“Lord Brahma, Bhagavan Narada, Lord Shiva, the four Kumaras, Lord Kapila [the son of Devahuti], Svayambhuva Manu, Prahlada Maharaja, Janaka Maharaja, Grandfather Bhishma, Bali Maharaja, Shukadeva Gosvami and I myself know the real religious principle. My dear servants, this transcendental religious principle, which is known as bhagavata-dharma, or surrender unto the Supreme Lord and love for Him, is uncontaminated by the material modes of nature. It is very confidential and difficult for ordinary human beings to understand, but if by chance one fortunately understands it, he is immediately liberated, and thus he returns home, back to Godhead.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.3.20-21)
स्वयम्भूर् नारदः शम्भुः
कुमारः कपिलो मनुः
प्रह्लादो जनको भीष्मो
बलिर् वैयासकिर् वयम्
धर्मं भागवतं भटाः
गुह्यं विशुद्धं दुर्बोधं
यं ज्ञात्वामृतम् अश्नुते
svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ
kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ
prahlādo janako bhīṣmo
balir vaiyāsakir vayam
dharmaṁ bhāgavataṁ bhaṭāḥ
guhyaṁ viśuddhaṁ durbodhaṁ
yaṁ jñātvāmṛtam aśnute
Friend1: I was watching a spiritual leader on television the other day and he was explaining the importance of taking the names of the twelve mahajanas.
Friend2: This was a discourse on bhakti? The twelve great personalities listed by Yamaraja in the Shrimad Bhagavatam?
Friend1: Yes and yes. The god of justice, as presented in the Vedic tradition, one time had to explain to his assistants why certain people are not eligible for appearing before him after death.
Friend2: Yamaraja is something like the person at judgment day.
Friend1: The Grim Reaper. Whatever your preferred terminology. The idea is that this life is not the only one. Based on the accumulation of good and bad deeds, pious and sinful, there is a determination made on the next destination.
Friend2: To heaven, hell or maybe the same place.
Friend1: In the same kind of body or possible demotion to a lower species. The same individual spirit soul, but covered with different kinds of elements. Anyway, let’s get back to the mahajanas.
Friend1: They are identified as such because of their knowledge, perseverance, dedication and level of realization of spiritual matters. The guru I was watching said that repeating these names in the morning brings tremendous auspiciousness throughout the entire day.
Friend2: For sure. You are connecting with saintly people. They show the way so that I don’t have to discover on my own. I am something like stuck in a dark room without any light. I have never been in that room before, so I don’t know where to go. The mahajanas turn the light on, so to speak, and guide me on where to go.
Friend1: Particularly with how to escape. I get the analogy. Here’s the thing. We get all sorts of names passed on to us. Say this particular mantra for clearing away obstacles. Remember that person when you are in trouble. Couldn’t someone lodge the complaint that everything references the past?
Friend2: What references the past?
Friend1: The mahajanas. They are from a long time ago. The Puranas detail events that took place long before any recorded history.
Friend2: That is not entirely true. We also get hints into the future, such as with the Kalki avatara.
Friend1: But you know what I mean. The Bhagavad-gita was spoken on the battlefield of a war that took place more than five thousand years ago.
Friend2: And your problem with this is?
Friend1: I don’t have an issue, but what about living in the present? The right now – that is where we are today. Why aren’t we taking the names of saintly people from recent times?
Friend2: Who says that you can’t? What do you think the prayer to the spiritual master is? He is the representative at the personal level. He is the one who tells me about the mahajanas. He explains Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam in a way that I can understand.
Friend1: Let’s say that the person on television is one of these saintly people. He’s not recommending that anyone worship him. He’s not telling people to repeat his name on a daily basis in order to purify the consciousness.
Friend2: Of course he’s not going to say that. It’s just basic etiquette. Valmiki Muni says that a pure devotee of Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord, loves the guru more than God. This is true because of a deep realization, understanding the impact of the meeting with the saintly person. The guru changed my life so I will always remember them. They are the reason for my happiness. They saved me from the despair and hopelessness of material life, and that is a debt I can never repay.
A debt never to repay,
So surely name to say.
The guru in the present giving,
So that in best future living.
Of the past also to explain,
Like Mahajanas from wisdom to gain.
Whose names daily to repeat,
For maya’s agents to defeat.