We sometimes might doubt: „Is this chanting actually working? Will I ever achieve perfection?“ Hearing from the Srimad-Bhagavatam clears such doubts immediately! Every page glorifies the Holy Name, especially the story of Ajamila in the sixth canto gives very strong evidences of the Holy Names’ potencies.
Most of us know the story; Ajamila, although born as Brahmana, fell victim to his lusty desires and spent his whole life with a prostitute while committing all kinds of sinful activities. At the time of death, the Yamadutas, the messengers of Death, came to take his soul but were stopped by the Vishnudutas, the servants of Vishnu. Why? Because Ajamila chanted the name Narayana at the time of death. Even though he meant to address his son, who he named Narayana, he, nevertheless, received the benefit of turning to God at the time of death.
The Vishnudutas then explained that the chanting of the Holy Name is so powerful that even if a person chants the names of God in an indirect way, he still gets all good fortune:
„One who chants the holy name of the Lord is immediately freed from the reactions of unlimited sins, even if he chants indirectly [to indicate something else], jokingly, for musical entertainment, or even neglectfully. This is accepted by all the learned scholars of the scriptures.“ (1)
A powerful statement! This means that whoever hears or chants any names of God gets unlimited benefits even if the person is not aware of what is happening. For example, there is a company that sells furniture with the name Conforama. Whoever says, „Let’s go to Conforama, I need a new sofa!“ gets spiritual credit, because the word Conforama includes a name of God, Rama! Even if people call out `Hare Krishna` in a joking mood or even in a contempt way, still they will get some benefit. That’s why Srila Prabhupada used to ask the devotees when receiving newspaper articles: „ How many times did they mention Hare Krishna?“ Whether the content was positive or negative, Srila Prabhupada was more concerned that people would get a chance to hear the name of God.
Does that not sound reasonable? The Vishnudutas gave two very vivid examples, that of fire and medicine, in order to explain the principle behind this truth:
„As a fire burns dry grass to ashes, so the holy name of the Lord, whether chanted knowingly or unknowingly, burns to ashes, without fail, all the reactions of one's sinful activities.“ (2)
„If a person unaware of the effective potency of a certain medicine takes that medicine or is forced to take it, it will act even without his knowledge because its potency does not depend on the patient's understanding. Similarly, even though one does not know the value of chanting the holy name of the Lord, if one chants knowingly or unknowingly, the chanting will be very effective.“ (3)
We might be aware of the danger of fire or not, a fire will burn everything that comes in contact with it. We might understand how a medicine works or not, if it’s taken it will cure one’s disease. Similarly, one may or may not know the power of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, but if one chants the holy name one will become freed from all sinful reactions.
If the Holy Name is chanted with a simple heart, without offences, it will have its effect. (4) What can we take from this for our own lives? Well, it should give us a lot of faith and encouragement:
If a sinful person like Ajamila gots a second chance and could finally attain perfection, why shouldn't we be able to do so too?
Ajamila chanted without faith.
What will happen if one chants with faith?
Ajamila chanted while dying.
What will happen if one chants while living?
Ajamila chanted to indicate his son.
What will happen if one chants to indicate the Lord?
Ajamila was most sinful.
What will happen if a sinless person chants?
I felt this to be an inspiring meditation! Certainly, one who throughout his life chants the Holy Name in a spirit of pleasing Krishna will attain the highest perfection. There is no doubt about this!
1 - Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.14
2 - Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.18
3 - Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.19
4 - Ajamila chanted without offences, this is explained by Srila Prabhupada as follwos: „To chant the holy name of the Lord just to counteract one's sinful activities, or to commit sinful activities on the strength of chanting the holy name, is offensive (nāmno balād yasya hi pāpa-buddhiḥ). But although Ajāmila engaged in sinful activities, he never chanted the holy name of Nārāyaṇa to counteract them; he simply chanted the name Nārāyaṇa to call his son. Therefore his chanting was effective. (..) although he committed many sinful acts, he was offenseless because he did not chant the holy name of Nārāyaṇa to counteract them.“