04 June 2015
Why we pray and how we pray…ever notice how the answers to these questions change with the passage of time. Ritual prayers have been a part of my belief system since early childhood. Growing up in a devout Hindu household there was always a space dedicated to the idols of our favourite deity where everyone offered their personal invocation at their own time and convenience. During festival times we all gathered around this sacred place to chant the appropriate mantras and sing the “aarti”. Our schooling those days was in convents for they were the only institutions that offered a good English-speaking education (your ticket to progress!!) in the small-town-military-stations where my father (an army officer) was usually stationed and where we grew up. The convent nuns further impressed upon us the power of prayer. You learnt to say the Lord’s Prayer every morning and to kneel and make the sign of the cross at the school chapel on special occasions. Almost every Sunday we went to the Gurudwara at the regimental barracks (my father had Sikh troops under his command) and with our heads dutifully covered we recited the ‘ardaas’ and happily devoured the ‘prasada’ distributed at the end of the ceremony. When i look back, there was no differentiation in the conviction with which you did all three. One was just happy to have someone up there to answer your concerns (mostly centred around the unending exams you wrote!!) In the teenage years books opened up a whole new world of philosophy and so i naturally went through the mandatory bouts of doubt and scepticism, of questioning of rituals but never a loss of faith in some greater power that pervades this universe.Then along came life with all its trials and tribulations and that simple childhood ritual evolved into something else.
Prayer i have learnt does not change a situation, it changes the way you experience it by giving you tremendous strength and ability to weather all storms. Now when i pray there is humility and gratitude for His countless blessings; there is faith that His Will shall never place me in a situation where His Grace does not protect me; and above all there is Hope that when the time comes this soul shall find its sanctum and attain salvation.