Sri Ramakrishna: Well, what do you say is the way?
Goswami: Thakur ji, Nama (repetition of the holy Name) indeed takes one to Him. In the age of Kali, Name is of the greatest importance.
Sri Ramakrishna: Yes, undoubtedly. Name is of great importance. Yet if there is no love, how can it help? Deep yearning for the Lord is essential. What will it avail me if I repeat the Name but my mind remains tied to ‘lust and greed’?
“The scorpion or spider sting is not cured just like that. One has to treat it with the smoke of cow dung cakes.”
Goswami: But what about Ajamila? Ajamila was a great sinner; there was no sin he did not commit. But he attained liberation by calling his son by his name, Narayana, at the time of his death.
Sri Ramakrishna: Perhaps Ajamila had performed many meritorious deeds in an earlier birth. And it is a fact that he practiced austerities later in his life.
“And one can say this too, that it was his last birth. What use is it to wash an elephant if it again smears its body with mud? It becomes its original self. But before it enters its stable, if someone wipes the dust off and gives it a bath, it remains clean.
“Even if a person is purified by repeating the Name, it is possible that he may be defiled later on by committing a number of sins. Such a person has no will power. He does not promise to himself that he will not commit another sin. A bath in the Ganges makes one’s sins disappear. But then, what does it avail one if sins disappear? They say that these sins live on the trees. As soon as a person returns from his bath in the Ganges, all his old sins jump onto his shoulders from the trees. (All laugh.) The same old sins sit again on the shoulders! One takes a step or two after the bath and lo! they are there again on one’s shoulders!
“So, repeat the Name and also pray at the same time that you may develop love for the Lord. And that all transitory things, such as money, name and fame, and pleasures of the body, may have less and less attraction for you. You must pray thus.”
Source: Ramakrishna Kathamrita, Vol II, Section II, Chapter V