Speaking To God
Written by Dr. Satish K. Kapoor   

Do you want to speak to God? If  so, pray with your heart and He will be right there before you.  When one stumbles on the pathway of life one needs support and strength which can be obtained only from a source higher than oneself — the source of sources.
Prayer lights up hope. It releases stress. It gives confidence when one loses the will to act. It shows the way when one feels lost in the maze of life. In solitary  moments  it  brings one near the Supreme Friend of all. If there is a void within, prayer fills it.  “There are moments,” wrote Victor Hugo, “when whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees”.
Prayer  made for some wordly gain is  of  lower  quality as desire stands between man and God. But when it is made with a higher purpose, it establishes one in one’s real Being. The worst  forms of prayer  are the consumerist in which one does business with God and  the ones goaded by anger, pride, jealousy and hatred or the will  to harm others. In the rajasic form of prayer  one  asks for  Divine bounties  to satiate one’s material urges. In the sattvic or pure form, one  wishes the welfare of all,as is evident from this prayer:
 

Sarve bhavantu sukhinah sarve santu niramayah
Sarve bhadrani pashyantu ma kashchit duhhabhag bhavet. “May all be happy.May all be free from disease.May all see the well-being of all. May none fall on evil days.” If prayer is made with lips, it  becomes mechanical  with the passage of time and loses its efficacy and subtle energy; if done with the mind  it remains insular and incomplete as  the sense of “I” and “Mine”  stands between man and god .  But if it flows  from the heart, it ensures communion with the Supreme Being. As  one  advances on the spiritual path, prayer to an external object turns into a prayer to God within and, subsequently, to God which envelopes all. True prayer comes naturally as breathing ,and is as profound in its effect as the law of universal gravitation.
Prayer sublimates when God reciprocates. It  is not just  ritualistic observance or repetition of some  holy syllables,  but an outpouring of the soul. The soul is pulled towards the higher realms of Existence from where descends the ever-vibrant music, anahat. The Father (God) and the son (man) are dyed in the same hue (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, M5, Bhairo, page 1161). Supreme realisation makes Sarmads and Mansurs of history to exclaim An-al-Haq (“I am God”) or Aham Brahmasmi (“I am Brahma”) even at the cost of their lives. Such a state is described in the Bible thus: “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians, ii, 20).  As one awakes to this new state, the Divine nectar received through prayer is spilled in one’s day-to-day activities. One is filled with positive energy and  comes to realize  that He alone knows the best, that man is just an instrument to do the assigned task of  eternity.  No demand is made on Him for He is  already aware of our needs. Says Sri Guru Granth Sahib: Whether you are a swan, a crow or a crane, only His mercy is of any avail. If He so wills it, He turns a crow into a swan. (M1, Sri Rag, Var, page 91). Whatever be the form of prayer, invocatory, petitionary, purificatory, illuminatory, personal ,collective or universal, it does not go unnoticed or unanswered if it is made regularly with faith and devotion(preferably at some fixed place and time), with child-like simplicity and without  unwanted  rituals.Utpaladevacarya (c. 900-950CE), the notable scholar of the Pratyabhijna schhol of philosophy, wrote in the Shivastotravali  (XIII,1,3):
“ …Listen my Lord:union with you is happiness;and separation from you,misery. To me having my being in your Body,bearing the entire universe,the very embodiment of the imperishable essence of the nectar of consciousness,and ever worshipping you,the Lord,let there be life or death or anything else.” Prayer done by closing the eyes and ears of the mind and by surrendering oneself to God reaches Him immediately. Those who cry before the Lord with an open heart like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa , visualise His gracious form before their mental eye and experience miracles. The goddess Kali would materialize before the Saint of Dakshineshwar when he was in a trance. He would speak to her in agony and in ecstacy,in thoughtful and in non-serious moments, at prayer-time and at other times. She remained at his beck and call because he had ceased to be himself and virtually become Her. When Narendranath(pre-monastic name of Swami Vivekananda) sought  Sri Ramakrishna’s help to overcome his wordly turmoils,he suggested him to go and pray to the mother goddess  for a solution to his predicaments. But the prophetic soul in the making , could not  ask for  wordly favours,and  sought just  divine bliss and the ability to act righteously.  “Mother,hurl me into the Hades or establish me in the emperorship of the whole world;I will never leave your feet,-never.”
“I desire not kingdom ,heaven or even  riddance from rebirth;I desire to end  the suffering of beings that are in throes.”
When Sant Namadeva prayed  to Lord Vitthoba (Vishnu), the image in the temple  is said to have come to life and partook of his offerings. When Mira Bai was drenched with the Lord’s love , poison served to her became nectar and the surreptitious gift of a snake turned into a garland. When Haridas, the musician Tansen’s preceptor, rendered a melody , his disciples saw Lord Krishna playing on his flute. Prayer  awakens the sixth sense-Faculty X-and shows one the path to success in whatever field one wants to operate. Madame Blavatsky,founder of the Theosophical Society, wrote (Isis Unveiled, I) : Prayer is desire, and desire develops into will. “The magnetic emanations proceeding from the body at every effort — whether mental or physical — produce self-magnetisation and ecstasy.” Prayer develops the will to act and move in the right direction. It also makes one do things at the right time.   To kneel down in prayer and  to keep one’s ego up is grossly  irreligious. Community prayers rendered at a high musical pitch disturb specially the old, the sick,and  the students preparing for  examination , and need to be avoided. Prayer  to God  also means abstaining  from physical, mental or verbal violence towards all the living beings. Obviously,one cannot love God and  hate or  harm  his creatures.  Once the human body realises its limitations and the mind its futile distractions, the soul craves for the elixir of immortality. Prayer then goes beyond external rituals and  the confines of  holy places , and acquires a comprehensive meaning. Prayer with body becomes service; prayer with mind becomes knowledge and prayer with the soul turns into Love, the Supreme Law of Existence. The Shivastotravali(I.4.22)  says:
“O.Lord ! when the entire universe is your own self,which place in it is not a shrine for your devotees and in which place will not their recital  of Mantra bear fruit? Wherefore will not devotees like me chew that marvelous herb of your devotion from which there comes the immediate Rasa  of liberation.”
Many religious traditions have specific times for prayer.  In Islam, for example, prayer is said five times a day — the morning prayer is called Salat-ul-Fazr, the early afternoon prayer, Salat-uz-Zuhr, the late afternoon prayer, Salat-ul-Asr, the sunset prayer, Salat-ul-Maghrib and the early night prayer, Salat-ul-Isha. Besides, there are two optional prayers said at late night, Salat-ul-lail, and at about breakfast time, Salat-ud-duha. The service on Friday takes the place of Salat-uz-Zuhr. Christians pray in congregation  on Sundays and individually too, whenever they feel the  need. The Sikh Ardas and  Kirtan which is made at least twice a day in the gurudwaras,  control the fluctuations of the mind and uplift the soul, like the prayers of all living faiths.The Vedic tradition regards sandhya, the meeting point of two periods of time in the morning as well as in the evening as the best time for prayer because there is a special manifestation of the cosmic force which vanishes soon after. A popular and meaningful prayer in the  Rgveda(I.89.8) says:  “O Gods! may we hear with our ears words that are auspicious;O Gods worthy of our offerings ,may we see with our eyes,sights that are auspicious;with our limbs and bodies firm,and singing your praises,may we attain the god-given lenth of life.”
God is not tucked up high in the sky,as Swami Vivekananda  clarified  in one of his lectures in the United States.  Speaking to God is, in fact, speaking to one’s higher self , to have  a dialogue with  one’s  innate  divinity to feel one with the One ultimately. The linguistics  of  dialogue  do not comprise of  human alphabets but are  in cosmic mode , in eternal vibratory movements(spandana) which can be  felt , experienced  and observed.  When communion with the Supreme becomes possible,  the biorhythm of the Universal energy radiates the human body,which according to The Kashipanchaka(V) is  ‘the holy place of Benares;(and here flows) the all-pervasive Ganges of wisdom,the mother of the three worlds;this devotion and this faith are Gaya;the contemplation of the feet of my own preceptor is Prayaga;this inner self,the Brahman,the witness of mind of all people,is the God,the Lord of the universe;if everything thus abides in myself,is there any other shrine (besides it) ? “ So, O naughty mind, move always in the Supreme Being(manasa sancara re brahmani, manasa sancara re –Sadashiva Brahmendra) so that He can speak to himself, which means YOU, dispelling the illusion of  identity. God-consciousness is god-realisation.

(Formerly British Council Scholar), Secretary,
Dayanand Institutions, Raviwar Peth, Solapur,
 Maharashtra