What is real prayer? A lesson from Ramayana month

1 Aug 2023, Amritapuri Ashram

Ramayana Month celebrations at the Amritapuri Ashram have always been moments of deep reflection, learning, and spiritual growth. One of the practices that stands out during these celebrations is the invitation for the ashram children to pick a character from the epic tale of Ramayana and speak about it. As the tales unfold, it’s always heartwarming to watch these young souls share their perspectives on ancient wisdom.

Today, it was the turn of a 7-year-old, Amrita Priya. Her chosen character was King Janaka. With innocence and clarity, she narrated about the lineage of King Janaka, how he found the young Sita, and the unique test he set up to find the most worthy suitor for his beloved daughter. The test was simple but demanding: whoever could lift and string the mighty bow of Shiva, a gift to King Janaka, would win Sita’s hand in marriage.

After her narration, as Amrita Priya went to receive her darshan from Amma, she was posed with an unexpected question—a surprise test of its own!

Amma recounted a scene from the epic: “When Sita first set her eyes on Rama, she was taken in by his presence. She prayed, ‘Why is the bow so heavy? Please reduce its weight.’ It was her heart’s silent plea for Rama to be the one. Meanwhile, the other kings present, who wished to marry Sita and felt threatened by Rama’s prowess, secretly prayed, ‘May the bow fall on his feet and break his leg’ or ‘May it break his hands when he tries to lift it.’ However, the subjects in the assembly, who felt Rama was the perfect match for Sita, prayed for him to have the strength to lift and string the bow.”

With a twinkle in her eyes, Amma then posed the question to Amrita Priya, “Which prayer was the right one?”

Without missing a beat, young Amrita Priya responded, “The prayer of the subjects.” Applause erupted from all corners of the assembly.

Amma’s lesson, underscored by Amrita Priya’s answer, was clear. In life, when we’re faced with challenges or dilemmas, it’s not beneficial to pray for the situation to disappear or for things to move contrary to our perceived obstacles. Instead, we should pray for the strength to face and overcome any challenging situation.

This beautiful lesson on prayer and inner strength, drawn from the tales of Ramayana and illuminated by a 7-year-old’s wisdom, will undoubtedly stay with many of us for a long time.