Maharishi Valmiki

maharishi valmiki
Valmiki is celebrated as the harbinger-poet in Sanskrit literature. The epic Ramayana, dated variously from 5th century BCE to first century BCE, is attributed to him, based on the attribution in the text itself. He is revered as the Ādi Kavi, which translates to First Poet, because he is said to have invented shloka (i.e. first verse or epic metre), which set the base and defined the form to Sanskrit poetry.

Early life

The Uttara Kanda tells the story of Valmiki's early life, as a highway robber named Ratnakar, who used to rob people after killing them. Once, the robber tried to rob the divine sage Narada for the benefit of his family. Narada asked him if his family would share the sin he was incurring due to the robbery. The robber replied positively, but Narada told him to confirm this with his family. The robber asked his family, but none agreed to bear the burden of sin. Dejected, the robber finally understood the truth of life and asked for Narada's forgiveness. Narada taught the robber the mantra for salvation. But, the mantra in question, the name of Lord Rama, was not to be given to murderers and the like. Narada thus told Valmiki to chant "Mara" the phonetic anagram of "Rama" instead to circumvent this restriction. The robber meditated for many years, so much so that ant-hills grew around his body. Finally, a divine voice declared his penance successful, bestowing him with the name "Valmiki": "one born out of ant-hills" (Valmikam in Sanskrit means Ant-hill).

Writer of the Ramayana

The Ramayana, originally written by Valmiki, consists of 23,000 shlokas and 7 cantos including the Uttara Kanda. Ramayana is composed of about 480,002 words, being a quarter of the length of the full text of the Mahabharata or about four times the length of the Iliad. The Ramayana tells the story of a prince, Rama of Ayodhya, whose wife Sita is abducted by the demon-king (Rakshasa) of Lanka, Ravana. The Valmiki Ramayana is dated variously from 500 BC to 100 BC, or about co-eval with early versions of the Mahabharata. As with many traditional epics, it has gone through a process of interpolations and redactions, making it impossible to date accurately.

Valmiki is also quoted to be the contemporary of Rama. Rama met Valmiki during his period of exile and interacted with him. Valmiki gave shelter to Sītā in his hermitage when Rama banished her. Kuśa and Lava the twin sons of Sri Rama were born to Sītā in this hermitage. Valmiki taught Ramayana to Kuśa and Lava, who later sang the divine story in Ayodhyā during the Aśvamedha yajña congregation, to the pleasure of the audience, whereupon, King Rama questioned who they were and later visited Valmiki's hermitage to confirm if the Sita, the two children claimed as their mother was in fact his wife in exile. Later, he summoned them to his royal palace. Kuśa and Lava sang the story of Rama there, and Rama confirmed that whatever had been sung by these two children was entirely true.
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