31. From after-prayer discourse
Ramanama Its Laws and Its Discipline
Ramanama, said Gandhiji, could help a man in ill health, but it had its laws and its discipline. No one could gourmandize, say "Rama Rama" and blame Gandhi if he got stomach-ache. Ramanama had its proper uses. No man could utter Ramanama, indulge in looting and hope to attain salvation. It was only for those who were prepared to observe proper discipline for the sake of self-purification.
Bombay : 15-3-'46
Most Effective Remedy
Addressing the prayer meeting at Uruli Kanchan, Gandhiji said that Ramadhun was the most effective remedy for physical and mental ailments, and that no doctor or vaidya could promise cure by medicine. "But," he added, "God will certainly relieve you of your pains and worries if you pray to Him." But for the prayer to be effective, one must participate in Ramadhun whole-heartedly and then only one would feel peace and happiness.
There were other conditions also which one had to fulfill. One must take proper food, have sufficient sleep and not give vent to one's anger. Above all, one must live in harmony with Nature and follow its principles.
Poona : 22-3-'46
Addressing the gathering after prayers, Gandhiji related that honest men and women had said to him that with all their efforts they could not say that Ramanama came to them from the heart. His reply to them was that they must go on and have infinite patience. A boy required at least 16 years' hard study in order to become a doctor. How much more time must be necessary to establish Ramanama in the heart!
- New Delhi : 20-4-'46
Purity Inner and Outer
A man who repeated Ramanama and thereby cleansed his inner being could not tolerate the filth outside. If millions took to Ramanama in real earnest, there would be no riots, which were a social malady, and there would be no illness. The Kingdom of Heaven would come on earth.
- New Delhi : 21-4-'46
Misuse of Ramanama
In his, after-prayer discourse, Gandhiji again dwelt on the subject of Nature Cure or the cure of ailments spiritual, mental and physical, by the application principally of Ramanama. A correspondent had written to him, pointing out how some people superstitiously wrote Ramanama on their clothes so as to wear it 'next to the heart'! Others wrote Ramanama millions of times minutely on a piece of paper which they afterwards cut up into small bits and swallowed so that they could claim that Ramanama had entered into them! There were people who thought that he was self-deluded and was trying to delude others by adding one more to the thousands of superstitions which filled this superstition-ridden land. He had no answer to such criticism He only said to himself, what did it matter if truth was abused and fraud practised in its name by others? So long as he was sure of his truth, he could not help proclaiming it for fear of its being misunderstood or abused. "Nobody in this world possesses absolute truth. This is God's attribute alone. Relative truth is all we know. Therefore, we can only follow the truth as we see it. Such pursuit of truth cannot lead anyone astray."
New Delhi : 24-5-'46
How to Recite Ramanama
Gandhiji in today's discourse explained the conditions under which alone Ramanama could become an effective remedy. The first condition was that it should come from the heart. What did that mean? People did not mind going to the ends of the earth to find a cure for the physical ailments which were much less important than the mental or spiritual. "Man's, physical being is after all perishable. It, cannot, by its very nature, last forever. And yet men make a fetish of it while neglecting the immortal spirit within." A man who believed in Ramanama would not make a fetish of the body, but would regard it only as a means of serving God. And for making it into a fit instrument for that purpose, Ramanama was the sovereign means.
To install Ramanama in the heart required infinite patience. It might even take ages. But the effort was worthwhile. Even so, success depended solely on the grace of God.
Ramanama could not come from the heart unless one had cultivated the virtues of truth, honesty and purity within and without. Every day at the evening prayers, they repeated the shlokas describing the man with a steadfast intellect. Everyone of them, said Gandhiji, could become a sthitapragnya man with steadfast intellect if he kept his senses under discipline, ate and drank and allowed himself enjoyment and recreation only to sustain life for service. If one had no control over one's thoughts, if one did not mind, for instance, sleeping in a hole of a room with all doors and windows shut, and breathing foul air or drinking dirty water, his recitation of Ramanama was in vain.
That, however, did not mean that one should give up reciting Ramanama on the ground that one had not the requisite purity. For, recitation of Ramanama was also a means for acquiring purity. "In the case of a man who repeats Ramanama from the heart, discipline and self-control will come easy. Observance of the rules of health and hygiene will become his second nature. His life will run an even course. He will never want to hurt anyone. To suffer in order to relieve other's suffering will become a part of his being and fill him with an ineffable and perennial joy." Let them, therefore, said Gandhiji, persevere and ceaselessly repeat Ramanama during all their waking hours. Ultimately, it would remain with them even during their sleep and God's grace would then fill them with perfect health of body, mind and spirit.
New Delhi : 25-5-'46
Potency of Silent Thought
In his discourse after the prayer today, Gandhiji said that they had been coming to the prayer gathering daily in order to join him in chanting Ramanama or rather in learning how to do so. Ramanama, however, could not be taught by word of mouth. But he held that even more potent than the spoken word was the silent thought. A single right thought could envelop the world. It was never wasted. The very attempt to clothe thought in word or action limited it. No man in this world could express a thought in word or action fully.
"That does not mean," proceeded Gandhiji, "that one should go into perpetual silence." In theory, that was possible. But it was very difficult to fulfill the condition by which, silent thought could be made effective. He for one could not claim to have attained the requisite intensity or control over thought. He could not altogether keep out useless or irrelevant thoughts from his mind. It required infinite patience and tapasya to attain that state.
He was not indulging in a figure of speech, but he meant it literally when he told them on the previous day that there was no limit to the potency of Ramanama. But in order to experience that, Ramanama had to come from a heart that was absolutely pure. He himself was striving to attain that state. He had envisaged it in the mind, but had not fully realized it in practice. When that stage was reached, even the recitation of Ramanama would become unnecessary.1
He hoped they would continue to recite Ramanama in their homes severally and in company during his absence. The secret of collective prayers was that the emanation of silent influence from one another would help them in the realization of their goal.
New Delhi : 26-5-'46
No Charm like Ramanama
Speaking at the prayer meeting today, Gandhiji gave the healing message of Ramanama and said: "Ramanama is not for the few; it is for all lie who takes this name lays by a rich store for himself, and it is inexhaustible. The more you draw upon it, the more it increases. It is infinite. As the Upanishad says, you take out infinite out of infinite and infinite remains behind. It is the unfailing panacea for all ills.
"But the condition is that it must come from the heart. Do evil thoughts possess you, or are you tormented by lust or greed? Then, there is no charm against it like Ramanama." And he illustrated his meaning by a parable. "Supposing you are tempted to amass a big fortune by some easy and dishonest means. If you have faith in Ramanama, you will say to yourself: 'Why should I amass for my wife and children riches which they might squander awaywhy not leave them a legacy in the shape of sound character and sound education and training that will enable them to earn their living by honest industry and body labour'?' Ceaseless repetition of Ramanama will dispel your delusion and false attachment and the living realization will dawn on you that you were a fool to hanker after millions for the sake of your dear ones, instead of offering them the priceless treasure of His name which frees one from all bondage and wandering. Filled with the joy of that realization, such a person will tell his wife and children: '1 have not brought for you the treasure I had set out for, but something infinitely richer.' 'Where is it, show it to us?' they will say incredulously, it is the Name which is richer than all treasures,' he will reply, 'because It quenches the thirst for all riches. It is enshrined in my heart.' "
- Mussoorie : 2-6-'46
Essence of All Prayers
In his speech after the evening prayers, Gandhiji said that he expected them to offer prayers in their own homes regularly morning and evening. There was no need for them to learn Sanskrit shlokas, if they did not wish to. Ramadhun was enough. The essence of all prayers was to establish God in their hearts. If they succeeded in doing that, all world be well with them, with society and the world.
Mussoorie : 8-6-'46
To repeat Ramanama and to follow the way of Ravana in actual practice was worse than useless. It was sheer hypocrisy. One might deceive oneself or the world, but one could not deceive the Almighty.
New Delhi : 18-6-'46
Ambrosia of God's Name
Commenting upon Mirabai's song which was sung at the prayer, Gandhiji said that in that song the devotee asks the soul to drink deep of the nectar of God's name. Physical food and drink result in satiety, and, if over-indulged, in illness. But the ambrosia of God's name knows no such limit. The deeper one drinks of it, the more the thirst for it grows, but it must sink deep into the heart. When that happens, all delusion and attachment, lust and envy, fall off from us. Only one must persevere and have patience. Success is the inevitable result of such effort.
New Delhi : 18-6- 46
Miracles That Faith Works
A man of prayer must know no disappointment because he knows that the times are in His hands who is the Arch Planner, and does everything in His good time. A man of prayer, therefore, waits in faith and patience always.
In the allegory of Gajendra and Graha, Gandhiji went on to explain, the elephant king was seized unawares by the crocodile as he went to have a drink of water in the river and was dragged down. The more he struggled, the deeper he sank. A stage was, however, reached when despairing of his physical prowess, he threw himself on God's grace entirely and invoked His aid, and the Lord of Dwaraka came in the twinkling of an eye and rescued him.
"The moral of the story," said Gandhiji, "is that God never fails His devotees in the hour of trial. The condition is that there must be a living faith and the uttermost reliance on Him. The test of faith is that having done our duty we must be prepared to welcome whatever He may sendjoy as well as sorrow, good luck as well as bad luck. He will be like King Janaka who. when informed that his capital was ablaze, only remarked that it was no concern of his."
The secret of his resignation and equanimity, remarked Gandhiji, was that he was ever awake, never remiss in the performance of his duty. Having done his duty, he would leave the rest to God.
"And so a man of prayer will in the first place be spared mishaps by the ever merciful providence, but if the mishaps do come, he will not bewail his fate nor lay the blame on God, but bear them with an undisturbed peace of mind and joyous resignation to His will.
- New Delhi : 20-6-46
Significance of Ramanama
Explaining (he significance of Ramanama lo the prayer gathering this evening, Gandhiji said: "God is not a person. He is the all-pervading, all-powerful spirit. Anyone who bears Him in his or her heart has accession of a marvellous force or energy as objective in its results as, say electricity, but much subtler."
"Was he propagating a species of superstition?" he asked. "No." was his reply. "Mere repetition of Ramanama possessed no mysterious virtue as such. Ramanama was not like black magic. It had to be taken with all that it symbolized. Rather, it was like a mathematical formula which summed up in brief the result of endless research. Mere mechanical repetition of Ramanama could not give strength. For that, one had to understand and live up to the conditions attaching to its recitation. To lake God's name, one had to live a godly life."
Poona : 2-1-46
Inner and Outer Cleanliness
In the course of his discourse to the prayer gathering today, Gandhiji referred, among other things, to the filthy surroundings in which the Harijan quarters were located and in which he had taken his abode. He had been wondering why those in charge of sanitation, that is the Municipality and the P.W.D., should put up with that filth. What was the use of his going and staying there, if it could not induce them to make the place healthy and hygienic?
What was the connection between all that and the prayer? A man who did not observe the rules of external cleanliness could not pray for internal cleanliness. If the object of their attending prayer was idle curiosity, they had committed a sin by coming. If they had come to join in the prayer, they must pray for inner and outer cleanliness. To say one thing and to do something different would be deception. No one could deceive God, because He was omnipresent and omniscient.
There was so much dirt and filth about the place. Dr. Dinshah had told him that the lavatories were so dirty that he could not use them. There were so many flies about the place that he was anxious that he (Gandhiji) might catch some infection and get killed. He himself was not worried about that. Although the two doctors with him looked after him. he did not depend on anyone except God. The Almighty would take care of his health. But his companions did not have that faith in God.
Bombay : 6-7-'46
The Sovereign Remedy
In his after-prayer speech Gandhiji referred to several letters and messages from friends expressing concern over his persistent cough. His speech was broadcast and so was the cough which was often troublesome in the evening and in the open. For the last four days, however, the cough had been on the whole less troublesome and he hoped it would soon disappear completely. The reason for the persistence of the cough had been that he had refused all medical treatment. Dr. Sushila had said that if at the outset he had taken penicillin he would have been all right in three day>. Otherwise, it would take him three weeks to get over it. He did not doubt the efficacy of penicillin but he believed too that Ramanama was the sovereign remedy for all ills and, therefore, superseded all other remedies. In the midst of the flames that surrounded him on all sides, there was all the greater need for a burning faith in God. God alone could enable people to put down the fire. If He had to take work from Gandhiji, He would keep him alive; otherwise He would carry him away.
They had just heard the bhajan in which the poet had exhorted man to stick to Ramanama. He alone was the refuge of man. Therefore, in the present crisis he wished to throw himself entirely on God and not accept medical aid for a physical ailment.
New Delhi : 18-10-47
 I do look forward to a time when even repealing the name of Rama will become a hindrance. When I have realized that Rama transcends even speech, I shall have no need to repeat the name.
Young India, 14-8-'24