'Often, Sir, do you ask us to worship God, to pray but never tell us how to and to whom to do so. Will you kindly enlighten me?' asks a reader of the Navajivan. Worshiping God is singing the praise of God. Prayer is a confession of one's unworthiness and weakness. God has a thousand names, or rather, He is Nameless. We may 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 sta- mmerer, 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 Hunuman,
He was enthroned in his heart. He gave Hanuman exhaustless strength. In His
strength he lifted the mountain and crossed the ocean. It is faith that steers
us through stormy seas, faith that moves mountains and faith that jumps across
the ocean. That faith is nothing but a living, wide awake consciousness
of God within. He who has achieved that faith wants nothing. Bodily diseased he
is spiritually healthy, physically pure, he rolls in spiritual riches.
'But how is the heart to be cleansed to this extent?' one might well ask. The language of
the lips is easily taught; but who can teach the language of the heart? Only the
bhakta — the true devotee—knows it and can teach it. 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 scat the heart of
him who serves his fellowmen. 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 the suffering and the woebegone? 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, docs
not know the meaning of service. An able-bodied wretch deserves no alms, but an
appeal to work for his bread. Alms debase him. 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 Bhagawadgita. 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.
"Prayer, therefore, may be done by any name. A prayerful heart is the vehicle and service
makes the heart prayerful. Those Hindus who in this age serve the untouchables
from a full heart truly pray; the Hindus and those others who spin prayerfully
for the poor and the indigent truly pray.