Symbols of the world's religions



Bal Natu

Baba dictated the Repentance Prayer at Meherabad in November of 1952, and the Master's Prayer in Dehra Dun in August of 1953. The Master's Prayer was originally referred to as the Universal Prayer. By the time it was sent to the West, it was known as the Master's Prayer because of Baba's participation in offering it.

Let me admit that when I first read the Universal Prayer, I was not impressed by it. But since Baba had given it, naturally I had a deep respect for it. When Baba first gave the prayer, He made it clear that He wanted His followers to recite it daily for a certain period, and while I was happy to comply with this, the prayer did not appeal to my heart the way it should have. Unlike the prayer of Saint Francis or some of the prayers in the Upanishads, the Master's Prayer seemed rather remote, being neither moving nor poetic. It seemed, to my limited understanding, to read like a dry collection of divine attributes which did not have a great deal of significance for me.

I was also a little hesitant about the use of the word "we" in the Repentance Prayer. I wondered why I should share in other people's repentance when I hadn't participated in their sins! So, sometimes when I recited this prayer by myself, I would change "we" to "I," since it was "I" who was repenting. Baba had made me feel so natural in my relationship with Him that I did not feel the slightest guilt about doing this.

Then, in the '50s and '60s, Baba gave me more and more opportunities to spend time with Him and also to participate in these prayers in His presence. This gradually changed my perspective. Baba's attitude towards the prayers, I saw, clearly reflected the importance they had for Him in His universal work. Before reciting them, He would wash His hands and face and straighten His coat or sadra. Then, with great solemnity, Baba would join His palms and listen with closed eyes while the prayers were read aloud by Eruch.

The look of profound and reverent absorption on Baba's face at such times impressed me deeply. As He listened to all the attributes of God in the Master's Prayer, I could see that they were clearly not just a dry catalogue of terms to Him. One had the vivid impression that Baba was inwardly experiencing each of these attributes which, for me, had only been high-sounding phrases. I could not help but begin to develop an appreciation for these superlatives, as they were obviously charged with deep significance. When the Repentance Prayer was read out, a deeply penitent look would come over Baba's face and He would softly tap His cheeks with His palms.

Through the recitation of the prayers, I felt that Baba was bringing together the religions of the world "as beads on one string." His hands were joined in the fashion common to both the Hindu and Christian traditions, and yet the Master's Prayer begins, "O Parvardigar," a Sufi term used by the Muslims. As the prayer was read, He would sway from side to side in the manner of the Zoroastrians. Thus, the major religions were symbolically represented through Baba's external actions. He participated in these prayers hundreds of times.


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