Prayer is an individual business. Let not anyone mesmerise you with any written methods to pray or mantras to memorise. The ‘how to pray’ syllabus is another’s experience; not yours. It is no harm receiving that knowledge but that is a means to an end. Coherent and meaningful prayer will fall in place sooner than you expect, even recitation of mantras and simple rituals. So do surrender at your earliest convenience and pray in a humble way. Love for God is embedded in the heart and not in prayer guidebooks. ‘Om Nama Sivaya’ starts it all in a simple way in praying to Shiva-Shakti. One can cup the hands in prayers before a Shivalingam and speak to God. Man mana bhava, always think of Me and become Me, says Sri Krishna in Gita 18.65.
The sage, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had visions of Mother Kali and when he regained consciousness, the only word that emanated from his lips was ‘Mother’. Her deity overwhelmed him and gave him so much bliss. He was thereafter intoxicated and unable to carry on with his daily chores, not even worship. Now he wanted to see Mother both in meditation and with eyes open. But Mother was playing hide and seek, as She often does with Her children.
Sri Ramakrishna would get into a trance and find Mother standing before him, smiling, talking, consoling and bidding him cheers, even instructing him in prayers. He used to speak loudly to the Deity, even shouting at Her. In meditation the sage would see strange swarm of fire flies. He heard sacred sounds of Her anklets. He felt he was holding on to Her whole body. Sometimes he felt asleep holding on to Her feet. Most of the time his prayers were idiosyncratic; he would even take a morsel of food and holding it to Her mouth begging Her to eat. He would not move until She had taken the prasada.
He was sailing an uncharted sea, “O Divine Mother, I do not know what these things are. I am ignorant of mantras and the scriptures, Mother, how to realise Thee, who else can help me?” and surrendered to the will of Mother. He was in constant communion with Her day and night. Sometimes he would remain in absolute silence like a cold rock. The temple officials in Dakshineswar Kali Temple took him to be insane. His unconventional ways could not be hidden for long.
This was reported to the Rani, the Kali Temple custodian. She sent someone to observe the sage’s conduct silently and duly reported to her. The next day, the temple officials received an instruction: “Do not obstruct the sage in his worship in whatever manner he might perform it as it is Divinely inspired.” The Rani was convinced that Ramakrishna’s fervent devotion had awakened Mother Kali. The sage’s ecstatic love for Ma Kali became more and more intimate. He was satisfied and wanted to see the Divine Mother in all beings and things and taste her bliss in a variety of means and rites. And he prayed Ma Kali in his own way, despite being called a madman. Whenever Ma Kali is thought, Sri Ramakrishna's name is recalled fondly. It would be for many epochs. That is how Ma wants it.
When one surrenders totally to God and develops his or her way to venerate and pray, and that seen as madness, that is a Bliss indeed. This divine insanity may even be preferable to self-endorsing ignorant or innocent barriers to express love for God. You would be your own barrier if you are influenced by third party rules and regulations of praying. There are no rules to Love God. The only rule would be Love for God and love alone. In His infinite wisdom the Lord knows it all. And He is most compassionate and accepts you for what you are. Even in your simple flower offering and your silence. Hari Om
by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi