In the Anushasana Parva of Mahabharata, Yudhisthira asks Bheeshma about the supreme soul and the best mantras. In reply to this, Bheeshma handed over Vishnu Sahasranama i.e. the thousand names/manifestations of Vishnu. However, in the last part it is said that Bheeshma uttered the following:
राम रामेति रामेति रमे रामे मनोरमे |सहस्रनाम तत्तुल्यं रामनाम वरानने ||
These lines translate to the idea that uttering the sweet Ram naama is equivalent to 1000 names of Vishnu. Possibly it might be an interpolation in Mahabharata. However, there might be some sense to it since these lines appear even Ramaraksha stotram.
Furthermore, great saints like Goswami Tulsidas and Swami Ramdas attained great heights by chanting this name. Ramakrishna Paramhansa said Ram is supreme brahman. However, does it mean to say Ram is superior? Hold your horses!
Ram Naama has got nothing to do with the superiority of Ram and that is why we hear sages saying that Ram Naama is more important than Lord Ram himself.
Notwithstanding legends, Ram Naama has got an existential significance. If you add ‘R’ before uttering Aum, the sound of creation, you will end up with ‘Ram’. In other words, the utterance of Ram naama is closest to the sacred syllable Aum, in terms of intonation.
Why Ram Naama?
Nonetheless, why do we need Ram Naama, since, after all, we have Aum?
In Bhagvad Gita Arjuna asks Krishna in chapter 12 verse 1 “Those devotees who, ever steadfast, thus worship Thee and those also who worship the Imperishable and the unmanifested—which of them are better versed in yoga?” To this Krishna replied, “Greater is their trouble whose minds are set on the unmanifested; for the goal—the unmanifested—is very difficult for the embodied to reach.” Although in the same breath Krishna says, “I am the sacred syllable AUM”
However, if you analyse, everyone cannot perceive the formless divinity and the syllable Aum represents the same. That is precisely the reason why we need a personal form of Lord; for better focus. In conclusion, I will leave you with a beautiful couplet by the legendary poet Kabirdas.
लूट सके तो लूट ले, राम नाम की लूट |
पाछे पछतायेगा, जब प्राण जायेंगे छूट ||
Please access the name of Rama, or else you will repent the same at death bed!
Also read: Rama’s real strength