You've heard about our seen those people who vow, "Oh God, if you grant me my prayer, I'll cut off my hair for you; I'll give some money to the temple; I'll feed 100 beggars; I'll......" Do the Gods expect us to make this kind of deal? Gurudeva says, "No." But a gift of gratitude from the heart is traditional.
A question from South India, just came in through email, asking, "Do we have to bribe God to answer our prayers by offering our hair, or some precious gift? Can't He just answer our prayers because He loves us?"
A lot of traditions get distorted, a little out of hand, misunderstood. I can understand this question very well. But, the answer is - it is dakshina. If the prayer is answered, then you give something to the temple. That is traditional.
Supreme God, the Gods and the devas are always there to help. They never fail. They don't want anything. They don't need anything. But, if They are successful in answering the prayer, it benefits the individual devotee to open his heart and give something.
Here, at the Kadavul Hindu temple on the garden island of Kauai, we don't have a charge for archana or for homa. Devotees can come and worship and everything that is available, is for free. However, it benefits the devotees, if they are benefited to give back to keep the temple going. That has to do with the spirit of giving, and opening the heart.
So, in making a prayer, you don't have to tell the God what you are going to give. Let it be a surprise. Let God prove Himself and answer the prayer and if He does, then give a surprise gift. But, it should be within your means. It should be from your abundance and not be a strain on yourself or the family.