of Prema bhakti. She can exhilarate Lord Krishna to shower his grace. Radhe Devi is called as “Brahma  prerana kaarini”

Srimad Bhagavatam talks about the Brahmam very beautifully. The brahmam wanted to do an creation  and hence took the colossal form.  –

“Jagruhae Pourusham roopam  bhagavan mahadibih”
“sambutham shodashakalam aadhou lokasisrukshaya” [1.3.1]

This colossal form has different incarnations. He was able to do the creation only after incarnating in this world. The brahmam is akin to raw gold. When raw gold is transformed into different ornaments people can use the ornaments.

In Srimad Bhagavatam, the process of creation is very well explained in the first sloka of Srimad Bhagavatam.  In the first sloka (…dhaamna svena sadaa nirasta kuhakam) it says that that the Lord is self-effulgent, all powerful, omnipotent and omnipresent.

So how does the creation happen?  The first sloka in Srimad Bhagavatam, says that creation happens in three steps, [Thejo Vaari Mriadam]. Tejo, vari and mridham represent the three qualities [gunas]. Tejo is fire which is Rajo guna, Vari  is water representing sattva guna and Mridam is earth and symbolizes Tamasa guna.  Rajo is red [since fire is red], Sattva is white and mritham is black. If it really represents the three qualities Sattva, Rajas and Thamas, then the order must have been Vaari, Tejo, Mritham, and not as it is in the sloka.

So, Tejo, Vari and Mritham do not mean the order of the qualities but only refer to the order of the creation. Tejo is fire from which came water [vaari] which in turn leads to the creation of the earth [mritham].

So in the first sloka of Srimad Bhagavatam it is lucidly shown that the Brahmam took various incarnations for sustenance. For sustenance the Lord adopted three philosophies. They are verily the time [kaalam], Vidhi and Prarabda. He delegated sustenance to the above mentioned artifacts.

What is Prarabda? It is defined as one’s karma which is a result of one’s actions in his past birth. In order words Prarabda is that big bag that we carry wherever we go. It is the bunch of latent impressions that one has been accumulated in his previous births. We generally have a perception that vidhi is fortune or fate. However, the actual meaning of Vidhi is Rule. The Lord handed over the artifact vidhi to Lord Brahma. Brahma is also known as vidhi. So how do we define  Vidhi? It is a set of guidelines governing each and everything in this universe. The third precept is time [kaalam].

It is said that the Lord does not go by his free will but only goes by these three doctrines. Anything event that happens in one’s life is based on these three guidelines [kaalam, vidhi and prarabdha].

Gajendra was an elephant, who in his previous birth was a king by name Indradyumna and was caught in the clutches of a crocodile, who was a Gandharva, Huhu in his previous birth. Gajendra and the crocodile were cursed in their previous birth by great sages and hence were born as elephant and as a crocodile in their next birth.

The curse that Gajendra and the crocodile were carrying from their last birth is called as Prarabdha. It is verily the prarabdha that made them born as an elephant and a crocodile. The alligator caught the elephant in its deep clutches. That is defined as Vidhi and that was the rule ordained by the sages in the previous births. Kalam in this case is the duration for how long the elephant was caught in the clutches of the crocodile before the Lord finally came and relieved the elephant.

In Mahabharatha, we have learnt about the Draupadi vastra-apaharana. Draupadi was ill-treated by Duschasana. The fact that she was ill-treated was due to her karma in her previous birth and also because she ridiculed at Duryodhana in her present birth for pillaging her. The rule [viddhi] was that she was destined to be ill-treated by Dhussahana and kaala is exactly the time when she was derided.

Another example to substantiate is that of Lord Prahlada and Hiranyakashipu. We all know that Hiranyakashipu performed lot of penance and other spiritual austerities. It is verily the prarabdha that he will meet his end in the very lap of the Lord. The boon that he bought from Lord Brahma was vidhi [rule]. Kalam is the duration for which one will accrue the good merits due to one’s penance.

“Yatha deveshu vedaeshu gooshu vipreshu  sadhushu
Dharma mayi cha vidweshaha sa vaa aashu vinasyathi” [7.4.28]

The Lord says that Whenever Hiranyakashipu commits a sin [apachara to the Vedas, cow, the brahmanas or to me], his end is going to be very near. Whenever an event [death] is destined to happen a some predetermined time, and if one performs  acts that are not part of dharma,  then the duration for which one is destined to enjoy the good merits due to penance is lowered.

In all the three examples elucidated above, the greatness of prayers is clearly explained. Even though there is going to be a rule based on which an even will happen, that event can happen very gracefully if one has the blessings of the Lord. That very blessing will be bestowed on one only through prayers.

Draupadi was abused by Duschasana and it had happened in an inappropriate moment, but since she earnestly prayed to the Lord, she was bestowed with infinite amount of clothing. In the case of Gajendra, when all his relatives deserted him, he prayed to Lord and because of his prayers he was liberated.

The Lord goes by rules laid down [prarabdha, viddhi and kaala], but he always has exceptions. He will favor those who chant his Divine Names and performs earnest prayers.

When one performs prayer which is establishing a contact with the Lord, he offers himself to the Lord, and the Lord then does a complete transformation both inside and outside. The first sign of showering his grace on us is by leading us to a satsang. By being part of a satsang one will understand that whatever happens in one’s life is to only a means to subdue the mind. A tumultuous mind can reach a tranquil state only with the help of a great Mahan.   Sage Vyasa’s mind which was in a wavering state was able to achieve a placid state when he met Sage Narada.

Another classic example is that of Ajamila Charithra which shows the prowess of the chanting of Divine Names of the Lord.

King Yama says, Ajamila did not have Lord Narayana in his mind in his death bed and he attained Mukti and so he ordered his assistants to stay out of places where people chant the Divine Names of the Lord. This episode also elucidates the glory of satsang [Kshana sangena sadhushu ]. When he saw the assistants of Lord Vishnu and Lord Yama talking about the glory of satsang, a new life dawned in him and that gave him viveka [discrimination] .

Ramana Maharishi was a great mahan and he had an ardent devotee by name Kunju Swamigal who was also a great mahan. He was from Kerala. When a great avatara purusha incarnates it is said that many great people also incarnate along with the avatara purusha.  When Ramanar descended in this earth, Kunju Swamigal also took birth. He got the upadesha from his guru and was following the path of Atma vichara.  Kunju Swamigal became Ramana’s disciple only a few days ago and hence did not want to be a burden to his guru and decided to go to his ashram to practice Atma vichara. He left his guru’s abode and reached his hometown. Upon reaching his hermitage, he started to practice Atma Vichara. On the first day, he was able to do it without any issue. On the second day he fumbled but he somehow completed it. Every day he saw some issues when practicing it and on the tenth day, he was not even able to do an iota of it. He was pondering over and over about this. He was able to successfully do it in the presence of his Guru Ramana because of his guru’s grace and divinity. The whole ambiance is filled with divinity and saanidhya. There is always an object associated with love. Whereas in the spiritual plane, great mahan’s love is just pure and pristine and love for the sake of love. One is bestowed with all auspicious qualities in the presence of a great mahan.

Srimad Bhagavatam says -“Darshanaad eva sadhavah”. By merely having the darshan of a great mahan will make one’s heart light and be filled with peace.

A devotee’s son of Ramana was once suffering from serious illness. He had sent a message to his guru. No sooner the message reached Ramana’s ears than the boy started to recover and was completely cured. A prayer conveyed to a mahatma will bear fruits because of his sheer divinity. Prayers are that powerful.

The satsang ended with prayers and Nama Sankirtan.


2 Responses to “May 14: The power of prayers”

  1. hansel October 13, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    Questions for you:
    You say “end goal is to attain the Lord” Then what? Geeta says Death comes after Birth and Birth comes after Death and it appears there is no end. The cycles are eternal.

    You say “The Brahman needs to be stimulated in order to shower his grace”
    As I understand Grace is unconditional and cannot depend on someone to stimulate.

    You say “Brahmam is formless and cannot be comprehended” Then how can we describe him/her as Lord Krishna and Radha Devi and worship them?

    You say “The brahmam wanted to do a creation and hence took the colossal form. Lord is self-effulgent, all powerful, omnipotent and omnipresent.” You just said he cannot be comprehended. How do you know then he is in the business of creation, takes different forms and is all powerful?

    You say ” Prarabda is that big bag that we carry wherever we go”
    In your stories whatever happened to elephant, crocodile, Draupadi Dhussahana, Duryodhana and Hiranyakashipu in their next life?
    You say Lord goes by rules laid down [prarabdha, viddhi and kaala], but he always has exceptions. According to Karma rules are rules. Cause and effect? If there is loophole of prayer that we can escape from karma then how much prayer is good enough prayer? Or how little prayer is not enough prayer?

    Please answer these? I ask these prayerfully.


    • namadwaar October 20, 2010 at 12:41 am #

      #1. Geeta speaks about the endless cycle of births and deaths. The cycle of births and deaths are never-ending as long as one identifies himself with the body. The soul or the aatman is eternal and birthless/deathless. When one quits relating himself with the fleeting body and identifies Himself, through experience, with the Atma, that is what is liberation or Moksha – or the Supreme God Realization. And that is what is meant in the passage by “attain the Lord”.

      #2 Grace is not an act – but it is a state – the state of the Supreme Brahman / Almighty is that ‘He’ is grace-incarnate. Unfortunately, one does not perceive the divine grace. Whatever makes one perceive the divine grace is what is meant by ‘stimulation’ in the passage. We say electricity is generated by windmills. But the truth is that wind inherently has that energy. The windmill is just an apparatus that knows exactly how to tap the energy of the wind, is it not? Roughly, for this example sakes, Brahman is like the wind, and the stimulant is the windmill.

      #3. In the state of ‘Nirguna’ Brahman, it is formless and beyond name, form, attributes and description. But the same formless, nameless Brahman, transforms ‘Itself’ into wonderful, divine form and with all divine qualities – in the form of Krishna. A very rough example would be that of a lump of gold. In this state, it doesn’t have have a specific name, form. an attribute or a direct utility. But when it is transformed into a gold ring or a gold necklace, it gets a name, form, attributes and utility, although, in value, it is no different from the original lump of gold itself.

      #4. God / Brahman is absolutely beyond comprehension of the mind or the intellect. In fact anything that can be completely comprehended by the intellect or the mind is a step below divine. In the world, we understand something based on (1) Pratyaksha – inputs from our senses or (2) Anumana – logical inference based on known facts. Both these methods of knowledge are based on the comprehension of the mind or the intellect. So understanding the Almighty cannot be based on these. We can ‘try’ to understand Him only if He, out of His own wish reveals Himself – imagine you are in a dark room and the other person in the room has a flashlight. you can see the objects that the flashlight points to. But you cannot see the other person, unless he decides to point the flashlight unto himself… So we resort to a third source of knowledge – the Vedas – or the Divine Scriptures, which are verily the words of the Lord. We can infer God only through the Vedas. It is the Vedas that state that the Brahman, in the intention of creating, took a colossal form… etc.

      #5, Rules are rules, certainly. There was this person who committed a few serious crimes, and he was tried in the court. By the rule book, the judge gave him the capital punishment of the state – which was death. But he appealed to the President of the country for clemency. The President who is beyond the judiciary, need not go by the books to grant clemency, does he? He can overturn the capital punishment at will. The only constraint is that the accused person needs to apply for clemency! In our case, the clemency application to the President is our prayers to the Almighty. How much/little prayer is enough? Make your prayers heard, and the only merit of one’s case is the faith with which one prays. Prayers with faith certainly reach the Almighty.

      Radhe Radhe!

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