The power of Rama’s name


By Kanaka Ramakrishna

What is in a name? A rose would smell the same by any other name. Once the name is given to an object, the association is inevitable. ”˜Rama’ is not just a name. It has deep significance, its own glory, power and strength. As soon as the name is mentoned, the image of Rama also rises in one’s mind. ”˜Ram nam’ is one of the sweetest and most popular uttering in Indian psyche. Even Alexander the Great said before leaving India, that his impressions about India was ”“ ”˜Rama’s name and Ganga water’

The name ”˜Rama’ existed from time immemorial, even before Dasaratha’s son Rama was born. Sage Vasishta meditated on the name ”˜Rama’ for quite a long time. Sage Manu said that ”˜Rama nama’ has links to all other mantras that ever existed. It is said that the ”˜Pranava’ or ”˜Omkara’ has   originated from the name Rama. When Dasaratha wanted his family priest Vasistha to name his babies, he named the first baby ”˜Rama’, who is one of the ten incarnations of Vishnu, and popularly worshipped by many Hindus.

The two main strands in the Hindu pantheon are the worship of Narayana (Vishnu) and Shiva. The ”˜moola mantra’ for Narayana is, “Om Namo Narayana” and the ”˜moola Mantra’ for Siva is’ “Om Nama Sivaya”. In the Narayana Mantra, the life of the Mantra lies in the letters ”˜ra’ and in the Shiva mantra, the life of the mantra lies in the letters ”˜ma’. If these two life-giving letters are removed from these mantras, they become lifeless and inauspicious. The Divine secret lies in combining the life giving letters ”˜Ra’ and ”˜Ma’ from these two mantras and forming a name ”˜RAMA’ for the Nirguna Parabrahma, which has no name or form or quality. ”˜Rama’ is neither associated with Shiva nor Narayana, but an indicative name of the ”˜Suddha Brahma’.

Every mantra in the Hindu scripture has its own name. But by naming the Nameless as ”˜Rama’, it is the only mantra that is called “Taraka Mantra”. Taraka means ”˜ that helps to cross’- to cross the ocean of samsara of this world. Chanting the name ”˜Rama’, with love and faith, gives strength to overcome the problems of life. Those who pray with steadfast devotion can obtain the knowledge of the Supreme.

Parvathi wanted to hear from Lord Shiva, the easy method to chant the thousand names of Vishnu. Lord Shiva told her the beautiful name Rama, Rama, Rama, is equivalent to chanting one thousand names of Vishnu. (Vishnu Sahasranama.)

“Sri Rama Rameti Rame Raame Manorame

Sahasra Naama Tattulyam Ramanama varaanane.”

It is believed that in Varanasi Lord Vishvanatha imparts Rama’s name to each and every being at the time of death. Not only human beings, even gods have been blessed by Rama’s name like the well-known story of the competition between Vinayaka and Muruga. When Muruga diligently circumambulated (pradakshina) his parents on his peacock with great speed, Ganesha wrote ”˜RAMA’ on the sand and made pradakshina, as it was equivalent to going round the whole world. Siva was immensely pleased and made him the leader of all his ganas and he got the name ”˜Ganapathy’.

When Ravana abducted Sita and kept her in his”˜Ashoka vana’ in Lanka, Sita was one pointedly thinking and chanting Rama’s name day and night. While she held her life-breath meditating on Rama to come and release her, even death could not dare to touch her. Hanuman, after meeting Sita in Lanka, came back to Rama and describing her pitiable state of mind he said, “Constant meditation on you is the door keeper that guards the door of Ma Sita’s heart not to allow her life to depart. She has fixed the gaze of her mental vision on your lotus feet and has locked the door. Then, from which way the life can depart?”

“The name of ”˜Rama’ is mightier than Rama Himself,” said saint Tulasidas. It is not easy for ordinary persons to know the greatness of Rama’s name. Only Valmiki and Hanuman knew His greatness. When Valmiki said, ”˜RA’, all his sins from his blood and flesh came out completely from inside of his body and he became pure and got salvation. As soon as Hanuman said, ”˜MA’, all his sins came out of his body and the word ”˜Ma’, like a doorkeeper stood out side, protecting him forever by not letting any more sin to enter his body and he became pure.

Hanuman constantly chanted the name of Rama that helped him to achieve many wonderful feats. It was through the power of Rama’s name, he was able to cross the wide ocean of several miles in just one leap to Lanka and was able to find Sita in Ravana’s “Ashoka vana.” When the vaanaras were building the bridge on the unfathomable ocean to go to Lanka, the rocks drowned in the water. Hanuman simply said, ”˜chant Rama’s divine name and the rocks would not sink. The vanaras complied and immediately the rocks floated, they were convinced in the efficacy of Rama’s name and the bridge was built.

Hanuman wanted to carry the mountain in the Himalayas that contained the herbs to save Rama, Lakshmana and the vaanara army, who were wounded and were lying unconscious in the battlefield. Only by Rama’s powerful name he lifted and brought the mountain, which saved the lives of Rama and others. Rama was saved only by the power of his name! Again, when Lakshmana was about to die with severe wounds, Hanuman for the second time, brought the mountain from the Himalayas with the speed of the wind and saved Lakshmana, only by the power of Rama’s name.

Further, with the power of Rama’s name, Hanuman was able to enter the nether world, where Rama and Lakshmana were imprisoned by Ahiravana and were unconscious by his spell. When they were about to be sacrificed to the Goddess, just at the nick of the time Hanuman entered and killed Ahiravana and others.   No doubt, Sri Rama protects his virtuous devotees, and destroys the wicked enemies. But, when it came to save Rama, just uttering His name was powerful enough for Hanuman to kill the enemies and carry the unconscious Rama and Lakshmana on his shoulders to their camp. Again the power of Rama’s name saved Rama himself!

When the purpose of Rama’s incarnation on this earth was fulfilled, before leaving his mortal body, Rama asked Hanuman to go into deep samadhi and attain the eternal Bliss of Brahman. Hanuman declined saying that he would prefer to live on this earth, where Rama was born, and His name ever playing on his lips, is bliss to him. Hearing this, Rama asked Hanuman, “ why is it you value my name more than me?” Hanuman replied, “ My Lord, You are only a mortal incarnation, whereas your name and deeds are eternal. Hence your name on this earth is eternal.” As long as Rama’s name is chanted on this earth, Hanuman will be always present at such places.

While mythologies and scriptures are abundant with the glory of Rama’s name and His grace, in modern age also we hear the experiences of His devotees, who were blessed by His grace. Two such experiences may be recalled here. Swami Vivekananda was an unknown monk before going to America. After his guru passed away, he wanted to travel throughout India from North to South as a ”˜parivrajaka’, mostly by foot and sometimes by train, if some kind person provided him a ticket. Once, he was travelling by train on one of the hottest days thirsty and hungry, and he had not eaten food since the previous day. A co-passenger in the train, a rich merchant, quenched his thirst with water and while eating the rich food he had brought with him, went on chastising the swami for living on alms and not earning his livelihood, though he was young and strong and was a social parasite and so on. The swami ignored his remarks and turned his face away from him. When the train reached the station, they all got down and had to wait for the next connecting train. The merchant sat inside in the shade, in the waiting area, and the swami sat on the ground outside, leaning against a post.

After a while, a man hurriedly came to the swami, carrying a bundle and water in his hands, requested the swami to accept the food he had brought for him. The swami was surprised and told that he must have mistaken him for somebody, as he did not know him. The man insisted that there was no mistake and explained to him what happened. After finishing his morning business in his sweetmeat shop, he went home, finished his lunch and was having a nap. He had a vision of Sri Rama, pointing out the swami to him, telling that his devotee was starving without food since the previous day, and he should prepare some food and run to the station to feed him. The man thought it was only a dream and went back to his nap. But again Sri Rama appeared and urged him to take the food immediately. The man told the swami that he had not mistaken him as Sri Rama had already shown him. The swami was very much moved and accepted the food with deep gratitude. The jeering merchant who was witnessing the whole incident, was stunned and came to the swami to apologise, made pranams and left.

Another incident happened during the period of Emperor Akbar’s rule. Once, Akbar and his trusted minister Birbal while going on some royal duty, had to pass through a forest. They were very tired and hungry. They rested under a tree and after a while, Akbar suggested that they should go and look for some food. Birbal did not want to go and quietly started ”˜Ramnam’ japa. Akbar told him that mere chanting would not bring any food and he left by himself. After a while, he saw a village at a distance and came to a house where the family members were very happy to serve the food for the emperor. After the meal, Akbar took some food for Birbal also and came back. He gave the food to Birbal and told him he got the food by self- effort, and mere Ramnam chanting did not get him food. Birbal quietly ate the food and said, ”˜ To day the emperor had to beg the food, while Rama got me food through the emperor, that too by begging. That is the power of Rama nama.’

”˜Rama Nama’ is the only eternal solution to the eternal problems of human life. The ultimate answer to the question of helplessness that one may have to face in life is, when all other powers have failed, meditation on His Lotus Feet, thinking of Him, and chanting His name is the only way. It provides mental poise and serenity, which cannot be obtained by any other means. He alone is the help of the helpless, the power of the powerless, the secure of the insecure, and the everlasting treasure for all. He is the Sat-Chit-Ananda, ever enshrined in our hearts.

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