Lalita was reciting her daily prayers. As it was nearing its ending, she concluded by reciting the Shanti Mantra, --- Let all people be in happiness, --- let all people lead a healthy life, --- let all people see the noble things only, --- Let all people experience that which is good for all, --- let no one suffer, --- Let peace prevail everywhere. Om Shanti Om Shanti Om Shanti. Then she prostrated on bare floor and showered a bunch of flowers on her favourite God Ganesha. She folded her hands and with closed eyes meditated for a few seconds. Then she came back to her practical world of daily routines. Her son Prakash was just waiting to bounce on her. “Amma, I am deadly tired of you. What do you gain by wasting your time here in the name of worshipping? I have been waiting for breakfast. It is not yet ready. Don’t you understand that time is very precious for all of us? Particularly morning time? A little delay at the start of the day is leading to a long-stretched delay throughout the day, in all our endeavours. You simply forgot what you have taught us in our childhood. Don’t you know Work is Worship? You never practice what you preach. You keep reciting Peace-Peace-Peace to all, but you bring in irritation and anger in others. Come Friday! Your prayer session gets longer and longer and very elaborate. Oh you -- Gods and Goddesses! Will you not open her eyes?” He was shouting at her Ganesha with folded hands.
Lalita was not disturbed by Prakash’s long sermons nor by his shouting. Such occasion was not a first- time event. Neither for him to shout nor for her to continue her prayers. She laid plates on the table for all and served the breakfast for Prakash. She told him softly, “Why do you get wild on me? I had neither left my duty halfway nor asked you to come and help me out. I had already finished attending to your needs and then only I went and sat for my pooja. You could have just peeped into the kitchen and checked if breakfast was ready. If only you had helped yourself, all these heart-burning and irritation could be avoided. Do you know one thing? This negative energy like unwanted anger, irritation, harsh words --- yield nothing to you nor to me. Now you are young. You may be thinking your angry-young-man image is adding something to your personality. But actually, it is not so. In the long run, it will have a bad impact on your health. Better you change your temperament right now. It is my simple advice that in your own interest, you somehow try to find time for a few minutes and offer small prayers. Try meditation for a few minutes, if not daily at least twice or thrice a week. When I say this, you tend to ignore, but when a doctor ….” Lalita was still lecturing on…
But Prakash cut it. He neither had patience nor time. He was already getting late. He had to catch up with other odds and then leave for collage. He was boiling inside with hot temper. It was almost a daily routine. His mother always going her way on her prayers and he thrashing it as waste of time. Today she went a step ahead and started advising him to adopt her methods and offer prayers. He stomped his feet and slammed.
Months and years rolled on and time few off like a feather. Prakash finished his studies and got employed. He was now in USA. Away from homeland and homefolks.
Prakash couched in the garden chair at the patio, was gazing at the children busily splashing water on each other in the mini swimming pool. What a cheerful easy-go-lucky life for them! Of course, a few ladies were there at a distance and overseeing them. All of them enjoyed their fun-time. As though, they were eagerly waiting for the week-end to turn up. A faint thought of envy overlapped him. For him, life was different. He was longing for a respite from the monotonous grinding of strenuous pressure from office work. Deadline for completion of target was fast approaching. His boss was bound to question him. He being European, did not consider Indians as worthy enough of being taken as bright and clever. He lost no chance of demeaning them. A humiliating affair for him almost on all days. The very charm of working in a multi-national-company with a handsome salary was lost by his boss’ bad behaviour.
Overwhelmed by his self-pity and remorse, a sense of depression engulfed him. Under such moments of melancholy, he used to feel home-sick. He missed his mother very much. The very thought of his mother, brought a line of smile and a ray of brightness. Then he remembered the collection of songs he had recorded on a pen-drive and brought with him to America. Though he brought it with great enthusiasm, he had not played it for once also. Today he had a strong urge to listen to her voice. He went inside and took out his laptop and the pen-drive. Since most of renderings were devotional songs, he thought it better to have bath and sit with strict discipline and follow decorum. For a second, he was wondering how he happened to nurture such an obedience for his mother. He who had always been after her to wash off her silly behaviour of offering prayers, was today finding himself in her footsteps. The distance, --- the physical distance of being cut off from her, had brought him closer to her on mental plane. He did all those things which would please her. Surprisingly, he found it soothing and comforting. He played the song. He patiently listened. He closed the eyes and with folded hands as he prayed. He joined her and whispered the Shanti mantra along with her in the same tone and same pace. Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Om Shanti. It was an unique experience to him.
If only somebody told him some years before that he would be like this, he would have dismissed it as sheer non sense. But today he was different. The pen-drive continued to play. His mother was narrating about the essence of prayers. “Praying for oneself is a mere selfish task. Sometimes it may seem to be a barter --- like telling God, I do this and you do that for me. Prayer is meaningful only when offered selflessly and for the benefit of all around us. We should pray for all our kith and kin. For example, see this Shanti Mantra. ‘Let all be happy, let all be healthy, let all see and spread positivity, let nobody see any evil and let no one suffer. Let peace prevail for all’. It is not confined to me or you or just our family. It encompasses all around us. In the happiness of people around us we derive ours. See how thoughtfully our ancestors have devised this mantra and in a very few words they conveyed a very strong message. In fact, they have elevated us to be a better soul.”
Prakash who was drifted away into a different world, came to his senses when his mobile phone rang. His very boss was online. Strangely the very act of his boss calling him did not irritate him. Probably the soothing effect of prayers he completed just now. The boss asked him to come over. Matter a bit urgent. Prakash took the laptop and dashed. The pen-drive hooked to it, did not matter. When he met his boss, he came to know that it was not for any office work. Something very different. Rather personal. His boss had been to his doctor who after thorough check-up found him to be on high blood-pressure. Apart from the course of medicines, doctor prescribed something more. He advised him to pursue yoga and meditation. Then the boss immediately remembered Prakash. Being Indian, he must be adept with these typical Indian methods.
For the first time, Prakash heard his boss speaking something pleasing. Indians and adept at something! Great! Prakash smiled and instantly logged on his laptop and played the prayer songs rendered by his mother. He too hummed along with her. His boss said he was aware of Gayatri Mantra but not Shanti Mantra. He asked for the meaning of those hymns. Prakash was ready with translation. “Let all people be in happiness, --- let all people lead a healthy life, --- let all people see the noble things only, --- Let all people experience that which is good for all, --- let no one suffer, --- Let peace prevail everywhere. Om Shanti Om Shanti Om Shanti.”
Though he had heard and said it hundreds of times before, this was the first time he understood the real meaning of Prayers, particularly Shanti Mantra. He thanked his mother wholeheartedly. “Amma, you are great. Prayers are meaningful when uttered and offered with sincere feelings for the benefit of others. You preached peace and it prevails. Now I have to practice it.”
Let Peace Prevail. Om Shanti. Om Shanti. Om Shanti.