Every saint has a past and every sinner a future. Tears of repentance wash off the sins. Lord’s name purifies even the vilest of sinners. A typical example of transformation is Ajāmila whose legend inspires the devotees of God even today.
Bhāgavata, the classic scripture of devotion and spiritual wisdom, recounts the ancient tale of Ajāmila (6.1 and 2) and glorifies devotion to Viṣṇu.
Born and brought up as a pious brāhmaṇa, he once fell a victim to the infatuations of a slave girl and married her after deserting his legally wedded wife and children born of that wedlock. To maintain her and the brood of her children, he took to sinful ways of life like cheating and robbery. When he lay in his deathbed he saw the fierce-looking messengers of Yama (the king of death), got frightened and started calling his last son, Nārāyaṇa by name. The very utterance of this name, being the name of Lord Viṣṇu, brought His servants also on the scene. Then as Viṣṇu’s servants intervened on behalf of Ajāmila (since what he had uttered was the divine name, the very utterance of which destroys all sins) there ensued a dialogue between them and the messengers of Yama. Hearing this dialogue wherein the glory of the divine name was extolled, Ajāmila broke down with repentance. Strangely enough he recovered, but repaired to the bank of the sacred river Gaṅgā, practised severe austerities, engaged himself in the repetition of the divine name and attained liberation after death.