Almost all the religions in the world have scriptures, holy book(s) and prayers that you repeat. The new age gurus like Louise Hay, ask us to repeat affirmations that help to heal. Ofcourse, Masters who walked the Earth like Buddha, Osho and many others spoke of meditation and “no-mind”. New age corporate gurus try and equate meditation with concentration which is like equating Mt Everest and the base camp. Anyway, that’s another discussion.
Growing up, I was taught different prayers – invocations to Ganesha, Hanuman, Lakshmi, Mahishasuramardini stotram (prayer), Vishnu Sahasranamam etc. There is still a tape recording at home of my reciting these prayers. I went on to memorize the Vishnu Sahasranamam and in Shillong we even had a group that would meet every Saturday and recite the Vishnu Sahasranamam together. My mother and mother-in-law have memorized many such “stotras” too, For a long time I believed that these prayers will get me what I needed at that time, courage or money or a good husband. Well, I did get an awesome husband… Maybe because of the Santoshi Maa fast that I religiously kept for several years before meeting Krishnan :).
Over the years, I have questioned the need to repeat these prayers because it seems rather easy to say, “say this prayer five times in the morning and you will get money” and then to see the same family not necessarily doing well. That set me thinking. Then I read a whole bunch of books, from Og Mandino’s to Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret” to ofcourse Louise Hay’s books. All of them spoke of positive affirmations that you repeat to yourself hundreds of times to bring about psychological change. My earliest introduction to affirmations was through MILT and seeing my brother-in-law repeat his affirmations everyday. I didn’t make the connection then.
A couple of months back affirmations came back into our lives as Krishnan and I met with a therapist for past life regression and figured out that solutions to some of our health issues actually lay in this life and we needed affirmations to reframe the incidents that caused them. Fascinating that it worked !! That’s when I made the connection between our traditional prayers and affirmations – I think they are the same. The prayers in India are written in Sanskrit because that was the language in use then, we do find many prayers and stotras written in Tamil as well. But all prayers are affirmations about good behaviour, describing the many virtues of a God or Goddess, and they are to help in removing obstacles and bring good fortune….. They are addressed to the Gods, but I have a sneaky suspicion that they were meant to reaffirm certain thoughts and behaviours using the God or Goddess as an example.
Just like the marriage vows… They are affirmations. If only couples repeated the vows translated into the language they understand, many of the divorces would probably not happen. The other realisation I had was, we are constantly “affirming” something… “I have no luck”, “bosses are terrible”, “mother-in-law’s are trouble”, “I am sick”, “can’t lose weight” etc etc etc…. Just catch your thoughts at any instant, chances are you are affirming something. Prayers, stotras helped in affirming positive thoughts just as the new age gurus ask us to do.
Do share what you think of this connection …