Shri Harinama's potential to liberate, as experienced by many, is a testament to its power.
In this era saturated with the rajas and tamas gunas; scriptures, poets, saints have again and again claimed that the only way to get peace of mind and walk towards liberation from misery is through the glorious name of Shri Hari. Considering the practical situation of today’s fast running clocks, where humans do not have time to even eat a meal in harmony, less said the better about their health, it is impossible to imagine performing any type of sadhana. With the advent of digital gadgets, time gets even more crunched up as significant time slots need to be allotted for social media, tv/mobile viewing and other such activities which have basically no positive or productive impact on our daily lives. The online world has made life even more mechanical and shallower causing less concentration and interest in performing any activity for spiritual welfare. In such circumstances which were foreseen by the sages of earlier times, the only remedy for the prosperity of the soul is Shri Harinama.
Liberation through Shri Hari
Glories in the name of the Lord are so vast that it is impossible to imbibe all of them into a single piece of writing. Nonetheless, this article will shed a few rays of light on the topic. The scriptures have mentioned that the character of a substance works according to nature irrespective of whether the user is aware of it or not. For example, fire will burn your hand if you put your hand in it irrespective of whether your knowledge or logic accepts it or not. Also, poison will definitely kill you if ingested irrespective of whether you drink it in your knowledge or unknowingly. In the same way, the name of Shri Hari eradicates all sins and saves the soul, whether taken in devotion or just by chance.
That is why Shrimad Bhagavatam states that:
पतितः स्खलितो मग्नः संदष्टस्तप्त आहतः|
हरिरित्यवशेनाह पुमान्नार्हति यातानाम्||
“If one utters the name of Hari while falling, slipping, drowning, being bitten by a snake or being hurt, he is redeemed above all punishment for his sins from Yamaraja.”
The aim of human life is described by the shastras is to overcome the material world and gain salvation. Although this can be attained by rigorous penance and practising a pure lifestyle, full of pious activities, this is not at all possible in today’s time where the layman isn’t even able to live a decent life. And in order to gain spiritual energy, the great saints of the past have described Shri Harinama as a complete yagya, a complete sadhana, a complete tapa and a complete pilgrimage. The Padma Purana mentions:
न गंगा न गया सेतुर्न काशी न च पुष्करम्|
जिव्हाग्रे वर्तते यस्य हरिरित्यक्षरद्वयम्||
वमेधादिभिर्यज्ञ नरमेधे सदक्षिणे|
यजितं तेन येनोक्तं हरिरित्यक्षरद्वयम्||
“For one whose tongue is always chanting the names of Hari, there is no need to perform pilgrimages such as Ganga, Gaya, Rameshwaram, Kashi and Pushkar. All types of yagyas like Ashvamedha and Naramedha have been completed by he who chants the names of Hari!”
That is why, Maithili Sharan Gupt describes Lord Rama speaking to Sitadevi in his magnum opus Saket as follows:
जो नाम मात्र ही स्मरण मदीय करेंगे, वे भी भवसागर बिना प्रयास तरेंगे|
“Those who will simply just remember my names will cross through the material world without any efforts!”
We notice in our day to day lives that we get maximum satisfaction or distress from our own activities and moods. There can be no one other than the self who can turn an agitated state of mind and elevate it onto a blissful platform. This is because the maximum harm that can occur to one’s soul is through the individual’s own sinful activities. One who chants the holy names of the Lord need not be afraid of anything including his own sinful activities. The Vishnu Dharmottara aptly states:
कृष्णेति मंगलं नाम यस्य वाचि प्रवर्तते|
भस्मीभवन्ति सद्यस्तु महापातककोटय||
“Thousands of abominable sinful activities are at once burnt to ashes for one who respectfully places the name ‘krishna’ on his tongue.”
Indeed, the holy name of Hari acts as the most well-wishing friend in the journey of one’s life and also acts as a companion for the soul in the journey beyond this world and body. Auspiciousness lies around in all directions for one who chants the name of the Lord, as mentioned by Goswami Tulsidas:
ताको भलो अजहूँ तुलसी जेहि प्रीति प्रतीति है आखर दूकी|
“He who has love and faith in the two syllables of the name of Shri Rama shall face auspiciousness at all times.”
When it comes to praising the name of the Lord, some devotees have declared that it is even greater than the Lord himself. A great devotee, Shri Gadadhar ji has written:
प्रगट दरस मुचुकुंदही दीन्हो ताहू आयसु बहु तप कीन्हो|
सुत हित नाम अजामिल लीन्हो या भव में कियो फिरि फेरो||
“Even after appearing directly before King Muchukund, the Lord instructed him to perform penance before he could be liberated, but Ajamila took the name of the Lord mistakenly (to call his son named Narayana) and yet he became free from the bondage of Yamaraja and this world!”
And why not? After all, the name of the Lord is easily available to anyone, at any time and any place without any effort, restriction or condition. Harinama can be taken at all times by anyone regardless of the purity of the situation, time, place and person and it itself cleanses all surroundings of every negativity present. The most common verse (from the Padma Purana) recited before beginning any Hindu ritual stands proof of this.
अपवित्रो पवित्रो वा सर्वावस्थां गतोऽपि वा|
यः स्मरेत पुण्डरीकाक्ष स बाह्याभ्यंतर शुचिः||
“Whether pure or impure, in any condition, one who remembers and utters the name of Pundarikaksha is cleansed both outward and inward.”
Padma Purana again stresses on the taking of Harinama for everyone without consideration of any impurity in time, space and self.
न देशकालनियमः शौचाशौच विनिर्णयः|
परं संकीर्तनादेव राम रामेति मुच्यते||
“Without considering the limitations of place, time and any other rules of purity and impurity, one who flawlessly sings the name of Rama shall be liberated at all times.”
The above are some small snippets of glorifications of Shri Harinama from various sources. Shri Harinama is the only way of redemption in this harsh world of misery and that is why the sages and saints have proclaimed its splendours again and again in numerous ways and places.