It doesn’t matter what language you pray in. Just pray, and you will see the magic, says SWAMI CHIDANAND SARASWATI
The key to removing the ‘want’ from our lives is to give more, serve more and sacrifice more. One of the most common Hindu rituals is a yagna fire. Devotees sit in a circle around the sacred fire and place offerings into the flames. With each offering, after each mantra, the priest chants, idam namamah. This means, ‘Not for me, but for You’.
The purpose of this is to remind ourselves that everything is for God. We must offer every thought, every action, and every breath at His holy feet. We must give more and want less. Then, we will know true joy and peace.
Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” How true that is! Prayer is a broom that sweeps out our hearts. How to become selfless? How to learn to give more? Prayer. Peace comes through prayer. It doesn’t matter what name you use for God or what language you pray in. You can pray to Lord Krishna in Sanskrit, you can pray to Allah in Arabic, you can pray to Jesus in English, you can pray to Adonai in Hebrew, you can pray to Buddha in Japanese, or you can pray to any other form of the Divine in any other language — it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that the prayer is earnest, pure and heartfelt. When I met Mother Teresa of Kolkata, she said the following beautiful poem: The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is devotion. The fruit of devotion is service. The fruit of service is peace. That beautiful poem shows us, so clearly, the benefits of simple prayer.
Sometimes people think that in order to pray one must be very learned in the scriptures of a particular religion, yet that is not true at all. Prayer is speaking to God, and God understands all languages, both the simplest and the most complex.
There was once a little boy who went to the temple with his father. He heard all the people chanting so many prayers in Sanskrit. For hours they chanted so many different prayers and mantras and shlokas. Then, at the end, the priest said it was time for silent prayer. The little boy was nervous.
He didn’t know any of the prayers. But, he loved God, and he wanted to pray to God. So, he closed his eyes and he silently said, “God, I don’t know any of the Sanskrit prayers. I’m only a little boy. The only thing I know is the alphabet I learnt in school. I know that all the prayers come from this alphabet. So, I will sing you the alphabet and then whatever prayers you like best, you can make from alphabets.”
And so he started to sing, “A,B,C,D,E,F,G….” God is happier with that little boy, with his devotion, purity and piety, than He is with all the people who chant verse after verse of flawless Sanskrit or Latin without love. The point is, love God, whatever form or name you use. It doesn’t matter what language you pray in. Just pray, and you will see the magic.
Swami Chidanand Saraswati is the President of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, one of the largest interfaith spiritual institutions in India. He is co-founder/co-chairman of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), the world’s first initiative to bring together the leaders of all the world’s faiths to enable a water-secure future.