the guilt of sin.' A story is told which affirms the same thing regarding the name of another of their gods. It is said that once there lived a very wicked man called Ajamal, who would even be guilty of murdering Brahmans. All his life was spent in drunkenness and in the commission of every evil deed. He had four sons, the name of one of whom was Narayan, which is also one of the names of the god Vishnu. When he was dying Ajamal became very thirsty and called upon this son three times, saying, 'Narayan, Narayan, Narayan, give me some water.' After his death the messengers of the god of death, whom the Hindus call Yama, were carrying off Ajamal's soul to hell, when Vishnu's messengers arrived to rescue him. A great contest took place between them, but Vishnu's messengers were victorious and carried Ajamal off to Vaikuntha, Vishnu's heaven. When Yama, enraged at this and finding that Ajamal's sins were so grievous that no punishment was severe enough for him, hastened to Vaikuntha to ask the reason of his rescue, Vishnu replied: 'He was indeed a great sinner: yet when dying he three times called out my name Narayan: therefore he has escaped from hell and has come hither.' In the same way it is held that the repetition of the name of Ram, another of their deities, will save the greatest sinner. Hence Hindus often use rosaries, and on their beads count the

1 Book IV, chapter iv

number of times they repeat Ram's name. It is said that there was a celebrated robber called Valmiki, who murdered so many Brahmans that he filled his bag with their sacred threads. But when killing them he used the word mar (مار strike), which word, when read backwards, becomes Ram. Through thus repeating the name of this god, even without intending it, he became equal to Brahma himself in power and dignity. This Valmiki is said to have protected Ram's wife Sita at his hermitage, when he abandoned robbery and became an ascetic. He is famous as the author of the celebrated epic poem, the Ramayana, which is considered by the Hindus as one of their sacred books.

It should be noticed that, according to the ideas of the Hindus, the mere repetition of the verses of their sacred books in the original language is sufficient to acquire merit for the reciter. It is not necessary for him to understand the meaning of what he repeats. This is contrary to reason, though others besides Hindus hold a similar doctrine.

By thinking about Vishnu salvation may be gained, according to the Puranas.1 By reciting sacred verses, even the five most heinous crimes may be got rid of. For it is said in the Agni-Purana: 'A 2 man guilty of the greatest sins would be

1 For example, Agni-Purana, chapter clix, verse 1.
2 Op. cit., chapter clxxi, verses 1-2.