Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Little Big Prayerbook

I have often heard of folks reading the signs, the signs strewn down your path as you go on with your daily lives. I have heard of folks being blessed as they go about their lives. I have heard of chants and talisman to protect you. I have heard of the power of these chants and prayers. I have heard of the magical and have always wondered if they are with me too. To some people, there is magic in the everyday, there are signs in the everyday, there is the sensation of a guardian angel travelling beside you. To many of us though, I guess it will take a lifetime to unravel the truth.

So, we go about life looking for the magic and counting our blessings. And sometimes, it dawns on you that you might have missed a moment that was actually quite extraordinary, because you did not look for it. You are just not fully sure of it anymore. I want to recount one such moment of blessing that I vaguely recollect. I have been rummaging through music for meditation over the last few days. I chanced upon a chanting of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra, an invocation for Lord Shiva. I was curious and I went through the mantra only to realize that here was a chant that I was actually quite familiar with. I knew the words and I had been chanting this often enough, the last twenty five odd years!! I had been chanting this without knowing what it was called or what the background to the mantra was. I remember I learnt this from a little prayerbook that I happened to have with me sometime in the past. 

I then remembered the story of this little prayerbook. It was around the time that some folks still could not call Chennai by its name, they still called it Madras. So, one hot morning in Madras, a young school going boy boarded a bus to go for an elocution competition. I don't recollect the venue, I don't recollect the topic. Maybe the topic was something spiritual, I am not sure. The audience did have some erudite scholarly old men and I am not entirely sure if I made any sense to them that day. I do recollect having got a certificate and some gift before boarding a bus back home. The person seated next to me was a scholarly old man, maybe one of those in the audience that day. We struck a conversation and I vaguely recollect it being about life and the magic in life. And as we came to the end of the old man's journey, I still had a long way to go, he gave me a little book. He said, and I can't be sure of the words, he probably said "Keep this with you. There is a mantra in here, recite it often enough and it will take care of you.". I remember this little prayerbook. I remember the wise old man who passed it on to me. I remember and wonder if that was an extraordinary moment. I wonder if that was a blessing, if that was magic, if that was a sign. I followed his instructions alright without thinking too much about it and I am sure I have been taken care off. Maybe, just maybe, my little prayerbook was actually a blessing. Maybe it was more than a little prayerbook, maybe it was a little BIG prayerbook !!

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