Prayers, like breathing, are an integral part of human life. They are considered more sacred than hard work. Bereft of a scientific sentiment and a rationalist mind-set, people believe that prayers to the gods of their choices will bring to their doorsteps all comforts of life: health, wealth and a powerful status in society.
May be these are puritan prayers. But, amazingly, sinful souls also resort to prayers with a view to getting them pardoned from the misdeeds they commit in life. Prayer is thus considered Aladdin’s Lamp, the possession of which is frantically sought by every human soul.
Pathetically, prayers are always purpose-oriented, having specific demand-tags attached to them. Again, they are not a one-time affair and the god in question is continuously solicited by men either for getting more of what they already have or for retaining it.
Fear of losing comforts that are presumed to have been achieved through prayers always haunts men. Swami Adiswarananda aptly describes men’s predicament thus: “The healthy have the fear of disease, the wealthy of thieves and the robbers, the beautiful of the old age, the socially prominent of dishonor, the learned of rivals and the virtuous of scandal.”
Advent of money, coupled with the advancement of science and technology, makes the world a global village that offers droves of comforts to men. These are sought to be owned by the human tribe not through hard work but through prayers.
Prayers have now become gimmicks with the evolution of innumerable gods. Each caste or sub-caste has its own god. Families too have their own deities. Abodes of gods don’t stop with cities and villages. Every pavement or platform is now littered with a variety of small, petty and makeshift temples.
Gods in such temples are worshipped in many unique ways. Along with mass prayers, the rural gods are offered padayals [special food] which normally contain a sackful of goat meat and a bottle of arrack. People who feed their gods in this way promise more sacks and bottles if their prayers are heard and answered.
Conventional prayers of the above kind are always visible. Conversely, most of ‘have-all’ do not have faith in explicit prayers; theirs are implicit and silent. You cannot trace and decipher the gods to whom they pray. But everything – their requests and the god’s response-comes to light the moment these prayerists offer some gifts or presents to the gods of their choice, who had heard their prayers and responded favorably. The gift of a Tusker to the Guruvayoor Temple by one of the TamilNadu Chief Ministers is a case in point.
Today, in the name of religion, terrorism is unleashed but some disgruntled elements who, following the dictates of their leaders stage destructive activities in alien lands, causing the loss of thousands of human precious lives.
The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon without any compassion for the human lives involved in their operation, underscore the extent of the havoc one could cause if one’s senses are allowed to be controlled by fanatics. The world is thus exposed to violence and counter-violence.
Nothing goes wrong when a person offers prayers for his/her own development and family’s well-being. It is one of the natural traits of man, which compels him to place his self above all other things. But, dangers peep in when prayers are offered by the religious with an ulterior motive of getting political clout and command.
Today, mass prayers are resorted to for the purpose of showing the strength of a particular religion to the powers-that-be. Even now there are places in India where people belonging to a particular caste are not allowed to offer prayers in temples by the upper, high-class religious fanatics.
“I pray for nectar. If I cannot get the nectar, I shall not fall back upon ditch waters,” said Swami Vivekananda.
Here, in our country, bigots pray both for nectar and ditch water—nectar for them and ditch water for their rivals. Secularism can be said to have grown only when people begin praying for the whole humanity not for their own self-aggrandizement.
[I got an insignia from the Delhi-based ‘Alive’ mag to enter into the world of writing when they chose to publish this post in their June, 2002 issue. Thus ‘Alive’ had initiated me into the realm of writing a decade ago and made me go the whole hog with my tryst with words, publishing, off and on, a host of my writes. Though this post had the privilege of having been set in fine-print, it now looks mediocre not reflecting the metamorphism my current writings are sporting. But, back then, I was nascent in the realm of writing, catching up with its ropes.]
Image courtesy: Alive mag