The city of Ayodhya was in a great festive mood. It was the auspicious day of “Namakarana” – the naming ceremony of the sons of King Dasaratha. Sage Vasishtha who was also the family Guru was given the sacred responsibility to suggest suitable names for the four children. The three younger children were given the names: Lakshmana (one who is endowed with noble qualities), Bharata (one who revels in the light of knowledge) and Shatrughna (one who destroys all enemies).
The eldest son of King Dasaratha and his queen Kausalya had to be named. Sage Vasishtha, the great Brahma-rishi knew that this was no ordinary child. Lord Narayana himself had chosen to come down in human manifestation (manav-avatar) to destroy the demonic forces, protect the virtuous and re-establish dharma in all its pristine glory. The name should not only reflect the infinite glory of the Lord, but it should also become a ferry for seekers to cross over the ocean of samsara (transmigration). It should be short, and yet ambrosial to utter and hear. It should be simple, and yet most powerful!
Sage Vasishtha contemplated on the great and most powerful 8-lettered Vaishnava Mantra “Om Namo Narayanaya” and the 5-lettered Shaiva Mantra “Namah Shivaya”.
Om Namo Narayanaya, means ‘Salutations unto Narayana’. Nara + Ayana means ‘the path (Ayana) taken by Nara (individual) to ultimately reach the State of Narayana’. If RA is removed from the mantra, the meaning becomes ‘no path to reach the Higher’. Therefore, RA is the ‘life’ of the 8-lettered mantra. Namah Shivaya means ‘Salutations unto Shiva’. Shiva means ‘Auspicious’. If MA is removed from the mantra, the meaning becomes ‘na Shivaya or inauspicious’. Therefore, MA is the ‘life’ of the 5-lettered mantra.
When the two letters RA and MA come together it becomes RAMA. Hence the two-lettered word RAMA carries with it the power of both the mantras. RA also represents the Ultimate Reality, the Spiritual GOAL, because it originates from the word Narayanaya. MA originates from Namah and therefore it represents surrender, the PATH to be taken to reach the Goal. Hence the word RAMA is complete by itself because it represents the GOAL and the PATH to be taken by the seeker. RAMA NAMA is known as the Taraka Mantra – the mantra which will help an individual to cross (tara) the ocean of samsara and reach the State of Absolute Bliss (ka).
“Rama” means “sarve ramanti iti ramah”. That Life Divine or Absolute Reality that enlivens all things and beings is RAMA – the Supreme Brahman. RA is associated with the number 2, and MA is associated with the number 5. A combine of the two letters RAMA therefore becomes 2×5=10. Hence uttering RAMA once is equivalent to chanting the Lord’s name 10 times. To utter RAMA twice (10×10) is equivalent to chanting the Lord’s name 100 times. To utter RAMA thrice (10×10×10) is equivalent to chanting the Lord’s name 1000 times and hence equal to the chanting of the Lord’s Sahasranama.
“SRI RAM”: SRI represents Prakriti and RAM represents Purusha. Therefore, SRI RAM represents the Prakriti-Purusha or Matter-Spirit Concept – complete by itself.
When the hunter-turned-Valmiki was initiated by Sage Narada with Rama Nama, he found it difficult to chant it. So he started chanting MARA..MARA…which when chanted continuously becomes RAMA..RAMA. The word MARA means ‘death, change, finite and mortal’. The reverse of this word which is RAMA therefore means ‘life, changeless, infinite and immortal’.
# “Is it possible to comprehend the glory of the 2-lettered RAMA mantra. When an individual opens the mouth and utters RA the negativities within oneself are thrown out and by uttering MA when one closes the mouth, the negativities are prevented from entering our personality. Lord Shiva, Sage Valmiki and Lord Hanuman alone are fully aware of the glory of Rama Mantra” ~ Sri Purandaradasa.
# “Oh Mind! Do not waste any more time. Take to the chanting of Rama Nama, the life-saving mantra”~ Swami Thyagaraja.
# “Oh Rama! Extremely sweet is your name. More sweeter than all the fruits and sweets put together!” ~ Bhadrachala Ramadasa.
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