The panacea of prayer

The panacea of prayer


If Shakespeare is acclaimed a genius for investing rare sensibilities in the “brute” Caliban who recites his incandescent poetry in “The Tempest,” why not recall our own poetic maharshi, Valmiki, who did the same--not in the prince of Ayodhya --but in a monkey who makes his appearance at the very end of the Ramayana? Hanuman, who is the embodiment of courage, intelligence and humility, is the true hero of this remarkable epic. His creator also titled this chapter as the “Sundara Kanda” the beautiful chapter or the chapter that describes a beautiful character.  We have much to learn from it to find peace in our troubled lives. 

The pandemic has made our lives insecure and disturbed. It has lowered our resistance to cope with our day to day problems. Every small glitch seems enormous now. Those of us who are elderly and alone find it even more challenging to meet these difficulties. This is the time to fall back on our faith and philosophy that were designed to help us swim through troubled waters and reach the shore safely. 

Every one of us needs an anchor in life to hold on to. Religion, prayer and trust in something bigger than yourself is perhaps the best and safest anchor. Now is the time to cast off that cavalier attitude, that contempt for simple faith and belief, that “intellectual” superiority that made you scoff at those who prayed with unconcealed trust. Now is the time to remember Valmiki’s hero who lifted mountains to find one plant, who flew across oceans to save one woman. If we remember him and emulate a fraction of his wisdom, we will find the strength to weather these times. 

No wonder great composers like Purandhara Dasa, Thyagaraja, Annamacharya or Bhadrachala Ramadaasu wove their best compositions around this devotee of Rama rather than Rama Himself.  “Banthu reethi koluveeyavayya, Rama ” or lyrics like “Rama bhakthi Saamarajya…” say everything.

Gandhi’s interpretation of prayer is simple and easy to understand. He asks: “What is it that millions of Hindus, Mussalmans, Christians, Jews and others do every day during the time set apart for the Maker? It seems to me that it is a yearning of the heart to be one with the Maker …..” Praying is like a child turning to a parent for security and comfort. Why deny yourself of this simple act?