Every human being strives to achieve fulfilment and completion. This hunger can only be satiated when he realizes his True Self, which is the goal of human life. Among all the different paths, devotional service to the Supreme is considered the highest service to God. Persistent hard work is almost always accompanied by prayer offerings to God. This prayer is nothing but a song of His ‘Praises’, ‘Stotra,’ ‘Poems.’ Through these songs, the composer/singer describes God’s various attributes. Everyone loves ‘Praise’. It is extraordinary that although God is Supreme, desireless, formless, out of His love for His devotee, He takes on a form and expresses His fondness for ‘Praise.’
Vedas are God’s breaths. The message of the Vedas was deciphered by the rishis to reveal their true essence and message to mankind. They composed ‘poems/stotras’ to praise mother nature. Through these compositions they made efforts to spread environmental awareness and humanitarian values among people, for example, taking the time to understand the people around us, living in harmony and developing a sense of togetherness. In due course, the great saints, recognizing the busy lifestyles in current times, composed ‘stotras’ to praise the various deities because it is the simplest form of worship. Maharshi Vyasa advised us that ‘Praise’ coming from a sincere heart pleases God and He blesses us.
It is man’s natural tendency to praise those more affluent than him in hopes that he receives monetary assistance. If this mind-set is directed towards praising God, he will acquire everlasting peace. This is clear from the following story. A rich man visited a nearby temple every day. As he climbed up the stairs, he would hear two blindmen praying. One, sitting at the bottom of the stairs, would say, “God will help me,” while the other at the top of the stairs was praying, “The rich man will help me.” The rich man thinks to himself, “I have the power to make someone happy. I am going to reward this man for praying to me.” One day, the rich man prepared a bowl of dessert, hid a diamond ring in it, and ordered his servant to hand the bowl over to the blindman sitting at the top of the temple stairs. The next day, as usual, the rich man went to the temple. He notices that the blindman at the bottom of the stairs isn’t there. He is stunned and taken aback when the one on the top of the stairs is still there and as usual, is chanting his regular prayer. He asks, “Did you have the dessert?” The blindman replies, “Yes, it was delicious. However, I couldn’t finish it, so I gave the rest to that man sitting at the bottom of the stairs.” The rich man realizes his fault. Teary-eyed, very humbly he prostrates in front of God and says, “Dear God, please forgive me. Truly you are Supreme, one without a second.”
Sant Tukaram Maharaj elucidates the importance of ‘Praise’ in one of his abhangas “My songs may be rhythmless and out of tune. Even then I am yours. Please come and uplift me as you promised.”