In the previous episode, we had witnessed an intriguing accord from Sage Paraashara as he is on course of explaining some “royal” treatments that would be meted out to those who would reach the various Naraka Lokhas – Not one, but 32 of them! We’ve in due course witnessed one such treacherous Naraka Lokha called “Tapta Lokha”, wherein those people who misbehave with women, who torture women in many different ways, would enter into it. Yama-Dharma-Raja would have a beautiful idol of a woman made out of brass, which would be burning hot over a mass of fire. He would thus push those people who come there, onto that burning hot idol, which is one of the most cruel punishments that we could ever imagine! As Sage Paraashara lists down the royal treatments in various Naraka Lokhas thus, we might have become petrified and many of us might be damn sure that we might not go just into one Naraka Lokha, but we’ve to take turns to go into all the thirty-two put together! Perhaps Sage Maithreya too knew that there are going to be people like us who are “eligible” for all the thirty-two, and as our representative to Sage Paraashara, he interrupted the conversation mid-way. Sage Maithreya thus poses a counter question as to what are those ways through which one can protect himself / herself from entering into any of these Naraka Lokhas.
This is something that all of us should know and perhaps, we can take some corrective measures from here on, forgetting our past? Let’s look into what Sage Paraashara had to say on this. Sage Paraashara replies thus, “Oh Maithreya! I’m not telling all this to instil some fear into you. That’s not the point here, and it is out of question completely. I had just elaborated on the Naraka Lokha to highlight the intensity of the punishment given there. However, the bigger picture here is that, you should understand Bhagawan Vishnu’s significance – He protects those people who think about Him and with that divine thought, Bhagawan destroys all the sins that His devotees make. If the sins aren’t in the picture of these people, how do they even reach the Naraka Lokha? Only if I elaborate the Naraka Lokha experiences and then about Bhagawan, will you be able to understand His significance!”
This is an important message for all of us here. Sage Paraashara is continuing thus, “Oh Maithreya! Just think for a moment – Do all people who reach Vaikunta commit zero sins in their lives? It’s never possible! Every minute we keep committing sins day in and day out! However, what makes few people reach Vaikunta and what makes the others enter the Naraka Lokha? It is because those few who do sins, think about Bhagawan Vishnu, pray to Him and surrender to His divine Lotus Feet! Overwhelmed by this, Bhagawan destroys all their sins to make them neutral. He gives them the qualification and “eligibility” to reach Vaikunta! Only very few people in this world are born with that eligibility to reach Vaikunta. All the others either “create” that eligibility themselves, or they’re “given” that eligibility by Bhagawan to reach Vaikunta.” Sage Paraashara says thus,
“Praayaschitthaannaseshaani tapah karma aatmakaanivai!
Yaaniteshaam aseshaanaam krishnaanusmaranam param!!”
This is one of the most important slokas of this entire “Shri Vishnu Puraana”. Just like how we say that the “Sundara Kaanda” is the vital segment of the entire Valmiki Ramayana, this particular sloka has all the essence of the entire text of Shri Vishnu Puraana. It says “Praayaschitthaan aaseshaani” – This means, we cannot wipe out our sins by merely doing some “Praayaschitha” (Substitute actions or actions of repent), or we cannot wipe out or sins by merely doing “Tapas” (Deep penance), or “Karma” (Good actions), or “Aatmakaanivai” (Any action that would try and uplift our Atman). One can wash off his / her sins only by chanting Bhagawan Krishna’s divine names. This is what the second line of this sloka says – “Yaaniteshaam aseshaanaam krishnaanusmaranam param!!”
This is what we exactly term as “Naama-Sankeertanam ” or repeated chanting of Bhagawan’s divine names. It is only this “Naama-Sankeertanam” which is going to grant us “Moksha”. Aadi Shankara Bhagawad Paada too emphasized the same point here in his famous “Bhaja Govindam” song. The first stanza goes as follows:
“Bhaja Govindam Bhaja Govindam Govindam bhaja moodhamate!
Sampraapte sannihite kaale nahi nahi rakshati dukrinkarane!!”
Here, Sage Aadi Shankara drives home the same point – “Oh Moodamathe! (Stupid)! Don’t waste your time in every other worldly activity. You would never be able to attain Moksha with all what you’re doing! Chant the divine name of Govinda! (Bhaja Govindam). Only this would give you the eligibility of attaining Moksha!”
So for today, let us understand this important point on “Naama-Sankeertanam” and let us start performing it from today! We shall continue this discussion in the next episode as well, to see the significance of this “Naama-Sankeertanam” in this Kali Yuga. Stay tuned for an interesting episode tomorrow! 🙂