Aug 5: Nama and Initiation

5 Aug

Lord Guruvayurappan of Guruvayur is worshipped with Srimad Bhagavatam because Uddhava used to worship that deity by Bhagavatam – and it was later installed by Brihaspati and Vayu in the present place.  Mahatmas who were devotees of Guruvaurappa have sung ample Krishna Leelas, foremost among them being Narayana Bhattatri – who gave us a concise form of Bhagavatam – Narayaneeyam – with all major contents of Bhagavatam being present in Narayaneeyam in both Bhaavas and Rasas – addressing verily Lord Guruvayurappan Himself, unlike Bhagavatam which is a conversation between Sage Shuka and Parikshit.

In the morning, Guruvayurappan is adorned with a red loin cloth with a  banana in his hand – a cute little form that anyone would go and embrace!  During the day, He sports different Alankaras.  When Bhattatri composes Narayaneeyam, at the juncture of Prahlada Charitram, when Prahlada is questioned by his father as to who gives him the strength and power to speak against his own father, Prahlada responds, as Bhattatri writes, ‘balam me vaikuntam…’ – That very Lord of Vaikunta is my strength.  Then Hiranyakashipu challenges him with a sword and the Lord comes out of a pillar as Narasimha.  Bhattatri is unable to write this piece because he is unable to visualize that this cute little Guruvayurappa would manifest Himself as the gross and gory Narasimha!  At this point, Guruvayurappan enacts His Narasimha Avirbhaavam right in front of Bhattatri in Guruvayur!  Likewise, Guruvayurappan has enacted all the Lilas in Bhagavatam in front of Bhattatri! 

Following introductions was a discourse on ‘Nama Vaibhavam’

nAmakIrtanenaiva sulabho bhagavAn harih |
kimanyaih sAdhanaih loke kali kalmasha dUshitah ||

Alokhya kaler dosham nruNAm daurbalyameva cha|
samproktam munibhih sarvaih sripateh nAma kIrtanam ||

sAdhyam Vishnu padam nityam sAdhanam nAmakIrtanam |
sarveshAm sampradAyanAm tAroyam na hi samshayah ||

The above slokas go to show that all the doshas of Kali are wiped away with Nama Sankirtanam.

When we look at the world, we see so many disparities.  There are the richest of the rich  – who are born with silver spoons and live a life of luxury throughout, and there are poor, who cannot afford even one meal a day;  we see people who are physically handicapped – those who can’t speak, hear or who have their limbs impaired;  we see people who are mentally deranged;  we see cheats and hoodwinks who still lead a happy life; we see honest, straight forward people suffering…

Forget the world, let us take our own lives – we have our ups – and downs, on all fronts – professional, financial, social – and the greatest impact they cause is to our minds.  We are tormented by what happens around us and what happens to us.  And we search for solace.  Of all the avenues we seek, spirituality is one!

There is always a debate – who is greater – the Guru or God?  Before we get into that discussion, who comes first?

Very often, we hear people saying that they are searching for a Guru.  It is simply silly and absurd to search for a Guru, for one cannot, with his mind or intellect, ‘assess’ a Guru as fit for him or not!  The Guru is beyond the intellect and the mind.  Then what is one supposed to do?   Seek God!  Seek God earnestly, and when one seeks God truly and earnestly, God becomes happy.

What is the indication of God becoming happy with you?  When Bhagavan is happy, he directs you to a Guru!   And what does the Guru do?  the Guru takes you unto his fold and transforms you.  When the Guru is happy, he gives the glimpse of Bhagavan to you!  When Bhagavan is happy, he shows you a Guru, and when the Guru is happy, he shows you Bhagavan!

Chintamani loka sukham suradhruh svarga sampadam
prayachchati guruh preeto vaikuNtam yogi durlabham
Being in the material world that we are in, we always ask, why should a Guru take us into His fold?  The answer is – because of His compassion – causeless compassion.

What is the greatest sign of compassion of the Guru?  He bestows us with the rarest of the rare, sweetest of the sweet, priceless of the priceless nectar – called the Divine Name.

sukha sanakaadika vaanchitameta sakala suraasura durlabham krupayaa  |
bhagavan nAma sudhA rasa shuddha prema rasam dadhau krupayA vIkshayA ||

That Divine Name which is rare even to the Devas and the most cherished possession of great Brahma Nishtas like Shuka – is bestowed with divine love and compassion by the Guru.

When He bestows upon us the Divne Name, it is a sign of his taking complete control of us – for the Nama will act as a shield, protecting us from the danger, and providing us with all the needs and wants.

The Divine Name can provide everything that even the vrathas, thapas, and other sadhanas cannot give.  And all our scriptures go to talk about the glory of the Divine Name.

shruti smuti purAneshu rAmanAma prakIrtitam
tannAma kirtanam bhUyat tApatraya vinashanam

Sri Vishnu Sahasranama speaks of the rare 1000 Names of the Lord.  The Divine Mother that she is, Parvati,  filled with compassion for her children (us), asks for a shortcut as it would be difficult for us to chant all the 1000 names in this busy life – and Lord Shiva says that chanting the Rama Nama thrice would equal chanting all the thousand Names!  How?  There is a numbering denomination in ancient Indian tradition called the KatapayAdhi sankhya where each syllable is assigned a weightage – and thus every word can be represented as a number.  Raa – is 2 and Ma is 5 – so the name Raama is 10… 3 times Rama is 10x10x10 – 1000!

In Yoga Shastras, the “Raa” Bheeja is the Mooladhara and the “Ma” denotes the Sahasrara.  So Rama Nama gives one Yoga Siddhi and relieves one from the cycle of births and deaths.

The Rama Nama is so priceless that even Vishwanatha – lord Shiva chants it in the right ear of anyone who dies in Kashi and grants him Moksha.

The greatness about a Nama or a Mantra is that, by verily repeating it, the divinity is enhanced.  There are innumerable mantras in our Scriptures, each mantra having its own power and potency, when repeated continuously.  But Mantras have rules and regulations – one has to adhere to the rules of purity and chastity before chanting the Mantras.   Whereas in the case of the Nama, there are no rules:

Bhagavatam says,

Sanketyam paarihaasyam va sthobam helanam eva vaa
vaikuNta naama grahanam asesha aghaharam vidhuh

and further

patitah skalitao bhagnah sandashtastapta Agatah
harirityavashenaaha pumAn nArhanti yAtanAh

and it goes on to give a beautiful example:  A scientist does a detailed research on the properties of fire and how it burns etc.  and then there is a 16 month old that knows nothing about fire.  When either of them place their fingers accidentally on the flame, the fire burns them in the same manner – irrespective of whether they knew the fact that the fire burns or not!  Why?  Because it is the nature of the fire to burn!  Likewise, it is the nature of the Divine Name to burn one’s sins and make him pure, whether he chants knowing the glory of the Divine Name or chants it mockingly!

One may be suffering from a family related issue, and he may chant Mahamantra regularly for the issue to be solved.  If he chants it sincerely, the divine Name would not only solve his problem, but also would effect a transformation in him, purify his mind.  Our Guru Maharaj beautifully quotes –

“We may light a lamp to dispel darkness, but the flame also brings in heat! Likewise even if we chant Mahamantra for worldly needs, it will automatically grant liberation too.”

Srimad Bhagavatam gives a beautiful example to describe this:

A person felt very hungry.  So he went to a restaurant and ordered food.  The moment he started eating the food, even though his only intention of eating the food was to satisfy his hunger, the food ended up giving him the happiness – because of its taste and also energy (because of the calories in it)  in addition to satisfying his hunger.  Likewise, when one chants the Divine Name, it bestows him with worldly comfort, as well as provides him with Bhakti, Vairagyam and Bhagavat Darshanam.

Bhaktih pareshAnubhavo viraktih anyatra chaisha trika ekakAlah
prapadyamAnasya yathAshnatah syuh tushtih pushtih kshudapAyo anughAsam || [SB 11:2:42]

Chantng the Divine Name continuously can bestow anything.  But when a Supreme Master initiates it to us, it is even more powerful.  It can do wonders, because, the Guru gives a portion of his tapas and premai with the nama.  So irrespective of we chant it incessantly or not, the Grace of the Guru, manifesting as the Divine Name will protect us.

Once Vashishta came to the King Drupada’s court.  Draupadi, the king’s daughter performed pujas to the Rishi.  Pleased, Vashishta initiated Draupadi with the ‘Govinda’ Nama.  Draupadi sulked saying that she wouldn’t have time to repeat the Mantra, but the benign Sage said, it will protect her.  Later on, we see that after being married to the Pancha Pandavas, Dharmaputra is defeated in the game of dice and all the Pandavas including Draupadi became slaves.  When Duschasana dishonored Draupadi, her Guru Vashishta’s Upadesha came to her mind and she cried out ‘Govinda’!  And the rest is history!

During Vanavasa, when Dhurvasa came along with a  battalion of disciples for a meal at the Pandavas’ place and when the Akshaya Patra that Draupadi was given by Krishna couldn’t help, Krishna came there at once, and noticed that a particle of rice still stuck on to the divine vessel and tasted the same.  That instant, all the disciples of the Rishi felt overfull and walked away without eating!

Later Kunti cries out to Lord Krishna thanking him for all the help he has provided to her family and Krishna only remarked, ‘Oh! Dear aunt, I am yet to repay the debt incurred by me to Draupadi for her calling out ‘Govinda’ in Duryodana’s court.’

Govinda Nama is powerful, more powerful it is, when initiated by the Guru.

Mahaperiyavaal used to say that we should practice chanting Govinda Nama at least once every day.

When we have stomach ache, the grandma at home advises us to consume a herb from the garden. Not paying heed to her words, we rush to a doctor, who eventually gives the same herb in a tablet form!  Mahamantra is likewise!   We neglect it because it is easy.  But it is indeed a treasure that we all should cherish and relish every moment!

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