Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara

Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Stories Less Told - Story of Ajamila

What’s in a Name

This is a story from the Bagavatham (6th kandam) where the Lord delivers a sinner from all sins just by the utterance of HIS name "unknowingly".

There was pious Brahman called Ajamila. He was a strict Brahmin who was performing his daily duties in a very disciplined way. He had many children and the name of the youngest son was Narayana. He had a special corner for the little one.

Once, when he was roaming in the forest, he happened to see a prostitute and some men around her. He was keen to know what her profession was.  Having known that she was a prostitute, he was drawn towards her. He left his house, his daily duties and was always with this lady. He forgot his family and his children. He gave up his anushtaanam and aacharam. The lord was completely out of his mind and sight. This went on for many years till he became old. 

When he was lying on his deathbed, he saw yama dhootas coming towards him carrying a rope to take his life. He was dead scared. However bold we may be when alive, the fear of death itself is enough to take our life. In the same way, Ajamila was terrified when he saw the messengers of Yama. He wanted some support and called out to his little son: “Narayana Narayana”. The child who was playing outside did not hear it and did not bother too. Whether the child bothered or not, the lord at vaikunta heard it and send his dhootas to protect his devotee. The Vishnu dhootas arrived at the spot and prevented the yama dhootas from taking Ajamila to yama loka. They argued that since he called out to Narayana in his last breath, he was bound to Vishnu loka. Yama dhootas could not convince the messengers of Vishnu, They went to Yama and asked him for advice. Yama advised that Ajamila be left to Vishnu’s abode.  Hence, Ajamila was carried to the home of the heaven. Also, Ajamila reented for his actions in the end and did sharanagati.  

Ajamila called out the Lord’s names and that was sufficient for HIM to protect. This means that even if HIS names are called out unknowingly, we will be protected. Such is the mercy of the lord. But can we think of the lord in our death bed. We may be in acute pain, or in coma, or have memory loss. There is no guarantee that we would be able to remember him. But,during our lifetime, if we make it a habit  to constantly chant HIS name, then by HIS grace alone, we can remember him at our deathbed. And whoever remembers him during those last moments will surely get moksham.

But, in today’s world, we are all so busy with our mundane work. We have many materialistic responsibilities. We don’t have priority to sit and pray. We are not able to ear mark even 10 minutes to the lord. We are all in a rat race. But he is MERCY personified. He gives us a wonderful  idea. We all know that Vishnu is extolled in Vishnu sahasranama, Shiva in the shiva sahasranama , goddess is praised in lalitha sahasranama, lakshmi ashtotharam, etc. There are innumerable names available. HE gives us an option to name our children with HIS/HER name. Even if we don’t have time for him, by calling out to our kids, we at least chant his name unknowingly. In this way, we will get punyam.

But we don’t want to take that option also. HE is ready to take us but we avoid him. We keep all kinds of fancy names, western names, names that have no meaning, names which are so abstract in their meaning and which are of no use. Even if our elders have given us such easy way to reach HIM, we don’t want to take that path. We are all indulged in so much of materialism that the society’s reactions is more important to us.

With this kind of running for money, name, fame, possessions, property etc, where would we have the mind to think of GOD at our last breath? It surely is not possible unless the LORD shows mercy on us. We don’t want to take even one step or even show inclination to what he advises. But we want to reach heaven in an easy way. I do all atrocities I want, live the life I want, but you have to give me what I need.  Zero input but 100% output. Does it sound logical?

And for those who have kept HIS names, cut short the name and call out by pet names. Narasimha become nacchu, mrutyunjaya becomes mrthyu. “Nacchu” in tamil means poison, mruthyunjaya means one who has conquered death but mrthyu means death. Isn’t it a wonder that we change the meaning of the name itself? So, when we have named our children with such beautiful names of the lord, let us call them fully and get the benefit of it.



  1. Nice story and as always enjoyed reading the articles.
    First, when I read the tilte "Stories of Ajamila" - sounded like some exotic strange, thought provoking beautiful damsel living alone in the forest.
    That picked my curiosity to read the article first thing in the morning.
    2 sentences into it - I realized it was guy's name ! ( humor apart , now back to the story )
    Although the story conveyed a good meaning of naming our children's names etc and how calling Narayana's name would help relieve from our own troubles etc - I somewhat disagree that calling Lord's name at the end will please HIM.,
    This is like telling Oscar Pistoris saying he is sorry, innocent and 'pardon me' and be charged with less degree of punishment.
    This is also like the killer telling the judge that he was overcome with emotions, in a rage, or thougtless act that made him do it so - be pardoned.
    I think anyone who commits a crime - they should be rewarded appropriately even though they call out the names of HIM at the end.
    But then it is just my opinion.

    Lastly - Nice stories and I love reading them all.
    Hope nothing I wrote was misunderstood.

  2. Shahsi, Dont think it is easy for us to do this act of chanting his name in the end. When we cannot spend a 10 mns time in our lives for HIM, do you think we can remember him in the end. Even out of repentence, we cant. Ajamila had done punyam that he remembered. In Tamil there is one saying: "5 la varaadadu 50 la varuma". Can a habit which is not developed at the age of 5, get into habit at 50? That's is why our elders stree to introduce children to spirituality and prayers at a young age so that their mind is trained as they grow.

    Suppose, we are waling ina road and a car suddenly screeches in front of us, would we ever say narayana or bhagavane..we would shout out "aahhh... or "amma"...not god's name. This is our state in full consciousness. Imagine the sate in our death bed