Rama or Nama

The Vedas declare that the one indivisible Truth, the Parabrahma Paramatma, is all-pervading and ever-present in all names and forms of the universe. Yet we do not see it. Just as the unmanifest fire in the wood manifests in a visible form on rubbing, the Truth, God, the Self of all, present in everyone, remains hidden due to our state of ignorance. The Truth is our absolute nature; it is of the nature of bliss. Despite this, everyone in the world is unhappy, beset with tensions and anxieties.

God has two aspects – His formless and attribute-less nature, and His form, replete with attributes. In Ramcharitmanas, Goswami Tulsidas declares that the Lord’s name, Rama Nama, is greater than both! Shri Rama refers to the son of King Dasharatha as well as to one who delights all – the Self in whom everybody finds happiness. Therefore, the name is the bridge. It indicates and finally reveals both the formless (nirguna) Brahman as well as His saguna form as Lord Rama. In fact, the names of the Truth are its indicators. They alone are the way to recognize and know one’s own true, divine and blissful nature.

Rama Nama is great because Shri Rama was great. If He had not been great, who would remember His name? Thus – the form (rupa) of the Lord and His name (nama) – are inextricably linked and have an interesting relationship. Who is the master? Who is the follower? One would think that the form is the master and the name is the follower. Consider this: if you hold a form in your hand without knowing its name, can you identify it? Suppose you hold a mango but you do not know it; can you enjoy it as a mango? Yet, the moment someone articulates the word ‘mango’, its form flashes in your mind along with its attributes of shape, colour, taste and so on. So, the name is the leader and the form is the servant. Without a name, you cannot gain knowledge of the form.

In fact, in Bala Kanda, Sant Tulsidas unveils the complete Ramayana in a few verses. These verses, wherein he compares the glories of the name to the form, can be titled ‘Namayana’ – the journey of nama and its glory!

Sant Tulsidas presents various examples to validate his claim. The mighty Lord of the universe assumes a human form for the benefit of His devotees. Shri Rama underwent tremendous trials and tribulations to protect sadhus, safeguard those who lived by dharma and give joy to all His devotees. However, just by remembering or chanting His name with love, the devotee himself becomes an abode of peace, joy, goodness, and radiates it to others.

Bhagavan destroyed the demoness Tadaka, a symbol of evil and false expectations. Yet, simply taking His name destroys these precise causes of sorrow in our hearts. Further, Lord Rama released only one Ahalya from her tapas, stone-like condition, whereas His name has uplifted countless crooked and distorted intellects, and continues to do so. Shri Rama broke Shiva’s bow, the bow of materialism and samsara, but His name ends the very fear of uncertainty characteristic of this transient world. Having gained the invaluable jewel of Rama Nama from the Guru, the devotee overcomes and outthinks uncertainty just by chanting His name.

During His lifetime, the Lord rid this world of many rakshasas, engaged in harming or destroying others. But, what about the demonic impurities in our minds? In Kaliyuga, people are unable to perform elaborate sadhanas, pujas and tapas. However, the beauty of this Yuga is that the minds of millions of devotees are purified simply by chanting the Lord’s name. All impurities come to an end; all fears and negativities disappear when Bhagavan enters one’s heart. When the name comes, Rama comes; when Rama comes, one revels in Bliss. That is the glory of the Lord’s name!

Swami Swaroopananda
Global Head, Chinmaya Mission

Published in the Speaking Tree Section of Times of India on 8 April 2022