world-peace

So, sure, I know I’m naive, but I’ve been really thinking about this. We are the only Earth we have ever found (and may ever find). Isn’t kind of short-sighted that war still exists? We are all we have, and what do we fight over? Religion and territory? Really? We are one human body, and I think that is forgotten completely. We’re all on this one blue spinning sphere in the middle of the universe. So next time someone says something bad about you, just remember they’re your earth co-pilot, too. They probably didn’t mean to. Keep a bigger perspective.

Prārthana : The hindu way of communicating with GOD (Prayers)

A prayer is one of the methods of being in communication with God. It, more often than not, takes the shape of addressing the God with the purpose of petitioning, praising, worshipping, confessing or even verbally abusing the chosen deity while in the process being in communication with the God. Or a prayer can also take the form of a person merely pouring out his/her emotions as an act of sharing. One of the main ends of a prayer across all religions and cultures is seeking solace.


THE HINDU WAY OF PRAYER :

In a Hindu’s life, the prayer forms an important component. Every action, event and the ensuing circumstances, success or failure, is filled with prayers. Therefore, in Hindu tradition, prayer takes different and numerous forms compared to other cultures, though the object and motive remain the same.

Arguably, Hinduism is the one religion with maximum number of prayers, worship, rituals and ceremonies. Waking up, going to sleep, bathing,  and commencing a new venture – to name some, prayers form the important part in all these and the whole life.

In Hinduism, the prayer is called Prārthana. Prārthana is not merely requesting or praising or confessing. It is simply an act of communicating to God. 

  1. Hindu prayers can be broadly classified into mental or Mānasika, verbal or Vācika and physical or kāyika. Staying in the very thought of the Divine and completely forgetting oneself is a mental or Mānasika Prārthana, though, at lower level, a thought about Divine, an appeal or desire about God can also be construed as Mānasika Prārthana
  2. Chanting of mantras, repeating the verses about God, or verbal appeals and requests constitute the Vācika Prārthana
  3. Offering of oblation to fire, making mystical gestures, circumambulation of a temple, prostrating in front of god,  going on a pilgrimage, etc. constitute physical or Kāyika Prārthana.

In the verbal Prārthana, several mystical syllables are used since these syllables have the power of conveying the Grace of God quicker and also cleansing the aspirant both physically and mentally.

An unique feature of Hindu prayers is that the prayers are not only made to God or Deity and the images representing them, but also to many things that are considered Holy and Sacred as they are manifestations of the Ultimate. So, a Hindu prays to variety of Sages, Saints and Preceptors, the mountains, the rivers and even the trees.

There are set of prayers that a Hindu repeats every day spiritualising and energizing every day existence. There are prayers that are repeated on certain occasions. And there are prayers that are meant for special occasions. Many of these are not followed by many people because of growing western culture in the east and diminishment of culture.

Following are a few daily prayers and some useful prayers to various gods and for specific occasions. [PS: There could be minor variations in the mantras provided in this series, due to regional differences, etc.]

~ Prayer to be chanted before studies :

Saraswati namastubhyam
Varade kāmarūpini;
Vidyārambham kariyāmi,
Siddhir bhavatume sadā.

“Oh Goddess Saraswati, my humble prostrations unto Thee, who are the fulfiller of all my wishes. I start my studies with a request that Thou wilt bestow Thy blessings on me”.

Saying this prayer, the student should start studies daily.


~ Prayer to be chanted before meals :

Brahmārpaam brahma havir
Brahmāgnau brahmanāhutam;
Brahmaiva tena gantavyam
Brahma karma samādhinā.

“Brahman is the oblation; Brahman is the clarified butter etc. constituting the offerings, by Brahman is the oblation poured into the fire of Brahman; Brahman verily shall be reached by him who always sees Brahman in all actions.”

Uttering this prayer, one should start one’s meals.


Prayer for Universal Peace :

Sarve bhavantu sukhinah,
Sarve santu nirāmayāh;
Sarve bhadrāni paśyantu,
Mā kaśchid duhkha bhāga bhavet

“May everybody be happy. May everybody be free from disease. May everybody have good luck. May none fall on evil days.”

Motivations.

I’ve always had it in my head that my sole purpose in life is to help other people and I was never sure how I could possibly make a career out of that. How is someone supposed to profit out of helping other people? For people who don’t know me very well or don’t spend enough time with me, it probably sounds like I’m exaggerating when I say that my sole purpose in life is to help people but I can’t see myself doing anything else.

My parents, being retired, want me to get a college education so I can get a decent job and have a nice life. So, in short, they want exactly what I’m assuming every parent wants for their child – to be financially stable. That being said, when I told them I wanted to major in political science, they immediately scoffed at the idea because they believe that there’s no scope for it in Sri Lanka because to become president here doesn’t necessarily require a college education. But what they fail to understand is that, my intention to pursue political science isn’t because I want to be in power one day but it’s because of the people who are in power today.

In school we are taught to be kind to one another, to share, to clean up our mess, and not to hurt others. I find it ironic how that’s what we are conditioned to do from a very young age yet our governments tend to go out and do exactly the opposite of what we’ve been told do. Developed countries bomb smaller countries and refuse asylum to refugees that are displaced because of the actions of these governments. According to Oxfam, the richest one percent of the world own as much wealth as the bottom ninety-nine percent combined. Even when we have more than enough, we are afraid to share. We are afraid to let go of some of our wealth. I’m not a communist but I’m not a capitalist either. I believe that we should work hard for our wealth but it should not be at the cost of someone else’s life. I don’t see the morality in having more money than one needs when twenty-two thousand children die each day due to poverty, and they die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world.

Income inequality, poverty, and climate change are not heaven sent. They are man-made problems often, if not always, created by the politicians we elect to represent us: the people. Unfortunately, politics has become a competitive sport for some and the minute they come into office, they forget who they are representing and instead, focus more on re-election. Funnily enough, if they were to do what was best for the majority rather than their wealthy donors, then they wouldn’t need to worry so much on whether they would be re-elected or not.

Pursuing political science, I’m hoping, would allow me to gain the experience and understanding I need to be able to change the world one day. I understand how unrealistic or may be even overly idealistic that may sound, but I’m not afraid to risk my life or my well-being fighting for what I believe in. People can laugh at my “naivety” if they wish but someone has to do something, so why not me? What if Martin Luther King decided that racism would be too difficult of an obstacle to overcome? What if Nelson Mandela believed overcoming institutionalized racism and apartheid was unrealistic? What if Eleanor Roosevelt and Susan B. Anthony decided that fighting for women’s rights was overly idealistic? Where would we be today if they didn’t do what was once considered impossible? Just like them, I intend to pursue my goal despite constantly being told that it’s “silly” and “naive” of me to actually consider doing so.

- Rukshana Abdeen