Prayer is the primary spiritual practice in the Western religious tradition embodied in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Westerners who come to Vedanta usually feel more comfortable with prayer than they do with meditation, because they’re more familiar with it. But prayer, japa, and meditation can be practiced together. One tends to segue into another.
Coming into the presence of Holy Mother, even for a second, for a moment was enough. You touch her feet and that is enough. This has been experienced by hundreds and thousands of people. And what happened? Their lives were completely transformed. If one is prepared, if one is ready, then the reaction to that transmission comes immediately. Otherwise, it has a delayed reaction. This is a truth, a fact, that whoever came and had her blessing; their lives were completely transformed. I have seen the sinner become a saint.
The life of Holy Mother has been written beautifully by many authors, and so I will not recount her life story. First, I will give you my own experiences that I had with her. I had the blessed fortune to meet her many times in my life. I shall also relate to you what I have heard directly from the disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, and you will find how they looked upon her; as well as some stories I have heard from her attendant [Rashbehari, later Swami Arupananda], a brother disciple of mine.
There is hardly anyone who has not prayed at some time or other in his life. When a baby feels hungry or discomfort it cries. To its mother at least, it is an unarticulated prayer, and she runs to it and attends to its needs. In a way, every wish may be regarded as an unuttered prayer. In this sense even an atheist or a materialist prays; only in his case he prays to himself.
The name Bhairavi means “frightful,” “terrible,” “horrible,” or “formidable.” The basic idea here is fear. Ordinarily we associate fear with darkness. It is not uncommon to be afraid of the dark, or rather of the dangers that lurk there unseen, but that is not the sort of fear that Bhairavi provokes, for she is said to shine with the effulgence of ten thousand rising suns.