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.