Back | Next
GOD > My God > The True Devotee
15. The True Devotee
Prayer is a confession of one's unworthiness and weakness. God has a thousand names, or rather, He is Nameless. We worship or pray to Him by whichever name that pleases us. Some call Him Rama, some Krishna, others call Him Rahim, and yet others call Him God. All worship the same spirit, but as all foods do not agree with all, all names do not appeal to all. Each chooses the name according to his associations, and He being the In-Dweller, All-Powerful and Omniscient knows our innermost feelings and responds to us according to our deserts.
Worship or prayer, therefore, is not to be performed with the lips, but with the heart. And that is why it can be performed equally by the dumb and the stammerer, by the ignorant and the stupid. And the prayers of those whose tongues are nectared but whose hearts are full of poison are never heard. He, therefore, who would pray to God, must cleanse his heart. Rama was not only on the lips of Hanuman, He was enthroned in his heart. He gave Hanuman exhaustless strength. In His strength he lifted the mountain and crossed the ocean.
The Gita has defined the bhakta in three places and talked of him generally everywhere. But a knowledge of the definition of a bhakta is hardly a sufficient guide. They are rare on this earth. I have therefore suggested the Religion of Service as the means. God of Himself seeks for His seat the heart of him who serves his fellow-men. That is why Narasinha Mehta who ‘saw and knew’ sang
‘He is a true Vaishnava who knows to melt at other’s woe.’ Such was Abu Ben Adhem. He served his fellowmen, and therefore his name topped the list of those who served God.
But who are suffering and the woe-begone? The suppressed and the poverty-stricken. He who would be a bhakta, therefore, must serve these by body, soul and mind. How can he who regards the
‘suppressed’ classes as untouchables serve them by the body ? He who does not even condescend to exert his body to the extent of spinning for the sake of the poor, and trots out lame excuses does not know the meaning of service.... He who spins before the poor inviting them to do likewise serves God as no one else does. ‘He who gives me even a trifle such as a fruit or a flower or even a leaf in the spirit of bhakti is My servant,’ says the Lord in the Bhagavadgita. And He hath His footstool where live ‘the humble, the lowliest and the lost.’ Spinning, therefore, for such is the greatest prayer, the greatest worship, the greatest sacrifice.
Young India, 24-9-1925, pp. 331-32