Thursday, June 08, 2006

Story 33 - Story of Ajamila – 2

The dhootas of Narayana stopped the yama kinkaraas from taking ajamila with them. To this, the yama kinkaraas questioned thus to the Narayana dhootas: “who are you that you stop the rule of Yamaraja? Whose dhootaas you are? Why do you stop us?”

To this the Narayana dhootas replied thus: “are you the people who follow the instruction of dharmaraja or yama? Now answer us as to what is Dharma and what is Adharma? Why do you punish people? What is the rule for the same?”

The yama kinkaraas replied thus: “Whatever is mentioned in the Vedas is dharma and that which is against the Vedas is adharma. Veda is Narayana alone as we have heard. Everybody is punished based on their karma or action. This is the rule for punishment in this loka as well as para loka.”


Here we find Bhagavatham once again stressing on karma as well as dharma. Karma or action depends on the mental state as well as the guna of the person. But a seeker should always try to do punya karmas so that he doesn’t incur sin as well as he is not deviated from the reality of Brahman. Punya karmas are those which lead a person to the Lord – these are karmas which are selfless in nature as well as done with the attitude of offering as pooja to the Lord. Paapa karmas are selfish karmas which lead a person away from the Lord. When a person does a selfish action, he is in fact getting identified with the ego or the doer & thus he is deluded into getting attached to the action and its fruits. This is what is called papa karma as this makes the seeker deluded into the ocean of samsaara. Whereas that karma wherein there is no doership attributed to the seeker will lead the seeker more and more towards the goal of Lord as here there is no identification with ego or getting deluded into the ocean of samsaara.

Bhagavatham here points out that Dharma is that which is as per the Vedas. Veda word denotes knowledge – knowledge about the ultimate reality of Lord, that which alone really exists. Thus Dharma is following the path towards knowledge of the Lord – thus any action which leads a person to the reality of Lord is Dharma. Whereas adharma is doing those actions which not only obstruct the spiritual progress but lead the seeker away from the reality of Lord. This is the reality about dharma and adharma.

But what we normally think about dharma and adharma is that doing vedic action is dharma and doing avaidika action is adharma. But any action by itself never is dharmic or adharmic in nature – it all depends on the attitude with which the action is performed. If a person does the normally considered adharmic act of treachery but with the thought of the Lord, it is to be considered as a dharmic act only as the thought of the Lord leads the seeker towards the reality.

Thus Lord says in Gita:
Api chet suduraachaara bhajathe maam ananya bhaak
Saadhureva sa mantavyah samyak vyavasitho hi sah

That person who does the worse action but remembering me, he is to be considered as a sadhu or a seeker because of his steadfastness in me.

Kshipram bhavathi dharmaatma shashvat shaanthim nigacchathi
Kaunteya prathijaaneethi na me bhakthah pranashyathi
He very soon becomes a dharmaatma and realizes the eternal peace inherent in the Self – O Kaunteya, know for sure that my devotee never perishes.

Thus what the Lord is pointing out here is that whatever be the action, if the seeker does the action as an offering to the Lord and with constant remembrance of the Lord, such an action is DHARMA and leads to realization of one’s own very nature of Lord.

Each and every action has an equivalent reaction. Every karma bears an equivalent phala or fruit. This is the eternal law of KARMA. Nobody in the world whether it is the Lord himself can get away from this law. This law is eternal with respect to the illusory world – but once a person gets rid of all actions by burning them in the fire of knowledge, this law becomes invalid as there remains nothing but the non-dual Lord alone. Thus if a person does good actions, he bears good fruits. And if he does bad actions, he bears bad fruits. The body and birth that we attain is due to phalas of actions done in previous births. This cycle of birth-death based on karma-phala continues so long as the seeker doesn’t realize his own very nature of Lord – thereby cutting aside the illusion of karma, kaama and avidya.

The one and only way to get liberated from the bondage of karma is by renouncing the doer of Ego. This can be done in two ways – one is by knowing that “I am the Self, distinct from the doer of Ego” and the other is by completing surrendering to the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus when a seeker gets rid of the doer of Ego – he becomes a mere witness to the actions. Thus he is not affected by the karmas or the fruits of the karmas. This is what is called as SAKSHI BHAAVA or witness-hood state in Vedanta. Once a person becomes the mere witness to all activities, he realizes that the activities are mere illusions like activities in the dream world. Thus he is ever established in the reality of Lord, one without a second. Thereby very soon he realizes his own very nature of Lord – getting completely liberated from the ocean of samsaara.

Thus the one and only way to get rid of the eternal law of Karma which nobody in the world can get rid of is by renouncing the doer of Ego.

Yama kinkaraas continued thus:

Na hi kaschit kshanamapi jaathu thistathyakarmakrit
Karyathe hi avashah karma gunaih svaabhaavikairbalaat

Not even for a single second can a person remain without doing karma. He is made to do karma due to nature and qualities.

As Ajaamila didn’t do his svadharma of sticking to the Vedas, therefore he has done papa karma and hence we are taking him to naraka.

To this the Narayana Dhootas replied that once a person chants the name of Narayana, all his sins are removed instantly. Thus Ajaamila’s sins are gone and as he took the name of Narayana at the time of death, he will go to Narayana loka and not naraka.


Karma has been a riddle for many centuries and most of the religions too. Action goes on without any end. As vidyaranya puts it, we do action for enjoying and we enjoy for doing more action. Thus this vicious circle of action-reaction goes on.

Each and every person irrespective of whether he is a saint, realized person or a worldly ignorant person has to do action in the world. The Bhoo loka is a karma bhoomi as Lord says in Gita 15th chapter. Thus there is no option given to the human being as to whether he wants to do action or not. He has to do action. Lord Krishna had to do action, Sri Ramakrishna had to do action, Ramana Maharshi had to do action (though in his case, the action he did was remaining silent which is also an action only). Thus each and every person in the world is made to do action.

What is it that forces or controls the actions from an individual???

A person does action depending on his nature and quality or guna. A person who is more of tamasic nature (indicating slumber, laziness etc.) does the action of sleeping and not doing any physical action. Similarly a rajasic person does the action of doing more and more physical activity whereas a saatvic person does the action of making his mind calm and helping out other people.

Once a person goes beyond the trigunas of sattva, rajas and tamas, then he is not under the control of action. But so long as a person is working in the world, he is under the control of the trigunas – thus he has to do action. But the choice of what action to do is with the individual. By controlling one’s own nature or quality, a person easily gets control over the action he performs either physical or mental. Thus once a person gets more and more sattvic in nature wanting to keep the mind calm all the time, he does more of sattvic karma which leads to calmness of the mind. Thus by controlling the nature, a person can control his karma.

Since we all are forced to do karma, we have to do punya karmas so that we are not affected by the fruits of the papa karma which will be like obstructing the spiritual path. Thus each and every moment, we have to punya karmas – those karmas which lead us to the spiritual path – these are very vast but general ones are chanting, meditation, bhajans, spiritual seva, learning scriptures, compassion, helping out the needy etc. Thus when a person does punya karmas, he gets punya phalas – that which help in the spiritual path rather than obstructing his spiritual progress.

Therefore a seeker should always try to do punya karmas as well as try to abstain from doing papa karmas. But once a seeker progresses, he should also try to renounce the ego by surrendering completely to the Lord. When the seeker surrenders his ego completely, the doership vanishes & thus he is not at all affected by the action or its fruits. This is what is really required from a seeker. But since initially he will not be able to renounce his ego completely at all times, therefore he should refrain from doing bad actions. But once he progresses, it becomes natural for him to surrender completely unto the Lord. Thus he is not at all affected by the actions which he performs whether they are good or bad. Thus we find many people mentioned in the scriptures as well as in our times who have been doing bad actions but still are considered spiritual saints.

This is what the Narayana Dhootas are point out that once a person takes the name of the Lord, his sins also vanish. When a person does remember the name of the Lord, sins vanish from his mind. It is like telling that when a person remembers his love, all bad thoughts vanish as the very idea of “love” is pure. Similarly when a person knowingly or unknowingly takes the name of the Lord, his sins are removed. That is the importance of the names of the Lord. Thus Mahatmas always tell seekers to chant the names of the Lord through Lalitha Sahasranaama or Vishnu Sahasranaama so that all those moments we will be remembering the Lord as well as creating the environment to remove sinful thoughts from our mind.

Thus Ajaamila who called the name of the Lord at the time of death was liberated from the bondage of action. Scriptures proclaim that a person becomes that which he remembers at the last moment of his life – this is because that thought which has been going in his mind for the rest of his life alone can be remembered at the last moment. Thus since the seeker has been always thinking about the Lord, he will remember the Lord at the last moment and merge into the ultimate reality of Lord – never to return again to the sorrowful world.

Thus Ajamila was rescued from the claws of death – the narayana dhootas also vanished. Ajamila pondered over the sins that he had done and thus contemplating on the ultimate reality of Lord gave up his body in Ganga thus merging into the ultimate reality of Lord (getting liberated).

Yama kinkaraas went back to Yama loka and questioned Yamaraaja thus: “Protecting and ordaining fruits for people as per their actions, how people are there? We thought that only you are the person doing it. But for the sinner Ajamila, some four siddha purushas came and saved him from the clutches of death. Please explain us the same if we are eligible to know it”.

For the sentient and insentient entities, there is a protector apart from me. That protector is the creator, protector and destroyer of the world and the world is in him even as threads are part of the cloth. Creation, protection and destruction are but one part of his entire activity. This world is completely under his control.


Scriptures speak about the world being created from the cause of Brahman or Lord. Any effect has two causes of efficient and material. The pot is created out of the material cause of mud and efficient cause of potter. Similarly the Lord is both the efficient and material cause of the world even as the spider is the material and efficient cause of the web created by it.

Any creator has complete control of his creation. Thus the Lord has complete control of the creation of his world. This process of creation, protection and destruction are but one aspect of his nature alone. This aspect is valid only when there is creation really present. But the world that we perceive is always changing & any changing entity is only an illusion in the ultimate changeless entity of Lord. Thus the world is illusory and not real. Therefore creation, protection and destruction are also illusory only. The real nature of the Lord is being the substratum of the illusory creation. The Lord is propounded as being of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. Whatever objects or entities we see in the world have five parts in general which are Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, Name and Form. The first three parts of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss form the Lord and Names-forms form the illusory part of any object. Names and forms are illusory because they have no existence of their own apart from the reality of Consciousness.

Thus the world is a mere illusion in the ultimate reality of Lord. The Lord is the controller of the world as the substratum of the illusory world. We all are in fact the Lord alone but with a particular name and form. These names and forms are illusory – once a person gets rid of the illusory names and forms of Ego, mind, body etc, he realizes his own very nature of Lord. Getting rid of Ego, mind, body etc. is what the scriptures term as liberation or realization.

Since the world is under the control of the Lord, hence once a person contemplates on the ultimate reality of Lord he gets liberated from the ocean of samsaara denoting sorrow and suffering in the illusory world. Thus the easiest and direct way to get liberated from the bondage of action-reaction, chains of suffering is contemplation on the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus a seeker should always try to contemplate on the reality of Lord. The moment a person deviates from contemplation on the Lord, he enters into the illusion of names and forms. Names and forms can give nothing but sorrow alone. Thus he suffers if he forgets the reality of Lord even for a second. Thus it is very important for the seeker to constantly contemplate on the reality of Lord without any lapse or break.

Ajamila when he was freed from the clutches of death by the chanting of the name of the Lord contemplated on the reality of Lord – thereby merging into the Lord. Chanting of the name denotes remembrance of the Lord and trying to gain pure devotion for the Lord. When this is done, a person gets rid of illusory sufferings which are denoted by DEATH. Death is nothing but sorrow and suffering. Death is thus forgetting one’s own very nature of Lord. When a person gets pure devotion for the Lord by taking the name of the Lord, he overcomes sorrow and suffering or he overcomes death. This is symbolically what Bhagavatham points out by telling that Ajamila overcame death by taking the name of the Lord. Once a person gets rid of the illusory sorrows and sufferings, then there is no obstacle for him to constantly contemplate on the reality of Lord. Thus he is able to constantly remember the ultimate reality of Lord. When the seeker thus constantly remembers the Lord, the illusion of ignorance completely vanishes & the seeker realizes his own very nature of Lord. Thus Ajamila was liberated from the bondage of ignorance and death through constant contemplation on the reality of Lord.

Thus Bhagavatham here is trying to tell us that we all should constantly contemplate on the reality of Lord through repeating his name all the time. Repeating his name doesn’t mean that a person should behave like Meera or Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – always singing the name of the Lord at all times and places. But it only means that we have to constantly call his name along with the thought that “he alone is present” internally. External chanting is just a means to getting internal control and to focus the mind unto the Lord. Thus what is really required is constant chanting of the names of the Lord in the mind. When a seeker does thus, he gets rid of death in the form of sorrow and suffering – therefore he will always be blissful. Thus continuing to constantly contemplate on the reality, he realizes his own very nature of Lord.

We will continue with the reply of Yamaraaja to his kinkaraas next.

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