Friday, 6 May 2016

Nama Siddantha

Nama stands for Divine name, any one name of the Lord as Saguna Brahman. Saguna Brahman is the formless Supreme with Its power of Maya manifest.   The forms and names are many for Saguna Brahman as Lord Sri Krishna states in Gita (10-40) “There is no end to my divine manifestations, O destroyer of enemies”. Lord also states in another place (4-11) “In whatever form or manner they seek me, I favour them in that form or manner”.  Efficacy of Nama constitutes the core philosophy of Nama Siddantha.  It embraces the sadhanas connected with Nama, namely Nama Japa, Dhyana of Nama, Nama Sankeertan, and Divya Nama Bhajan. While in Divya Nama Bhajan devotional songs on various Namas are sung; in others, Nama of an Ishta Devata is taken for chanting, meditation or group singing in Satsang. Of these Nama Sankeertan is most favoured one as in Satsang, control of the wandering mind and concentration on Nama is more easily achieved. To illustrate that the name of the Lord is superior to the form it relates to, an incident relating to Lord Sri Rama and his ardent devotee Hanumanji is quoted.

The king of Kashi was going to Ayodhya to pay his respects to Lord Sri Rama.  Sage Narada met him on the way and requested a favour. The king agreed and Sage Narada told him not to bow down before sage Viswamitra when he meets him. The king agreed and did likewise. Sage Viswamitra took it as an insult and was upset. He took the matter to Sri Rama and demanded that the king be punished for the deliberate insult.   Sri Rama promised to lay the king’s head at his preceptor’s feet.  The king got frightened on hearing about this. So he approached Sage Narada to save himself from Sri Rama’s wrath.  Sage Narada advised him to seek the protection of Anjana Devi, mother of Hanumanji.   The King went to her and sought her protection first and when he got the assurance, he narrated that it is from Sri Rama’s anger he sought protection. She felt troubled but as she had given the word, she asked her son to help the king to survive Sri Rama’s wrath.  Hanumanji  was in a dilemma but decided to risk Sri Rama’s displeasure to help him. He stretched his tail and wound it round the king like a fortress and sat on top of it chanting the name of Sri Rama.  Sri Rama in the meanwhile went in search of the king and not finding him, shot an arrow charging it with Mantras to seek and bring the head of the king. But the arrow stopped in the mid-air and turned and fell at his feet. Puzzled Sri Rama decided to use the infallible Brahmastra. Then Sage Narada appeared and asked him to listen carefully to the faint sound coming from distance before acting.  Sri Rama listened and he heard the chant of his name by Hanumanji.  Sage Narada then narrated to Sri Rama all that happened and also explained  that his Nama is more powerful than His own Self. Meanwhile Sage Viswamitra also came there, contrite over the crisis he had precipitated.  Sage Narada asked the king to prostrate before Sage Viswamitra laying down his head at the Sage’s feet, as promised by Sri Rama. The king prostrated accordingly and Sage pardoned him. Sri Rama was also relieved to know that it was all a ploy by Sage Narada to demonstrate the power of His name. 

There is another story in Bhagavatha, the story of Ajamila, to emphasise the glory of Nama.  Ajamila is a Brahmin who forgot the Vedic ways and turned a sinner led astray by his senses. At his death-bed, in the last few moments of his life he called out  “Narayana” with passion and love, not thinking of the Lord, but thinking of his youngest son, Narayanan. Still he was saved because of the power of the Nama and taken to Vaikunta. This story is not to be taken literally but understood for its message.  The thrust of the story is the emphasis on the efficacy of Nama even when spoken of involuntarily, what to speak of use in japa, dhyana, Bhajan or Sankeerthan, with devotion and dedication. Of these the importance of  Nama Sankeerthan which is the easiest to practice cannot be overemphasised in the modern days of temptations and distractions galore and spiritual indifference. 

One of the pioneers of Nama Siddanta was the fifty-ninth Peetathipathi of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Sri Bodendra Saraswathy Swamigal, known as Bhagavan Nama Bodendral.  In his work Namamrta-Rasayana, he outlines six reasons for the glory of Nama.
1) The repetition of Nama is open to all irrespective of caste, sex, and stage in life and involves no injury to any living being.
2) It does not require any ancillary aid.
3) It does not need the intercession of third person for giving result.
4) It can be performed at any time – no time restraints.
5) It can be performed in any place – no place restraints.
6) There are no ritualistic regulations governing it. 

Although there are no extraneous restrictions, the sadhaka should steer clear of Nama-Aparadha, offence against Nama which will be incurred by:
1) Speaking ill of others and insulting Bhagavathas and other good people.
2) Making distinction between Siva and Vishnu, in respect of their names or attributes.
3) Showing disrespect to Guru.
4) Deriding Vedas and/or other sastras.
5) Relying on efficacy of Nama as a shield and abandoning nithya, naimithika karmas.
6) Non - cultivation of virtues enumerated as Daivi Sampath in Gita like Ahimsa, Satyam etc. 
7) Sporting Ahamkara and Mamakara.
8) Losing faith in the efficacy of Nama
9) Initiating one lacking faith in Nama into the practice of Nama Japa.
10) Straying from the path of Dharma.

In Vishnupurana there is a verse that says;”What is gained through Dhyana in Kritha yuga, through yajnas in Tretha yuga and through ritual worship in Dvapara yuga is obtained by chanting the names of  Kesava (standing for God) in Kali yuga”.  Yugas here can be interpreted not as the ages in physical time but as the state of mind from the least evolved state of consciousness represented by Kali Yuga to the highest developed state represented by Kritha yuga, observes Dr. T.M.P. Mahadevan.  What is gained by Dhyana, Yajnas and ritual worship is Chitta-Suddhi and through that Jnana Yogyatha. The Chitta-suddhi and Jnana yogyatha are easily gained through Nama Sankeerthan is the point of emphasis here. This we can see from Gita {(9-14) and (10- 10 & 11)}.  Describing such devotees, Lord Krishna says in Gita (9-14) - “Constantly singing my glory and striving with firm resolve (for liberation)  and bowing down to me in devotion,  they worship me with single-minded devotion, ever united with me”.  After describing them again in next chapter, Sri Krishna follows it up with the assurance (10-10 &11)-“To them ever united with me and worshipping me with love, I confer that Yoga of wisdom through which they come to me. I abiding in their hearts dispel the darkness born of ignorance, by the shining light of Jnanam.”

Nama siddantha is common to followers of all systems of philosophy including Advaita. The two great teachers of Nama Siddantha, Sri Bodhendral and Sri Sridhar Ayyaval were adherents of Advaita philosophy and what more the former was an ardent Vishnu bhaktha while the other an ardent Siva-bhaktha. The essence of teaching of all sastras is that one should surrender oneself to God to earn God’s Grace and to realize God.  And engaging in Nama Sankeerthan with ananya bhakthi is an easy way of surrendering oneself to Lord.

1 comment:

  1. The essence of teaching of all sastras is that one should surrender oneself to God to earn God’s Grace and to realize God. And engaging in Nama Sankeerthan with ananya bhakthi is an easy way of surrendering oneself to Lord.
    Great conclusion for a great exposition. hanks and congratulations.