In the present age, nama-kirtana, or the chanting of God's names, Is advocated as the topmost process for realizing the Absolute. This realization culminates in the development of love of God, which is the real fruit of chanting. The by-product of such chanting is the cessation of all miseries. Although nama-kirtana is efficacious in all ages, it is specifically recommended for the present age, because people lack the qualification for other Vedic processes.
In the previous ages, people were endowed with superior ability to perform austerity and to practice mind and sense control. Therefore, they could not readily place faith in a simple practice, such as nama-kirtana, as a means for realizing the Absolute. They thought that to attain such a lofty goal, they had to engage in severe penances, study of the Vedas, meditation, sacrifices and so on. Moreover, the knowledge concerning the glories of nama-kirtana was not revealed to them because of their apathy towards it.
Lord Caitanya, who appeared about 500 years ago, popularized nama-kirtana by his own personal example. He also requested his associates to preach and compose literature explaining the ideology of nama. Lord Caitanya revealed that nama is identical to the Lord, and as such it does not depend on any other process to award its fruit. He also disclosed that the essential teaching of Srimad-Bhagavatam is to establish nama-kirtana as the means for attaining love of God, which is the highest object a person can attain. Srimad-Bhagavatam is replete with glorification of nama-kirtana.
The story of Ajamila in the sixth canto is a unique feature of Srimad-Bhagavatam. It establishes the glory of the name in an extraordinary manner. It recounts that Ajamila, who was a fallen brahmana and a notorious sinner, became liberated from the clutches of death by chanting a mere semblance of the name, known as namabhasa. He did this by calling for son, Narayana, a name for the Lord. He did not consciously invoke the name of the Lord, but only cried out for his son, when death was upon his. He chanted in a helpless condition and not in a normal state of mind. Furthermore, his chanting was indistinct, as he was unable to clearly pronounce the syllables. Despite these deficiencies, he was greatly blessed by this semblance of the name. One can then only wonder at the benefit of directly chanting the name of the Lord, in a healthy state of mind and with love. Knowledge of Ajamila's story is a prerequisite to understand this booklet. It is narrated briefly below.
Everyone is looking for peace and happiness through different means. In the previous ages, the scriptures have prescribed diverse processes such as meditation, austerities, and sacrifices, but in the present age, the chanting of God's names has been advocated as the most efficacious method. It is the easiest means for achieving everlasting contentment, and does not require any specific eligibility, as was needed for the processes advocated in the earlier ages. There is no discrimination on the basis of birth, religion, nationality, age, or gender.
Nama-Tattva, is meant for anyone who is interested in attaining perfection of life by following the most powerful and sublime process of chanting the name of God. It unravels the secrets behind the chanting of the Name, and describes the proper methodology of chanting, which will lead to the desired goal.
Shri Satya Narayana Dasa has compiled Nama-Tattva on the basis of commentary of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Srila Jiva Gosvami on two verses of Sri Srimad Bhagavatam (6.2.9-10). A sincere devotee of the Name will find this exposition practical, enlightening, and exhilarating.
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