Ajamila’s near death experience

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The Srimad Bhagavatam describes the very old historical incident involving the near death experience of Ajamila, who accidentally happened to chant the name of God when his death came, which rescued him from a very fearful situation. Because throughout his life Ajamila had been giving trouble to others by arresting them, by cheating them or by directly plundering them, when death came he saw the messengers of Yamaraja, the Lord of death, with their deformed bodily features and their ferocious faces. With ropes in their hands, they had come to take his soul away.

In the beginning of his life Ajamila was a reservoir of good character, good conduct and good qualities. He studied the scriptures, he was very mild and gentle, and he kept his mind and senses under control. Furthermore, he was always truthful, he knew how to chant the Vedic mantras, and he was also very pure. Ajamila was very respectful to his spiritual master, the fire-god, guests, and the elderly members of his household. Indeed, he was free from false prestige. He was upright, benevolent to all living entities, and well behaved. He would never speak nonsense or envy anyone. He was the embodiment of a well-behaved brahmana.

Once Ajamila, following the order of his father, went to the forest to collect fruit, flowers and two kinds of grass, called samit and kuça. On the way home, he came upon a lusty man, who was shamelessly embracing and kissing a prostitute. The man was smiling, singing and enjoying as if this were proper behavior. Both the man and the prostitute were drunk. The prostitute’s eyes were rolling in intoxication, and her dress had become loose. Such was the condition in which Ajamila saw them.

When Ajamila saw this scene, the dormant lusty desires in his heart awakened, and in illusion he fell under their control. As far as possible he patiently tried to remember the instructions of the scriptures not even to see a woman. With the help of this knowledge and his intellect, he tried to control his lusty desires, but because of the force of Cupid, the God of lust, within his heart, he failed to control his mind. In the same way that the sun and moon are eclipsed by a low planet, Ajamila lost all his good sense. He always thought of the prostitute, and within a short time he took her as a servant in his house and abandoned all the regulative principles of a brahmana.

Thus Ajamila began spending whatever money he had inherited from his father to satisfy the prostitute with various material presentations so that she would remain pleased with him. He gave up all his brahminical activities to satisfy the prostitute. Because his intelligence was pierced by the lustful glance of the prostitute, the victimized brahmana Ajamila engaged in sinful acts in her association. He gave up the company of his very beautiful young wife, and begot in the womb of the prostitute ten sons, the last of whom was called Narayana. Bereft of intelligence he spent his time in abominable, sinful activities to maintain his family of many sons, and so eighty-eight years of his life passed by.

Old Ajamila was very much attached to his youngest son, because of the child’s broken language and awkward movements. He always took care of the child and enjoyed the child’s activities.

When Ajamila chewed food and ate it, he called the child to chew and eat, and when he drank he called the child to drink also. Always engaged in taking care of the child and calling his name, Narayana, Ajämila could not understand that his own time was now exhausted and that death was upon him. When the time of death arrived for the foolish Ajamila, he began thinking exclusively of his son Naryana.

Ajamila then saw three awkward persons with deformed bodily features, fierce, twisted faces, and hair standing erect on their bodies. With ropes in their hands, the Yamadutas had come to take him away to the abode of Yamaraja. When he saw them he was extremely bewildered, and because of attachment to his child, who was playing a short distance away, Ajamila in fear began to call him loudly by his name Narayana. He was chanting the name in a helpless state full of anxiety and thus he remembered the original Narayana, Lord Visnu. Although he did not chant the holy name of Narayana completely pure, it acted nevertheless. As soon as he chanted the holy name of Narayana, the order carriers of Lord Visnu immediately appeared on the scene.

The order carriers of Yamaraja were snatching the soul from the core of the heart of Ajamila, the husband of the prostitute, but with resounding voices the messengers of Lord Visnu, the Visnudutas, forbade them to do so.

When the order carriers of Yamaraja, the son of the sun-god, were thus forbidden, they replied: “Who are you, sirs, that have the audacity to challenge the jurisdiction of Yamaraja? Dear sirs, whose servants are you, where have you come from, and why are you forbidding us to touch the body of Ajamila? Are you demigods from the heavenly planets, are you sub-demigods, or are you the best of devotees? Your eyes are just like the petals of lotus flowers. Dressed in yellow silken garments, decorated with garlands of lotuses, and wearing very attractive helmets on your heads and earrings on your ears, you all appear fresh and youthful. Your four long arms are decorated with bows and quivers of arrows and with swords, clubs, conchshells, discs and lotus flowers. Your effulgence has dissipated the darkness of this place with extraordinary illumination. Now, sirs, why are you obstructing us?”

Read about the answer of the Visnudutas in the second part of the story, and how they released Ajamila from the bondage of the Yamadutas and thus saved him from imminent death. It had never been heard before that an order of Yamaraja had been baffled. Being defeated and disappointed the Yamadutas approached their master, the Lord of death, and asked him, almost in anger, whether there were many masters other than him.

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