The story of Ajamila, narrated in the Bhagavata Purana, conveys a very important message about salvation to all beings struggling under the sway of vasanas in samsara. It highlights the sanctifying power of the Lord’s Nama by which even sinful tendencies are eradicated, pointed out Sri R. Krishnamurthy Sastrigal in a discourse.
Ajamila had called out to his son named Narayana at the time of death when he was frightened by the appearance of the Yama dhutas. The purana indicates that this act itself was the result of his faint memory of the brief devotional life in his past. So even when he uttered the Narayana Nama without any idea of its inherent greatness, the effect was felt instantly by the appearance of the Vishnu dhutas. They ordered the Yama dhutas to release him. The Yama dhutas then narrated all the sins of Ajamila. But the Vishnu dhutas replied that no punishment can be inflicted when atonement has already been done. Are they not aware about what constitutes atonement?
Srutis and Smritis have laid down the procedures for the conduct of yagas and yagnas, or many vows and observances of worship as a means to absolve one from one’s past sins. These are known as prayaschitta karmas and do not eradicate the sinful tendency. But such is the power of the Lord’s Nama that uttering it even in ignorance burns up all sins and removes sinful tendencies in people. Even if one has committed sins in the course of countless janmas, one has done atonement by uttering the Narayana Nama. It is like fire burning up fuel or medicines curing disease irrespective of one’s knowledge or ignorance concerning their properties.
But the object here is not to encourage sin with the assurance that it can be absolved easily. Such a light attitude is a great offence and is considered the most despicable of all sins.