Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 6: Chapter 2: Verses 1-12
Sri Suka went on : Having thus heard and (duly) followed the dissertation of the messengers of Yama, the aforesaid messengers of the Lord, who were masters of the moral science, now replied to them (as follows), O king (Pariksit) ! The messengers of Visnu said : Oh, what pity that unrighteousness should penetratethe court of the knowers of Dharma (the secret of virtue), where punishment is unnecessarily infilicted by those very knowers of Dharma on sinless people who do nt deserve any! if iniquity appears in (the heart of) those who are protectors (like a father) and teachers of the people and are beneficent and even-minded (to all), whom shall the people resort to for protection? Whatever a superior man does, that very thing the common (ignorant) man (also) does. the people (at large) follow that which the former sets up as a standard (to be followed). Like a brute, the common man himself has no knowledge of righteousness or unrighteousness and (generally) sleeps at ease (over this question), resting his head on the lap (utterly depending on the wisdom0 of another (his ruler preceptor). How can it be worthy of the latter, if he is full of compassion and deserves the confidence of (all0 living beingsd, to seek to harm the unwary world that has thrown itself entirely at his mercy, reposing (full) trust on him ?
This man has actually done atonement (not only for the sins of this life but) even for sins committed (by him) through millions of lives (in the past) in that he uttered, though in a helpless state, the name of Sri Hari, which (apart from its being the highest atonement for past sins) is a (direct) means to the attainment of (supreme) felicity (final beatitude). The atonement for (all) the sins of this (erstwhile) sinner must have been made by the mere fact that he pronounced a mere semblance of the four-syllabled name of the Lord,'NARAYANA', while exclaiming (calling his son in the words): "Narayana, come (here) l"The articulation of a name of Lord Visnu-that is the only thorough atonement for the sins of all classes of sinners, be he a thief, a drinker (of spirituous liquor), one guilty of treachery to a friend, a Brahmana-slayer, one sharing the bed of a preceptor's wife, a slayer of a woman, a king, one's own parent or a cow and whatever other (types of) sinners there may be; for thereby (by the utterance of the Lord's name) the Lord's (own) mind is directed towards the utterer (who is thenceforward remembered by Him as His protege). A sinner is not purified to that extent (so thoroughly) through fasting and other processes of expiation recommended by the expositors of the Veda (Manu and others) as he is by words standing as names for Sri Hari, articulated (merely with the tongue); for the utterance of such words puts him in mind of the (divine) attributes of the glorious Lord (and thus qualifies the man for final beatitude by drawing him towards the Lord, the Bestower of Liberation, unlike the other forms of expiation, which exhaust themselves in wiping out the sins). For, the process of expiation is not complete if one's mind runs back to evil ways even after the said process has been gone through.Therefore, in the case of those seeking the eradication of their (stock of) sinful Karma the uttering of the praises of Sri Hari is the only remedy; for the same undoubtedly purifies the mind.