Too Busy for Prayers?


It is said that the "Great Indian Middle-class" is on a roll, with India's burgeoning Economy, and an ever-growing Middle-class, India is finally Happening!
But there are several dark counter-reactions occuring in the Indian context, that I only thought about after reading a couple of articles that my friend Nitin Bhai pointed out to me.

The first was an article on the BBC about Indians new-found interest in spirituality. The second was a poem written by a terminally young little girl. Read on…
The Indian Middle-class and its "Speedy ascendence"

When Nitin Bhai (Dr. Antonio de Nicolas) forwarded me this url, I decided to take a look. This article ( ) on the BBC covers the phenomenon of the "revival" of Spirituality among the modern Indian Youth. Let me quote the sections that came across to me as being most striking —

With growing stress levels, young people like him are seeking a way to release their anxieties. But a visit to the neighbourhood temple is not what he has in mind.

"A lot of religious practices have been handed down from generation to generation. A lot of it has lost its relevance. I think modern-day youth want something with a direct impact on what they do."

In an India at the forefront of an IT revolution, it is not surprising that an online portal decided to cash in on this need for immediate salvation.

Mahesh Mohanan set up, a website which sells religious services, in 1999.

For a fee ranging from $4 to $300, Indians can perform virtual complex religious ceremonies in any temple in the country.

A very true description of the way things are in India now — I last visited two years back and couldn't recognize most of the old "sleepy" haunts I used to hang out in with my buddies in the erst-while "retiree's paradise" of my home-town — Mysore. Blatant, mindless commercialization, the frenetic pace of the West has finally caught up with small-town India. Now, I don't say that its all bad, but there's this niggling feeling in the back of my mind….is it all good?

The traditional practices (that have lost "relevance" in the eyes of Indian Youth) of ceremonies/rituals in the temples (Pujas, Yagnas, Satsang) were put together for a purpose. I think these were extrapolations and a legacy of the (Rituals from) the time when Rta ruled supreme in Vedic India. There were specific esoteric practices that went along with the external practice of Yagnas (Sacrificial rituals) — most of which has been lost in the process of omission by obscurity. The emphasis shifted in course of time towards Bhakti (devotion). The ceremonies and rituals took the form of social gathering and collective prayers.

While evolution of tradition to the point of being "technically advanced" is well and good, the Indian youth of today are missing out the therapeutic and spiritual experience of acting on their own. The whole charm of The Sanatana Dharma (The Eternal Way) is in the personal nature of the practice — which unfortunately is being lost due to the short-cuts of the pressed-for-time Indian population.
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Really! A web portal to do Proxy-prayers?!!? How ludicrous can we get?

Musing over these thoughts, my mind jumped immediately to the poem by this young girl, who is also (unfortunately in this case) — pressed for time.

A poignant poem by a Terminally Ill young girl

[[This poem was written by a terminally ill young girl in a New York Hospital.
It! was sent by a medical doctor – Make sure to read what is in the closing statement AFTER THE POEM


Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask How are you?
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say,"Hi"
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift….
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

Dear All:
PLEASE pass this mail on to everyone you know – even to those you don't know!

It is the request of a special girl who will soon leave this world due to cancer.
This young girl has 6 months left to live, and as her dying wish, she wanted to send a letter telling everyone to live their life to the fullest, since she never will.
She'll never make it to prom, graduate from high school, or get married and have a family of her own.

By you sending this to as many people as possible, you can give her and her family a little hope, because with every name that this is sent to, The American Cancer Society will donate 3 cents per name to her treatment and recovery plan. One guy sent this to 500 people! So I know that we can at least send it to 5 or 6. It's not even your money, just your time!
Dr. Dennis Shields, Professor
Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx , New York 10461

A careful read of this poem shows a great understanding of the nature of life at a very young age. I guess, adversity makes people mature early. So what is this little girl telling us, in her heart-felt, sincere poem?

She knows that life is short (while we all should realize it and cherish life and the things that make it worth living), and the poem is an urge to her fellow human-beings to slow down bit, cruise through life, enjoying the variety of experiences it throws at us. An apt reminder to all those pressed-for-time people out there — don't lose perspective of what is important. Careers are important, monetary benefits are fine — but the most precious gift of all — Life, don't ignore it in your mad-rush that passes as "living" these days.

Remember a few things that we all know, but somehow, relegate to the backwaters of our consciousness (without meaning to be too preachy) —

  • The body is the temple of the soul — without a healthy body, one cannot fulfill the pursuits of the soul.
  • The body is the vessel that carries the spirit — take good care of it — practice Mind-body disciplines to rejoin the mind and body with the spirit (Yoga, Tai Chi are wonderful practices).
  • Take time to really "See" the beauty that Mother Nature flourishes all around us

With these last few lines, I end this article — while my prayers go out to our little poetess, with these words of consolation to her and her loved ones —

Vasani jeernani yatha vihaya
Navani grihyati naroparani|
Yatha sharirani vihaya jeerna
Anyani sanyati navani dehi||

(Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, Shloka 22)

Translation –

The soul changes bodies when the present one is worn out, just the same as a person would change clothing that has worn out…
This is not the end — the physical body only defines our corporeal presence in this world — the incorporeal one shines through, being a part of the Supreme One.

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