As a writer, you remain in constant search for inspiration to pick up the pen and let your thoughts flow freely. To my surprise, it’s not the experiences in life that inspire me to write, it’s the people who experience life that inspire my thoughts.
Thinking about writing, people, experiences and the world, my mind pondered about prayers and people today. I recall a prayer we were taught in school and were encouraged to religiously recite in morning assembly. But I was always intrigued by its opening lines “Humko mann ki shakti dena, mann vijay kare, doosron ki jai se pehle khudh ko jay karein” (God, give us inner strength, before we cheer for victory of others, make us victorious).
I couldn’t help but rewind these lines again and again in my thoughts to be amazed how a prayer could teach us meaningful lessons in life. The naiveness of teenagerhood pushed me to write my interpretation of these lines after almost 8 years.
I will divide the opening lines into two parts. The first part (Humko mann ki shakti dena, mann vijay kare) is intended to seek courage to overcome the worldly fears, let go of inhibitions and become self-confident so that we can shine in life. We pray for courage because God presumed that every human being will have some fear like failing at studies, career, love, marriage and kids. In short, he knew that at every point, humans will be affected by such self-inflicted fears of different phases of life that are meant to be enjoyed in their good and bad form alike. So does it mean all these years we have been praying to Almighty asking for strength to overcome the fear of “living life” itself?
The second part (doosron ki jai se pehle khudh ko jay karein) is for requesting Almighty to give us the strength to win over ourselves before we win over the world. Just like God knew that we will need courage to live a fearless life, he also knew that as we grow up, we will stop loving ourselve because we start living for others. And the world will label such humanly actions as being ‘selfless’ which in fact is an outright lie. How can you think of caring for others when you forget to care for yourself? Do you think you can really bring joy to your loved ones, when you can’t smile for yourself? Would you be able to conquer this world, when you cannot conquer yourself?
In these bygone years, I have realized the reason we were asked to recite this prayer every morning. As we grow up, we become overpowered by inhibitions that we forget to appreciate different shades of life. Not only this, we fall out of love with our own self in our efforts to care for others. We fear being condemned by the society for being selfish to think a little about ourselves. Such thoughts just make me wonder if this is what our life was ever meant for – to live every moment in fear while trying to make others happy.
Will this prayer ever become an expression of gratitude or will it always remain a request?
PS – Without any bias, I could never bring myself to recite this prayer after school and I hope my teachers will be proud of me for a lesson well learnt.