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We Can Pray; We Should Pray; Will We Pray?

Sri nidhim nidhim apAram arthinAm arthithArtha paridAna dIkshitam

sarva bhUta suhrdam dayAnidhim dEvarAjam adhirAjam AsrayE

(Let my salutations be to Lord DevarAja - King of the gods, Sriman

Narayana - whose unparalleled wealth is PerundEvi thayar - the Supreme

Goddess and Mother, who Himself is the wealth of all the wanting souls,

who has resolved to grant all the needs of His bhaktas, who is the well

wisher of one and all and who is a Treasure of Mercy).

Svami KurattazhvAn’s invocatory verse of Sri Varadaraja stavam (the Hymn

to the Lord Who is the Bestower of Boons) has a lot to convey to us. It is

all the more important in these days of unrest. We need to pray together

and individually for the safety and well being of all our fellow citizens

on Mother Earth. Sri Vaishnavism and all the vedas accept that the whole

universe is the divine body of Sriman Narayana. All the residents of this

earth, cutting across countries, language, sex, community, caste, religion

and above all whether they are humans or flora or fauna, belong to one

group - Servants to the Supreme Lord. One attribute that is common to

all of us is sEshatva - absolute unconditional servitude to our Lord. This

jIvatma's (soul) first and foremost identification is this sEshatva (quality of

servitude). Svami Ramanuja defines sEshatvam as paragata atisaya AdAna

iccha (a servant who always wants to add glory to his Master. So let us

try to add glory to the Lord).

But, alas! Adding glory to Him would be impossible; how can we bring

Glory to the One Who is the Ultimate Glory? He is proclaimed as

"avikArAya suddhAya nityAya paRamatmanE, sadaika rUpa rUpaya vishnavE

sarva jishnavE" (one whose inherent nature, attributes and divine body is

unchanged). Consequently, we fail in our attempt to add any glory to

Him as He is already full with it.

This leads to a paradoxical problem. While He is Perfect, no service can

ever add to His Glory. However, if we do not seek to serve him and

glorify Him, it would be against our True Nature to be His sEsha.

Our preceptors have showed us the way to wriggle out of this problem

and retain our sEshatvam. Because, He is the very soul of all the sentient

and non-sentient beings in this Universe. Since these beings are not

perfect in their nature, we can add to their glory by selflessly serving

them. Therefore, Service to our fellow beings becomes a means to

serving and glorifying God, and would be in accordance with our True

Nature as His sEsha.

There is a popularly held misconception that service should be limited to

other devotees, other Sri Vaishnavas. But, as the Lord is the Inner Spirit

and Master of all living beings, we cannot and should not limit ourselves

only to them. Let us pack up these ideas and focus on serving everyone

who is in need. Let us seek to serve the world as a whole.

Now, this leads to the question of the best way to serve. We can

monetarily or physically help those in times of need. However, we can

often encounter so many road blocks while implementing this. Each of

us has access to only a few people that we whom we can help in times of

need. Go ahead and do your might. But how do we serve all living

beings at large? Seek the help of someone who is close to all of them.

That unique personality is none other than Sriman Narayana. Whether

others agree to His Lordship or not, we agree to their servanthood. So let

us look upon Sriman Narayana to help everyone. He is the one who can

and who should give a helping hand.

This is why Svami Koorathazhvan calls upon us to collectively pray to

Him as He is the "sarva bhUta suhrt" (common well wisher). Prayer is

nothing but a call, a representation, and a plea - not only for me but for

Him, for His well being. His well being would mean the well being of

this Universe. So bhaktas, let us resolve from today to pray together for

the well being of our Lord and humanity. This fetches many fruits in one

throw. I retain my sEshatva; I have prayed for Him, I have prayed for

everyone. And this prayer itself becomes a form of "dyAnam"

(concentration and meditation).

Svami Ramanuja says that the first step to salvation is jIvAtma paRamatma

jnAnam (knowledge about self and the Lord). But mere knowledge

would make one grope in the darkness of samsAra, drowning one in

often times painful and seemingly unanswerable questions. We need to

focus this jnAnam on PaRamatma which transforms to dyAnam -


Meditation is often seen to be only in the form of mantra japa (repetitive

chanting of mantras), vigraha pUja (offering prayer to the Deity) etc.

However, this kind of codified approach to meditation often makes one

rigid and egotistical. One needs to refine mediation with love and

affection (snEham). Sri Ramanuja says "dyAna arcana pranAmadibhi:

atyartha priya: tat prApti phala:" (the Lord is pleased with meditation, pUja

and surrender; His pleasure is the means to salvation). He also defines

bhakti as "snEha pUrvam anu dyAnam bhakti:" (meditation with love is

known as bhakti).

Svami Nammazhwar says "eNNilum varum.”(first centum tenth decade of

ThiruvAymozhi). The Lord is waiting in the aisle to come to our rescue,

expecting us to simply to think about Him. A humble thought has the

power to invoke Him.

I am sure you would all now appreciate the importance of dyAnam. Is it

not just closing our eyes and thinking about our Lord. We need to do

more. We must enjoy His Qualities, recollect His Divine actions during

incarnations for our well being, plead for His Well Being (mangalasanam /

pallandu pallandu un sevadi sevvi tirukkappu - May good tidings come to

you, Oh, Lord/Forever and ever may your Sacred Feet be Blessed) and

in turn ensure the well being of everyone. PeriyAzhvar pleaded for the

safety of His lotus feet, which serves as the very soul of all devotees.

So make it a daily practice to establish an undisturbed stream of focused

thoughts on Sriman Narayana. Pray to Him. Do not plead for any mean

fruit. Request for the well being of everyone. All the other wealth would

automatically be granted. Once in a while, make this jointly in a satsang,

then the energy gets multiplied and you start feeling the synergy.

We can pray. We should pray. Will we pray?

SarvE janA: sukhinO bhavantu. Samasta san mangalAni santu.

(May good come to all living beings. May good tidings come to the

whole Universe)


“Why do we not feel about the

Lord the same way as the Azhvars did?” The reason for that is their total

love for the Lord, which came about as a result of the Lord’s uninitiated

grace towards them. The Lord blessed them with blemish less

knowledge. That is why they are who they are, and are known as

“mayarvu aRa madhinalam aruLa-p-perRRavargaL” (those who were blessed

with blemishless, unforgettable knowledge). Svami Nammazhvar starts the

thiruvaymozhi with the statement “Oh mind! Go worship and surrender

to the One who granted the blemishless knowledge”.

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The best form of prayer is chanting and reading up Lord's stories. For spiritually-not so advanced-mortals like us the most effective method of feeling closeness to God is reading about Him. The great Srimad Bhagavatham, churns the soul and brings out pure love for Maha Vishnu. Each moment of the day then becomes blissful, in the thought of God. It is tough to attain purity in the mind without associating oneself with God.


There is no greater form of prayer than total surrender to God - Kayena Vaacha Manase Indriyeya Bhudyaathmanaava Prakrithe Swabhavath karomi yagyath sakalam parasmai Sriman Narayanaayethi Samarpayami.


Total Surrender of senses, desires, natural traits and results of those traits - be it good or bad deeds and everything about you, lay it on the Feet of god, and belong to Him manasa vaacha karmana. This way unburdens you and also takes you to the ultimate place of peace and harmony - something that exists within your own self.


Wish I can soon get to this level for real! Deeptha Echampati

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