Silent Prayer is the Best Prayer : Vinoba Bhave (Post No.4100)

Written by S NAGARAJAN


Date: 21 July 2017


Time uploaded in London:- 6-01 am



Post No.4100



Pictures are taken from different sources such as Face book, Wikipedia, Newspapers etc; thanks. 


by S.Nagarjan


All great men gave very much importance to the Prayer.

How to Pray?

This question been answered by great sages. In this article we will see Vinabha Bhave’s views.

Vinobha Bhave in his Memoirs points out that the silent form of Prayer is the best form of Prayer.

Given below is the extract taken from his Memoirs.


It was only after I entered Gandhiji’s Satyagraha Ashram that I had any experience of community prayer. Before that I had never joined with others in prayer, nor had I had any fixed time for individual prayer. It came naturally to me to recite or sing when I was in a devotional mood, but to sit with others, or even to set apart a regular time for private prayer, was not my nature. In my childhood I was taught the Sandhya,  but I did not perform it. I refused to repeat words whose meaning I did not understand. This is not to say that I lacked the spirit of devotion, even then. But with Gandhiji there was regular daily prayer. The experience of sitting together with so many worthy people gradually had its effect on me. This effect, I think, was not so much due to the prayers themselves as to the fellowship of devotion which we shared.


People used to ask Bapu what they should do if they found it difficult to concentrate, or felt sleepy during the prayer. In that case, Bapu suggested, they should stand for prayer instead of sitting. These questioners were honest people, and every day three or four of them would stand during the prayers. But of course concentration cannot be achieved merely by standing ! Bapu began to teach us how to pray, just as one might teach children how to read, using illustrations from his own life. This was a new experience for me, such as I had never had before.

In Bapu’s time a number of passages were included in the prayer, many of which I knew. I would never myself have chosen some of these verses, or considered them suitable, but still I joined reverently in the recital, un- attractive though I found them. Later there was a proposal that these verses should be omitted, but after discussion with Bapu they were kept, on the ground that we should not change what was already in use.
When I was imprisoned, I ceased to use these verses in my morning prayer, and recited instead my own prose translation of the Ishavasya Upanishad, which was much in my thoughts at the time; a number of other people used to join me. But I kept unchanged the verses of the Gita which had been chosen for the evening prayer, as I was very fond of them. This change in the morning prayer was made while Bapu was still alive, and after I was released from jail I went on using the Ishavasya in the Paunar Ashram.
I do not like the queer notion that unity can be brought had by accepting a single form of prayer. Unity is some- thing which must spring from within. I do not want to make any particular verses obligatory in the prayer. So when I was working among the Meos we recited verses from the Koran, and used an Urdu translation of the Gita and Urdu hymns. It seems to me to be best to use whatever the people around me can understand most easily.

In Bapu’s time we also used prayers drawn from all religious traditions. That is all right when people of different religions and languages are meeting together, but all the same it is a kind of khichadi, a mixed grill. The main idea therein is not so much to please God as to please our fellows. Still, if we think that a human being is also a mani- festation of God, the practice cannot be called wrong.
Thinking this over I came to the conclusion that for community prayer silent prayer is the best form. It can satisfy all kinds of people, and deeper and deeper meaning may be found in it, as I can testify from my own experience.
During the early days of my bhoodan pilgrimage we included in the evening public prayer the Gita’s verses about ‘the man of steadfast wisdom’. But in Andhra I began to use silent prayer instead. This silent community prayer is of very great value. The idea has been with me for a long time that all should come together to pray in the quietness of mind; this thought is maturing slowly and as my experience increases, so does my confidence and courage.


Leave a comment


  1. Community or congregational prayer is a strong instrument of forging unity among a given community. But it can easily turn into a weapon in the hands of unscrupulous leaders.
    We see Christians and Muslims resorting to group prayer. These two communities have remained strong and conquered the world. They are still in an expanding mode. Christian faith is weakening among the well-educated, and Church attendance is falling in the West, with many Churches abandoned. Even ISKCON purchased many abandoned Churches! Educated Westerners increasingly believe in spirituality that is beyond denominational boundaries or doctrinaire assertions – spirituality without religion! For them , formal congregational prayer is not needed. On the contrary, Muslims strongly believe in congregational prayer- and in making a show of it! In cities like Paris they even spread the mat on the roads and resort to namaz- bringing the traffic to a standstill! That is the power of congregation!

    It is doubtful if people of different religions [ those who genuinely follow their faiths, and not those who have merely some vague intellectual conviction] can really come and pray together. The formal prayer is an expression of theology and theologies differ! The normal Hindu is taught to respect all religions. This is one thing, but to read and recite the prayers of other religions is not an act congenial to the heart. if I love one, I do not have to love one’s dog too! The Bible has beautiful passages, the Psalms have many moving passages, but the overall theology is so different! In the whole of the New Testament, the Lord’s Prayer, as taught by Christ, is really without any Christian theological significance! But we Hindus have many passages of such beauty and import.

    The Quran is a totally different proposition. While it seeks to unite the Muslims, it has a clear message of antagonism against non-Muslims, stated in more than 100 passages.

    The brotherhood Christians and Muslims speak of is only among their own co-religionists, and does not extend to strangers and the whole of humanity! Conceptions like Vasudaiva Kutumbakam or Sruvantu Vishve Amrutasya Putra: are entirely absent in them. It is also a historical fact that even with the message of peace and brotherhood, Christians have been fighting each other- the two world wars were fought mainly among Christian nations! Even so are the Muslims fighting each other even today! So, what is the use of external common congregational prayers? Do they foster real unity?

    On the contrary look at the Hindus. They do not have congregational prayer- even in the temples they pray individually. [ The Aarati followed in North Indian temples is an exception.] But Hindus have never subjugated or conquered other people in the name of religion! Buddhism, our sister religion, also spread without violence, though they had congregational prayer! But because of their congregations, they became easy targets of Muslim invaders when hundreds of them were killed at a time, as when Nalanda was attacked!

    Mahatma Gandhi’s whole life was a chronicle of experiments. We cannot claim that they were all successful, though we cannot question or doubt his sincerity. Vinoba’s view on common prayer seems to be more valid: when people of different faiths come together, it is better to pray in silence! But even such silent prayer does not indicate or breed unity of heart- Cor Unum- or purpose! What is the use of prayer if it does not result in benevolent action benefiting all life? As Coleridge says: [The Rime of the Ancient Mariner]

    He prayeth best, who loveth best
    All things both great and small;
    For the dear God who loveth us,
    He made and loveth all.”

  2. Thanks for the beautiful comments with deep insight. Vinoba also has done his experiments. So too Rajaji. Once when the people wanted rain he suggested common prayer. So all the people assembled at a place and in one voice they cried. Suddenly there was a heavy down-pour. PRAYER WORKS!
    Gandhiji was very very sincere in his experiments. TRUTH was his weapon. Sometimes he failed. He accepted it and told publicly.
    Many truths regarding Gandhiji have not been written. 1) In his evening prayer meetings even though Muslims attended they would not recite “Eswara Allah there nam”. 2) When he was asked (In the later years 1947-1948) if Pakistan attacks and kills our soldiers whether he would still advise Ahimsa and ask our soldiers to die?! He thought over for minute and did not answer! Then he finally said that he would think about it and answer!!
    Vinobaji might have been contemplated that silent prayer would be very powerful and at the same time avoid religious clashes and would unite all.
    Considering all the views, we may conclude Prayer is powerful (Pl Read my article about Prayer and Alexis Carrell). Silent Prayer with a common cause will yield result.
    But if the prayer is for the destruction of any “Jeevan or Janthu” it will bring harm to the persons who prayed.
    Last but not least, Sri Aurobindo has rightly said When the prayer would bring results! Gandhiji too agreed on this point. Let us Pray Sarve Jana sukino Bhavanthu. Loaks samastho sukino Bhavanthu.
    Mr Nanjappa! Words fail me in offering my thanks to you for timely, valuable inputs. Pl write, write,write

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: