Aldous Huxley classified prayer into petition, intercession, meditation, and contemplation. Of these, petition, he said, was the lowest form of prayer; intercession the next best; mediation still higher and contemplation, the ideal. This closely follows Sri Thyagaraja Swami’s views on prayer. In the kriti, “Mari Mari Ninne” in Kamboji, he refers to the bhakthis of Gajendra, Druva, and Prahalada. Gajendra merely wanted to be physically saved (tamasika bhakthi). Druva wanted a boon that was almost asking for revenge or taunt his stepmother and weak father – Rajasika bhakthi. Prahlada who merely wanted his father to know the Omnipresence of God – Stavika bhakthi.
In the Devamanohari kriti, “Kanni thandri Naapai, ” Swami says people will just continue to do what they have been doing day in day out without realizing that man is his own friend or foe; the friendship and strength is derived from control of the senses, thereby stressing the point that the human mind is a very powerful instrument which if tamed and properly utilized, can lift man up from sorrow. He tells us that all rituals are directed towards this sure method of obtaining control of the mind but that such control can only come from concentrating on the purpose of the ritual.
Perfunctory performance of ritual will give no benefit. Two kritis explain this. In “Telisi Rama Chinthanatho” (Poorna Ravichandrika), he draws attention to the dual meanings of words and says that what the mind is meditating on is more important than words itself. Rama means woman and also Brahman; Arka means the sun god and a poisonous plant and Aja means Brahma or goat. So, just chanting Rama nama without at the same time benefiting your mind with the right image in your thoughts is of no use.
Another important ingredient of prayer is the love of God and fellow human beings. In “Rama Neeyeda” (Karaharapriya) and “Smarane Sukhamu” in Janaranjani, he stresses this point. In the pancharathna kriti, “Sadinchene” in Arabhi, he refers to this and says “boidnchina sanmarga vachana mulu bonku chesi” meaning that God falsified his own teaching, meaning he falsified what you believed was an invulnerable situation for yourself.
Dr. R. Krishnaswami
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