Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hindu handbook of excuses

Suggestion: If you find the article long, please study portions of it at a time. I have tried to present a snapshot of the prominent excuses in one place and hence could not convince myself to break this into parts.
            The march of time relentlessly brings upon changes. Some changes are good, whilst others are not so. The everchanging time has altered the wholesomeness behind the Hindu thought. Often quoted for its charitable and venerable idea “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu”, today even many Hindus wrongly disparage Hinduism as an oppressive idea, as we believe more in subaltern studies by motivated scholars than the Rishis. Rajiv Malhotra calls it a colonized mindset.

            The picture of Hinduism in each person’s mind is as diverse as the people themselves. We explored the different faces of the modern Hindu.  But now we will analyze how the different Hindus hide behind excuses when it comes to taking personal responsibility. Thus analyzing we may perhaps be able to arrive at some solutions to counter this grim prognosis. They will be in no particular order and this is definitely not as exhaustive as the list appears. I hope this should trigger a conversation and serious debate within the Hindu community and more importantly within every reader as to how we can overcome excusitis and be more dharmabadha – bound by dharma.

            Most Hindus are neither aware of the basic ideas or scriptures that support such a stance. There seems to be a sense of pride for such an ignorance claiming that Hinduism does not demand any specific understanding. But this ignorance is at the epicenter of the knowledge erosion, digestion, loss of ecosystem, conversion and in short loss of the values Sanatana Dharma represents.

            It appears most of our lack of interest in understanding stems from our ignorance and tamas, though we decorate it with a plethora of reasoning. The solution to overcome it is also very simple, take personal responsibility. We will take time to study each of the excuses. These and other excuses are given why we Hindus are the way we are and why we have a lackadaisical, apathetic attitude that is the epitome of hypocrisy when we see our behavior from our scriptures point of view. 

Ignorance / Lack of Knowledge: Do we even have a responsibility towards Sanatana Dharma? Isn’t Hinduism just a way of life? Will the same person not agree even Hitler and the street mongrel also have a way of life? Are there not enough Gurus doing their job and what can a simple person who has no shastra jnana like me do? The best is to leave it to the great pundits, sages and saints

            Besides Hinduism is so vast, has so much variance in not just the interpretation of any given book, but also has a huge corpus of material which will take many life times to even catalog. Have you not heard there are more than 300 Ramayanas? (Never mind the fact that I didn’t even crack open Valmiki Ramayana, the source of all)

Dharmic Prescription: If I jump from a skyscraper, will the ignorance of the laws of gravity save me? If Ratnakar, a hunter can become a Valmiki; a royal prince Siddhartha can morph into Buddha, what is this excuse even worth? Shouldn’t our lack of knowledge or the fact that we are ignorant be a motivating factor. Even if we are raised on the pseudo liberal and subaltern studies like many are, we do have many influential dynamic intellectuals who are raising the awareness. All we need is an open mind. Lots of free resources are available thanks to internet, Google and the willingness of many to share.

Too technical, do not know Sanskrit: They say even the great Rishis do not know the complete knowledge. Plus we have so many schools of thought (darshanas). Within each type there are too many variations like bhakti, karma, jnana etc. Within even one system like Vedanta, we have so many flavors like Advaita, Dvaita, Visishtadvaita. Just one book Bhagavad Gita, has so many different commentaries and interpretations.

            Also to complicate, we have Sanskrit which not only has same word like dharma or karma with numerous meanings. Add to these the esoteric meanings which differ so much from the literal interpretations.

Dharmic Prescription: The fact that there are concepts and ideas that are way beyond our current intellectual capacity that existed in the past should be enough to pique our interest. Forget the pseudo science that gets floated by the extremes like the existence of vimanas or nuclear weapons.  Shouldn’t the fact that there is a wholesome richness in our past, especially handed through literary documentation of scriptures be a great starting point for a hungry intellect? 

            If Sheldon Pollock can overcome his western roots to learn Sanskrit, to say I don’t know Sanskrit is a very cheap baseless excuse any Indian can give. All Indian languages are heavily influenced by Sanskrit, if not originated from it. Even the so called Dravidian languages have a large percentage of vocabulary and grammar akin to it. When an IT professional can learn entirely new software for mere survival, why not learn Sanskrit or read the scriptures with good commentaries? How many of us are forced by the economy to change careers? This is our dharma to protect our heritage. If we already agree it was a great rich one, how can we be the link that breaks our legacy instead of handing it over to posterity?

            With increasing choices like Sanskrit Bharati, the excuse falls flat. On the excuse that it is too technical, the solution is simple. Begin where you are. Start with small steps. Our vasana baggage will not be hindrance as we are willing to work on our attitude. It will guide us to proper translations that appeal to our mental makeup. I am extremely proud of my friend in Australia, who turned himself around just by taking baby steps. From extreme agnostic or atheistic materialistic outlook to sincerely doing Japa along with his family in few short months is nothing short of his sincere efforts and the blessings of Krishna he prays to.

Tamas (Laziness) / lack of time / Too busy with daily lives: We feel very proud to give this excuse that we are too busy. Sometimes we give it as a privilege we have earned to be lazy. Either case it is a mere expression of Tamas. We are mostly tied up with our daily lives, many times struggling with our existence, making our desires a reality. It is definitely true that our hectic lives are becoming busier as easy year passes. This is despite all the modern gadgets we have for our convenience.

Dharmic Prescription: The antidote for all these stems from taking time to understand the value of Sanatana Dharma and how it has extremely benefited humanity. Take time to see the solutions offered to the mess of modern life, where we are running around like headless automatons with no sense of direction

            Once we value the small practical things we can benefit from our past, then we can kick it up a notch. For instance, yoga can be a good starting point. Once we understand how it helps combat our stress, we can turn our gaze deeper.  Many of my friends have started practicing Ekadasi fasting, they not only have realized some health benefits, but it has opened their minds to receive more wisdom from our sages. Begin where you are and plod ahead.

Mayavada (Everything is an illusion): Indian thought process is largely influenced by Adi Shankara and his Advaita philosophy. Even the majority of the influential Gurus found today have serious influences from his school of thought. This has lead to spurious interpretations of his ideas. Add to this confusion, Buddhism, New Age and twisted mythmaking sepoys who all pile up on this misery. The average Hindu gets these snippets of misinterpreted misquoted ideas. Already suffering from extreme disinterest in scriptures and laziness, Mayavada provides the perfect escape to the masses.

            This horror reaches its climax when a large number of monks, disciples of great ashrams start using this excuse for not discharging their responsibilities to educate the masses on their responsibilities. When requested to rebut characters like Sheldon Pollock, Wendy Doniger, Devdutt Pattnaik’s malevolent words or actions, even great ashrams with legacy of past Hindu luminaries like Swami Vivekananda or Swami Sivananda, turn to this great pretense. 

Dharmic Prescription: First of all these great swamijis are making the biggest flaw. (Read more on Why many Gurus are wrong?)  Dharmo rakshati rakshitah, says our scriptures. If they truly even follow the scriptures they prescribe, the solution is right there. It is our responsibility. Secondly, the same gurus do not give up eating, nor do they give up medication if sick. We have seen how Ramana Maharishi did not even take anesthesia for his surgery as he was above body consciousness, as also Bhagwan Ramakrishna who did not complain about his throat cancer. But we do not see such a behavior from these modern swamijis. Many even have wonderful ashrams which are involved in various activities. Are they not also Maya? Then why do them.

            To the common man invoking this argument - There is a clear distinction between Vyavaharika (common daily life) and Paramarthika (related to Paramathma or Brahman). For most daily lives Newtonian physics is more than adequate, but for special situations dealing with cosmic or subatomic scales, we need Einstenian or modern physics. In a similar way we mix up these two levels of understanding.

            Despite this mix up, be it by the spiritually advanced or the ones following, we cannot use this lousy excuse. Just because we understand that we are all different forms of energy, can we stop eating and just jump into fire when hungry? Fire is also an energy form. Or touch a live wire to recharge our body’s sagging energy?

            There is a great responsibility for every swamiji or person who has benefited from this great legacy and civilization. Is there not a sense of gratitude just because one has managed to go to a level where one can insulate from the oddities in the society? Have they not come from the same origins? Is there no compassion?

Selfishness; why should I get involved?; Ego : I am already busy with my daily existence. Who has time to study scriptures or try following it? The pressures of modern life are already stressful, why add to this misery. 

            My parents gave me a good upbringing and I will give my kids a good one too. I think that is the best I can do. I limit myself to my family. Gone are the times when society used to live as one. Today it is a dog eat dog world. 

            A variance to the selfishness is Ego. Why should I follow some other pattern? I can do whatever I want.

Dharmic Prescription: The selfish person is forgetting one massive contribution. We are today standing on the shoulders of the giants of the past. Even if we limit our vision to the mundane existence, we find the fabric of our lives is intricately interwoven with others. The human mind has to step beyond the I-Me-Myself circle of limitations.

            This is perhaps the reverse of the precepts of Hinduism and the examples of great mahatmas. Ramanujacharya made 18 trips to his Guru Thirukoshtiyur Nambi to learn the meaning of “Om Namo Narayana” and the explicit instruction that he cannot reveal it to anyone without scruple. Within minutes, Ramanuja climbed the temple tower to announce to the masses that others can access this knowledge, even if he may be punished.

            A sense of reverence is bound to happen when we look at the ephemeral existence of what we call as life and the beauty of how dependant we are on each other, even if we build and bury ourselves in an imaginary silo.

            On the egotistic stance, only one thing can be told. So far such individuals have made no actual independent contributions. Did they come with their own Vedas or Upanishads or even a mundane invention? This class of individuals will continue to exist at all times and only they can help themselves.

Kali yuga / Waiting for some great Mahatma to come and fix it: It is told that in Kali Yuga this is the way of the masses. So I am following the trend.

            Even worse is the excuse, I think Kalki avatar is due. Hasn’t Krishna told in Bhagavad Gita that HE will come to reestablish Dharma? So when HE comes things will happen. Maybe it is high time that some great Mahatma like Swami Vivekananda will come and fix our society. That will make it easy to follow.

            Another common variation of this excuse is, even Bhagwan cannot make lasting changes, what can I the lesser mortal do?

Dharmic Prescription: Why will Krishna or Kalki come to our rescue? Are we even worth rescuing, as we do not even follow the most minimal basics? Secondly even if we sanctimoniously assume ourselves as great beings, just like Draupadi’s vastraharana episode, she did everything in her disposal before surrendering to Krishna’s refuge. Are we even doing a millionth of what we should be doing?
            Will the same person use the same excuse for their material pursuits or things that matter to them the most? So they stand exposed.

Hinduism has only outdated ideas / Caste centric / Nothing modern: Such believers brand Hinduism as limited, casteist in outlook. They believe it is out of tune with the modern times. Why follow ancient customs which we cannot explain? What is the point of puja or yoga or dhyana and it is not even mandated in our scriptures?

Dharmic Prescription: This perhaps is the most puerile reductionistic excuse. To confine Hinduism to a very narrow prism of the western indologist or a heartless sold out sepoy and claim it to be only related to ideas like caste is very unjust. This means the person has definitely lost their reasoning or their intention to be open.

            Many of the fault lines in our society have been engineered and deepened by our colonial masters. Till Lord Risley introduced a Caste Census including registering gothra compulsorily in the late 19th century, such fault lines were not as deep as it appears today. Today’s politicians instead of uniting the rashtra are busy deepening these fissures and converting them as vote banks.

            If one claims to be very modern and scholarly, have the honesty to dig deeper than the fa├žade you are dealing, the common doctored narratives with a spin. This may challenge the very foundation of all what you believe, but have the audacity and integrity to question even the claims you are making.

Ask simple questions like if inter varna marriage didn’t exist, how come genetics is telling a different story? If Varna has always been like it is understood today, how come we get an entirely different picture while reading scriptures? If Varna is as you claim, how come Dr APJ Kalam shares a different story in his autobiography?

Cultural Hindu: This is very fashionable in Tamil Nadu, where the influence of the broken British idea of Aryan-Dravidian divide is at its nadir. The argument is to reduce Sanatana Dharma to a set of secular atheistic ideas.

Dharmic Prescription: This again is a matter of ignorance, where people do not understand Sanatana Dharma as an open framework, a coin termed by Shri Rajiv Malhotra. The open architecture nature of Hinduism allows mapping of different belief systems be it a village deity model (For the arguing ignorant, many mantras invoke grama devata. Please ask any priest to do a simple puja and most will involve invoking grama devata, ishta devata etc) or the highly classified Vedantic ideas. It allows for a Brahman with a form or without. It even allows the acceptance of the intolerant monotheistic models which claim only their idea is correct. That is how Jews lived in India and also the Zorastrians when they were persecuted elsewhere.

            How does culture alone exist without a foundation and framework of theology and philosophy? This excuse is very lame as such an approach is for splitting hair.

I am spiritual, not ritual: This is the other extreme of the above. They are an extension of not Mayavada alone. They like to be left to their own silos.

Dharmic Prescription: Few such individuals do exist. We have seen many mahatmas like Ramana Maharishi who lived in seclusion out of their extreme inner evolution. The ones aping such an approach usually fall flat as they continue to involve with the society in all other aspects. When it comes to protecting or defending Sanatana Dharma, they tuck their tail. Please be true to whatever scriptures you read. It is not our responsibility to reform others, but it is our duty to contribute our strengths to the society. We may be blessed in one area of life and it becomes our mission to share it with others.

Too young or old / no pedigree / no support: There are many I encounter who claim their age or lack of family interests or absence of support around as a reason why they cannot aspire to live a Hindu way of living. This does not mean we start going back a few centuries and live simpler lives.

Dharmic Prescription: This excuse only reveals the lack of real interest in the person. In today’s world we have so many resources available in our finger tips.

Will I alone following Hinduism make a difference: This is interesting escapism.

Dharmic Prescription: This is a very westernized way of thinking. In Abrahamism which believes in numbers and conversion, such a practice is mass oriented. In Hinduism it is always the individual that is at the center. Only I can make a difference for myself. I cannot shirk my responsibility and expect all the benefits. Also one person does make a difference. One Swami Vivekananda went to West and shook its roots. One half naked fakir, Gandhi moved the masses against the mighty British empire.

            Every person has the same divinity is the central message of Sanatana Dharma. So why can’t that single individual flame begin a huge conflagration? Look within, but also play an active role outside.

Artha and Kama I can understand, but why we need dharma and moksha: Another classic western limitation is viewing life only through the prism of material and emotional needs.

Dharmic Prescription: In Sanatana Dharma we have identified that there are two other levels besides materialistic and emotional/mental needs. There are clear responsibilities to be performed in society/relationships and also transcending all the three. This needs more subtler and deeper study within to understand.

This Kurukshetra is very big and scary / The values expected have very high standards: The standards expected are Satyam, Ahimsa, Brahmacharya, compassion, love, acceptance and service to all. The list keeps growing with every book I read or Guru I listen. Working on multiple goals of Dharma-Artha-Kama-Moksha seems daunting. Can’t it be easy like believe my God of other religions and you are assured heaven?

            Also look at the battlegrounds – internal and external. If the internal kurukshetra is towering and unscalable, then the external looks infested with too many dangerous players. Why not take the easy path of just focusing on my limited mundane life? Why go defend Hinduism from such characters?

Dharmic Prescription: Exactly the point. To take on these external forces it is impossible unless one achieves a higher degree of inner perfection. So while we are constantly working on ourselves, we must fulfill our responsibilities of protecting this ecosystem.

In short what can I do:

  • Start reading some scriptures on a periodic basis. If you are inclined to Bhakti, begin with itihasas and puranas. If you are more Jnana oriented begin with Bhagavad Gita and some simpler Upanishads.

  • Satsanga is very crucial for all Hindus. Depending on your vasana baggage, make a choice of association that is conducive to your spiritual growth.

  • Apply whatever little that we have learnt in real life.

  • Focus more on Seva - nishkamya seva.

  • Share what knowledge you have gained to others. It can be your family, friends or even larger community. Only by sharing, learning goes to the next level.

  • Do not lower your standards to fit an easy lifestyle.

  •  Do not cow down to intellectual bullies who are not grounded in dharma. If you are rooted in dharma, it will give you the strength to challenge them. If you do not defend dharma, the fall is imminent.

Om Tat Sat

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Ajamila - Hope for even the worst sinner

            An entire wave of conversion nonsense happening in India is due to the Christian proselytization juggernaut. They rely on the weakest emotion of all humans – GUILT. We all do actions for which we regret at some point in time, in another words - SIN. Christianity relies entirely on the concept of our guilt and sin, as its foundations are deep into the idea of PRIMAL SIN of Adam and Eve. We have thoroughly dealt the idea of “Are you a sinner” and “Jehovism Deconstructed” – a detailed Purvapaksha of the holes in the Christian theology. Despite these thorough studies, it is much simpler and easier to get this entire concept from Bhagavatam.

            How do we wash our sins? Is there hope or do we have to succumb to the braindead arguments of the Christian machinery? What does Sanatana Dharma talk as a solution to the worst of the worst sinner who has not even spent even little time in sadvichara – thinking noble thoughts. Is it eternal roasting in hell like the confused Abrahamics concept or an eternal see-saw of janmas due to our karmas? How can I get out of this samsaric cycle? How can I burn all my past bad karmas and still progress towards Paramathma? There are many amongst us who carry their baggage of guilt from the past, reliving the memories as if to wish them away or projecting its impact in future. To these and several other questions, we will dive into the Ocean of Bhagavatam and fish out the pearl of Ajamila’s story in the first three chapters of sixth Skanda.

            In the city of Kankyakubja, lived a pious brahmana, Ajamila. Extremely devoted to living based on the scriptures, married to a young woman of great lineage. One day he went to the forest to gather flowers, fruits and other sacrificial materials like firewood and kusa grass. He saw a prostitute in a very amorous condition with her drunken paramour. Smitten by lust, he lost all his memories of his glorious past and makes the prostitute his own and abandons his wife. In time he has ten children with her and to support his family, he resorts to heinous crimes like robbery, cheating, gambling, stealing and cruelty to others. In short he became the epitome of how one must not live. He continued his lifestyle even when he was eighty eight. He was extremely attached to his youngest child, Narayana and was lost in its pranks.

            As his time of death arrived, it brought three Yama kinkaras who had menacing mien and ropes in hand. The old Ajamila struck with fear cried out “Narayana”, thinking of his young child. But invoking the name of Sri Hari brought four Vishnu dhootas (emissaries), who challenged the Yama dhootas. The kinkaras wondered who these beings were and looked like Mahavishnu. The Vishnu dhootas challenged the kinkaras on the essence of Dharma to which they gave an elaborate response.

            Dharma is what is ordained in the Vedas. What is prohibited and not in accordance to Veda is Adharma. Vedas originated from Narayana who creates the Universe out of the three Gunas – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Man cannot abstain from work (even doing no work is a form of work, indolence). Man’s actions are witnessed by the five bhootas, sun, moon, the senses, eight quarters, day, night, time and Dharma. Evil actions are meted with punishment. But every action is an admixture of good and evil, hence the fruits of action. The karmic drama can reveal that the Jiva had done dharma and adharma in its past janmas and also will have future births.

            Yama, through his wisdom can read the karmas of all Jivas, decides the next course of action. Cloaked by its ignorance, the Jiva forgets all its past experiences. The Jiva is driven constantly by its Vasanas, when one has not controlled its senses. Driven by the vasanas, the jiva takes a new gross and subtle body, while its real nature is one of linga sarira (subtle body). The inability to exhaust all its past vasanas and the fact it picked up more in its current embodiment, the Jiva is mired to be stuck in this perpetual cycle, samsara. This will come to an end if one develops an intense devotion to the Supreme Lord.

            The Yama dhootas narrate the biography of Ajamila, who lived a sinning, evil, corrupt life that would merit him very harsh punishment. The punishment would give him an option to get purified in the purgatory.

            The Vishnudhootas countered the Yama kinkaras with their responses. The standards of the society are set by leaders. If even they who are aware of what is dharma and adharma falter, what to speak of common men. Ajamila was in a desperate condition and has uttered the name of the Lord (Narayana), which is a sin-destroying power and brings everything good and auspicious. This is akin to Saranagati. Merely uttering Narayana liberates us from all the sins of not just this janma but also all the past lives. Even the worst and most heinous crimes likes murder, violater of Guru’s bed, even the one who has killed a woman, a king, father or a cow or even worser, merely uttering Narayana is the best expiation. Following Vedic rites, one can do prayaschita, but it does not have the purifying effect of uttering the four syllables, Narayana. When one does prayaschita, the mind will still run back to its vasanas, but when one’s mind is fixated on the Lord or extolling HIS attributes, the vasanas get roasted by the purifying name.

            Even if one utters the name ‘Hari’ even casually or even in delirium or death, it saves him from the tortures of the purgatory. Actions like Tapas, Japa, dhana only counter the ill effects of the sins and they do not affect the heart that is still rooted in the vasanas. By turning one’s mind to the lotus feet of Narayana, all the vasanas and karmas get burnt up. Just as a man casually ingesting a powerful medicine, with no understanding to its potency, the same is the case with a mantra – Narayana.

            With powerful, firm, unequivocal arguments, the Vishnu dhootas liberated Ajamila from certain death and they all disappeared. Ajamila not only got a new lease of life, but also heard the subtleties of Dharma and Adharma from the best sources within his reach. His entire life of sins ran in front of his mind. He was able to understand quickly that his entire sense driven life had multiplied his bad karmas and vasanas exponentially. Though guilty of his past, he decided to focus on the benevolence of Narayana. He resolved to remain fixated in chanting the name of the Lord and extolling his attributes and lilas. He immediately abandoned all his worldly attachments and settled in Haridwar. Owing to the grace and power of the name of Narayana, he remained steadfast in his devotion. This is the power of association of few minutes with holy men, ones who have clear understanding of dharma and adharma. Upon his death, the same Vishnudhootas arrived again to take him to Vaikunta.

            The mind is contaminated by Rajas and Tamas, by uttering the name of the Lord, they get replaced by Sattva. Vyasa states that anyone hearing, reciting or reading Ajamila’s story with bhakti and shradda will NEVER go to hell, nor will Yama dhootas have the ability to even look in their direction. Uttering the name of Vishnu assures them a high place in Vaikunta.  If Ajamila who summoned his son by uttering NARAYANA could attain Vaikunta, it is impossible and needless to describe the glorious result of uttering the names of NARAYANA with bhakti and shradda. (Read about how our Indian society has been impacted by one of the avataras – Rama and the impact of his name)

Yama’s insights:

            The Yama dhootas were baffled by this episode. They sought clarity from Yama as they were puzzled by the multiple enforcers of Dharma, which was contrary to their belief that Yama was the sole dispenser of Justice. They also wondered if such multiple enforcers might lead to improper dispensation of Justice. They also pleaded Yama to explain how the great sinner in their clutches could be so easily released by the Vishnudhootas.

            Yama after thinking about Sri Hari’s lotus feet said: Apart from himself (Yama), there exists an overlord for this Universe. From a particle in HIM are born Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesvara. From HIM came the Vedas which guide the common man.  All the devas from Indra, Agni, Varuna and himself, though predominantly Sattvic are still bound by Yogamaya and cannot understanding HIS intentions or HIS lilas. The Vishnudhootas move everywhere offering their protection to anyone who utters the name of Narayana and liberate them from all fears (including death and Yama) and sins. 

            Even great Rishis are not aware of the Bhagavata Dharma. Dharma proclaimed by Narayana is very subtle, esoteric and very difficult to grasp, yet potent enough to confer immortality. (This is not escaping from bodily death). Yama reveals that including himself only eleven others know this Dharma and they include Brahma, Narada, Parameswara, Sanatkumara, Kapila, Svayambhuva Manu, Prahlada, Janaka, Bhishma, Mahabali ad Sri Suka. 

This Dharma in briefThe highest duty of man born in this world is to attain devotion to Narayana by chanting HIS names. By incessant utterance of HIS names, attributes and lilas, one is assured of MUKTI, even if one has numerous births of abhorrent sins. Even without knowledge or devotion mere utterance can result in expiation and what to tell the bliss of doing it with good understanding and bhakti. Developing Premabhakti results not only in the effacement of sins, but also mukti. One needs neither great understanding of Vedas, nor special advice from holy men. The main difference between using the name of Krishna, Narayana, Hari and the ones of atonement (be it prescribed in Vedas itself, then you may question how effective is substitution idea marketed for Jesus) is in the former once a bhakta has tasted the nectar of Bhagwan’s nama the senses and their orientation is totally culled whereas in the latter despite the expiation (prayaschita) the tendencies lurk for revival of papa samskaras.

Yama confessed neither him, nor Kala nor Devas have an ability to inflict any punishment on Bhagavatas uttering the name of the Lord. He directed to the Kinkaras that Jivas averse to uttering the Lord’s name are perfect candidates for experiencing their karmic debt in Hell. He prays to Narayana to forgive his mistakes in dispensing Justice.

This ancient story has been given to mankind by the kindness of the worshipful sage, Agastya. We are also thankful that Suka narrated this to Parikshit, but most importantly Sage Vyasa who codified it as a part of the Bhagavata Purana.

Satchitananda’s Microscope
  • First of a warning to digesters and desperate conversion machinery who are dying to steal anything Hindu: This story will not work if you replace Narayana with Jesus or Father in Heaven. Why? First of it shows how desperate you folks are in stealing, very unimaginative. Exodus 20-15 demands Thou Shalt not Steal. But more importantly, the foundation of Ajamila's change is based on his understanding of Dharma-Adharma. If you try stealing Dharma idea, then you must agree with Karma and reincarnation and then your broken model will have nothing but holes. Instead you can follow Hinduism.
  • To the desperate conversion Christian gang – You always threaten how accepting Jesus as God will save you from eternal hell. Contrast that will no eternal hell (or heaven) in Hinduism and its dependant on your karma. Even this can be broken by Bhagwan’s grace. Ponder this from Ajamila, even if you take Bhagwan’s name without even believing, casually, it still works. Still you have the audacity to spread fake ideas of believing in JC will save from hell. Just even say the name of Hari once. It will give you real jnana and mukthi.
  • Ajamila's story reveals the power of association with the wise, even if it be for few minutes in death bed. Who are the wise? The one who can understand Dharma and Adharma. One who has evolved spiritually, has attained kaivalya (moksha) or close to it are deemed as wise. Association with such evolved Jivas raises our thoughts to a higher plane without any effort from our side. Just as the sun evaporates the water on earth to form rain clouds, the association with the wise uplifts all Jivas who come in contact. Yoga Vashishta declares emphatically that association with the wise is a guaranteed method to Moksha.
  • Ajamila, though very old, full of guilt, once he overheard the conversation between Vishnudhootas and Yamadhootas, had to start a new life, one filled with bhakti and shraddha. Personal effort is vital for the progress of every individual Jiva. Unlike other religions mere acceptance or sign up doesnt yield dividends. One has to sincerely plod in this journey. Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita (Verse 6.5) suggests that we have to lift ourselves. 
  • Apart from the mere story, what is even more crucial is the actual conversations that occur - the one between Yamadhootas and Vishnudhootas and also the one between Yamadhootas and Yama himself. Many times, the curious person is satisfied with just the story. But the real aspirants thirst for the nectarine wisdom that happens during conversations or discussions with the wise. In fact, most Upanishads are conversations. How tragic will it be if we merely know the story, but not the real wisdom? Then what will be the difference between digesters and us.
  • Ajamila’s past little good vasanas came to his rescue that he even named his son as Narayana. If the power of Narayana can work even when there is no belief, imagine the power of thinking his name constantly, even if it is few times a day, sincerely. Instead of letting the guilt of our sin trip us, let us focus our mind on the power of a single utterance of the name of Narayana. Even the universe of sins is not merely cancelled but purified and sanctified by a single utterance of Narayana. 
May Bhagwan Sriman Narayana give us the blessing that his naama will always come to our mind, be it in pleasure or pain. Let us consciously cultivate Bhakti by reading, singing, thinking, speaking his naama, his attributes and lilas.

Om Tat Sat

Srimad Bhagavatam – The Holy book of God – Swami Tapasyananda translation – Ramakrishna Mutt