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)
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 brief – The 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.
- 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.
- The words like Narayana or Shiva were not coined with an idea. The Rishis who are also called Mantra drashtas (Seers) saw these names and forms during their tapas. Hence substituting with JC or Stone or Black will not yield the same result. Many Gurus who have large non Hindu following try to peddle to their market, the idea of sameness. Their idea of substituting Om Jesus Namaha is pathetic and will not work like Om Namah Shivaya or Om Namo Narayanaya.
- 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