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Bhagavan Baba says: “Prayer is not the pronouncing of words. Prayer is the yearning one experiences to awaken the divinity latent in the heart….The individual self has to yearn for the Supreme Self. Prayers must issue not from the lips but from the heart. Prayers from the lips are like a telephone number call. They will not reach the person you want. Prayers from the heart are like a "particular person call." They will go straight to God. Prayers, again, are used for seeking fulfillment of material desires. Out of the millions who offer prayers, very few seek God Himself with pure hearts.”

We all know how important and vital prayer is in the life of everyone in this world, more so with individuals on the spiritual path. And how people from different faiths have used this medium to convey their love and communicate with the infinite is incredible and interesting. The current quiz will take you through this journey of man through prayer spanning all faiths over many ages.

1. In one divine discourse, Swami said: “Sage Vishwamitra discovered the mantra named Gayatri, which is addressed to the energy of the Sun, Surya. This mantra has infinite potentiality. It is a vibrant formula. It has immense powers, powers that are truly amazing. For, the Sun is its presiding deity.

Gayatri is known as Panchamukhi, meaning ‘she has five faces’. What are they? Om is the first face; Bhur Bhuvah Suvah, the second; Tat SaviturVarenyam, the third; Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi, the fourth; Dhiyo Yo Na Prachodayat is the fifth.

In fact, the Gayatri mantra has three parts: praise, meditation and prayer. Which part is the prayer?


2. 'The Lord's Prayer’, also known as the ‘Our Father’ prayer, taught by Jesus Christ to His followers, is probably the best known prayer in Christianity.

‘Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.

According to Swami, where is this ‘Kingdom’ that Jesus was referring to?


3. One of the most popular Buddhist prayers is called 'The Refuge Prayer'.

‘Buddham sharanam gacchami
Dharmam sharanam gacchami
Sangham sharanam gacchami’

In His Divine 1999 Discourse, extolling Buddha, Swami said: “It means: buddhi (intellect) should follow the path of dharma, and dharma should be fostered in society. Only then the country will prosper. Buddha sacrificed everything and went around in search of truth. He said, ‘Dharmam sharanam gachhami (I take refuge in dharma).’ If you want to attain divinity, one has to practice, propagate and experience dharma. That is the meaning of dharmam sharanam gachhami. But, this must also lead to the welfare of all (Sangham sharanamgachhami). This is the inner meaning of the teachings of Buddha.”

According to Swami, how did he attain the title ‘Buddha’, even though he was christened ‘Siddhartha’ at birth?


4. The ‘Navkar Mantra’ is the most fundamental mantra in Jainism and can be recited at any time of the day.

Namo Arihantanam : I bow down to Arihanta,
Namo Siddhanam : I bow down to Siddha,
Namo Ayriyanam
: I bow down to Acharya,
Namo Uvajjhayanam
: I bow down to Upadhyaya,
Namo Loe Savva-sahunam
: I bow down to Sadhu and Sadhvi.
Eso Panch Namokaro : These five bowing downs,
: Destroy all the sins,
Manglananch Savvesim
: Amongst all that is auspicious,
Padhamam Havei Mangalam
: This Navkar Mantra is the foremost.

What does this ‘Navkar mantra’ stress on?


5. The Sikh prayer ‘Japji Sahib’ appears at the very beginning of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Book of the Sikhs. It is regarded as the most important prayer, or Bani (set of verses), by the Sikhs and is recited every morning by all practising faithful of this religion.

Ik onkar, satnam, karta purakh, nir-bhau, nir-vair, aakaal murat, ajooni saibhan, Gur parsaad.

Jap. Aad sach, jugaad sach,
Hai bhi sach, Naanak hosi bhi sach.

There is but one God, He is the Eternal Truth, The Creator, All-Pervading Divine Spirit, Unfearful, Without hate and enmity, Immortal Entity, Unborn, Self-Existent, He is realized by His Own Grace.

Meditate upon Him. Who was True before the Creation,
Who was True in the beginning of the Creation, Who is True now, and O Nanak, Who shall be True for Ever.

The word ‘Jap’ means to ‘recite’ or ‘to ‘chant’. What does ‘Ji’ stand for?


6. Salat is the daily ritual prayer enjoined upon all Muslims as one of the five Pillars of Islam. Salat is a precise worship, different from praying on the inspiration of the moment.  ‘The Fatiha is a prayer full of praises to Allah that form the opening words of the Qur'an:

Bismillaah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem
Al hamdu lillaahi rabbil 'alameen
Ar-Rahman ar-Raheem Maaliki yaumid Deen
Iyyaaka na'abudu wa iyyaaka nasta'een
Ihdinas siraatal mustaqeem
Siraatal ladheena an 'amta' alaihim
Ghairil maghduubi' alaihim waladaaleen

In the name of Allah, Most gracious, Most merciful.
Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds
Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Master of the Day of Judgment.
Thee do we worship, and Thine aide we seek.
Show us the straight way;
The way of those on whom Thou has bestowed thy Grace, those whose portion
Is not wrath, and who do not go astray.

Islam professes five pillars to its faith. What number is Salat, or Prayer?


7. Prayer has always been fundamental to the Zoroastrian faith. The Ahuna Vairya, a prayer attributed to Zoroaster himself, venerates both the oneness and supremacy of the Supreme God of the Zoroastrians, Ahura Mazda, and the importance of moral choice, making it one of the most important in the tradition.

ýathâ ahû vairyô
athâ ratush ashâtcît hacâ
vanghêush dazdâ mananghô
shyaothananãm anghêush mazdâi
xshathremcâ ahurâi â
ýim drigubyô dadat vâstârem

Just as the righteous Creator of the world is powerful, in the same way any person will be powerful according to his/her righteousness. The gift of the Good Mind is both the effect and the cause of serving God's Will. One who dedicates one’s life to serving the needs of the world will have the help of God's powers and glory.

According to the Zoroastrian faith, what does this prayer teach?


8. The Shema is considered the most important prayer in Judaism. It is an affirmation of Judaism and a declaration of faith, a pledge of allegiance to One God and creates a model for remaining faithful to a belief in God and in God's unity. It is said when praising God and when beseeching Him. It is the first prayer that a Jewish child is taught to say.

‘Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart.
And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit at home,
and when you walk along the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.
And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes.
And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.’

(English translation)

How many times a day is a Jew obligated to say this prayer?


9. Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, encouraged Bahá'ís to pray frequently. He wrote that prayer should be used both individually as an act of worship in turning to God, and collectively in meetings. Bahá'u'lláh wrote that prayer is essential to any undertaking, and that it attracts confirmations from God.

Bahá'u'lláh also wrote that a brief prayer that is joyful is better than a long prayer which does not induce a spiritual state; that it is the spirit in which the prayer is offered that is important. He wrote three Obligatory prayers. One of them is ‘The Short Obligatory Prayer’, called Salat Saghir, which is a brief affirmation of the Supreme Power of God and the servitude of the worshipper :

‘I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee.  I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.’

What is this Short Obligatory Prayer also known as?



Asatho maa sadgamaya;
thamaso maa jyothir gamaya;
mrityor maa amritham gamaya,

In His Divine 1983 Discourse, Swami explains: “This is a prayer asking to be led from the Jagath (mundane world), which is constantly being built and rebuilt, resolved and dissolved, into the Divine whose Being undergoes no change. The darkness symbolizes the ignorance which induces identification with the body-senses-mind-reason complex. The light reveals the Divine core, over which all the rest is superimposed by the fog of faulty vision. Death affects only the body-mind complex. When we are led into the light, we become aware that we are the undying Aatma, and so we become immortal.”

What is this prayer called?



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Vol 6 Issue 08 - AUGUST 2008
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