Children, many people doubt why they have to undergo suffering in spite of having surrendered themselves to God. They question why God does not fulfil all the prayers of a devotee. Ninety-nine per cent of the people who visit temples and pray do so only to fulfil some material desire. Their mind is not actually bonded to God. They come with some desire in their mind, and to make it happen they seek God’s help. We cannot say that this is real devotion. True devotees pray, “O God, I have many desires, but You know what’s best for me. Thus, let your will prevail.” The desires of such people will certainly be fulfilled.
Our desires are born of our selfishness. Often, we fail to take others into consideration at all. Imagine what the world would be like if God fulfilled every desire of each person. Only when we contemplate upon this can we see its ludicrousness. Because while the farmer prays for rain, the potter prays for sunshine. While the coffin-maker prays for a good business, everyone else prays for a long and healthy life. People from different walks of life pray for contradictory things. It is, therefore, impossible for God to fulfil all of our prayers.
Man cannot live without desires, but his desires should be based on dharmic ideals. For the harmony of nature and society, a life based on dharmic values is essential. This is possible only if we are able to imbibe spiritual principles. Roads are built for driving, but there is a certain “road dharma” that we are required to follow. The traffic rules must be followed; speed should be controlled. If we forget this dharma and begin to compete with each other, it will end in an accident that will affect many lives. Such recklessness deserves to be punished with penalties and fines. That is the only way the road dharma can be maintained. That is the only way we can preserve safety for everyone.
There are people who, instead of praying for their own success, pray for failure of their competitor. Two businessmen lived next door to each other. One of them faced a huge loss in his business. He grew weary, sank into a depression and lost his appetite. He closed himself off from the world and stopped talking to anyone. His concerned family took him to the doctor, and he was put on medication. But there was no change. He continued to lay in bed, unhappy and unresponsive.
One day, his son rushed into his room. “Dad, did you hear the news?” he asked. “The cargo ship carrying the wood our neighbour was importing from Malaysia sank.” As soon as he heard this, the depressed businessman jumped up from his bed with great enthusiasm and called out to his wife, “Hey, where is my food?”
As soon as he heard that his rival had met with a loss, his depression and illness disappeared. He jumped up in glee. This is how we have become today: we find joy in the downfall of others.
Real prayer requires a compassionate approach. It does not constitute arranging a shatru-samhara puja — a ritual to annihilate one’s enemies — as soon as we quarrel with someone. Everyone makes mistakes. Each of us has numerous deficiencies. So, instead of praying, “God, please destroy that person!” we should pray, “Please forgive his arrogance and ignorance and give him proper discrimination.”
When the sapta rishis — the seven sages — accepted the robber Ratnakaran with love and advised him, he realised the error of his ways, practised severe austerities and later came to be known as the great Sage Valmiki. He became a boon for the entire world. Even if we are unable to reach a place where we are
qualified to impart knowledge to others, we could at least pray, “God, please give them peace; give them a good heart.”
Where the mind melts upon seeing the suffering of others, where the heart is full of compassion, there God will shower His grace. God will hear such a person’s prayer and will fulfil his wishes.
The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader.