What is Nama?
“Nama” means Name. The word name has evolved from the Sanskrit word “Nama”. Nama or name refers to the name of a person, place or thing. Without a name, unique identification of entities in the world is not possible and without identification communication is not possible and without communication nothing is possible in this world. The whole world will come to stand still. So is the importance of the Name.
When you call a person by his name, immediately he responds by some means. When human beings respond to a call by his/her name, what will happen when you call God by his name? God the loving mother of all creatures (Movable or immovable) will definitely respond to your call. In fact He is waiting for your call… But we never call Him.
How do we make our call reach him?
The nirguna bhramam being nameless and formless in nature, worshipping or loving the nirguna bhramam is not possible. We humans, beings the highest creation of God cannot do it, no need to mention about other creatures. So, the nirguna bhramam due to its endless love and mercy entered into a stage where in it have numerous forms with numerous names. At this level it is called as Saguna bhramam or Bhagwan. Bhagwan can be loved and worshipped. Bhagwan has numerous names, he can be called upon by any names and he can be worshipped in any forms.
Among his numerous forms and names, you can choose the name you like. (Example: Rama, Krishna, Siva, Jesus, Allah, Sairam, Narayana, Govinda, Hari, Vittal, Vasudeva, Radhe, Shyam). The numerous names of God are referred as “Bhagwan Nama” which means Name of Bhagwan. Now that you have chosen the name you like, you can start chanting (Continuously/repeatedly telling the name). This is called ‘Nama Sankeerthanam’ (chanting of Bhagwan Nama) and this is the very dharma prescribed exclusively for this Kali Yuga. This is the Yuga dharma.
Kali Yuga and Nama
Why is Nama Sankeerthanam meant as Kali Yuga Dharma?
When Dharma staggers on one leg and retegeted to a corner… When all unrighteous actions gain the upper hand… When men and women abandon all prescribed commandments and rules…
An easy path, the path that is simple and effortless and suited for all human beings in Kali Yuga comes to rescue and deliverance of one and all. It is the recital of Bhagwan Nama. Understanding the helpless state of human being, Bhagwan enforced that in Kali Yuga, Nama Sankeerthanam is the only way to salvation.
It is said in Vishnu purana…
Kali Yuga the Golden Age
Once some of the sages wanted a clarification on whether a simple and easy form of Dharma is capable of bestowing the larger fruits. They came to the great maharishi Vyasa. Vyasa was busy with his ablutions in river Ganges. Knowing about the sages’ issue, Vyasa plunged thrice in the water uttering the following words,
“Kali Yuga is Good”. “Sudraas are Good”. “Women are Good” After Vyasa came out of the river, the sages asked for an explanation, Vyasa replied “What can be yearned in 10 years in Krita Yuga can be accomplished in 1 year during Thretha Yuga, what can be accomplished in 1 year during Thretha Yuga can be had in one month during Dwapara Yuga, whatever can be done in 1 month can be had in 1 day during Kali Yuga.” That is why Kali Yuga is good.
The great merits (Punyas) earned in Krita Yuga by Dhyana or meditation; in Thretha Yuga by Sacrifices or homas; in Dwapara Yuga by worship can be easily acquired in Kali Yuga by “Bhagwan Nama Sankeerthanam”. Kali is extolled as good because during that period a little effort pays rich dividends. So Vyasa was happy to pronounce it. Then Vyasa clarified the pronouncement that women and Sudraas are also good. A little effort (by chanting the bhagawan nama) on the part of these people has redeemed them from sins and their actions have become fruitful. All the three are blessed.
It is almost impossible to acquire great merits (punya) in the earlier Yugas but in Kali Yuga in spite of its evil tendencies, there is one great attribute, a redeeming factor, man can attain liberation from bondage through Bhagwan Nama Sankeerthanam.
What is Nama Sankeerthanam?
Chanting of the bhagawan nama also called as Bhajan can be classified as follows,
This can be further classified as,
Both the forms of Nama Keerthanam have the same power and efficacy, though the purpose may be different.Nama Smaranam – Recollecting the bhagawan nama
All the above forms of Nama Sankeerthanam whether performed consciously or unconsciously, both of the above are due to the great merits. Whoever utters the bhagawan nama, his crores and crores of sins, accumulated over various births will be destroyed. The fire when touched consciously or unconsciously, will definitely burn your fingers, likewise a bhagawan nama uttered consciously or unconsciously will lead to liberation. In the story of Ajamila from Srimad Bhagavatham, Ajamila utters the name of Narayana casually (referring to his son and not the Almighty), still his innumerable sins are destroyed and he attained liberation.
It is to be noted that Nama Keerthana is possible only for those who have acquired great merits in the previous birth and by uttering the bhagawan nama, one also gather great merits.
Greatness of Nama Keerthanam
Bhagwan Nama Keerthanam is the fruit of great merits (Punyas) absolutely great merit. The greatness of Bhagwan Nama cannot be explained by mere words. However with the grace of Bhagwan Nama and Gurunadhaal an attempt has been made.
Srimad Bhagavatham says that, ‘the aggregate of all the virtues accumulated in millions and millions of births induce one to utter the name of the Divine’.
Vishnu dharma says that,
The fruit of all the above deeds is consciously or unconsciously getting into Bhagwan Nama Keerthanam.
Srimad Bhagavatham says that, Karma (duties) need to be performed until one realizes the greatness or takes interest in “Bhagawada” Dharma (having the bhagawan nama always in lips) and hearing to the stories of the lord.
There are two ways to reach God. One is the rocky and the other is smooth. Yoga will take you to God. Rituals will reveal HIM to you. But this is not an easy path for everyone. The common man reaches God through devotion. Any one may tread this path, man, woman, the worthy or unworthy.
“To take God’s name is an easy way. It burns up the sins of all your birth. There is no need to seek the Lord in the forests, if you have his name in your lips. He comes willingly to you. That is what ‘Bhagawada Dharma’ teaches.
Doing punya karma’s like performing penance, learning Vedas, doing great rituals, gifting, getting dipped in holy water, performing one’s prescribed duties without fail, for thousand and thousands of birth is mere tool to get into Nama Keerthanam. They are just tools, not the ultimate fruit.
Unless a rigorous penance is done in the midst of roaring fire (for unlimited kalpas), one is not destined to hear Bhagwan name at the time of death. The word kalpa stands for countless number of years. Unlimited Kalpam means Bhrama Kalpam. (<Know more about Kalpa (link) >)
This does not undermine the efficacy of this penance, but it is only meant to exalt the greatness of Nama Keerthanam. It is said in ‘Poorva Mimansa’ that the punya acquired in three Bhrama Kalpam produces the love for Nama Keerthanam. If one utterance of the bhagawan nama can help one conquer the disease of birth and death what more need to say of devotees who utter the bhagawan nama with love forever. Thus the lord’s Name once uttered dispels all hurdles against Nama Keerthanam, nullifies all sins and guides the devotee to deliverance.
Karma yoga is prescribed for those who do not set interest in Nama Keerthanam and its greatness. So one has to perform dedicated Karma Yoga for 3 Bhramma kalpa to get interest in Nama Keerthanam.
Nama Keerthanam is called Saguna Bhrama Bhajanam. This makes one as a potential candidate for Nirguna Bhrama Nishta which is the tool for attaining gnana. So Nama Keerthanam is for attaining gnana
There is no other way but to chant His name. It strengthens your faith, purifies your soul. The mind is a wanderer, only God’s name can give it a direction. Sincere love leads to concentrated devotion; continual chanting of God’s name fills our soul with concentrated devotion through this one can attain God.
“God’s name on lips, salvation in hand” that is the experience of many. Meditation brings one untold gain; the chanting of God’s name.
Hurdle to Nama Bhajan:
Utterance of Nama once may not give the fruit (destroying one’s sins) if and only if he/she has committed one of the following transgressions (Aparadha),
The Greatness of the bhagawan nama “RAMA”
The main deity of Hindus is considered to be Narayana and Shiva. Every deity has its own moola mantra for worship. The moola mantra for Narayana and Shiva are as follows:
In the Narayana moola mantra, the life of the mantra lies in the letters “ra” (i.e. Om Namo Narayana). If the letters “ra” is removed the moola mantra becomes inauspicious.
In the Shiva moola mantra, the life of this mantra lies in the letter “ma” (i.e. Om Nama Shivaya).
If the letters “ma” is removed the moola mantra becomes inauspicious.
Discovering this divine secrets, our great Rishiscombined these life packed letters of the two moola mantras and formed the bhagawan nama “Rama” i.e. Ra+Ma =Rama
This name Rama neither associates with Shiva nor with Narayana, but to the Nirguna Parabhrama, the formless supreme. Hence this is a universal name. It belongs to saivites and vaishanavites
The great Rishi “Vashista” was doing this Rama Nama japa, when he was requested by “Dhasaratha” the king of Ayodha, to name his first son. Vashista named him as “Rama”, the great bhagawan nama on which Vashista was doing Japa.
Many people think the origin of the name Rama was after the Rama avatar, but this name existed even before Lord Rama. It is absolutely fine to associate this name with Lord Rama. Lord Rama lived up to the name. For Krishna devotees this name sounds as Radha Madahavam. So this name is for everyone in the universe. (Living / non-living, moving / non-moving). Remember the name of Lord Rama with love. God can be realized only through love and by no other means.
Triple Power of the Name ‘Rama’
What are the inner meanings of the name Rama? The three syllables ‘R’, ‘A’ and ‘Ma’ indicate the three causes for human birth, namely Papa (the sins one has committed), Thapam (the troubles one experiences) and Ajnanam (one’s ignorance). “Ra” represents the root letter for Agni (fire).”A a” represents the letter for the moon. “Ma” represents the root letter for the sun. What does Agni signify? It destroys everything and reduces it to ashes. The letter “R” has the power to destroy all the sins committed by man. The letter “Aa” (symbolizing the moon) has the powers of cooling the fevers man suffers from and conferring peace on him. “Ma” represents the sun who dispels the darkness of ignorance and confers illumination of wisdom. Hence, the word Rama has the right triple power of destroying sins, conferring peace and dispelling ignorance.
We must learn to chant the sweet name of Rama with a pure, unsullied heart, in a spirit of selfless devotion. In the mind of man dwell the deities representing the moon and the sun…
Wholehearted chanting of Rama Nama once can destroy mountains of sins. A single match stick when it is struck can dispel the darkness in a room that has remained closed for years. Mountains of cotton can be burnt down by a single spark.