We pray to the Divine to accept the ardent flame of our gratitude and of our joyous and fully confident adherence.
The Mother – Words of the Mother: CWM, Vol. 15, p208
As for prayer, no hard and fast rule can be laid down. Some prayers are answered, all are not. …It is not a machinery–put a prayer in the slot and get your asking. Besides, considering all the contradictory things mankind is praying for at the same moment, God would be in a rather awkward hole, if he had to grant all of them–it wouldn’t do.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Himself and the Ashram: CWSA, Vol. 35, p14
Integral prayer: the whole being is concentrated in a single prayer to the Divine.
The Mother – Words of the Mother: CWM, Vol. 15, p207
Let us pray with all our heart that the divine work may be accomplished.
All sincere prayers are granted, but it may take some time to realise materially.
The Mother – Words of the Mother: CWM, Vol. 15, p207
It is never in vain that an ardent and sincere prayer is addressed to the Divine’s Grace.
When, in our despair, we cry to the Divine, always He answers to our call.
We pray that the Divine should teach us ever more, enlighten us more and more, dispel our ignorance, illumine our minds.
The Mother – Words of the Mother: CWM, Vol. 14, p208
Sri Aurobindo says in one letter:
“All prayer rightly offered brings us closer to the Divine and establishes right relation with him.”
What is meant by “rightly offered” in this letter? Will You please elucidate?
With humility and sincerity.
It goes without saying that all bargaining spirit is an insincerity that takes away all value from the prayer.
Nothing is difficult for those who call sincerely the Divine.
The Mother – Words of the Mother: CWM, Vol. 15, p209
“The mind is an instrument of action and formation and not an instrument of knowledge; at each moment it is creating forms. Thoughts are forms and have an individual life, independent of their author: sent out from him into the world, they move in it towards the realisation of their own purpose of existence. When you think of anyone, your thought takes a form and goes out to find him; and, if your thinking is associated with some will that is behind it, the thought-form that has gone out from you makes an attempt to realise itself.”
Questions and Answers 1929-1931 (19 May 1929)
Do prayers and aspirations also take a form like thoughts?
Yes. At times they take even the form of the person who has the aspiration or makes the prayer—often. That depends. Aspirations sometimes take the form of that to which one aspires, but most often, and specially prayers, clearly take the form of the one who prays.
What is the difference between prayer and aspiration?
…. There are several kinds of prayers.
There is the purely mechanical, material prayer, with words which have been learnt and are mechanically repeated. That does not signify anything much. And that has usually only one single result, that of quietening the person who prays, for if a prayer is repeated several times, the words end up by making you calm.
There is a point where aspiration and prayer meet, for there are prayers which are the spontaneous formulation of a lived experience: these spring up all ready from within the being, like something that’s the expression of a profound experience, and which offers thanksgiving for that experience or asks its continuation or asks for its explanation also; and that indeed is quite close to aspiration. But aspiration is not necessarily formulated in words; or if it is formulated in words, it is almost a movement of invocation. You aspire for a certain state; for instance, you have found something in yourself that is not in keeping with your ideal, a movement of darkness and ignorance, perhaps even of ill-will, something that’s not in harmony with what you want to realise; then that is not going to be formulated in words; that will be like a springing flame and like an offering made of a living experience, asking to grow larger, be magnified and ever more and more clear and precise. All that may be put into words later, if one tries to remember and note down one’s experience. But aspiration always springs up like a flame that rises high and carries in itself the thing one desires to be or what one desires to do or desires to have. I use the word “desire”, but truly it is here that the word “aspire” should be used, for that does not have either the quality or the form of a desire.
It is truly like a great purifying flame of will, and it carries in its core the thing that asks to be realised.
For instance, if you have done something you regret having done, if that has unhappy consequences which disturb things, and several people are implicated, you do not know the reactions of the others, but you yourself wish that what has been done may take a turn for the best, and that if there is a mistake, it may be understood, and that no matter what the mistake, this may be for you an opportunity for a greater progress, a greater discipline, a new ascent towards the Divine, a door open on a future that you want to be more clear and true and intense; so all this is gathered here (pointing to the heart) like a force, and then it surges up and rises in a great movement of ascent, and at times without the shadow of a formulation, without words, without expression, but like a springing flame.
That indeed is true aspiration. That may happen a hundred, a thousand times daily if one is in that state in which one constantly wants to progress and be more true and more fully in harmony with what the Divine Will wants of us.
Prayer is a much more external thing, generally about a precise fact, and always formulated for it is the formula that makes the prayer. One may have an aspiration and transcribe it as a prayer, but aspiration goes beyond prayer in every way. It is much closer and much more as it were self-forgetful, living only in the thing one wants to be or do, and the offering of all that one wants to do to the Divine. You may pray in order to ask for something, you may also pray to thank the Divine for what He has given you, and that prayer is much greater: it may be called an act of thanksgiving. You may pray in gratitude for the aspect of kindness the Divine has shown to you, for what He has done for you, for what you see in Him, and the praise you want to offer Him. And all this may take the form of a prayer. It is decidedly the highest prayer, for it is not exclusively preoccupied with oneself, it is not an egoistic prayer.
Certainly, one may have an aspiration in all the domains, but the very centre of aspiration is in the psychic being, whilst one may pray in all the domains, and the prayer belongs to the domain in which one prays. One may make purely material, physical prayers, vital prayers, mental prayers, psychic prayers, spiritual prayers, and each one has its special character, its special value.
There is a kind of prayer at once spontaneous and unselfish which is like a great call, usually not for one’s own self personally, but like something that may be called an intercession with the Divine. It is extremely powerful. I have had countless instances of things which have been realised almost instantaneously due to prayers of this kind. It implies a great faith, a great ardour, a great sincerity, and a great simplicity of heart also, something that does not calculate, does not plan, does not bargain, does not give with the idea of receiving in exchange. For, the majority of men give with one hand and hold out the other to get something in exchange; the largest number of prayers are of that sort. But there are others of the kind I have described, acts of thanksgiving, a kind of canticle, and these are very good.
The Mother – Questions and Answers: CWM, Vol. 5, pp 139-42
Prayer and aspiration are a part of the spiritual life and do not conflict with surrender, provided one is not disturbed in either way by the fulfilment or unfulfilment of the prayer and keeps one’s faith and quietude all the same….
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga: CWSA, Vol. 29, p365
If one lives in the world one can offer such prayers [for help in resolving worldly problems]; but one must not expect that the Divine shall fulfil all those prayers or think that he is bound to do so. When one is a sadhak the prayer should be for the inner things belonging to the sadhana and for outer things only so far as they are necessary for that and for the divine work.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga: CWSA, Vol. 29, p366
As for the prayers, the fact of praying and the attitude it brings, especially unselfish prayer for others, itself opens you to the higher Power, even if there is no corresponding result in the person prayed for. Nothing can be positively said about that, for the result must necessarily depend on the persons, whether they are open or receptive or something in them can respond to any Force the prayer brings down.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga: CWSA, Vol. 29, p367
When coming out of sleep you must keep quiet for a few moments and consecrate the coming day to the Divine, praying to remember Him always and in all circumstances.
Before going to sleep you must concentrate for a few minutes, look into the day that has passed, remember when and where you have forgotten the Divine, and pray that such forgettings should not happen again.
The Mother – Words of the Mother: CWM, Vol. 15, p207
We ought to be in a constant state of aspiration, but when we cannot aspire let us pray with the simplicity of a child.
The Mother – Words of the Mother: CWM, Vol. 15, p208
You say, “When one is a sadhak the prayer should be for the inner things belonging to the sadhana and for outer things only so far as they are necessary for that and for the Divine work.” This latter portion about prayer for outer things is not clear to me. Can you kindly explain?
All depends on whether the outer things are sought for one’s own convenience, pleasure, profit etc., or as part of the spiritual life, necessary for the success of the work, the development and fitness of the instruments etc. It is a question mainly of inner attitude. If for instance you pray for money for buying nice food to please the palate, that is not a proper prayer for a sadhak; if you pray for money to give to the Mother and help her work, then it is legitimate.
I quote several types of prayers which I offer and shall be grateful to know which of them are outer or inner, right or wrong, helpful or hindrance, or what amendment to them can make them pure:
1) In the night-time when I sit to read and an untimely attack of sleep comes, I pray to the Mother to be freed from the attack.
If your reading is part of the sadhana, that is all right.
2) When I go to sleep, I pray to the Mother for her Force to take over my sadhana during the sleep, to make my sleep conscious and luminous, to protect me during the sleep, to keep me conscious of the Mother.
3) When I wake up any time in the sleep, I pray to the Mother to be with me and protect me.
These two are part of the sadhana.
4) While going out for a walk and during it, I pray to the Mother to give me force to take more exercise and to gain more strength and health and I thank the Mother for the help.
If strength and health are requested as being necessary for the sadhana and the development of the perfection of the instrument it is all right.
5) When I see any dog on the way while walking, I at once pray to the Mother to protect me from its attack and remove my fear.
A call for protection is always permissible. The removal of fear is part of the sadhana.
6) When I go for food, I pray for the Mother’s Force to help me to offer every morsel to the Mother, to get everything easily digested, to make a growth of complete equality and detachment in my consciousness enabling me to take any food with equal Rasa of universal Ananda without any insistence or seeking or greed or desire.
This is again part of the sadhana.
7) When I go for work, I pray for the Mother’s Force to take over my work, help me and make me do it well and carefully with love, devotion and pleasure, with the remembrance of the Mother and the feeling of being supported and helped by her without ego or desire.
8) During the work also when there is a pause, I pray for force, help and constant remembrance.
9) When any bad or impure thought, seeing or sensation comes into me, I pray for its removal and purity.
10) When I am reading, I try to pray when possible to understand all quickly, to grasp and absorb completely.
If it is as sadhana or for the development of the instrument, it is all right.
11) When I commit any mistake in the work, I pray to be more conscious, alert and unerring.
This also is part of the sadhana.
12) When I go to the post office to register a parcel of Prasad to my friend, I pray to have the parcel accepted immediately and avoid any delay.
That can be done, if avoidance of waste of time is considered as part of the right regulation of the life of sadhana.
13) When I sit down for meditation, I pray for Mother’s Force to take over my meditation and make it deep, steady, concentrated and free from all attacks of troubling thoughts, vital restlessness, etc.
This is part of the sadhana.
14) In depression, difficulty, wrong suggestions, doubt, inertia, on any occasion or happening I pray to the Mother to have courage, keep faith, face them and overcome them.
15) At all other times as far as I can, I pray to the Mother to fill me with her peace, power, light etc., or offer any other kind of required prayer, and thank her for supporting, strengthening and sustaining me.
Sri Aurobindo – The Mother with Letters on The Mother, CWSA, Vol. 32, p314-17
A Prayer for Those Who Wish to Serve the Divine
Glory to Thee, O Lord, who triumphest over every obstacle.
Grant that nothing in us shall be an obstacle in Thy work.
Grant that nothing may retard Thy manifestation.
Grant that Thy will may be done in all things and at every moment.
We stand here before Thee that Thy will may be fulfilled in us, in every element, in every activity of our being, from our supreme heights to the smallest cells of the body.
Grant that we may be faithful to Thee utterly and for ever.
We would be completely under Thy influence to the exclusion of every other.
Grant that we may never forget to own towards Thee a deep, an intense gratitude.
Grant that we may never squander any of the marvellous things that are Thy gifts to us at every instant.
Grant that everything in us may collaborate in Thy work and all be ready for Thy realisation.
Glory to Thee, O Lord, Supreme Master of all realisation.
Give us a faith active and ardent, absolute and unshakable in Thy Victory.
The Mother – Prayers and Meditations: CWM, Vol. 1, p382
Durga Stotra by Sri Aurobindo
Mother Durga! Rider on the lion, giver of all strength, Mother, beloved of Shiva! We, born from thy parts of Power, we the youth of India, are seated here in thy temple. Listen, O Mother, descend upon earth, make thyself manifest in this land of India.
Mother Durga! From age to age, in life after life, we come down into the human body, do thy work and return to the Home of Delight. Now too we are born, dedicated to thy work. Listen, O Mother, descend upon earth, come to our help.
Mother Durga! Rider on the lion, trident in hand, thy body of beauty armour-clad, Mother, giver of victory. India awaits thee, eager to see the gracious form of thine. Listen, O Mother, descend upon earth, make thyself manifest in this land of India.
Mother Durga! Giver of force and love and knowledge, terrible art thou in thy own self of might, Mother beautiful and fierce. In the battle of life, in India’s battle, we are warriors commissioned by thee; Mother, give to our heart and mind a titan’s strength, a titan’s energy, to our soul and intelligence a god’s character and knowledge.
Mother Durga! India, world’s noblest race, lay whelmed in darkness. Mother, thou risest on the eastern horizon, the dawn comes with the glow of thy divine limbs scattering the darkness. Spread thy light, Mother, destroy the darkness.
Mother Durga! We are thy children, through thy grace, by thy influence may we become fit for the great work, for the great Ideal. Mother, destroy our smallness, our selfishness, our fear.
Mother Durga! Thou art Kali, naked, garlanded with human heads, sword in hand, thou slayest the Asura. Goddess, do thou slay with thy pitiless cry the enemies who dwell within us, may none remain alive there, not one. May we become pure and spotless, this is our prayer. O Mother, make thyself manifest.
Mother Durga! India lies now in selfishness and fearfulness and littleness. Make us great, make our efforts great, our hearts vast, make us true to our resolve. May we no longer desire the small, void of energy, given to laziness, stricken with fear.
Mother Durga! Extend wide the power of Yoga. We are thy Aryan children, develop in us again the lost teaching, character, strength of intelligence, faith and devotion, force of austerity, power of chastity and true knowledge, bestow all that upon the world. To help mankind, appear, O Mother of the world, dispel all ills.
Mother Durga! Slay the enemy within, then root out all obstacles outside. May the noble heroic mighty Indian race, supreme in love and unity, truth and strength, arts and letters, force and knowledge ever dwell in its holy woodlands, its fertile fields under its sky-scraping hills, along the banks of its pure-streaming rivers. This is our prayer at the feet of the Mother. Make thyself manifest.
Mother Durga! Enter our bodies in thy Yogic strength. We shall become thy instruments, thy sword slaying all evil, thy lamp dispelling all ignorance. Fulfil this yearning of thy young children, O Mother. Be the master and drive the instrument, wield thy sword and slay the evil, hold up the lamp and spread the light of knowledge. Make thyself manifest.
Mother Durga! When we possess thee, we shall no longer cast thee away; we shall bind thee to us with the tie of love and devotion. Come, Mother, manifest in our mind and life and body.
Come, Revealer of the hero-path. We shall no longer cast thee away. May our entire life become a ceaseless worship of the Mother, all our acts a continuous service to the Mother, full of love, full of energy. This is our prayer, O Mother, descend upon earth, make thyself manifest in this land of India.