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Who is Valmiki?

We all have heard about the epic 'Ramayana' but little we know about Valmiki Maharshi who wrote it in 24000 verses. Valmiki’s real name was Ratnakara. He was the son of Prachetasa, a sage. Before this Valmiki was a robber by profession. Later with the teachings of Maharshi Narada he became a Rishi.

Who is Valmiki?

Valmika in Devanagari means “ant- hill” Once when he was a very young boy, he had gone to the forest playing and was lost in the forest. His parents searched for him but could not trace him. They thought that the boy has been eaten by some wild animals. A hunter and his wife took the child and brought up the child as if their child. He was taught of the hunting and he learnt it fully. Later, the boy grew young and he was married to a girl from another hunter family. He got children also. When Ratnakara’s family grew with the addition of children, he felt it uneasy to maintain his family with the little income. So, he took to a new profession of Robbery and went on attacking the people for money.

One-day Maharshi Narada who was singing in praise of Srihari with Mahati named Veena, was passing nearby. Ratnakara, the hunter saw him, attacked him, shouted and demanded whatever he has, lest he shall brake his head. Narada was not fraightened and told him that he has only the Veena, which he offered to give. Ratnakara saw the smiling, innocent face of Narada who was never frightened and was astonished at this. On seeing Narada’s face, Ratnakara’s cruel mind also melted with kindness.

Narada Maharshi sat beneath a tree and was singing Harinama sankeertana. Narada Maharshi told Ratnakara that Robbing and killing of animals is sinful job and asked him to give up that profession. Narada Maharshi told him to ask his parents, wife and children as to what profession – Robbery is a sin or not? Ratnakara thought Narada Maharshi is trying to escape from him by sending him to his parents and tied Narada with a rope to a nearby tree and went to his house.

He asked his father “I have been feeding you all by robbery and hunting. Is it a sinful job?”. His father told him that they are not happy with his profession and that they are ashamed of his robbery”. Then he went to his mother, who also gave the same reply. His wife and children also gave the same reply. Then he realized that whatever he was doing all these years was a sin and came running to Narada Maharshi and untied him from the tree and apologized for his misdeeds and asked the Narada Maharshi as to the remedy for the atonement of all the sins committed. Naradaru taught him the “RAMA RAMA Mantra” and asked him to sit beneath a tree and chant the mantra until his return. Narada departed from Ratnakara.

Ratnakara was chanting and chanting Rama mantra continuously amidst rain, sun heat, cold, hot, everything closing his eyes. He forgot himself. It went for years. An ant-hill grew all over his body like a mountain and Rathnakara was not to be seen by anybody. After several years, Narada Maharshi came near the Valmeeka(the ant-hill) cleared the ant-hill and blessed Ratnakara to be a Maharshi. Ratnakara came out of the Valmeeka . That is why he is called as “Valmiki”.

Who told Valmiki the story of Sri Ramachandra?

One day Narada Maharshi met Valmiki and told him the entire story of Sri Ramachandra – Dasharatha’s putrakamesti yaga, Ramachandra’s birth, his education, his journey with Vishwamitra and his killing of Tataki, Subahu, his step-mother Kaikeyee’s order to go to forest, killing of Rakshaas there, missing of Seeta Devi, meeting of Hanumantha-Sugreeva, his journey to Lanka in search of Seeta Devi, killing of Ravana-Kumbakarna, and finally getting back to Ayodhya, ruling of the Kingdom, etc.

What made him to write the Ramayana?

Once Valmiki on his way to Ganga Snaana, came across a stream “tamasa”, seeing the stream was astonished and decided to have his bath in the stream.

When he was looking for a suitable place to step into the stream, he heard sweet chirping of birds, he saw two flying birds together. He was pleased to see the happy bird couple. Suddenly the male bird fell from the sky after being hit by an arrow and was wounded. The spouse bird was screaming in agony. Then he realized that the bird was hit by a hunter. Valmiki’s heart was felt with pity. Suddenly came out from his lips, the following shloka,

“maa nishada pratistham tvamagamahsāsvatI: samaa: yat kraunchamithunaadekam avadhI: kaamamohitam”