Why should a prayer be done for expressing gratitude?

Contents


A. Expressing Gratitude

God is the creator of the universe. We too are a part and parcel of the universe. So both, the universe and we were created by God. All events in the universe followed thereafter. These include me, my happiness and unhappiness, intellect, actions, my family, country, religion, spiritual practice, etc. Thus whenever one thinks about the self and / or the world, unconsciously harbouring awareness of God or one of His forms and offering the credit for even this awareness to God, is termed as gratitude. Prayer is actually a synonym for surrender. This act of surrender is completed only after the expression of gratitude. The Guru Himself is God for a seeker who has been blessed by the grace of a Guru or for one who is practising Spirituality according to the Path of the Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga). Hence it is but natural for him to harbour more gratitude towards the Guru.

1. Importance of expressing gratitude

  • Reduction in ego: Gratitude is a means of offering the doership of an act to God / the Guru; hence it helps in reducing the ego. Often seekers forget to thank God for anything occurring as wished in a prayer or after deriving Bliss (Anand) from rendering service. A seeker can also develop subtle ego about getting spiritual experiences or experiencing Bliss. It is therefore important to offer the credit for a spiritual experience or the experience of Bliss to the Guru.

  • In expressing gratitude, one offers the result of an action unto God : Since the result of the action is sacrificed, the action becomes a non-action (akarma karma) and no give and take account is generated. Thus the chances of a seeker getting entrapped in the cycle of birth and death are reduced.

  • Increase in the number of repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name on the counter after expressing gratitude: On 16th July 2002, when undertaking the repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name, I saw the photograph of Gurudev before me. I expressed gratitude and spoke to His photograph just as one would speak to a person before oneself. I said to Him, ‘I cannot meditate. Please get it done from me.’ Tears swelled in my eyes as I said this and I happened to see the counter. Before expressing gratitude, I had repeated (chanted) The God’s Name 188 times. When I looked at the counter after expressing gratitude, the count had exceeded a thousand. Thereafter, I said the points told by Gurudev in a meeting and prayed. After a while when I lifted the counter, the count had increased by another forty. – Mrs. Sankalpa Tambe, Kalambaste, Chiplun, Ratnagiri district

2. Examples of expressing gratitude with spiritual emotion (bhav)

A. Gratitude about the Guru being one’s everything: Dr. Hemant Kamat, a seeker expressed his gratitude unto the Guru thus,

O Gurudev, I am grateful to You
For endowing me with a human birth,
For granting me the desire to be liberated,
For drawing me towards spiritual practice.
O Gurudev, I am grateful to You
For gifting me with holy texts for the study of Spirituality,
For giving me appropriate guidance in repeating (chanting)
The God’s Name,
For giving me the opportunity of being in Your holy
company (satsang),
For endowing me with the opportunity to render service
unto the Absolute Truth (satseva),
For impressing on my mind that propagation of Spirituality
is the supreme service unto the Absolute Truth,
For convincing me about the importance of sacrifice and
for getting it done from me,
For explaining to me what spiritual love (priti) is,
For endowing me with such a beautiful society to
undertake my spiritual practice.
O Gurudev, I am grateful to You
For pointing out what qualities I lack in,
For creating situations conducive for my spiritual practice,
For giving me the opportunity to learn from fellow seekers
and warrior seekers,
For granting me guidance from senior seekers,
And for the holy company (satsang) of saints.
O Gurudev, I offer obeisance at Your feet,
For alleviating my worldly problems,
For reducing my attachment for the Great Illusion (Maya),
For eliminating my doubts about spiritual practice,
And for steadying me in spiritual practice.
O Gurudev, I am grateful to You
For driving away distressing energies which was
impossible for us to do,
For endowing me with the spiritual experience that You
alone are the doer and that You alone can get things done
from me.
And for granting me the assurance that I can attain the
Final Liberation (Moksha) in this birth itself.

B. Gratitude towards God for every breath of life and the Guru for teaching how to repeat (chant) The God’s Name: I was trying to repeat (chant) The God’s Name along with the breath. After sometime due to intense concentration on the Name, I could hear the repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name through God Krushna’s peacock feather. I could feel the Name entering me through the nose, every time I took a breath. The gratitude to God for every breath and to the Guru for teaching me the act of repeating (chanting) The God’s Name which I expressed was beyond verbal description. However the Bliss (Anand) derived from the spiritual experience lasted for a long time. – Mrs. Puja Ganesh Naik

C. Sometimes seekers have to set out at dawn when travelling out of station. Someone has to wake up at dawn to give them lunch packets. When I do this task, I feel thankful to both, the seekers and the Guru for having endowed me with this opportunity to prepare the holy sacrament (prasad) of the Guru. I feel, ‘How much my Guru does for me so that my spiritual love (priti) for others grows and I progress spiritually !’ – A seeker, Goa

D. When despite my not making a mistake another seeker points out my mistake, I feel thankful to the Guru as He is doing all this only to take me to the next level of spiritual progress. Thereafter I am unaffected about that incident. – A seeker, Goa

3. Spiritual experiences of expressing gratitude

A. Feeling thankful towards seekers and perceiving that I was offering the guidance at their feet: On 24th October 2002, I was scheduled to guide the prominent seekers from Sangli district and those rendering service in the office of the ‘Daily Sanatan Prabhat’. I offered salutation unto the Guru before looking at the audience. At that moment, I experienced an inner feeling of gratitude towards the seekers. There was a lump in my throat. I was speechless. I was overwhelmed with the thought that I had been endowed with the opportunity to serve the Guru because of them. Thereafter throughout the discourse, I experienced the feeling that I was offering the guidance at their feet. Ever since, even during casual conversation with a seeker, I become aware that I am serving him. – Dr. (Mrs.) Nandini Durgesh Samant

B. Repeating (chanting) the Name of The God

According to the Path of Devotion, Chanting is the very foundation of spiritual practice. The God’s Name is The God Himself. That is why the easiest mode of being in constant communion with The God is repeating (chanting) His Name continuously. A Holy text titled ‘Science of Spirituality: Vol. 6 A – Path of Repeating (Chanting) The God’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga)’ explains in detail the importance of The God’s Name, what should be done to repeat (chant) it continuously and effectively and its various other aspects. One may get the impression that one develops spiritual emotion (bhav) for The God by being in constant communion with Him through repetition (chanting) of His Name. Often however, repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name occurs just for its sake without spiritual love for The God. This kind of repetition (chanting) does not help much in developing spiritual emotion for God. That is precisely why repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name should be done along with spiritual emotion. The ways and means of achieving this are given below.

1. Importance of repeating (chanting) The God’s Name with spiritual emotion

  • Only if repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name is done with spiritual emotion does it reach The God.

  • Repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name done with spiritual emotion provides protection from negative energies.

2. Efforts to repeat (chant) The God’s Name with spiritual emotion

  • A prayer should be made unto the Guru / God to make one repeat (chant) The God’s Name with spiritual emotion.

  • Just as one thinks of someone one loves or something one likes repeatedly and very easily without any effort, e.g. a lover thinks of his beloved or a mother of her child so also, the mind should be conditioned to love God. Once one begins to like or love God, one remembers His Name easily and experiences Bliss on repeating (chanting) it. Later repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name becomes a way of life.

  • Imagining The God’s form time and again makes it easier to love Him. That is why when repeating (chanting) The God’s Name, if possible one should place a picture of the deity within one’s visual range. To make the atmosphere more sattvik (sattva predominant), one should affix strips of Names of deities in the room where one is repeating (chanting) The God’s Name.

  • One should harbour the spiritual emotion that God / the Guru is getting the repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name done from oneself. Mrs. Garud, a seeker in the Dhamse would not fall asleep till 2 a.m. for almost two to two and a half months. She expressed gratitude unto The God for this saying that God must be doing this to increase her repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name.

    A seeker who harboured the feeling that the Guru Himself was getting the repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name done from her, experienced the following.

    A seeker’s perception of repeating (chanting) The God’s Name with the japamala (Hindu rosary) even in her sleep as she harboured the spiritual emotion that Gurudev was getting the repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name done from her : Once in March 1998, before retiring for the day, I was offering obeisance to Gurudev with folded hands. It was at that moment that I had an intense feeling that He was none other than The God Himself and my eight-fold sattvik (ashtasattvik) spiritual emotion (bhav) was awakened. I said, ‘You yourself are repeating (chanting) The God’s Name through me as a medium for the spiritual progress of Your devotee, seeker and disciple’ to Gurudev and I fell asleep with the japamala (Hindu rosary) in my hand. When I awoke at 5 a.m. I realised that I had been repeating (chanting) The God’s Name with the japamala all night. – Miss Mahananda Giridhar Patil

  • One should harbour the spiritual emotion that The God’s Name is a protective armour against all evil. The spiritual emotion of a seeker in this context is described below.

    An inner feeling that repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name when ironing clothes would create impressions of repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name on the clothes and a consequent armour : On 27th October 2002, the Guru suggested to me from within that I should repeat (chant) The God’s Name when ironing clothes because this helps in transmitting The God’s Name to the clothes which can later be used as a protective armour. – Mr. Rajesh Sadanand Gavkar

  • If one uses a tool such as a japamala to repeat (chant) The God’s Name, considering it as a deity, one should offer obeisance to it before commencing the repeating (chanting).

  • Repeating (chanting) should be interlaced with meditation because the two qualitatively enhance each other.

  • One should listen to an audio cassette on repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name off and on.

  • One should listen to audio cassettes of devotional songs (bhajans) composed by saints and to Their spiritual guidance off and on.

3. Spiritual experience of repeating
(chanting) The God’s Name along with spiritual emotion

Experiencing indescribable sweetness while repeating (chanting) The God’s Name along with spiritual emotion and perceiving the presence of the Guru / God when repeating (chanting) in that way : Since 25th October 2002, I sensed a qualitative change in my repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name. Though I did love to repeat (chant) The God’s Name earlier as if it were a hobby, since 25th October 2002, the subtle change which occurred is beyond verbal description. First of all I consider myself extremely fortunate for being able to repeat (chant) The God’s Name. Just as a mother derives happiness merely by calling out again and again to her baby by its name despite it not understanding the language, so also I experience pure Bliss merely by repeating (chanting) The God’s Name. The Name seems invaluable. I feel like repeating (chanting) The God’s Name continuously without cessation. I also constantly perceive the presence of the Guru / God. Consequently, on one hand I feel quite safe and self-confident and on the other, extremely humble. – Dr. (Mrs.) Nandini Durgesh Samant, Goa

C. Practising the nine-fold devotion (navavidhabhakti)

The aim of a seeker following the Path of Devotion (Bhaktimarg) is to generate intense devotion unto The God. To achieve this, it is beneficial to put into practice the various types of the nine-fold devotion namely, listening to praise of The God (shravan), singing praises of The God (kirtan), remembering The God (smaran), service of the holy feet (padsevan), offering (archan), offering obeisance (vandan), devotion as a servant (dasya), devotion as a friend (sakhya) and narrating everything to God (atmanivedan). Among these, the first three types help to generate faith, the next three are related to the manifest (sagun) form of The God and the last three are internal spiritual emotions.

1. Types of the nine-fold devotion

A. Listening to praise of The God (shravan): This form of devotion includes listening to the qualities, victories and glory of The God with faith. It also means listening to the Guru’s teaching (knowledge).

B. Singing praises of The God (kirtan): Singing the praises of The God amounts to this kind of devotion. Narrating the knowledge one has gained by listening to the Guru’s teachings to others as the situation demands and inspiring them to behave as per the Guru’s expectations is devotion of this kind.

C. Remembering The God (smaran): Constant contemplation upon the Name – virtues – divine play (lila) of The God and remaining engrossed in them is this type of devotion. This includes constant remembrance of the gross form of the Guru or God through a picture / idol and that of His subtle form through repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name. If one harbours the spiritual emotion that every breath one takes, every task that one has done throughout the day has been possible only because of The God or that one is living every second only because of The God then one will remember Him throughout the day. This is the true expression of this devotional form. Kunti from the Mahabharat had asked for unhappiness so that she would remember The God all day long. However without asking for unhappiness if one makes attempts as above then this devotion will develop quickly.

     A seeker who remembered the Guru constantly and attributed everything to the Guru experienced oneness with the Guru as described below.

     A seeker perceiving the seat she used to undertake repetition (chanting) of The God’s Name as that of her Guru and also experiencing closeness to Him through the subtle dimension : On 6th July 2002 before meditating, I prayed unto Gurudev and then sat with hands folded in obeisance. The thought that crossed my mind then was, ‘Your seat has become soiled. It will have to be washed at night.’ Just then, I realised that the seat belonged to my Guru and that it is He who uses it everyday and that He would certainly not appreciate my washing it at night (because Gurudev would tell us not to do too many chores at night). The next vision I got was of a sage walking in a forest. I felt as if He was my Guru and I, His disciple. Though in reality, the Guru’s gross form is far away, yet from within He is very close to me. – Miss Mahananda Giridhar Patil

D. Service of the holy feet (padsevan): In this form of service, one literally serves the holy feet of The God or performs ritualistic worship of His feet. Service unto the Guru’s feet means harbouring the spiritual emotion, ‘I am a servitor of The God’. A Guru has greater attachment for a disciple who worships His subtle form, that is the Guru principle than one who worships only His gross form. Propagation of the Guru’s mission in the best possible way is true service unto the Guru’s feet.

E. Offering (archan): Ritualistic worship (puja) of The God with devotion and respect is called archan. Installing a picture of the Guru in the temple at home or worshipping Him mentally are incorporated in this kind of devotion.

F. Offering obeisance (vandan): This form of devotion constitutes meditating upon The God after completely surrendering unto Him. This includes praying with spiritual emotion, so that it reaches God.

G. Devotion as a servant (dasya): In this form of devotion, the devotee considers The God to be his father, mother and his everything and he himself to be The God’s son or servant. God Maruti is an excellent example of this type of devotion.

H. Devotion as a friend (sakhya): In this form of devotion, a devotee believes God to be his friend or sibling who shares his happiness and unhappiness. So, no barrier of any kind exists between the two. As spiritual emotion towards the Guru grows, there is a corresponding growth of respect and gratitude for Him. This makes it difficult to view Him as a friend. Only a rare seeker with a spiritual level of more than 60% is capable of remaining devoted in this way. Devotion of Arjun towards God Krushna is an unparalleled example of this.

I. Narrating everything to God (atmanivedan): This devotion is the ultimate and supreme step in the Path of Devotion. Here, the devotee explicitly narrates everything good or bad, external or internal to The God and surrenders completely unto Him. One should narrate daily to the Guru about everything, all of one’s actions, obstacles faced in one’s spiritual practice, doubts in the mind, etc. Mrs. Mangala Marathe (one of the compilers) experienced the following in this context – ‘One day when I was conversing withGurudev in my mind, two seekers who were meditating saw me talking to Him on telephone.’

2. Comparative importance of the nine-fold devotion

Type Importance
%
Type Importance
%
1. Listening to praise of
    The God (shravan)
10 6. Offering obeisance
    (vandan)
40
2. Listening to tales
    praising The God in a
    poetic form (kirtan)
15 7. Devotion as a
    servant (dasya)
50
3. Remembering The
    God (smaran)
20 8. Devotion as a friend
    (sakhya)
60
4. Serving of the holy
    feet (padsevan)
25 9. Conversing with
    God (atmanivedan)
65
5. Offering (archan) 30    
Reference: Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy text ‘Spiritual Practice For Awakening Spiritual Emotion’
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