Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj illustrates the purifying power of the Lord’s Name.
Vālmīki Ṛṣi was previously a great dacoit. He was converted into a ṛṣi only by the force of Rāma’s Name. Once, inspiration came to Devarṣi Nārad and Brahmā that Rāma-nām is so purifying that it can purify anyone to any extent. As an experiment, they came to the dacoit Ratnākar Dāsyu, who was born in a brāhmaṇ family but had become a most heinous and cruel murderer and looter. “If this man can be converted by Rāma-nām, then the great magnanimity of Rāma’s Name will be settled.” They came and met him on the road. He came to rob them, but Brahmā and Nārad said: “You should take the Name of Rāma. Why do you engage in looting, murder, and all such things?”
“No. I won’t. Your sweet words have no value to me.”
“Do you think that all the activities you are doing will have no consequences? Bad reactions are waiting for you. Still, there is time. Do what we say, and you will be absolved from all your previous misdeeds.”
“I am doing my duty: I have an old father, mother, wife, and children. To maintain them, I am doing all these things. They will also partake the evil consequences of my misdeeds. It is done for them, in their interest.”
“No. None of them will take part. It is your responsibility. Go and ask them.”
“Okay, but you go away in the meantime.”
“No no. Tie us to a tree so that we may not run away. Then, go, ask them, and come back.”
He went straight to his family and asked everyone, but none of them accepted. “I am old” his father said as did his mother. “When you were young, it was our duty to maintain you. We did that by some means. Now it is your duty to maintain us like your child. We are old. So, you are doing your duty to maintaining us by some means, but we won’t take any share of your misdeeds. We did not tell you to earn money in this way. You should do your duty in a right way. We won’t go to share the consequence of your misdeeds.” His wife also spoke this way: “It is your duty to maintain me. I am doing my duty here. I won’t go to take a share of your misdeeds.”
Hearing this, a change came to the mind of Ratnākar. He ran back to the place where he had tied Brahmā and Nārad and related what happened. “What you have said is such. Such a great magnitude of sinfulness is over me.” Brahmā had some water in his kamaṇḍalu, and he sprinkled it over Ratnākar and asked him to take the Name of Rāma, but he could not. So, they pointed to the dry branch of a tree and asked him, “What is that? It is living?”
“No. It is marā, dead.”
“Yes, it is marā. No repeat that: marā marā.”
He began repeating marā marā and soon it became Rāma Rāma. in this way, he was managed to come to take Rāma’s Name, and eventually he became Mahārṣi Vālmīki.
The Name purified him. The sound, the most subtle thing, can act over all possible things of gross conception and also over the mental system. The mental system contains so many thoughts and ideas, good or bad, all relating to this mundane world. But the help of Vaikuṇṭha-nām, the Vaikuṇṭha wave can purify all grosser appearances in this world.
vaikuṇṭha-nāma-grahaṇam aśeṣāgha-haraṁ viduḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 6.2.14)
It is not only lip deep sound: it must have the reference of Vaikuṇṭha. Vaikuṇṭha means kuṇṭha-śūnya, where there is no limitation, what is above limitation. The sound must have its origin, its original conception, above limitation, in the realm, the plane, which is above limitation, immeasurable. That immeasurable force must be invited in the form of sound to do away with all the anomalies in this mundane world and the mental system. They are not normal or proper. All the thinking of different free souls comes to clash with one another. It is abnormal. They can be normal only with the help of the most universal vibration. The vibration of the most high universal type comes in and can change all relative mundane waves immediately. Immediately and most effectively it can convert them to a very high order.
Spoken 25 April 1982.