HOW TO RECITE RAMANAMA
By Mahathma Gandhi
Gandhiji, in his discourse, explained the conditions under which alone Ramanama could become an effective remedy. The first condition was that it should come from the heart. What did that mean? People did not mind going to the ends of the earth to find a cure for the physical ailments which were much less important than the mental or spiritual. "Man's, physical being is after all perishable. It cannot, by its very nature, last for ever.
And yet men make a fetish of it while neglecting the immortal spirit within." A man who believed in Ramanama would not make a fetish of the body, but would regard it only as a means of serving God. And for making it into a fit instrument for that purpose, Ramanama was the sovereign means. To install Ramanama in the heart required infinite patience. It might even take ages. But the effort was worthwhile. Even so, success depended solely on the grace of God.
Ramanama could not come from the heart unless one had cultivated the virtues of truth, honesty and purity within and without. Everyday at the evening prayers, they repeated the shlokas describing the man with a steadfast intellect. Everyone of them, said Gandhiji, could become a sthitapragnya - man with steadfast intellect - if he kept his senses under discipline, ate and drank and allowed himself enjoyment and recreation only to sustain life for service. If one had no control over one's thoughts, if one did not mind, for instance, sleeping in a hole of a room with all doors and windows shut, and breathing foul air or drinking dirty water, his recitation of Ramanama was in vain.
That, however, did not mean that one should give up reciting Ramanama on the ground that one had not the requisite purity. For, recitation of Ramanama was also a means for acquiring purity. "In the case of a man who repeats Ramanama from the heart, discipline and self-control will come easy. Observance of the rules of health and hygiene will become his second nature. His life will run an even course. He will never want to hurt any one. To suffer in order to relieve other's suffering will become a part of his being and fill him with an ineffable and perennial joy." Let them, therefore, said Gandhiji, persevere and ceaselessly repeat Ramanama during all their waking hours. Ultimately, it would remain with them even during their sleep and God's grace would then fill them with perfect health of body, mind and spirit.