Recently a bank has decided to change its name."What is the big thing?" our readers may ask.
The big thing is that the bank is spending big money on big advertisement to tell everyone about this change of name.
Seeing their billboards, I was reminded of an incident that happened much before I came to Krsna consciousness. Many years back , when I was a second year medical student, I went with a friend to an earby Siva temple. After the darsana, as we were coming out an elderly gentleman came to us. "We are do ing a signature campaign," he said . "We want to ch ange the name of the local railway station and give it an Indian name. Kindly sign here and help us in this mission."
"Why?" I asked. "What will happen if you change the name?"
"This n ame is given by the English . By changing it to an Indian name we will erase the insult of foreign rule ."
"But by changing name you cannot ch ange history," I questioned. "The British did rule over India. What about it?"
''No . .. '' he defended his stance. I, on the other hand, felt that the entire exercise was a fruitless endeavor. Why waste time and effort to change a name? What social change will it make? Will it feed the hungry or help the poor? It 's just a name! Who cares for it?
Our verbal battle continued for some time. But before things could h eat up, my friend elbowed me , went ahead and signed.
"Hey come on," he tugged me. "Just do it. We are getting for the movie. "
Reluctantly, I picked up the pen . But before signing up I turned to the elderly gentleman and retorted, "What is there in a name anyway, huh?"
Famed author Shakespeare echoed my sentiments when he said: "What is in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."
Still names are important in our daily lives. They are tools of communication helping us to identify and speak about someone or something.
Name also denotes reputation. If you tell a prestigious company to change its name say from Sony to Tony or Bony or Pony, then what will happen ? Decades of labor to build goodwill of Sony will turn phony! Even if th e company decides to change its name much will be spent to tell the consumers that the new company is the same as one they trusted earlier, like the bank mentioned in the beginning.
Names also carry emotions. The elderly gentleman mentioned earlier, thought that a name given by the English was an insult to his country. A n Indian name represented his roots and identity. It stirred a pat riotic fervor in his h eart that impelled and guided his actions. These actions might not have stopped just at changing the name; they could have led to social reforms that I was thinking about.
The utility, however, ends here. Worldly names are non -permanent like this world and their usage is restricted to mundane topics related to worldly matters. Sometimes the name may hardly indicate the qualities of the person or object it represents. A blind man may be named 'Nayansukh' – one who gets pleasure from eyes; a girl with name 'Sweety' may speak harsher than a crow; 'Pretty' may have plenty of pimples; 'Amar' dies; and 'Duke' may be the name of a dog, and 'Emperor' of the street beggar.
On the other hand, holy names of the Lord carry much importance in all the religious traditions of the world, and particularly in Bhakti or path of devotion , where chanting the names of the Lord is a prescribed spiritual practice and meditation . The Vedic scriptures declare that in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, where people in general have less time and inclination for God, chanting His holy names is the easiest and most practical means of spiritual advancement. [Brhan-naradiya Purana]
Chanting the names of the Lord is an action of sacrifice or yajna. Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5 .32) declares: "In this Age of Kali, people who are endowed with sufficient intelligence will worship the Lord, who is accompanied by His associates, by performance of sankirtanayajna." Srila Prabhupada writes in Bhagavad-gita (1 6.1-3 Purport) : "The best sacrifice recommended in this age is called sankirtanayajna . This sankirtana-yajna, the c hanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna K rsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, is the best and most inexpensive sacrifice; everyone can adopt it and derive benefit." Lord Krsna also says: "Of sacrifices I am the ch a n t ing of t he holy names [japa] … " (B.g. 10.25)
Sacrifice is an act of gratitude on the part of the living entity towards God for the various gifts He so kindly bestows up on us. If we accept these gifts without acknowledging God we simply act as ungrateful children. On the other hand sacrifices help us to attract His mercy.
The Gita mentions: "In charge of the various necessities of life, the demigods, being satisfied by the performance of yajna [sacrifice], will supply all necessities to you." (B.g 3.12). Further it states (B.g 3.14): "All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice] . . .
Therefore, the chanting of holy names is not an isolated fruitless endeavor without any social ramification, but is a panacea for all the social needs. Pleasing the Lord by chanting His names is like watering the root of the tree it nourishes everything.
Holy name is also a way to God. Even in the beginning stage of chanting we can feel the presence, protection, and love of God. In the pure stage the name reveals much more. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, a great Vaisnava saint writes:
"When the name fully matures it transfers me to the abode of the Lord and reveals to me His divine pastimes. It provides my eternal spiritual form and the association of the Lord, and it dest roys all ignorance associated with this material body." (Sri Nama Mahimd)
In conclusion we can see that where a material name simply binds us to the cycle of birth and death in this world , the names of the Lord liberate us. They not only provide material solutions but also spiritual salvation. Chanting removes the bodily conception of life and reveals our constitutional position as the eternal the servant of the Lord.
Such are the glories of the holy name of the Lord.
So next time someone asks you, "What is there in the name?" you can safely say, "If it is the holy name, well – everything!"