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Samasta Lokaha Sukhino Bhavantu: The power of praying for others


“Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu”

This was the line that used to be chanted thrice everyday, after every prayer session at Prasanthi Nilayam, in Puttaparthi. One fine day, in September 2008, Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) called one of the lead-singing students and told him to change the chant. That day onwards, the chant was changed to

“Samastha Lokaha Sukhino Bhavantu”

I am sure that the Martians, Neptunians and Saturnians, if they exist, would have rejoiced at this change! :)
Simply because, the prayer now had changed from one of a global nature into one of a universal nature.

The former means, "Let all the people in the world be happy" (since Lokah has two meanings in Sanskrit, one: people; and the other: world). The latter means “Let all the worlds be happy,” (and thereby all the beings in the worlds). The earlier mantra referred only to this world. The new mantra refers to all the worlds and is broader in outlook.

But wait! It is not as if only the ‘universal’ beings had to rejoice. We ‘earthlings’ too could rejoice because blessings on us would have definitely doubled! How is that? To answer that question, let me travel down memory lane and relive one little episode.

It was the 9th of July, 1999. (Not that the date is significant for the story. But as I write, I hope to create a timeline of sorts so that it becomes easier to stitch all stories together later, if need arises.)


The bell rang to signify the end of the 5th period and the beginning of the 6th in the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School. We, the XII standard students of the Biology specialization, were thrilled. The next period was a free period. That meant - no studies!

As we hurried to our classroom, the principal of the school arrived there. He told us,
“I know that this is a free period for you as the teacher is sick. But if you make a noise, I shall assign some other teacher. Keep quiet if you want the period to remain free.”

Needless to say, the 10 of us decided to be silent. To pass time and have fun at the same time, we began to play a word-building game. The game was fun and as it progressed, we got more and more involved in it. I was leading in the points. But the boy in second spot was close at my heels. As the game progressed, I saw that one of my classmates was secretly signalling and helping the boy in second place.

“That is cheating”, I felt and I told him not to do so.

The game progressed but this boy did not stop his ‘cheating’. As I lost my lead position in the points table, a sudden gush of anger made me swing my arm and hit the ‘cheater’.

Immediately after the blow, I expected him to turn around and hit back. I readied for a fight. But instead, that boy just held his hurting arm and sat silent. He looked at me with eyes of pain but did nothing. That was more painful for me that it would have been had he returned a blow.

To make matters worse, he did not even say anything to me and I was filled with terrible guilt and remorse.

“Forgiveness and silence are so powerful”, I thought, “they hurt more than retaliation and loudness! No wonder that the great masters preached forgiveness for the enemies. It does not destroy the ‘enemy’ but destroys the ‘enmity’.”

Immediately, I apologised to him but again, he said nothing. The period got over soon and two periods later, it was time for us to go to the mandir for darshan.

I was feeling very bad about the hitting incident. I closed my eyes and prayed with great remorse and sincerity.
“Swami, I am so sorry for what I did today. I apologized but I do not feel satisfied. I want to give him something that he will cherish so that I feel my apology is complete. Please bless my handkerchief today so that I can give it to him as my ‘sorry gift’! “

Well, whenever Swami materialized vibhuti for some fortunate devotee in the darshan lines, any student or member of the staff who had a white handkerchief with him/her, could offer the same to Swami to wipe His hand. In fact, my first memorable interaction with Swami as His student was via this ‘handkerchief chance’! I thus prayed to Swami to give me a chance to offer a handkerchief to Him. This meant that He had to materialize vibhuti somewhere near me during darshan.

I had many times prayed to Swami to bless a handkerchief thus for me. They had limited success only. I just hoped that today would be a successful attempt.

These were times when the Kulwant hall was undergoing modifications. The roof-paneling was on and so darshans were held in the Poornachandra Auditorium. ( Almost the same period of the memorable photo-signing episode. In that article, all the details of the venue and darshan sessions are provided.)

As we reached the Poornachandra auditorium, we came to know that Swami was in Kulwant hall, supervising the work going on there. In excitement, we sat along the carpet that led from the Kulwant hall to the behind of the Poornachandra Auditorium. Swami would be moving along this path before going into the auditorium for darshan. As Swami came walking down the path, all the boys were asking Him to speak to the students as a separate group in an interview.

Swami was gently nodding His head and walking till a student, about 2 feet away from me, got onto his knees. He told Swami something and Swami immediately began encircling His right palm. I was overjoyed! I rushed to Him with the handkerchief ( a new one that I had bought exactly for this purpose). He smiled at me, took the handkerchief, wiped His hand and threw it back to me.

I was so happy! My ‘apology gift’ had been blessed and I felt that Swami also had forgiven me for that rash act of anger!

The story did not end there.

We all rushed into the Poornachandra auditorium. Soon, Swami came for darshan there. As He moved along the central path, He stopped at a gentleman, spoke to him and created vibhuti for him. I was nearby but Swami’s back was turned to me. Still, I went up to Him, behind Him. I saw that there was another person offering a handkerchief to Him.

To my pleasant surprise, Swami turned around 180 degrees, looked into my eyes and took the handkerchief that I was offering. He threw it back to me and then walked on. I returned to my place overjoyed. I was in eighth heaven. (I was in seventh heaven when the handkerchief had been blessed the first time!)

As soon as we returned to the hostel, I went to that boy and gave him the handkerchief as my ‘apology gift’. Needless to say, he was overjoyed and he hugged me. As he hugged me, I felt as though Swami was hugging me. I hugged back very hard!

Looking back at that episode today, I remembered that 9th July 1999 was maybe the only time when Swami had blessed the handkerchief I was carrying twice in the same session! What had made it happen?

A prayer which I had made for someone else’s sake!

A prayer for someone else had actually benefited me more than all my prayers for myself put together! It had granted me a special experience with the ‘physical’ Swami and the Swami within another fellow-being. When we pray for others, we become selfless. When we become selfless, we tap into the most powerful force in the Universe - Love or God.

Oops! Had I known this, I would have prayed only for others all my life! In fact, that is what I do now always. I never pray for myself. I pray only for others. ( I don’t know if that is selfless or selfish! hahahahahaha)

Now, is it any surprise that Swami exhorts us to pray for the peace and well-being of all the beings in all parts of the Universe? Is it a mystery anymore that the one who prays thus is equally (if not in larger measure) benefited compared to the one for whom the prayer is made?

“Samastha Lokaha Sukhino Bhavantu”

May all the beings in all the worlds be happy! Samastha Lokaha Sukhino Bhavantu

May all the beings in all the worlds be happy! Samastha Lokaha Sukhino Bhavantu

If you liked this article, you might also like:

1. Satyameva Jayate - Truth Alone Triumphs

2.Prayer requests and the Gratitude Programme - lessons from students of Sri Sathya Sai Baba

3. God through the eyes of a child.

4. What is Karma Yoga?

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AJ on February 25, 2016:

I learned from Swami that we can help to transform people's misfortunes in life by prayers; we can help to cure them from diseases; we can change society. It's extremely powerful. Forces and devas spring into action when there are prayers! I didn't really have a strong belief in prayers at the time. But he proved me wrong. However, prayers directed to oneself and ones own desires and wishes are very weak while prayers for others are strong.

I remember one foreign devotee who had a bad relation with her father. He had been very cruel to her during her upbringing and this created a tense relation between them when she became an adult. She tried to forgive him, with great struggles, because that's what Swami asks us to do. Later in his life he got diagnosed with cancer and was given only one month to live. She spent her savings performing yagnas and pujas for him on a weekly basis. And guess what? He lived for another 1.5 years until those yagnas and pujas ended when she ran low on money....

I too have seen very powerful results from a yagna. We should not take these things lightly. If we have the right one-pointed mindset in prayers and rituals, there are many mysteries to unfold.

Tharanipathy.J on February 25, 2014:

Sairam, unless small portion of my previous account with swamys file I can not come across such a beautiful informations.Very fine this reading has just pushed me near first step towards swamy.Jai Sai ram

Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on July 26, 2013:

@Jayant Raut - Thank you for your beautiful prayer for me. :)

Scroll to Continue

Such 'selfishness' is definitely very good for the world!

JAYANT RAUT on July 26, 2013:

Dear Brother, you are upgrading my bhakti every time with your posts

and we are getting the SAIPRASADAM shared by you. Each article brings

tears of joy full of devotion in my eyes. Swami is blessing me through you. Now its my turn to pray for you that Lord Sai may continue showering experiences on you!! Here I am selfish!!

Kokila Vaidyanathan on February 25, 2013:

Sairam Brother - once again you have answered my question from this my prayer from yesterday. But I have a question for you... yesterday when I was praying to Swami, I looked at His photo and with a smile and gratitude I said Thank you Swami for everything and I did pray for my Husband (who was a bit unwell a while ago) and also thanked HIM for looking after him. Now is this a Selfish prayer ?? While I didn't say Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavantu, I did pray for the individual.

Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on October 12, 2012:

@ Prem Arora - You are right! Thank you. I have made the correction. :)

Prem Arora on October 12, 2012:

Bro...July 1999 was when you were in 12th...(not 11th).....I knw this as I was one year senior to you :)

Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on September 24, 2012:

@ An Impressed reader - I definitely do not mind... In fact, I love these comments. They enrich me, the blog and every other person who reads them. Please keep them coming...

Thank you Ravindra and Mark Aspa!

@ Aarthi - Very true. The order of praying makes us selfless...

@ PoornimaSrinath - :) Happy that there were smiles as you read !

@ Parmila Singh - Very right. Forgiveness and Prayer give us so much peace in life.

Parmila Singh on September 23, 2012:

Forgiveness and silence so wonderfully expressed and informative and how swami takes over when we practice in everyday life.We must attempt to practice every moment of our life it is such a peaceful feeling .


poornimasrinath from Midrand, Johannesburg, RSA on July 24, 2012:

Enjoyed reading as usual! The lighter moments here and there brings the same smile that you had while writing.

I remember my science teacher in class VII asking us to pray whenever an ambulance passes by without fail.

Aarthi on July 23, 2012:

Nice share, Barru! By the way, here is something I came across y'day which relates to this topic. I request everyone to check this page --

I really liked the order in which we should be praying. Hope I am able to practise this on a daily basis.

Mark Aspa on July 21, 2012:

thanks...when i pray and meditate it's just for myself this was a good reminder of a better way. it was so nice to see your words that you 'only pray for others'...truly Swami's student!

Ravindra on July 21, 2012:

Dear Aravind,

To do anything regularly with right Perspective; attaching a meaningful story is Very Important. Thank you for giving one.

Swami's Chinna Katha's [ Short Stories] certainly help us to identify in our day-to-day life.

Your story i would like to share with my family.

Thank you - SAIRAM

An Impressed Reader on July 20, 2012:

Very nice post brother .. It is so true that Swami gives us much more than what we would ever imagine, if we give even as much as a thought for our fellow human beings ..

Am reminded of an incident that happened when I was blessed to be doing Prashanthi Seva .. My posting was at the Ladies VIP gate .. Being situated very close to Swami's residence, a lot of hurried activities had to be done, once the signal indicating swami’s arrival for Dharshan was given .. Once done, we would all settle by a small gate that led to his residence from where we can see Swami as he passed by and there was an unsaid understanding amongst us six people who worked there,by which we took turns to sit closest to the gate ..

But one day, there was so much confusion and hurry as we prepared for Swami’s arrival and in that state we just hurried through the last minute tasks and rushed to sit wherever we could, near the gate .. It so happened that I landed nearest to the gate and I had a wonderful dharshan .. A minute later, I realised where I was sitting and also that it wasn’t my turn .. It only so happened and no one seemed to mind for we all knew we had just about managed to settle down before Swami arrived .. But I felt terribly guilty that even though unknowingly, I had taken another person’s chance .. I profusely apologised to Swami in my heart .. By then Swami had completed his round of the gents side and was going towards the ramp near the interview room to go into the veranda .. We had also positioned ourselves to face him .. And then Swami stopped to talk to someone .. At that time , I mentally told Swami that I was very sorry and he should forgive me and did a namaskar to him in my mind .. That exact instant, Swami looked up from the person he was talking to, and looked straight at me .. I was stunned .. It was as if he was acknowledging what I said to him ..

A year later , he saved me from a situation that would have totally ripped my life apart if not for his timely intervention .. I was then reminded of something I had heard in a speech .. It was said ‘ Even if we clap our hands together to kill a mosquito, God is ready to take that as a namaskar and give us his blessing ’ .. I thought that, in that instant when I mentally did a namaskar to him asking his forgiveness for a small thing, he had forgiven me for a far more serious error committed by me in some birth and took it as an opportunity to save me from the clutches of my Karma .. So much of grace and protection for having simply given a thought for a fellow human ..

It is certainly ‘not in jest’ that he has said that if we take even a step towards him, he takes a hundred towards us ..

And brother, I hope you do not mind my comments being quite long many times .. It so happens that your posts stir so many thoughts and memories in my mind and I want to share them ..

sreeram on July 20, 2012:

When we pray for others, we become selfless. When we become selfless, we tap into the most powerful force in the Universe - Love or God. - AMEN!!

Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on July 20, 2012:

Thank you SaiSaraswuthi for the kind and appreciative words... :) Thank you for the loving prayers too....

@ Vardharajan - Indeed it is a wonderful experience...

Thank you Sudarshan, Sunitha, and Anonymous...

@ Paruvish - You are right. I too have tears many times as I write...

Anonymous on July 20, 2012:

A beautiful eye-opening article. Thank you. JSR :)

yoginijoy from Mid-Atlantic, USA on July 20, 2012:

What a great story! I enjoyed it a great deal. I have a hub that details the Tibetan Healing Meditation called Tonglen. This is a meditation whereby the practitioner absorbs negative energy for the benefit of another or as you say the entire universe. I would love for you to check out this hub of mine. May you be happy! May the universe be happy! May all sentient beings be joyful!

paruvish on July 20, 2012:

This truth about your life and your experience with Swami has got tears in my eyes. In fact i felt this was happening right before my eyes too.

Just reading this brings tears to my eyes ,wondering how it must be for you while writing them down.

Sai Ram

Sudarshan Srinivasan on July 20, 2012:

This is a wonderful experience!!! Thanks a ton!!!

sunitha on July 20, 2012:

lovely share brother...He always reacts to selfless love for others...really sooo sweet of u to think about a gift which swami blessed.....and just imagining how happy that boy was..lovely ..sooo sweet of swami

Vardharajan Av on July 20, 2012:

Sairam Arvind,

This experience is wonderful. Yes, I have also experienced the effect of praying for others! It is a thrill.

Continue writing such fabulous experiences, so that we can ruminate over these for our own benefit.

vsaisaraswuthi on July 20, 2012:

may Swamy shower lots of grace on you to continue the "selfless service".

v.saisaraswuthi on July 20, 2012:

"Forgiveness and silence are so powerful" true, and very difficult tasks.

i am still learning to not get angry and to forgive people ...they are huge things for me to accomplish.if at all i have that "conviction" i will progress in my spiritual sadhana.

how come you narrate every episode sooo woderfully?? you just grab the attention of the reader from start to end. I wait each day for ur hubs.They are like tonic.May Swamy shower lots of grace on you (then we are the ones benefitted ) to continue in your self service.Sairam brother.

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