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Ram Nam Mahima :1-Story of Mahatma Shyamdas

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One night Mahatma Shyamdas  was going somewhere , deeply immersed in the joy of chanting Shri Ram’s name in Ajapa-jap method. He happened to pass through a deep forest while chanting.

Since Mahatma Shyamdasji was a renunciant. He used to keep on roaming across the country time and again. He did not stay at one place for long. He was devotee of Lord’s name and therefore used to chant Shri Ram’s name throughout day & night. He used to chant himself and used to advocated same & persuaded others to do the same as well .

Swamiji lost his way in the middle of the forest but he was still in joyus self, chanting Shri Ram’s name and thought “Let me go where Lord Shri Ram ,takes me”.  He saw some lights in the distance  and started moving in that direction.

As soon as he approached near the Banyan tree, he saw there was gathering of some people. They  were playing musical instruments,singing and drinking alcohol. Women and Men were joking, dancing and making merry. Swamiji felt that they were ghosts and not humans. One ghost got hold of him and said,” O Human, come our leader wants to see you.”

Swamiji was in elated state of Ram naam chanting and proceeded without any fear. They reached the leader of the ghosts who was sitting on throne surrounded by some other hosts. Pretraj, The leader of Ghosts said in loud voice,” Why have you come here? Our group is in great elation today. Are you not afraid of dying from the deadly ghosts.”

Shyamdas ji smiled and replied,” Fear of death for me? O Chief, People who are in love with their lives they are afraid of death. We are renunciants and think of death, a subject of great elation. We see death as  a process of leaving old and attaining new body and this is decided by the fate only.

Pretraj(Ghost leader) , ” Do you know, who we are?”

Mahatmaji ,”I guess you are a ghost.”

Pretraj ,”Are you aware that everyone trembles with fear from us?”

Mahatmaji ,” Pretraj, Do not count us renunciants, among regular humans. We may be alive but are free  from the desire of being alive and akin to dead people. Even if you consider us alive then also you cannot kill us without the consent of fate. Life and death are bound by the karmas of people and will of God. Can I ask you a question?”

Pretraj was amazed at the intrepidity of Mahatma Shyamdas. In a world where the some humans just faint even on the mention of ghosts, here is such a person who is talking to us so fearlessly. He was intrigued and relented ,”What is it that you want to ask?”

Mahatmaji,” What is the occasion of great festivity here today?

Pretraj ,” My only daughter is unmarried till date because we could not  find a suitable groom for her till date. But now there is a possibility to find one. Since there is marriage scheduled tomorrow, therefore all this merriment and a party has been organised today for my fellow ghosts.”

Mahatma Shyamdas ji laughed and said ,”Were is the groom- your would be son in law. I want to see him.”

Pretraj,” O Mahatma, the one detached from love of life. The groom has still not become the ghost. He is the son of a wealthy merchant living in the village on the fringes of this forest. He has done many great sins , and thus suffering with a deadly disease now.

He will be dead before the evening tomorrow and then we shall marry him with my daughter. Therefore we will be singing dancing ,drinking whole night today. Shyamdas ji took the leave from there and proceeded further chanting Lord Shri Ram’s name. He reached the village near the forest eventually.It was morning till then.

He asked a passing by villager ,”Is there son of any wealthy person sick with deadly disease in this village?”

Villager,” Yes Maharajji. Sankalchand, the son of merchant Navalasha is very ill for last  one year. He could not be cured in spite of all efforts done by his father.”

Mahatma ,”Do they observe Jain faith?”

Villager,” His ancestors were Jain. But after trading a long time with Bhatiyas, now they have become Vaishanva . “

Mahatma Shyamdas reached Seth Navalasha’s place. His son, Sankalchand was in serious condition. He was in his last few hours, but still parents became hopeful upon seeing a saint. They welcomed the saint. Mahatmaji started chanting Lord Shri Ram’s near the bed of Sankalchand. Visitors increased in afternoon, sensing that there are last moment of Sankalchand.

Mahatmaji asked Sankalchand,”How are you now Sankalchand”

Sankalchand opened his eyes and saw the pious saint sitiing in front of him. He started crying  and said,” O Mahatman, you have come here to amend my ending now. I have committed many sins. I am  so ashamed that how am I going to appear in front of God with such a burden of sins. Still I am seeing the great saint like you. This must mean something good to me.”  Sankalchand started coughing and panting saying this much.

Mahatma Shyamdasji said ,” Son, Do not be afraid. Lord Shri Ram delivers even the greatest sinners. These are your last few hours. Now there is no need to be afraid of death. Keep calm and stop all the urges of mind now and focus on Lord Shri Ram’s name. Immerse you mind in the name of Lord Shri Ram.

Scriptures say,”

चरितम् रघुनाथस्य शत कोटिम प्रविस्तरम् |
एकैकम् अक्षरम् पुण्या महपातक नाशनम् ||

Meaning: Lord Shri Ram’s virtues are extolled in hundreds of crores of words but even one letter of Lord’s Name destroys great sins.

Sankalchand’s condition aggravated towards the evening. Vaidays (Ayurvedic Doctors) were called. The Heerabhasm (ashes of diamond?) etc & all costly medicines were given but to no avail. Swamiji understood that these were the last moments of Sankalchand. He  stooped down to whisper in Sankalchand’s ear and reminded him to take the name of Lord Shri Ram now. As soon as Sankalchand said ‘Ram’ he died. People started crying. Funeral preparations began. Mahatmaji left the place thereafter.

Mahatmaji Shyamdasji came to to the river and took bath ( as is the ritual , One needs to take bath after coming from funeral). He remembered Lord Shri Ram and departed from that place. It was evening by now. By the midnight he again reached the same banyan tree where he first met the ghosts. All the ghosts were there. Pretraj was sitting on his throne, looking highly dejected . There was no singing, dancing today. Everyone was sad and was there was an atmosphere of lamentation there .

Mahatmaji asked ,”Pretraj, Yesterday there was great elation here .But Now everyone seems to be in great sorrow here. Has anything untoward happened?

Pretraaj replied ,”Yes that why all are crying . We are devastated. My daughter was about to get married today but now she will remain unmarried. “

Mahatmaji said,” Your would be son-in-law is dead now. Then how come your daugher has remained unmarried?

Pretraj retorted with great resentment ,”It’s all because of you. I was so foolhardy that I told you everything yesterday. You have ruined us.”

Mahatmaji said with humility ,”I did harm any to you? I did not get it. Pardon me, if you tell me my mistake I will not repeat t again.”

Pretraj said with great resentment ,”After leaving from this place yesterday you went to Sankalchand and told him the way of remembering Lord Shri Ram’s name and even made him to say ‘Ram’ at the time of death. Because of this Sankalchand was liberated and my daughter has remained unmarried.”

Mahatmaji exclaimed ,”What? Just by taking name of Lord Ram only once, Sankalchand was liberated and did not become a ghost. Is this true?

Pretraj said ,”Yes Mahatmaji, anyone who chants Lord Ram’s name, does not becomes ghost because of the merits attained by chanting. Lord’s name has the power to pull even sinners out of hell.”

Hearing the praise of the name of Lord from a ghost, Mahatma Shyamdasji started crying with joy and became immersed in the Bhav-Samadhi of Lord Ram  immediately. When he opened his eyes. It was morning and Sun’s rays were shining upon the Banyan tree.

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