The significance of Rama Nama
His Holiness Sri Sri Swamiji discusses briefly about the significance of Rama Nama as cited in the different scriptures. The information given here on this glorious Nama is just the tip of the iceberg.
In Sri Swamiji’s words, ‘Even if the whole sky were used as a paper and all the waters of the Universe were used as ink, it would just not suffice to pen down the glories of Rama Nama!’
Rama Nama – The Name of the Name!
Every other mantra in our scriptures have their own names. Rama Nama is the only Mantra that is called ‘Taraka Mantra’. The word ‘taraka’ means the one that helps us cross. It helps us cross the ocean of ‘samsara’. It helps us cross the cycles of birth and death. If it is chanted as ‘Rama’, then it is a Nama.
If it is chanted ‘Ram’, then it is a Mantra.
Thus spake the Sages
Our ancient Sages and Rishis have glorified the Rama Nama.
Rama Nama gets exactly the same importance in Saguna Upasana (worshipping the Absolute Truth as a Being with a form) as does the Pranava (‘Om’) Mantra in Nirguna Upasana (worshipping the Absolute Truth as formless).
Rishi Manu shows that the Rama Nama has links to all the other mantras that ever exist.
In Syavana Smriti (Syavana is the name of a rishi), Syavana says that the Rama Nama is the essence of all the Vedas, Shastras, Itihasas and Puranas.
Sage Vasishta meditated on the Rama Nama for quite a long time. Hence he wanted to name the Almighty with the same Mantra that he had chanted.
The Yoga Connection
In the philosophy of the Yoga, ‘Ra’ is considered the ‘Mooladhara’ (the point of origin of the power of Kundalini) and ‘Ma’ is the ‘Sahasrara’ (the destination). Hence, when the Rama Nama is chanted in the right tone and manner, the serpent power rises and hits the head or the ‘kapala’ Thus, by merely chanting the Rama Nama, one can become a Yogi.
Shiva’s family Mantra
We are all aware of the story of the competition between Ganesha and Muruga on who will get the divine fruit. Muruga, angry that the fruit was not given to him, went to Palani. In order to appease his anger, the competition was conducted again, when Muruga diligently circumambulated his parents on his peacock at great speed. Ganesha, on his part, wrote ‘RAMA’ on the sand and circumambulated it, as that is equivalent of going around the whole world! Pleased, Siva honoured him by crowning him the leader of all his minions – the ‘bhoota ganas’ and thus he acquired the name ‘Ganapathy’ and ‘Gana Nayaka’
In Vishnu Sahasranamam, Lord Siva asks Parvati to chant the Rama Nama all the time. A good teacher is the one who practices what he preaches. It is obvious that Siva, being the Supreme Guru, (Jagadguru) Himself chants the Rama Nama. When parents do something noble, would not the son follow the same? Muruga and Ganesha chant the Rama Nama always. That is verily their ‘Kula Mantra’.
The Lord’s Favorite
The ‘sthala Purana’ of Kasi says that the deity Kasi Viswanatha initiates the Rama Nama to each and every being at the time of their death, in their right ear.
The Lord Dhakshinamurthy observes silence because He doesn’t want to waste any time without chanting the Rama Nama.
The Sun God ever chants the Rama Nama as he is proud that Sri Rama came in his dynasty.
The Devatas’ favourite
Sage Vishwamitra took Sri Rama and Lakshmana to the forests for ‘yagna samrakshana’ (protecting their fire austerities from the demons). Out of the boundless love for Sri Rama, Viswamnitra wanted to gift Him something. A sage that he was, he had no worldly possessions, nevertheless, he had performed an abundance of austerities. He had penanced for a very long time on crores of ‘Devatas’ with mantras for each of them. He initiated Sri Rama with these Mantras.
As soon as the Mantras were initiated to Sri Rama, the ‘devatas’ appeared before them! Viswamitra was jealous of the fact that those devatas who could be invoked by him only after severe penances, now appeared the instant Sri Rama chanted their Mantras!
In our Shastras it is prescribed that when the devatas are invited, they can be installed in one of the three — water (that is the reason we install ‘kalas’ – pots of water for japa, kumbabhishekam and the like), fire (that is the reason we perform homam) and the third being, installing them into one’s own body (during Sandhyavandanam, Goddess Gayathri is installed thus). Here, when the devatas were invoked, they refused to go back to their abodes. Hence Sri Rama invited one and all of them into his body. Thus, by merely chanting the Rama Nama, one gets the benefit of invoking all the 33 crores of devatas as well.
Ramayana is filled with instances where merely the Name ‘Rama’ has solved so many miseries and disentangled so many situations.
One Name for all Gods
Generally, people can be divided into two broad categories: the Shaivites, who worship Lord Shiva as the supreme, and the Vaishnavites, who worship Lord Vishnu and His forms as the Supreme Being. The most significant Mantra for any Vaishnavite is the ‘Ashtakshari’ (it contains eight letters in Sanskrit) mantra ‘Om Namo Narayana’.
The chief among the Mantras for the Shaivites is the Panchakshari (5 lettered) mantra, ‘Om Nama Shivaya’. Without the letter ‘ra’, ‘Narayana’ would read as ‘Nayana’ that means one without a way (‘gati’); without the letter, ‘ma’, ‘Namasivaya’ would read as ‘Nasivaya’ that means inauspicious.
So the jiva akshara (life-giving letters) ‘Ra’ and ‘Ma’ of these two Mantras are put together to form the Rama Nama!
Anyone chanting this Divine Name thus worships both Shiva and Vishnu at the same time.
Rama Nama in today’s world
Sri Bodendra Saraswati Swamigal, Kabir, Samartha Ramadas, Thiyagaraja, Bhadrachala Ramadas, Papa Ramdas, Bhagavan Yogiramsuratkumar and innumerable saints in the recent past have advocated the Rama Nama and also showed how the Rama Nama can perform miracles.
Sri Ramakrishna initiated Swami Vivekananda into the holy ‘Rama’ Nama. It is the power of that Divine Name that made him establish this Universal Religion of Brotherhood called Hinduism all over the world.
Mahatma Gandhi, in his final lecture before independence, said, ‘We have tried our level best. Now let us all chant the Divine Name together. Only that has the power to get us independence.’ Not one of his prayers passed without Rama Nama Kirtan.