Naam and Ramayana


Take the recorded words of any True Master, and you will find that He cannot praise the Naam enough. The Vedas, the Shastras, and numerous other scriptures declare that man has no hope of salvation without the Naam – 

One Naam is the Deliverer in all four yugas.

During the discourses at Satsang the words of various Masters are quoted, but all on the same subject: salvation through Naam. Although an abundance of information is available on Naam or Word, yet very few people really understand the subject. Today we will see what Tulsi Das Ji has said about It in His famous work, the Ramayana, which is a very noble and reliable source of information on moral and righteous living. One can say that it is a type of Sacred Scripture that can be taken right into our lives and practised. It is a very wonderful work of great depth. Most of the world read it as a story – a mighty epic of the lives of Lord Rama and His wife, Queen Sita – but very few people discover the depth of meaning hidden in the words.

The teaching of the Masters is no new thing; it has come to man through all the ages. But man does forget and so the Masters must come from time to time to revive the old, old Truth. With the advent of each Master, praise for Naam has been highly lauded, and no less in this great book Ramayana – of which I do not profess to be a scholar; but we will take a section which covers the subject of Naam.

“Understand that the Name (Naam) and the Named are One; the Lord and His Emissary are intermingled in Love.”

There is no difference between the Name and the Named. Name is the word given to denote something, as the word ‘water’ is given to denote that liquid by drinking which one’s thirst is satisfied. Similarly, the word sewak means one who is a servant of someone, but between them exists a profound Love. The Named is He to express Whom we use so many words, while the True Name or Naam is the expression of that. So there is really no difference between the expressing and the expressed, for both are closely intermingled in Love.

“Naam and Form are both His attributes ineffable Eternal Quintessence.”

Naam and Form are the Lord’s attributes, and attributes are part of illusion. Yet, they are indescribable. The whole world speaks of illusion, but what is it? Its nature is not easily understood, but it has three main aspects: pradhan or principle, prakriti or nature, and maya or illusion. Pradhan is that which connects the material with the spiritual and is the highest aspect.

One should grasp that the Attributable and the Attribute are not separate – just as water and its coolness are not separate, or fire and its heat: both are one – and yet heat alone is not fire. Fire burning is something complete, and the heat is its expression. So Naam and Form are illusion, but are at the same time imperishable, permanent, indescribable.

In Vedanta, illusion is described as being that which is not there, and yet which seems to be there. The Masters agree with this, but qualify the statement by explaining that the Attributable and the Attribute are not different things, but are the Expressing and that which He expresses.

So at the higher stage there is pradhan and, when it reaches the lower stage, it is called prakriti – nature. Pra means beyond, and kriti means natural attributes. The aspect of illusion of maya is the means of balancing everything – that is our intellect. Illusion is not separate from God and is sustained by Him, but of itself has no existence; it is nothing and yet it is there. If you can fully understand this, then creation becomes very simple: for the whole of creation is under the influence of illusion, which you can also call forgetfulness. When we forget ourselves and we forget that which lies behind everything, the Creator, then we are lost in illusion.

Illusion is like a huge serpent embracing the world – it eats those who serve it.

In all three planes – the physical, astral, and causal – illusion is holding everything in its clutches. Its aspects are not separate – they come from the same source – but there is a difference. If a certain mango turns red in colour when it is ripe, one cannot say that the colour is not part of the fruit; and yet it has no identity, being but the mango’s expression. Tulsi Das is explaining a very deep subject, which is hard for anything but the advanced intellect to understand. So how does one gain the understanding?

This world you see is the Form of God; His Form is apparent.

The Lord and Sustainer becomes apparent when one’s Spiritual Eye is opened – one sees that He is the very foundation of all illusion and that all expressions of it are His Form.

Paradoxically, it is the Lord’s Form and it is not His Form. His Form is not apparent to one who is deep in forgetfulness and involved in illusion’s enjoyments which are a grand play or trap set to ensnare our wandering attention. When the Inner Eye opens, then we see everything as it truly is, and the illusion fades away. And this is how the illusion exists but does not exist.

“It is a sin to judge one greater than the other; listen to the Master’s secret knowledge to understand this.”

We cannot say that the Attributable is greater than the Attribute, for the two are of the same. However, the secret of the paradox can be found, for

The world is a house of Truth in which the Truth resides.

And when one rises above all three planes, one begins to understand what Truth is. But this is not for the worldly man whose eye is yet closed and who, through becoming the body’s image, has gone deep into forgetfulness. Illusion is like a serpent who, giving birth to its young, promptly eats them! But when rising above the three planes, a Gurumukh can be saved from it.

“You will see that the Form is supported by Naam; knowledge of Form is not separate from Naam.”

One cannot have knowledge of Form without the knowledge of Naam – this is a law. Why is this? Because the Form itself is an expression of Naam and is not separate from It – even though both are in illusion. Although eternal, indescribable, yet of itself it has no existence. You can find reference to this in Vedanta, and all Masters have told us the same. So it is not a matter for conflict in religious thought; it is a matter for understanding.

“Form without Naam cannot be known; effort regardless, it cannot be recognised.”

Even if you hold an object before your eyes, how can you recognise it without knowing its name? You can see something before you, but you cannot identify it. The difference arises only in the various ways in which man approaches the subject: that is why the Masters advise the sincere seekers not to renounce the world and go off to the lonely places. Their advice is to gain salvation while living in the world, by developing that Latent or Inner Eye with which one can see the Truth – the Truth which unfolds itself automatically when our angle of vision changes and we see everything in a truer light.

When the Perfect Satguru is met, perfect is His competency; while living in the world, laughing, wearing, one gains salvation.

So it is not necessary to cease living an everyday life, for in the forests and isolated places, the illusion still exists – one must take food and water, there are animals there, one must sleep on some kind of bedding – is this not all part of the illusion?

Where can one go, where the illusion does not exist? Worldly people suffer and die without ever seeing a glimpse of God’s Form – and yet every spot in the whole of creation is God’s temple. Each and every man can make any place sacred, by simply bowing his head in Love and devotion, for all is holy where devotion kneels. Is there any place where God is not present? He is everywhere, and so is His expression.

“Simran of Naam without seeing the Form is susceptible to doubt in the heart.”

There is some attraction in an association by words only; one can develop some feeling of Love in this way. If one has never seen a mango fruit but hears a description of its appearance and sweetness, one can form some kind of picture of what the mango is really like. Similarly, by hearing about the Truth, or repeating certain word associations, one’s interest can be awakened and a feeling of Love stirred up in one’s heart, for the words which tell of the Truth are related to it somewhat. But to go deeply into the subject, one must see it for oneself, and for that the opening of the Inner eye is necessary: to see what is expressed by God and repeated by oneself. Repetition or Simran is the first step and is taught for understanding, and to focus the interest or attention to see that.

Nature of Naam and Form is an indescribable story; those who know of It enjoy indescribable bliss.”

Even the theory is difficult to understand – but if one can grasp it, the knowledge of the theory alone is enough to fill one’s being with happiness: a happiness which cannot be expressed in words. If one can receive this joy by merely understanding the subject, what will be the potential bliss of experiencing it?

“With and without attribute is Naam; Name and Form both go to understand and interpret it.”

Naam is the interpreter of attribute and non-attribute both, for It alone reveals them. To understand the Truth man must experience both Naam and Form – how else can it be possible? We can try to describe such things through the intellect, but this is inaccurate; whereas experiencing Naam and Form gives us accurate knowledge of the Truth. It is clear why Naam and Form are necessary to each other.

“Oh Tulsi, if you are desirous of seeing the Light of Naam within and without – just keep the lamp of Ram Naam at the threshold of the mind.”

He has so far described the Naam and the Form, but now He uses God’s Name in the same reference. Here the Hindi word Ram is used for God, and the root of this is ramma, which means vibration permeating all. The Power which vibrates in every atom, and through which all creation came into being, is called Ram, among other terms. So Tulsi Das tells us that if we desire to have the Light within and without, we must light the lamp of Ram Naam. Put God’s lamp in the doorway of your mind, and with all thought, all attention, do the Simran of God’s Naam; then, both within and without, the Light will become effulgent. Once you are connected to Naam, you have only to close your eyes to see Light within – and with advancement you will see It with open eyes also.

Repeat the Naam with devotion and the Light of millions of suns will burst forth.

The practice must be done with full attention.

There are numerous types of Simran. One is to repeat with the tongue, one through the throat, one at the heart’s level, etc., etc. If the repetition is not done in the mind – with the tongue of thought – there is no penetration and, therefore, no success. One can begin at word-level, but it must soon develop to mind-level, for when the mind is stilled, only then will contact be made and the Light revealed. This is the Science of the Masters.

What does the Guru do?

He puts the True Colyrium of Naam in the eye by withdrawing the attention behind the eyes, which banishes the darkness to give you Light.

The presence of Light within is proof of contact with the Naam.

Christ said,

If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of Light.

If the Single or Spiritual Eye is opened, you will see for yourself that your whole being is filled with Light – the Light of God. The Muslim brothers speak of Kohitoor – the mountain peak – the place behind the two physical eyes where the Prophet Moses saw the radiance of the Lord. Ail Masters tell us to rise above the body; the attention must rise above body consciousness to the still, silent point behind and between the eyes, which is the seat of the soul, the focus-point where the Light becomes effulgent. Seeing the Light within is the assurance of contact with Naam. God is Light, and Naam is the Power of that Ever-Existent Lord; one can call It the God-in-action-Power.

“Repeating Naam with his tongue while alive, the yogi enjoys renunciation by cutting off all attention from outside.”

By devoting oneself to Naam, with full attention, one can achieve the same state of awakenedness that the yogis reach when they arise from the deep sleep of illusion. At this, all illusionary attachment ceases, and this culminates the True Renunciation of the world and its environments. True Renunciation really means freedom from all attachment – and you can achieve this if you so desire, for this is the power and the greatness of Naam. 

Guru Nanak was once discussing the Naam with some yogis, and He told them:

Like the lotus flower above the water, and the duck which shakes herself dry: swim the ocean of life through the Surat Shabd; oh Nanak, this is the greatness of Naam.

One can swim this ocean of life untouched by the taints of the world. At present, mind and attention are like one; but they can be separated by rising above the senses and repeating Naam with the mind. The True Awakening occurs when the mind is stilled and one rises above the body. We live in a very sad condition – The whole world sleeps in attachment and forgetfulness – how can this illusion go? Only with the aid of Naam-Power can one overcome this state of sleep and accomplish that which the Masters advocate: to live in the world but to be not of the world.

“Complete happiness comes by the incomparable realisation through the indescribable, formless Naam.”

This is the stage of the Nameless Naam, which has no form and is free from all impurity, and through which one can reach the height of an inestimable bliss. Tulsi Das has first described the Naam and the Form, and now He indicates that beyond this lies a stage of complete bliss where Naam is formless, where Naam is no longer in expression, and no longer uses Name and Form. So we begin to see the difference between the expression and the background of that expression.

“If you wish that concealed knowledge revealed, repeat the Naam with your life’s breath.” 

By repeating Naam and full attention, all the mysteries are revealed; but it must be repetition at the highest level – with all the heart, mind, and spirit. The Muslim Fakirs also say that Simran done with the attention is the teaching of the fully realised Fakir. Fakirs or Masters are the only Ones Who know this secret teaching; you will not find the worldly doing this kind of Simran.

“Repeat the Naam with devotion and Love; become mystically adept, gaining all great powers.”

Those connected to Naam, who daily repeat Naam with all attention, gradually master the supernatural powers, because

The supernatural powers are the servants of Naam.

The disciple of Naam learns to control these powers, but the Masters have forbidden them to be used; for there is the danger thereby of the student going into outward expression and receding further and further from the Truth. But it is a fact that gaining control of these powers is an automatic part of progress on the Path of Naam.

“Repeating Naam, the afflicted are freed from all misery and gain happiness.”

When Guru Nanak said that the whole world was unhappy, He was asked if there were not a single soul who enjoyed happiness; and He said,

They are happy who are sustained by Naam.

Even the most miserable of people have transformed their lives into an expression of joy by being connected to the Naam.

Naam is the panacea for all ills.

It is the only real means to happiness. But I will repeat that very few people understand the subject of Naam.

When one speaks of Naam it is but a word; so, one must be connected to the Naam which is a Power, and not merely a word. Outer connection with a mere word will not give contact with the Truth, and will not banish one’s miseries. Swami Ji has also spoken on this subject.

He says,

Oh attention (soul), we know that you are unhappy …

He says that He can see the misery of the soul, and since when has it been miserable? He then answers this:

Since the day you were separated from the Shabd, and developed a friendship with the mind.

Through this friendship with the mind, the soul became involved with the senses, and has ever since remained at that level. This is how it got imprisoned in the worldly name and form, and the misery started from there.

Now, how can the soul be released from all this? The natural corollary is that one should leave this mind-involvement by the only means powerful enough, and that is connection to the Shabd or Naam. Each Master has His own terms of expression, but the subject is the same. Furthermore, he who is in conscious contact with the Naam becomes fearless.

“There are four kinds of True Devotees of God; all of them are full of Love and compassion, and are broad minded. All four are sustained by Naam; but the realised one is the Lord’s beloved above all.”

There is nothing higher than Naam – It is something which cannot be understood by the common man.

It is the giver of all phases of life: those who are seeking get the connection by the Grace of Naam; the lamenting souls are heard by the Grace of Naam; those who so desire find fulfilment in Naam. So righteousness, ethics, good actions, and salvation are all possible because of Naam. All four types of devotees are devoted to Naam, but the Lord loves those the most who have realised the Naam.

“Naam was the ruling means for emancipation in all four ages; in Kalyug especially, there is no other means.”

Naam has sustained every age. Its praises are sung in all scriptures:

One Naam gave salvation in all four ages.

However, in this Kali Yuga or Kalyug, particularly, Naam is imperative. One cannot maintain an iota of righteousness without It. In Kali Yuga, the age of man is short, his intellect reduced, his health is poor. The long practices and austerities, like prana yoga, hatha yoga, and others, were suitable for other ages in the past. It is stated that in the Sat Yuga or Satyug, man’s age averaged one hundred thousand years, which may or may not be so; but in Kali Yuga we are concerned with present conditions and have to work with them. It is highly probable that man did live for long periods of time in the past, for scriptures have recorded it so: a certain Rishi, for example, is stated to have done eighty-eight thousand years of rigid austerities, and others did similar feats, etc. Then in Treta Yuga it is written that man’s age was reduced to an average of ten thousand years, and in Dwapar Yuga reduced again to one thousand years. In Kali Yuga it is rare for a man to live up to or beyond one hundred years, and the average is nearer to fifty years. In India, for instance, the average age is recorded at 22 years. Just tell me, how can man accomplish such long practices? So Tulsi Das tells us that in this age, nothing but Naam is effective.

Gurbani also states:

Kalyug has come, Kalyug has come, sow the Naam, sow the Naam; this opportunity will not return – never – do not forget in illusion, sow the Naam.

It clearly states the situation; so brothers, there is no way out but through Naam. People desire many different things – cure for their ills, riches, name and fame – and a few desire salvation. But one Master says that he who is free from all desires is the one who enjoys the Real Sweetness of Naam – its True Nectar. Such a devotee would be like a fish without water without the Naam: Naam is his very life; he cannot live without It.

Guru Nanak puts it this way:

With It he lives; without It he dies.

He also says,

The more I remember, I am enlivened; otherwise, I die.

This gives us an inkling about the Naam, but Naam is not to be merely talked about; It is to be contacted, experienced, and enjoyed.

“Attribute and non-attribute, both are forms of Brahm; they are inexpressible, unfathomable, eternal, incomparable. I think that Naam is higher than both, for they are controlled by Naam.”

What is the manifestation that comes from both attribute and non-attribute? Naam. Naam is the Controlling Power of everything, and to be connected to It one needs a very fortunate destiny. It is a deep and subtle subject, but Tulsi Das is unfolding it beautifully.

“The Competent People know all – I speak of this knowledge from the Love in my heart.” 

The Masters are the knowledgeable People Who know everything – He tells us this from the wisdom of His own experience, from the depths of Love He has in His heart.

“We see the wood but the fire is hidden within it; only the awakened have the true concept.”

Now He is speaking metaphorically. For example, fire is hidden in wood, and yet no one can see it; just like this, both attribute and non-attribute are parts of God’s nature. If a man truly understood this Great Truth, the knowledge would be salvation to him; but as he stands he is bound to the cycle of births and deaths.

“Practice of attribute and non-attribute are both more difficult than Naam; Naam is greater than Brahm and Ram.”

All practices in the spheres of attribute and non-attribute are very exacting, but the practice of Naam is not at all difficult – why is this? Because, only through Naam can the attribute and non-attribute phases of God be understood. Without Naam these aspects of the Lord cannot be grasped or absorbed, and this includes the outer expressions of creation.

Naam is something contacted from within – spiritually – when one rises above the senses, and this is made possible only by a Competent Master. True Understanding starts after this contact is made. For instance, to explain the workings of a powerhouse is one thing; but if a person actually visits the building, a deeper understanding of its functions begins to form.

“The permeating Lord is imperishable; He is Awakened Truth, the source of all bliss.”

The Omnipotent and the Omnipresent vibrates in every atom – there is no place where Naam does not exist – and It offers a veritable treasure-house of happiness. Whatever is created is created through Naam; there is no place without Naam.

“This flawless Lord is in each heart, and yet the world is drowned in misery.”

One might well wonder or ponder the ironical fact that God resides in every being, and yet everyone is unhappy! We are swimming in Him, just as fish swim in the water – we are living in that life-giving Nectar, but are dying of thirst. What is the reason for this sad situation?

“Naam’s True Form is got only by right endeavour, when It then manifests within.”

The reason for all our sorrows is that Naam is not manifested within us. The potential of experiencing Naam is within us, just as the fire is in the wood, but it must be made manifest.

Manifest the hidden Naam.


Manifest the hidden Sound.