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One evening, on returning home from work, I saw Dhruv with a “teeka” on his forehead. Being the kind of person who only remembers God on stubbing a toe, I was a little intrigued. So I asked him.

“Where did you get that red mark?”

Very matter of factly, and not taking his eyes off the telly, “The temple.”

“Did you go to the temple?” (Duh)

Nod.

“Who took you?”

“I went with Vallie, Shirley and Dimpu.” (Dhruv’s Au Pair, Friend and Friend’s Au Pair respectively)

“Do you go often?”

“Sometimes.”

“Do you like going there?”

Nod.

“Why?”

“I get Prasad there.” (Duh again)

Picking him up and settling him down on my knee,”What else do you do there?”

“I pray.”

“To which God?”

“All of them.” (That place is apparently has idols of most major Hindu Gods.)

“Which one is your favorite?”

Thinks. “All of them.”

“What do you Pray about?”

Silence.

“What do you ask God?”

“Nothing.”

Rephrasing the question, “Why do you pray?”

“Bus…aise hi…”

“Do you like praying?”

“Yes. ”

I wish we had the spiritual clarity of kids. It seems that the more religious we become, the more Godless we are. Even a child realizes that one prays to ask nothing. That one prays to feel nice. That one prays to every and no one in particular. That the visit to the temple is but an excuse to get goodies.

But instead of furthering this clarity, we create the confusion of rituals Vs. spirituality in their young minds. We tell them, “Pray, or else…” and tell them “Today is Tuesday, we have to go to the temple…or else…” or “Today is an important exam…pray to God for good marks!”.

Don’t you think it would serve them, and the world, better, if we just let them find their own God? Isn’t it better if we encourage them to see God in our everyday actions and let them compose their own prayers? Won’t the world be a better place, when everyone stops using the power of Prayer as a crutch, but rather, as a source of inner strength and peace?

Even children know that.

Today, someone dear to me lies weak and in pain in the hospital. And I find myself looking up and praying. Not for the pain to end…but for strength to fight the pain.

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