Damodar K. Mavalankar – On Prayer

[From The Theosophist, March, 1884.]

[The following is a reply to a letter from “K. C. M.” who asks what is the real meaning of prayer, and if there is any harm in the various forms or methods of approaching the “Great-self” in prayer. He says: “. . . I find that prayer is allowed in all the known religions of the world. There must have been some strong grounds for enjoining the practice. Was it because the Teachers thought it advisable not to meddle with the natural feelings of their followers? . . .” — EDS.]

We act upon the principle that what is meat for one is death for another. While, therefore, some people may not be able to develop their latent psychic capacities without prayer, there are others who can. We set no value upon the words uttered. For, if the words had any effect, how is it that different religionists, although using different forms of expression, obtain the same result? Again, those who pray silently and intensely gain their object, while those who merely mumble some formula without understanding the meaning, get no answers to their prayers. As has been said in Isis Unveiled, we believe prayer is the giving of expression to the desire, which generates Will. And this WILL is all-powerful; its effect depending, of course, upon all the surrounding conditions. Philosophers can be but few. They need no external ceremony or object for the purpose of concentrating their Will-force. We cannot expect the ordinary mortals, whose sensuous perceptions and avocations do not permit them to penetrate behind the mask, to do without the help of some external process. What we regret is the degeneration of this real prayer — the outward expression of the inward feeling — into a meaningless jumble of words. The prayer of the philosopher is his contemplation, an article on which subject will be found in the last number of the Theosophist.* — D. K. M.

*[This refers to Damodar’s own article on Contemplation, which appears in Chapter II of the present volume. — EDS.]