The Power of the Name

Once there were two brothers, Hari and Nāma. Now Hari had no interest in chanting while Nāma was very fond of chanting the Lord's Name. Also, Hari had many bad habits like smoking, drinking, gambling, etc., while Nāma was quite religious and the exact opposite of Hari in habits and behavior. One day, Nama and his friends gathered and started urging Hari to chant the Lord's Name at least once. To get away from their constant urging, Hari chanted the Lord's Name once.

Many years later when Hari died, Sri Yama (the Lord of Death) took Hari's spirit or subtle body to the subtle world. While the decision was being made whether Hari was to go to heaven or hell they came across a record of chanting the Lord's Name once in Hari's lifetime. So, Sri Yama asked Hari, “What is the importance of chanting this Name?” On that Hari replied, “Sorry, but I don't know the importance of this Name.” Sri Yama then asked Hari to come with Him to Sri Vishnu, to gain an understanding of the importance of the Name. But in an effort to delay the decision about his fate, afraid that he was likely going to hell, Hari said, “Till it is decided whether I am to go to heaven or hell, I should be treated as a good soul and should be taken by a special vehicle (palkhi) to meet this Sri Vishnu that you are referring to.”

Sri Yama humoured Hari and indeed took him in a special vehicle to Sri Vishnu. Upon reaching Sri Vishnu's abode, Sri Yama asked Hari to come out of the vehicle to meet Sri Vishnu. But Hari, desperate to put off the decision about his fate, refused to do so, hoping that Sri Vishnu would not take the trouble to come to the vehicle. He added, “I don't know who this Sri Vishnu is; if He wishes let Him come to meet me, but I will not come out!” Upon hearing this commotion outside His abode, curious of this newly arrived jiva's (soul) ignorance, Sri Vishnu Himself appeared in His full glory, which encompasses all universes (Virāt Rûpa). Seeing the Lord in His full glory instantly transformed Hari into a Self-Realised soul; he thus came to gain complete knowledge of the Universe. Prostrating himself in obeisance to the Lord, he prayed, “By Your grace, I have come to understand the true nature of this world that I was so madly after. As this materialistic world is nothing but a dream, please allow me to stay next to Your Holy Feet. Please don't let me depart from Your Blissful Presence.”

Moral: Repeating the Lord's Name only once and that, too, without faith, brought a bad character like Hari to the Lord in his after-life. How much benefit would one derive in this very life from constantly chanting the Lord's Name with faith!