By Swami Harshananda
Every saint has a past and every sinner a future. Tears of repentance wash off the sins. Lord’s name purifies even the vilest of sinners. Ajāmila is an example of a sinner who whose legend inspires the devotees of God even today.
Bhāgavata recounts the ancient tale of Ajāmila and glorifies the devotion to Viṣṇu.
Born and brought up as a pious brāhmaṇa, he once fell a victim to the infatuations of a slave girl and married her after deserting his legally wedded wife and children born of that wedlock. To maintain her and the brood of her children, he took to sinful ways of life including cheating and robbery. When he lay in his deathbed he saw the fierce-looking messengers of Yama and got frightened. He started calling his last son named Nārāyaṇa. The very utterance of this name, being the name of Lord Viṣṇu, brought His servants also on the scene. Then as Viṣṇu’s servants intervened on behalf of Ajāmila (since what he had uttered was the divine name, the very utterance of which destroys all sins) there ensued a dialogue between them and the messengers of Yama. Hearing this dialogue wherein the glory of the divine name was extolled, Ajāmila broke down with repentance. Strangely enough he recovered, went to the bank of the sacred river Gaṅgā, practiced severe austerities, engaged himself in the repetition of the divine name and attained liberation after death.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore