(Discourse by Kanci paramacarya – Candrasekharendra sarasvati)
The derivation of words from their root syllables each of which is the root of a verb signifying an action, is, in the Sanskrit language a very instructive excercise. Hindu religious literature is replete with such derivations for almost every word that it uses. Each of the names of God like Rama, Krishna, Siva , Narayana, etc. — in fact, each one of the names of God in the various lists of thousand names of God (= sahasra-naamas) has been assigned several derivations from their root syllables. ‘The one in whose memory yogis revel in the bliss of brahman’ — is the meaning of the word Rama. ramante yogino-nante brahmaanande chidaatmani — is the declaration in the Padma-purana. ‘ramante’ (they revel, enjoy) is the action which forms the root verb for ‘Rama’. The greatness of the word ‘Rama’ is not just because what the son of Dasaratha did what he did. Preceptor Vasishta hit upon the name for the child of Dasaratha because he knew that it was already a ‘taaraka-mantra’ — that is, the mantra which takes you across the ocean of samsaara. And that is why the name Rama has been isolated and earmarked to be equivalent to the whole of Vishnu sahasra-naama.
There are only two mantras, in the whole of Hindu religious tradition, which get the epithet ‘taaraka’ (that which can ferry you across); and these are the syllable OM, and the name Rama. This single fact epitomises the importance associated with Rama, the name as well as the Godhead, in the entire Hindu cultural milieu. The sage Valmiki before he became a Maharshi, recited the name of Rama, several thousands of years and attained the status of a maharshi.
The syllable ‘ra’ comes from the eight-lettered mantra of Narayana and the syllable ‘ma’ comes from the five lettered mantra of Siva. Both are the life-giving letters (= jiiva-aksharas) of the respective mantras; because without them the two mantras become a curse. Without these letters, the mantra naraayanaaya becomes na ayanaaya – meaning, not for good; and namas-sivaaya becomes na sivaaya – meaning, again, not for good.
Thus the word Rama combines in itself the life-giving letters of the two most important mantras of the Hindu religion. The syllable ‘ra’ the moment it comes out of the tongue purifies you from all the sins by the very fact that it comes from the mantra of the protector, Naaraayana. On the other hand, the syllable ‘ma’ burns all the sins by the very fact that it comes from the mantra of Siva, the destroyer. This is therefore the King of all mantras, the holy jewel of mantras, as is rightly sung by Saint Thiagaraja, who is one of the most famous recent historical examples of persons who attained the jivan-miukti stage – the released stage even while alive – by the sheer repetition of the Rama name.”