NAMASMARANA - THE SUPREME SADHANA
(Written and Published by Mohan A Bharwani)
Namasmarana is the best Sadhana; it is the most beneficial Sathpravarthana. That is the highest Japam, tbe most profitable Thapas. Kuchela won the Grace of the Lord through the same means. Fill the Name with your Love, whenever you repeat it, saturate it with devotion. That is the easiest path for all of you.
Japam and Dhyanam are means by which you can compel even the concretisation of the Divine Grace in the Form and with the Name you yearn for. The Lord has to assume the Form you choose, the Name you fancy; in fact, you shape Him so. Therefore, do not change these two, but stick to the ones that please you most, whatever the delay or the difficulty.
The Ice peak of Karma- consequence accumulated by you, will be reduced by the avalanches and glaciers caused by the warming effect of Namasmarana. The sun melts the snow cap on the peak; but, during the hours of night, the snowfall restores the cap and makes up the lost of height. So too, Namasmarana melts the snow, but unless virtue holds back and overcomes sin, the snow falls again in the darkness of vice and ignorance. Repentance and prayer will certainly prevent further snowfall; the sun of God's Glory shining through the smarana will level the snow-peak to the ground.
Every human must primarily question himself as to the aim and purpose of this human life. When one meditates seriously on this topic, the realisation will dawn, that sense gratification is not be all and end all. The Creator had a more subtle design in Mind. The goal of man's life is self-realization. Man has to endeavour during his lifetime to elevate and evolve his soul to more sublime heights. It is only then that one can consider his or her life as a worthwhile one Undoubtedly, effort is the basic law of all human life. everyone is what he or she is, due to his or her own past Karma Their future is the citadel being built on the foundation of their present Karma Though man is full of weaknesses, yet he has inherent in himself immense strength and potential. Everything is within his grasp if he would but strive for it. Divinity exists in all, though generally dormant. The Lord who is Omnipresent, is the Inner Atma – the inner Motivator of all. It is only when we secure contact with that source of strength and inspiration, purity and bliss within us, that our lives will become an offering, a dedication at the altar of the Lord. As Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba says - "Life is a pilgrimage to God; the holy spot is there, afar".
The question is how are we to start this unique pilgrimage to God? How should we secure His Grace in the shortest period of time? As in the past eras, it is no longer possible for man to engage himself in arduous and intense austerities and practises. At the same time, the sadhana should be such that it removes all barriers and impediments in the flow of Grace.
Not only have our men of God and our scriptures. but also all the religions of the world, universally acclaimed one infallible sadhana to secure the Highest. This sadhana is that of Namasmarana. Indeed they consider it the panacea to cure man (and therefore society also) of all his ills - be they physical, mental or spiritual.
Namasmarana is second to none in its ease and efficacy. It involves the constant repetition (either orally or mentally) of the Lord's Name and meditating on His Form, His Glory and His Grandeur. Chanting of the Name however, must not become a mechanical process. The dynamics of this sadhana involves the mind in the remembrance, with love and devotion, at all times and under all conditions, the Name (and the Form) of the Lord.
The reasoning and rationale behind this instrument of God realisation has been repeatedly stressed on, by the saints and seers of our glorious land. Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai has explained in lucid and precise terms the effects the Name has on the hard layers of materialism and wordliness covering the soul. He says that the recitation of the Name is like the operation of boring, to tap underground water; it is like the chisel stroke that will release the image of God which is imprisoned in the marble. Once the encasement is broken the Lord will appear, even as churning brings the butter, latent in the milk, into view. The vibrations set up each time the Name is chanted to lead to the revelation of the Godhead, for the Name moulds the consciousness.
In the initial stages, it might appear a formidable task to cut the mind away from wordly attachments and unite it with the Name. But gradually it becomes as natural as breathing. One will realise at this stage, that the subconscious is chanting the Name even during sleep.
That Namasmarana is considered 'King of all Sadhana' is no exaggeration. This exalted position that the Name has is because it secures for the sadhaka, the fruits of all other sadhana. Indeed it is impossible to measure the greatness and glory, power and potency of Nama Japa. The benefits one enjoys through the remembrance of the Lord's Name are as infinite as He is,
Sswami Ramdas declares that he alone is the greatest hero who has controlled the vagaries of the fickle mind, For achieving this, he points out, that the Name is an invincible means. Constant japa arrests the restless nature of the mind. When one repeats the Name, one is in tune with the Infinite One. It is an accepted psychological truth, that our mind dwells on the object we love most So if we fix our mind, with an intense love for the Name - perhaps forcibly and mechanically initially Ä the Name will constantly remain in our minds.
Goswami Tulsidas points out that Ramanama on the tongue lights up both what is within and without. Brahman, is both Nirguna (Formless and Attributeless) and Saguna (with Form and Attributes). The Name is a link with the Nirguna through the Saguna. It thus controls both. Indeed the Name is considered greater than the Named as the physical form of the avatar disappears or disintegrates but the blame immediately evokes the memory of the Form. The physical Rama could save only a handful of fallen souls like Ahalya etc, but the Name has saved millions and millions who have called on Him, and will continue.
One priceless advantage which Namajapa or smarana grants is indeed unique. The term 'Hari-Nama' when analysed literally means "The Name that Saves". Hari means "Saviour" Thus Hari Nama is that Name which when taken or meditated on annihilates all sin. The Named saves us from our sins, not the least of which is egoism and pride. Not only does He (it) destroy all sin but goes further by destroying all vikaras, all germs of evil in us. Bhagavan Baba bas likened the Name to a thunderbolt which destroys mountains of sin. He says - " The consequences of Karma can be wiped out only through Karma, as a thorn, which can be removed by means of another. Do good Karma to assuage the pain of the bad Karma which you have done and from which you suffer now. The best and simplest Karma is (repeating) the Name of the Lord; be ever engaged in it. It will keep out evil tendencies and wicked tboughts. It will help you radiate love all around you."
All this greatness existent in the Name is no bait to man to lure him into its practise. It has been practised and its efficacy confirmed time and again. Tukaram, Narsi Mehta, Janabai, Chokhamela. Kabir, Mira, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Ramdas are but a few of those who realised God by chanting His Name. In recent times, Mahatma Gandhi who had practised and tasted the efficacy of Rama Nama. tells us that Ramanama alone helped him pass through the struggles in the political, social, economic and religious spheres which he underwent. He also discovered that the Name was a remedy against physical ailments. There is no limit on the amount of times the Name is to be remembered or chanted. The deeper one drinks of it, the more the thirst for it grows. It is like ambrosial nectar. For 'ananda' exists in us. And the Name releases that Ananda stored up in us. The ecstasy, the peace, the calm, the bliss, which once released, fills up our hearts is inexpressible.
Indeed the Power of the Name is such that it verily converts the Lord into your bond-slaves.
The Lord becomes your companion, your guide. your mentor. He yearns for you as much as you yearn for Him. He will be at your beck and call, if you constantly take His Name.
Numerous stories and incidents are related in our religious texts regarding the Infinite potency in the Name. One of the most inspiring and thrilling stories relates to the devotion of Droupadi, for Krishna. Lord Krishna saved Droupadi, the consort of the Pandavas, from ignominy and disgrace, numerous times.
Why was it that Droupadi was blessed with so much Grace from Krishna? Verily, this was the question troubling Satyabhama and Rukmani. They used to wonder, why Krishna was constantly talking of and visiting Droupadi often.
One day Krishna asked Satyabhama and Rukmani to accompany Him to Droupadi's place. When they arrive, Droupadi had just finished her bath and was brushing her hair. Krishna tells Satyabhama and Rukmani to brush Droupadi's hair. Though indignantly, Satyabhama and Rukmani obey. They were shocked to hear the constant chanting of 'Krishna, Krishna' emanating from each strand of hair. They realised that Droupadi, rightfully deserved all the Grace, Krishna showered on her. The Name of Krishna had permeated every pore of Droupadi's body. Her yearning, her love, her devotion for Krishna had saturated into the very core of her being. Krishna could not but respond to whole-hearted devotion of this devotee of His. Droupadi had achieved the highest stage of securing the constant companionship of the Lord, through the simple sadhana of Namajapa. This is not a legendary story but an experience which can be verified by everyone personally.
But, even our scriptures, have laid tremendous emphasis on the sadhana of Namasmarana as mean of securing all that is worthwhile in the here and hereafter.
Tbe Aditys Purana declarers :- "Singing of the Name of Hari will fetch in this life virtue, destroy all sins, bestow all one's desires, in this life and in after life lead to Moksha."
The Brahamanand Purana explains the Power of the Name:- "All the fourteen Lokas cannot commit as much sin as what a single Name of God can destroy."
The Vishnu Purana considers the people of Kali Yuga luckiest, for through Namasmarana they can attain what people in Krita could get through contemplation, in Treta through Yaga and in Dwapara through Puja.
In the Padma Purana Lord Shiva Himself Promises:- "The direct vision of God Himself to any sadhaka who incessantly repeats the Name."
In the Adi Purana Lord Krishna says :- "I do not dwell in Vaikuntha, or in the hearts of Yogins. I stand there where my devotees sing My Name.”
Tbe Upanishads have stated :- 'Poojakotisamam stotram, strotrs kotisama Japah'. That is equal to crores of strotras, which are themselves crores of times more potent than the Pooja of the Lord.
Even the Sukhmani - the holy book of the Sikhs considers the praising of the Name as the highest of all practises for it simultaneously slakes the desires of the restless mind and imparts an all seeing vision. Death loses its terror and Nama helps the soul through the valley of death.
Sri Chaithanya Mahaprabhu, that harbinger of Light and Love, that greatest exponent of Bhakti, in a beautiful poem says Ä "O Children of men ! I too searched from end to end I searched; I did not find ! Then with Nama, the Nama alone, I went into the heart and then I saw the Beloved."
Sadhu T. L Vaswani points out that there are certain practical points which if we follow, we can progress faster towards our goal of constant Namasmarana:
(i ) Every morning, as you rise, let your eyes fa11 on the photo of your Isht Devta and utter His Name
(ii ) Make it a point that during the day, when we are free to recite His Name orally or mentally.
(iii) lf possible do Namalikatha Japa.
(iv) Initially take the aid of the rosary.
(v ) Most important of all Ä as the Name is uttered try to create in your heart a longing for the Named; cry out to Him through the depths of your heart.
(vi) Do Dot involve yourself in such activities in your daily living which form a barrier to your progress.
Namasmarana as a means of upliftment and as a sadhana has added importance for women. The woman is an ornament of the home. It is she who lays the foundation to the happiness of a home. It has been said, and rightly, that a nation is what its mothers are. India is destined to become once again the spiritual leader of the world. It will lead the whole world Godwards. Indian women have to regain their rightful place and share in the glorious future which is beckoning us. They have to cultivate their souls and thereby secure the necessary strength and beauty of character which Sita and Droupadi, Savitri and Andal, Mira and Janabai had.
The Manusmriti says:- "Whatever thoughts occupy the mind of a lady during the period of pregnancy she begets a child of that type."
How great will the future of a country be whose mothers have the Name constantly on their tongues and His Form in their minds. The children born of these mothers will be of the calibre of Lav and Kush, whose mother Sita had the Name of Ram constantly on her lips and the Form in her mind's eye.
Apart from this, Namasmarana will convert the home into a haven of peace and joy, of happiness and goodwill and the wheels of the chariot of life will run smoothly.
Namasmarana, also lends the sadhaka, a metaphysical charm, the type of which no cosmetic howsoever costly will provide. It will provide a soft peta1 like grace and attraction, for beauty is basically soul deep. Many a time, one sees a plain woman, who yet radiates an indescribable warmth and other wordly beauty, due to goodness of heart and purity of mind.
Death loses its sting for one who has linked an unbreakable bond with the Lord. The Name helps man to lose all fear of death and at the same time reduces his attachment to the temporary and transient allurements of this world. The realisation dawns that everyone is but a pilgrim. Death is but the process of discarding old clothes for new ones. The soul is eternal, Even in the Gita, Lord Krishna states :
"Whosoever, in the final moments of his life, Having fixed his mind upon me, Leaves this body, Without any doubt, merges with me".
Thus whatever thought a mortal nurses, at the final moment, to that image does he go. However, man is unaware at which moment death is going to strike. Moreover, even if one is aware of approaching end, without previous practise and attachment to the Name, calling on it would be hardly possible. But One who is ever merged with the Lord through the sublime sweetness of the Name, can be sure of his ultimate victory.
The advantages of Namasmarana, of Namasankirtan of Namajapa are indeed vast and varied. One could go on and on speaking of this key to the gateway of self i.e. God-realisation, Bliss and Beatitude will become a part and parcel of the life of the aspirant.
Some may question whether such a small word could take us across the ocean of Samsara. But as Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba has explained, "one can cross vast oceans on a tiny raft; one can walk across dense and dark jungles with a tiny lamp in our hands. Similiarly, the Name, or even the Pranava which is smaller, has vast potentalities. The raft need not be as big as the sea."
Some others may complain that they have been doing Namasmarana for years, but without much beneficial results. In the earlier stages, the sadhaka might not see any visible change in his spiritual development. But the change is going on in his inner consciousness. The metamorphosis has started. In a simile, Swami Ramdas explains that if we want to break a big stone with a hammer, every stroke helps. The stone might break with the twentieth stroke. But this does not mean that the other nineteen were of no value Each stroke played its part in breaking the stone. For each stroke helped in separating the particles. Thus the Name is never taken in vain The results depend upon the effort. If the Name, suffused with intense Love and Devotion, is chanted, the effect of the mind will be immediate.
Thus, we can see that the Name is not only as an instrument, or a means of sadhana but an end in itself. This is the beauty of this path.
The name of Hanuman evokes instantly thoughts of devotion, of dedication, of valour and service. The source of Hanuman's strength and devotion was his constant Namasmarana.
On the occassion of Rama's coronation, Vibhishana presented Rama with a priceless necklace of brilliant gems - which itself was an offering of the Lord of the Sea to Ravana. Sita accepted it. Rama asks Sita to gift it to anyone who deserved her grace. Sita's compassionate glance immediately fell on Hanuman, who had done so much for Rama and herself. Hanuman comes forward and receives the gift.
The unique brilliance and radiance emanating from the necklace had left the entire gathering breathless. But to their utter dismay and surprise, they saw . Hanuman break off each gem, put it between his teeth then kept it next to his ear and finally with an expression of disgust, throw away the gem. All were shocked at the brazen behaviour of this devotee of Rama. One ruler who could not control himself came forward and asked Hanuman the meaning and significance of his strange behaviour. Hanuman replied that he had examined each gem to discover the Sacred Name to it, but finding no trace whatsoever, he had discarded them. To him they were no better than stones or pebbles. The ruler tells Hanuman that be could not expect the Name in every article that he wore. He had a body too which did not have the Name resounding in it.
Hanuman pulls out a single hair from his forearm and places it beside the ear of the ruler. The ruler could hear the Name - 'Rama, Rama, Rama' being uttered from that single hair. He immediately fell at Hanuman's feet.
Rama who was a silent spectator to all this, then warmly embraces him and tells him that He was offering Himself to Hanuman as he had no other gift worthy of such unflinching devotion and dedication.
This was a Unique Act of Grace which a devotee had secured by a simple practise - the practise of constant love-filled Namasmarana.
It is an accepted fact that the source of all Hanuman's strength and which he used in the service of Rama itself, was the name of Rama. He had unparalled faith in it. The faith in that small name that helped him cross oceans.
It is rightly said that by taking the Holy Name, you become Holy. By thinking of the Lord constantly, you become an Image of His.
The practise of Japa of the Name, swiftly helps one into higher realms. Meditation comes naturally to one whose mind is no longer agitated by conflicting and disturbing thoughts. And meditation is the core of all spiritual sadhana In the process, the mind does not become an empty storehouse but a powerhouse where thoughts of the Creator and His Glory have free play.
So do Namasmarana . . . . to secure unalloyed tranquillity and bliss . . . to secure everything worthwhile here and hereafter to win the Grace of God.
Sai Bhaktas are indeed the most blessed of all those who have taken birth in this universe. For they have that Incarnation of Beauty and Goodness, the Lord Himself in the Form of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, present among them. His physical form, so redolent and radiant, is so easy to meditate and contemplate on. On top of that, all they have to do is to do Nama Japa, to release them from the bondage of samsara - in no other age has man been so lucky. So take up Namasmarana from now and Grace will flow incessantly on all.
OM SAI RAM !