“According to Shrimad-Bhagavatam, there are twelve mahajanas, or great souls, and these are: (1) Brahma, (2) Lord Shiva, (3) Narada, (4) Vaivasvata Manu, (5) Kapila (not the atheist, but the original Kapila), (6) the Kumaras, (7) Prahlada, (8) Bhishma, (9) Janaka, (10) Bali, (11) Shukadeva Gosvami and (12) Yamaraja.” (Teachings Of Lord Chaitanya, Ch 21)
Feeling down on your luck? The daily grind getting to you? Too much pressure to sleep each night because of the imminent deadline that is the morning alarm clock, signaling the beginning of another hectic day at the office? No time for rest and relaxation, with one responsibility piled on top of another?
The acharyas of the Vedic tradition have some formulas to implement for the short-term. Something like emergency treatment provided by first-responders on the scene of an issue, the long-term solution is a little more involved.
For now, just repeat a set of names. Do it as soon as possible in the morning, so that the effects last for a longer duration. The sounds within those names are everything, as they represent amazing personalities capable of delivering the mind from trouble.
1. The twelve mahajanas
The literal translation is “great person.” The measurement is not in terms of net worth, physical strength, or external beauty. It is not merely in the level of renunciation, either. The twelve make the list on the determination of devotion to the Supreme Lord, tested in very difficult circumstances.
Lord Brahma has no one else to guide him in the important task of creating the world; he must meditate on Vishnu first. Lord Shiva lives completely renounced, though he must take a wife in the beautiful daughter of the mountain king. Prahlada Maharaja faces unspeakable incoming violence starting at a young age. Janaka casts aside his dispassionate nature for the right reason; finding the goddess of fortune in a field and taking her in as his daughter.
Repeating the twelve names brings auspiciousness at any time, since it is a reminder that the journey through life does not have to be difficult and alone. There are people to help. Though it seems like they are not in the immediate vicinity, the names carry forward their presence.
2. Twenty-four avataras
The Sanskrit word means “one who descends.” The idea is that God does not have a material form. The distinction between body and spirit applies only to the jiva souls. The Almighty is beyond any such dualities created in His shadow-copy realm known as the material world.
The avataras are literal gifts from above. They descend to this world to both show what transcendental features look like and give guidance on how to escape the seemingly endless cycle of birth and death.
The exact number varies depending on which Vedic text you consult. With the twenty-four, some are not complete avataras; there are different categories. Full and partial expansions, Divinely inspired writers and teachers, travelling dignitaries, and the like. Some of the avataras are not even of the human species.
3. Ten avataras
This is a more commonly known list. These are supposed to be God exactly; the full representation of Bhagavan. When we think of God the person, of what He looks like and how to interact with Him, the corresponding objects of association are these avataras. They are famously remembered in songs like the Dashavatara-stotram by Jayadeva Gosvami.
4. The four sons of Dasharatha
One of the ten in the above mentioned list is Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. He appears in a human form, and so His many deeds and teachings are more prominently discussed in Vedic literature. Rama appears in the solar dynasty of kings, and the monarch at the time is Dasharatha. This pious leader gets his name from the unique ability to face combatants on the battlefield coming from the ten directions simultaneously.
While Rama is considered a full incarnation, identical to Bhagavan Himself, three other partial expansions arrive with Him. Thus in a late stage of life the king who was previously without an heir gets blessed with four sons at a single time. Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Goswami Tulsidas recommends invoking these names before beginning an important task. You may or may not achieve success, but the connection to the four is always auspicious.
5. Hare Krishna
These two names form the basis of a very important mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. One translation for this sequence of words is a prayer asking for the opportunity to continue to engage in the service of the Supreme Lord and His energy.
Krishna is one of the ten avataras and also considered the original form of the Supreme Lord; though the incarnations are identical to one another. Hare refers to Hari, which is another name for Bhagavan. Hare is the energy of Hari, and so it also represents the feminine side of the Divine.
Take the names Hare and Krishna and there will always be auspiciousness. These names can be repeated at any time of day and during any situation. There is no possible violation based on time and circumstance. While devotion is ultimately meant to be pure, without any outside motives, even if these names are invoked with other desires in mind, the association itself is purifying. Moreover, the process is much easier than undergoing rigorous training at an ashrama, which requires travel and a drastic change to the way of life.
Not prepared everything away to give,
And going to an ashrama to live.
Where rules following strict,
And in meditation to sit.
Rescue from sets of names chanting,
Like twelve mahajanas granting.
Or the ten avataras of Vishnu descending,
Potency to Hare Krishna extending.
Categories: the five