(7) नारायणं तनु त्यागे, Naaraayanam Thanu thyage,


Hold onto Naaraayana, when leaving your mortal coils

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नारायणाय विद्महे वासुदेवाय धीमहि |
तन्नो विष्णु: प्रचोदयात् || - विष्णु गायत्री


"I pay my obeisance to Naaraayana, to that Vasudeva,
May he, Vishnu, guide me through the right path." - Vishnu Gayatri
Though all the previous names have been said in praise of Naaraayana Himself, what exactly does this simple word mean? Even the famous Ashtakshari Mantra takes the form of this Divyanaama - "ॐ नमो नारायणाय, Om Namo Naaraayanaaya". In actuality, this word is pregnant with meaning, depending on the way you look. "नरानां जीवानां अयनत्वात् प्रलय इति वा, Naraanaam Jeevanaam Ayanatvaat pralaya iti va", i.e. He into whom all the men and creatures take refuge during the times of Pralaya is Naaraayana. Another common meaning is: He who moves on the infinite waters is Naaraayana. Also, "नराज्जातानी तत्त्वानि नारानिति ततो विदु:| तान्येव चायनं तस्य तेन नारायणा: स्मृता|| - Naraajjaataani tattvaani Naaraniti tato viduhu. Taanyeva chaayanam tasya tena Naaraayanah Smrtha.". He is the abode of the Naaras (Tattvas) which have arisen out of Naras (men) and hence He is Naaraayana. Since He is the Upeya (goal) to be achieved by the humans (Nara) as well as the Upaaya (means) to attain it, He is Naaraayana,


With so many different meanings, which one is apt for our context? The last ones seem the most apt to me.Since He alone is the only way to reach Him, we have to meditate on His Naama to attain the goal of merging with the Paramaatma. But that does not mean we think of Him only at our final moments. Bhagavaan says "अन्तकाले च मामेव स्मरण्, - Antakaale cha maameva smaran". Remember me at the time of death also (the 'also' is very important). Since one's thoughts during one's lifetime tend to influence the thoughts at the time of death, the Lord urges us to think of Him even amidst mundane activities. This way, when the time comes, we automatically think of Him alone and thus attain Prapatti. Thus the Lord gives us the means to attain Him and also the freedom to choose whether or not to follow the means




The Deliverance of Ajaamilan
In this context, it is important that we recollect the story of Ajaamilan. Ajaamilan was born a Brahmin and brought up with the best of upbringing. However, as fate would have it, he became obsessed with lust and took to a prostitute's home, abandoning his chaste family. Because of his sinful activities, Ajaamilan soon lost all his wealth and good name and slowly he was forced to thieve, drink and even murder. He begot many children through the prostitute and lived his life in utter ruins. However, when he was lying on his deathbed at the age of eighty, he had this sudden urge to see his youngest son and kept calling out his name - Naaraayana. As a result, when the Yamadhoothas ultimately came to take Ajaamilan's soul for punishment and rebirth, the messengers of Vishnu intervened and took him to Vaikuntha instead. Even though Ajaamilan had conducted the worst of sins, crimes and adultery, he nevertheless was purified from all these sins because at the last moment he chanted the holy name of Naaraayana. Such is the sanctity and power of this name.