There is this very common saying- God helps those who help themselves (1). But I can’t help wonder a few hitches in this.
Well, in the famous dice-game follow-up in Mahabharata, where Draupadi is stripped off her clothes in public, seeing her husbands unable or unwilling to help her, the first thing that she does is try and resist herself. When absolutely powerless, D stops resisting and prays to Lord Krishna to protect her, which, he does. But I wasn't able to follow one point in this. D was first 'helping herself', in vain. Why didn’t K help her knowing that she was in trouble at that time? Why was he waiting for a prayer even though she was his great friend, almost a sister? Doesn’t this contradict (1)? Does the above incident mean that God helps only those who ask and pray for help (2)?
Another popular philosophical saying is 'Everything happens for the Good. (3)' but we find a lot of things in our daily life, that doesn’t really seem so to our 'naked' eyes. There are loads of bitter feelings and complaints in everybody's lives. So much so that one could ask-“For whose good?!?”
I have seen my mother pray everyday, pray with all her heart, pray with unwavered devotion. I somehow find it a little funny, when she usually says, "In case of any distress or pain, approach God. For anything that you think you deserve or wish dearly, approach God. Anything happy or anything sad, approach God! He always helps..." but I have never seen her blame him if she doesn’t get anything of what she asks God for; or even if the exact opposite of whatever she prays for happens. Then she says, “It was to have happened that way. Every thing that happens in our life is the fruit of our own paap n punya. (4)" Then I ask,” But what was the point of all our prayers?!? If it was to have happened that way all along, then why even ask God knowing that he is not going to go out of his way to help?!?" Now the (2) is contradicted too, and so is (3). Bcoz, if they are all based on paap/punya account, then all the things that happen to us obviously aren’t 'for the good'!
But again, this doesn't seem entirely right. During my PS-I in sankara nethralaya, I saw many patients with various eye-disouders. Amongst them was a 30-day infant, who was apparently born with congenital cataract in both its eyes. Now - in its short lifespan of about 10 months in its mother's womb, what possible paap could that child have done to deserve this? My grandmother says now "Most of the things in our lives depend not only on our own paap/punya (this life or our previous lives) but also on out ancestors'(5). " She also told me a number of real-life stories as proof for this. Now there you go!! This has contradicted (4) in many ways! We can’t expect things that we deserve for our own hard work or punya or even blame ourselves for our own fate!! Wow!!
Now I am totally confused (as usual :))!! Should I just give up a much-required task after a hard try and just pray to God for help? Am I even supposed to ask God for what I want and what I don’t want, for what I need badly and what I desire dearly?? Is it right to work hard towards some goal, and incase of a failure, blame the 'fate' or 'previous lives' or 'ancestors' or the God himself for having been deaf to my prayers???
Well... as I told you, I really don’t know. I am neither an Atheist nor critical about anything related to religions or its beliefs. I am just confused with no straight convincing answers. But I still pray God; not for anything in particular these days (not that I don’t need anything- coz I could write a 100-page wish-list even right now!). I just say those slokas I know, and pray though I feel that life is already sketched out and my prayers aren't going to change anything of my pre-planned life, or fetch me anything of what I need/want/deserve unless it was already meant to be there.But Yes, I still pray.