Valmiki: The Author Of Ramayana
You must have heard the name of Maharshi (great sage) Valmiki. He is the creator of the Hindu epic, Ramayana. He is also known as Adi Kavi (the first poet) of Sanskrit literature. Let’s know the life story of Maharshi Valmiki.
Birth Of Valmiki
Not much is known about Valmiki’s date of birth, but it is said that he was born on an autumnal full moon day of the Bengali month, Ashwin in a Brahmin family. Maharshi Valmiki’s father’s name was Pracheta but no information is available about his mother’s name.
Early Life Of Valmiki
You know, Maharshi Valmiki’s name but Maharshi was not “Valmiki” from the childhood of his life. His real name was Ratnakar, whom we all know as a robber. But there is a reason why he became Valmiki, which you may not know.
When Ratnakar was young, he got lost in a deep forest one day. When he did not return after a long time, his mother and father went to the forest to look for him. But after a long search, when no trace of him was found, his parents thought that his son had died after being bitten by a wild animal. So, sadly, they returned home without looking for his son.
Later, a hunter found Ratnakar in the forest and decided to take him to his home. Then Ratnakar grew up in the hunter’s affection and he got married.
Family Life Of Ratnakar
Gradually, their family’s financial situation began to deteriorate. It became more difficult for Ratnakar to support his wife and the rest of the family. So in the end he would take care of his family by robbing, looting and snatching.
Ratnakar’s Involvement In Robbery
Finding no other way, Ratnakar started attacking the people of every neighboring village including his own and started robbing the passersby one after another. If a man tried to stop Ratnakar during the robbery, he (Ratnakar) would not hesitate to kill him. In this way, he plundered the wealth of the people and maintained his family with it.
You may be wondering how this bandit Ratnakar got the name Valmiki and who was behind giving him the name “Valmiki”? If you want to know more about this, you must read the following story.
Ratnakar And Narada Muni
One day Ratnakar, like every other day, was hiding in the jungle waiting for a man to plunder his wealth. After a while he noticed that a sage was coming towards the forest saying “Narayana, Narayana”.
Ratnakar still did not know that the sage was none other than Narada Muni himself. Then Ratnakar decided without delay that he would rob him. Ratnakar appeared in front of him, and told him – “Take out all the things you have, otherwise the result will be bad.”
Narada Muni was not at all disturbed by Ratnakar’s threat but replied with a smile. He told Ratnakar that he (Ratnakar) could take his khartal (musical instrument) and veena.
Ratnakar was surprised to see such calm behavior of him. He thought to himself, “Every human being’s body starts trembling when he hears Ratnakar’s name. How can this man be so calm and smiling when he sees him (Ratnakar)?”
Narada Muni then asked Ratnakar why he commited robbery, looting and snatching. Ratnakar listened to him and proudly replied that he was doing all these to maintain his family.
Narada Muni’s Questions To Ratnakar
Narada Muni again asked Ratnakar if he had ever asked his family members if they were happy with his work or they all were willing to share in his sin?
In response to these questions, Ratnakar told him that his family would surely be happy with his work and that none of them would hesitate to share in his sins.
This time Narada told him (Ratnakar) that he should know the answer from his family members first. Until then, he (Narada Muni) would wait for him (Ratnakar) in this forest. Then Ratnakar had also followed his advice and gone home.
When Ratnakar had gone home and asked the questions he had heard from the passer by (Narada Muni), his wife and the other members of the family made it clear that none of them would share in his sin.
Ratnakar’s Surrender To Narada Muni
Hearing this, Ratnakar came running to Narada. He began to cry and begged Narada to show him the right way of life.
Narada Muni then told him to go in remembrance of Lord Rama, one of the 10 Avatars of Vishnu, and devotedly asked him to chant his (Rama’s) name. Hearing this, Ratnakar immediately sat down under a nearby tree, closed his eyes and tried to chant the name of Rama in one mind but he could not. Because whenever he tried to chant the name “Rama”, it was revolving in his head with the name “Mara Mara” due to his violent attitude.
Not seeing this happening, when he went to Narada again and told him about his problem, Narada told him that he should start chanting “Mara Mara” because one day it would naturally change to “Rama”.
Ratnakar, like Narada Muni, went back and meditated and started chanting “Mara Mara”. Gradually he became so absorbed in his own meditation that he could no longer focus on food and thirst. Thus many years passed. Ants all over Ratnakar’s body once made a nest in a mound, which covered him all over the ground.
Narada’s Presence Near The Mound
Many years later, Narada Muni was walking through the jungle again. On the way, he noticed that someone was constantly chanting himself “Rama, Rama” inside a mound of mud. He realized that the sound of this voice belonged to Ratnakar himself and not to anyone else.
He then went to the front of the mound and lovingly removed the soil from there to rescue Ratnakar. When he finally finished removing the soil, he called Ratnakar by name.
Ratnakar also finally opened his eyes after a hard penance. But Narada could understand that Ratnakar had completely changed. Because his closed eyes and calm nature were describing his new divine character.
Then Ratnakar bowed to Narada Muni and Narada Muni also lovingly picked him up from the ground and hugged him.
New Identity Of Ratnakar
This time Narada told Ratnakar, since he had been reborn from “Valmika” i.e. ant mound, his name would be known to the entire Trilok as “Maharshi Valmiki” from today and he would become the guide of other’s life from now on. It is mentionable here that the place where Maharshi Valmiki and Narada Muni met was named as Tapovan (located in Jhargram district of West Bengal, India)
Thus we all know the bandit Ratnakar as Maharshi Valmiki. I have already said that Maharshi Valmiki himself was the author of Ramayana. Today, he is best known for writing the world’s first epic (Ramayana).
Ramayana is about the story of Lord Rama which Valmiki presented to the people in the epic form.
Sita Devi At Valmiki’s Ashram
It is said that when Rama left Sita Devi, she had been pregnant. Maharshi Valmiki had later given her shelter in his own ashram. While in the ashram, Sita gave birth to twins. The names of the twins were Luv and Kush.
Nobody can say how long Maharshi Valmiki was alive. It is assumed that he lived more than a century.
By Krishna Das