‘Ram Naam’ is a blessing which millions of Hindus have treasured in their hearts since ages past. It is the supreme purifier of the mind of man, the bestower of perennial joy, the giver of peace and the key to the gate of Immortality. The Ramarahasyopanishad says that the letters ‘Ra’ and ‘Ma’ are the essence of the two most important Mantras, viz., Ashtakshara and Panchakshara, which, when the letters ‘Ra’ and ‘Ma’ are removed from them, respectively, not only lose their primary meaning but give the opposite meaning. When Ram Nam is chanted, a significant change takes place in the entire organism of the person chanting it. There is a twofold effect product by the utterance of the Divine Name.
The Mantra Sakti or the power generated by the juxtaposition (dictionary meaning: The act of positioning close together) of the letters of the Mantra and by the utterance of the same, the whole nervous system of the chanter of the Mantra is set in vibration—a vibration which brings about rhythm, harmony and equilibrium in it. When the nervous system is in such a harmonized state, the breath, too flows rhythmically and the mind rests in a state of tranquillity. It is in this peaceful state of the mind that the divine Consciousness is reflected and the supernal joy of the Eternal is experienced.
The idea of the Divine Being generated in the mind at the time of the repetition of the Name, gives a direct fillip to the mind in its attempt to unite itself with the Divine Being. The nervous system is in a state of perfect harmony when the vibration produced by the chanting of the Divine Name pervades it with a force of integration. The Divine Name is not merely a sound; it is a force which can overcome all the destructive forces in the human system and render it pure and make it fit for the experience of Sattva, the highly transparent medium through which the Immortal Being is reflected.
Ram Nam like the Ashtakshara or the Dvadasakshara Mantras, is a powerful aid in destroying the animal passions in man. Passions are agitative forces, and Ram Nam is a tranquil force. When one adheres to Ram Nam with exclusive and genuine devotion, it becomes the destroyer of all pains. But one’s faith must not be divided between two or more Mantras. One should stick to ‘Ram Nam’ with full confidence in it. The more the faith and concentration, the quicker does the Lord’s Name destroy the evils in man. The votary of Rama prays:
"Apadam-apahartaram dataram sarva sampadam; Lokabhiramam Sri Ramam bhuyo bhuyo namamyaham—I prostrate myself, again and again, before Sri Rama, the Saviour from all calamities, the Giver of all prosperity, the Delight of the world." Such is the glory of Ram Nam. It bestows on one the beatitude of Absolute Independence or Kaivalya. But Ram Nam should not be used for the sake of obtaining worldly ends. Ram Nam is the saviour of man from the afflictions of mortality itself. It raises man from all penury and exalts him to the status of an undaunted sovereign over himself. Why do you use a gun to destroy a mosquito? Ram Nam can cure the disease of Samsara itself; what to speak of lesser wants and turmoils. Therefore, use Ram Nam as a Moksha Mantra and not as a servant to fetch you the glittering glass-pieces shining in the form of the objects of the world. Ram Nam is the guardian in your body, protecting you at all times against all attacks, preserving your purity and virtue, and warding off the inimical urges of desire, passion and anger.
The repetition of the Mantra should be done with Bhava or deep feeling. A tremendous effect is produced when repetition of the name is attended with a consciousness of the relation of the chanter to the deity of the Name. This, however, does not mean that a mechanical repetition of the Mantra without feeling is absolutely devoid of all beneficial results. The Name is potent enough to cause a change in the psychological and the physical being of man even when it is mechanically repeated. Ram Nam is a Mantra, and a Mantra is formed by significant letters, which by the very fact of their being uttered, produce a result, even if this result may not be directly connected with the consciousness of the chanter of the Mantra. There is a very peculiar process of physical and psychical transformation taking place at the time when the Mantra is repeated. Unconscious and mechanical repetition produces no direct psychical change, but causes biological change through the nervous system which is immediately influenced by the vibrations set up by the chanting of the Mantra, and these biological changes indirectly, bring about psychological changes; for these two natures in man are related to each other as effect and cause, respectively and the effects are so intimately related to their causes that any change in the effects will be felt by the causes, and vice versa.
The devotee should not test the Lord by the chanting of His Name. For example, one should not use the Name as an excuse for the deliberate perpetration of evil acts. The Name can overcome the effects of even such acts, but the implications of such acts would be that the devotee who uses the Name thus has not genuine aspiration and devotion to the Lord, and his mind is still being attracted to things other than those that pertain to the Lord and to His Way. Hence the condition for chanting the Divine Name is well laid out.
"Trinadapi sunichena tarorapi sahishnuna, Amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih—He who is humbler than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree, who does not crave for respect, but respects others, is the one fit to repeat the Name of Hari."
God helps those who help themselves. The best possible effort that one is capable of exercising under the intellectual circumstances provided by God should be put forth, and only beyond this effort, should one seek the grace of God. Idleness is not self-surrender. Surrender of the self to God becomes complete only when the individual consciousness is flooded over the love for the Divine. God’s grace descends when the efforts exercised are found to be inadequate for the realisation of God.
Ram Nam has a transforming effect not only on the psycholgical but also the biological personality. Even physical ailments can be overcome by the chanting of the Divine Name. Ram Nam is unfailing in its action, infallible in its operation. Ram Nam, properly understood, is the same as Omkara, the symbol of the Absolute, and Rama to the true devotee is the Absolute itself. Sri Rama is all-pervading; He is in the heart of all beings as the Antaryamin. What a power and glory should His Name possess! Even ordinary names of things of the world have the power of stimulating a corresponding mode of consciousness in man. How much more powerful should the Name of God be!
Saint Tulasidas says: The name is even superior to the Lord, because the Nirguna and Saguna aspects of Brahman are tasted and realised by the power of the Name. Rama delivered a single woman, Ahalya, while His Name has purified crores of wicked people. Rama gave salvation to two of his faithful servants, Jatayu and Sabari, but His Name has been the saviour of countless wicked persons. Blessed is the son and blessed are his parents who remember Sri Rama in whatsoever way it may be. Blessed are even the Chandalas who repeat the Name of Rama day and night. What is the use of high birth to one who does not repeat Ram Nam!
What a mighty power is latent in Ram Nam! Only those who are endowed with devotion know it. The scientists now declare that sound vibrations have such a tremendous force that they can direct this power to silk fabrics and clean them of all dirt more thoroughly than a washerman can.
The moment you utter the word Rama, the form of the Lord is aroused in your consciousness. So the advanced devotees say that the Divine Name is the exclusive support of those afflicted by the tribulations of Samsara.
The Valmiki Ramayana is the standard history of Sri Ram:
"Vedavedye pare punsi jate Dasarathatmaje; vedah prachetasadasit sakshadramayanatmana.—Verily, a Veda by itself was revealed by Maharshi Valmiki, in the form of Ramayana when the Supreme Being, to be known through the Vedas, manifested Himself as the son of Dasaratha." The Ramayana of Valmiki is a majestic epic, expounding Dharma by way of depicting the great heroic life of the ideal person, Sri Rama. The greatness of the Valmiki Ramayana cannot be adequately described. It is a huge didactic poem which has its main aim in constraining people to follow the path of righteousness, and towards this end, it employs the popular technique of appealing to the hearts of people by narrating in a homely style, the story of a life devoted to Dharma. The picturesque life of Sri Rama described by Valmiki is a grand glorification of the greatness of Sri Rama. Hence the Ramayana is in a way an expanded form of the Name and glory of Sri Rama.
The hearing or the study of the Ramayana is a contemplation on the various divine qualities of Sri Rama, which purifies the mind of man and renders it spiritual.
May Sri Ramachandra bless all with spiritual illumination, prosperity and Kaivalya Moksha!