Valmiki - The Divine Sage

The world needs no introduction to Ramayana. Ramayana is the tale of Lord Rama and his journey through life. It is a story narrated in the form of a poem. It is the oldest poem known to the world and is believed to be written during the period of 500 BC - 100 BC. The tale of Ramayana needs no introduction as this great piece of philosophical literature is read by millions of people daily throughout this world. However, do we know who was the literary genius behind this extraordinary divine tale? The story of Ramayana was originally written by sage Valmiki. Let us hear more about his story in detail.

Valmiki was born in a brahmin family to sage Prachatesa as Ratnakar. However, at an early age, he happened to get lost in the forest. He was later adopted by a hunter. Under the guidance of this hunter, Ratnakar also became an excellent hunter. Soon he grew up and got married to start a family. Poverty set in and soon it became difficult for Ratnakar to feed his family. Ratnakar was helpless and wanted to feed his family through any means. Soon he started robbing people to provide food and shelter for his family. One day while roaming in the forest, he happened to meet the great sage Narada. Ratnakar saw the saint in a state of deep ecstasy. Ratnakar tried to rob him as well. Narada pitied his condition and asked him to go and ask his family if they were ready to accept the punishment of Ratnakar's sins as well in the same way they accepted food he brought by robbing people. When Ratnakar asked his family, they outright rejected his request. This made Ratnakar realize his mistake and he went to Narada. Sage Narada accepted him as his disciple and asked him to meditate upon Lord Vishnu. Soon Ratnakar was deeply engrossed in his penance. His meditation lasted for years and he kept sitting like a stone engrossed in Vishnu. Soon he was covered by an anthill. He still kept meditating unaware of his circumstances. When sage Narada came back and saw Ratnakar in such a condition he was extremely pleased. He blessed Ratnakar and renamed him as Sage Valmiki (The one who is reborn from an anthill)

Valmiki started staying in his ashram built on the banks of river Sarayu. This is when Narada narrated the tale of Ramayana to him. With the blessings of Brahma, Valmiki was gifted the boon of divine vision and he became one of the revered Bramarishis. Lord Brahma instructed him to write the great epic Ramayana and Valmiki readily agreed. This tale was written in the period of Treta Yuga (Silver age) and Valmiki himself was a part of this story. At the very beginning of this great epic, Valmiki has shown himself narrating the tale to Luv and Kush (Children of Ram). Ramayana is written in the form of shlokas. There are 7 kandas (books) and 500 chapters describing various life events of Lord Ram. The story has been written by several other authors after Valmiki. Poets like Tulsidas have also narrated their versions. In the last book (Utara Kanda) which is not his work, he is shown as a contemporary of Ram. Sita and her children stay in his ashram after Sita had to leave Ayodhya.

Valmiki is also known as Adi Kavi or the 1st poet. He is also the creator of 1st Shloka (Verse). It is said the 1st shloka was uttered by him in the form of a curse. Once Valmiki while bathing in a river saw a crane couple happily in love with each other. The scene was beautiful and he was mesmerised. Suddenly a hunter shot one of the birds and it died instantly. The other bird was grief-stricken and it died as well due to shock. This enraged Valmiki to an extent that he went on to curse the hunter to lose all peace until eternity. The curse came out in the form of a verse (shloka). In the same fashion, he wrote the entire Ramayana.

Art Credit: Unknown

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