I watch many a program on TV, where pundits dish out sermons on God. They give a great deal of insight into some of the ancient texts while simultaneously rendering them in plain language, with regard to the power of prayers.
Last year I attended in person a religious sermon in Chennai. Pronto, I suddenly found myself turned into a new convert hooked to God. Such live programs should surely be making anyone feel comfy, besides making the uninitiated pray more intensely to the Supreme Being.
The pundit in the congregation explained about Prahlad’s bhakti way, and how he witnessed Vishnu in His Man-lion avatar in all His omnipresence, thanks to the uttering God’s name right from mother's womb. The wise man adumbrated, God will not come down from Heavens every time like our political leaders crisscrossing between Delhi and the state capitals. On the next day, the pundit explained the congregation about the little Vaman’s avatar. I could even look at the little Vaman on the stage per se, as the eloquent pundit was unraveling His various beautiful/ grand epithets, straight from the original Bhagavatam.
A few days later, I was again flying from Hyderabad to Mangalore after a change of flight in Bengalooru. The first flight was bigger. The seat belt sign was off soon, once we took off and were cruising. I was in the window seat and praying silently. My neighbor touched my arm, acknowledging that he understood well my fear of flying. Then he began speaking to me. I did not understand his dialect. But I followed what he was saying: that there was no need for me to be afraid, since we were flying steadily well above the clouds in the higher altitudes with little turbulence.
I looked at him askance, that I should better be left alone. After I finished my prayers, I told in English why I prayed, and that it was not definitely out of any fear of flying. I confided thus: Sir, by sending prayers from these higher altitudes I can attain salvation(Moksha) easily, of course in the unforeseeable future. It was another story my kindly fellow passenger did not understand that.
I used to believe in my thesis about the power of prayers dispatched from the higher altitudes. I read in my childhood days that ancient seers used to go to the high and chilly Himalayas to perform ‘tapas’ - a penance (Later I found that the English word, temperature, is derived from the Sanskrit root, tapa). Besides, I knew there would be less competition among the fellow devotees in the thin air, where even mobiles phones would not work. Hence the number of people praying along with me on the flights would be fewer, even after counting those God seekers in first time flyers, more concerned about their own air safety.
I entertained a private thought which I could not divulge to my neighbor, due to the language problem: The divine saint, Narad, would be floating in the outside atmosphere, say on the other side of my aircraft window, chanting his prayers ceaselessly and seamlessly. But I had no idea how a topless bard/saint could tolerate those freezing temperatures.
Next in my return trip, I watched some elaborate clouds passing above the Western Ghats. I realized how profound God’s nature must be. Then, rains poured on me for six days at Udipi. Besides, I was deprived of my regular diet for six long days. I could not find even a typical Udipi hotel in the Konkan area I traveled. I could not get to eat any rice; not even in the Prasad at Udipi.
Finally, back in Hyderabad, I saw god on my plate of curd rice. Besides, I witnessed the goddess, Annapurna, appear in the form of my wife. It occurred as surmise to my still under initiated self, that Bhakti was also a personal thing, like the daily food I got so much used to.