Valmiki Rshi (वाल्मीकि ऋषिः)
In every culture and subculture, anthropology has found startling and diverse mythology. Apart from the question of refinement or crudeness, mankind in every society has, in the process of evolving, found necessary to have myths. These are not simply imaginative 'tales' spun for purposes of entertainment, ut something to educate and edify our collective unconscious in a very subtle but positive way. In other words, the collective unconscious of a culture gives me to mythology, which in turn enriches it.
Some myths, therefore, are the gradual and natural educt of a particular culture or society. But there are times when certain rare and gifted individuals understand the psyche of their people and nurture growth by inventing powerful myths. The people preserve these myths and pass them down the ages. if this is kept in mind, fundamentalists will not keep quarreling about the validity of each other's mythology & religion.
Hindu mythology, with its extraordinary stories, has and for all oriented the direction of the Hindu towards the search for higher and deeper aspects of divinity. Among the rishis of the Puranas, we find that Valmiki, the first poet, with his epic poem the Ramayana, has powerfully influenced millions of atmas through the millennia--not only in the land of Bharata, but all over the world.
The common saying, 'Every saint has a past and every sinner a future' holds good for Valmiki. His original name was Ratnakara; he belonged to the Angirasa gotra (lineage). Brahmin by birth, he never performed his brahminical duties, and as a natural consequence got mixed up with anti-social elements from a young age. He turned into a notorious brigand, and used to stalk the forest paths, robbing and killing wayfarers and merchants to support himself and his family.
Ratnakara was young and strong. As his expertise as a highwayman grew, he became more confident and ferocious. At home, he was a dutiful son. Hence his parents had no inkling as to how their son supported them. Years passed in this way: he was leading a double life. He married and had children. With the burden of additional mouths to feed, he became ever more ruthless and daring.
One late evening he was searching the highway with restless eyes while hiding in the shadows of trees. He saw at a distance the lone figure of a man approaching leisurely. His practiced sight soon noticed in the man's stride and carriage something very different from the usual run of people he encountered, and this made him uneasy.
As the man drew closer, Ratnakara silently crept u to intercept him. Stifling an unnatural fear, he rushe forward and seized the man from behind, trying to bring him down. He hissed, 'Drop what you have or ! will kill you.'
All his life he had seen only fear in the faces of his victims, but this man was not the least perturbed. Rather, he was actually smiling compassionately. Ratnakara inspected the man closely and found he had no belongings save a one-stringed musical instrument and a water-pot. He was a sadhu, a holy man.
The sadhu was none other than Narada, the god tage. His words did not betray any fear or contempt: Why are you intent on robbing me? Why do you incur all this sin by robbing and killing people?'
Ratnakara was confused, and stammered, 'Why? I support myself and my family with the money I get.'
Narada looked deeply into Ratnakara's eyes, and the brigand felt as if the earth moved under his feet. the sage asked, 'Do you think your family will take the share of your sins?'
Ratnakara looked away and muttered, 'Certainly they will’.
Narada ordered him to go and ask his family members the same question. He promised to wait till he returned. But Ratnakara's heart, long enslaved to I made another blunder. He tied Narada to a tree that he would not escape.
Ratnakara dashed home, his body trembling from ition and nervousness. He found his father and Ehite out, "Father, do you know how I support you?'
He father looked perplexed and replied, 'No'.
Emboldened, Ratnakara said: I am a robber. I kill people who resist me.' Aghast his father yelled, 'What! You are a robber? Get away you outcaste!'
Ratnakara thereupon went to his mother, and then He broke out of the anthill and stepped out a new to his wife, with the same question, and got similar man, a purified being. Narada smiled and said, 'From replies. Shaken, he said, 'Do you all share my sins, now on you will be called Valmiki - he that has come as you share the money I get?' All hell broke loose out of an anthill.' Valmiki felt joy welling up within upon his uttering these words. Ratnakara backtracked him and fell prostrate at Narada's feet. turned, and fled.
One day, when Valmiki was returning after his What happened next can be best related in the bath in the river Tamasa, he was charmed by a pair words of Swami Vivekananda: 'The eyes of the robber of cranes engaged in courtship. Suddenly an arrow were opened. "That is the way of the world-even thot by a hunter killed the male. The female was my nearest relatives, for whom I have been robbing intensely grief-stricken. It flew around the fallen body will not share my destiny." He came back to the place of its mate. Valmiki became grave and blurted out the where he had bound the sage, unfastened his bonds Famous verse: fell at his feet, recounted everything, and said, "Save me! What can I do?" The sage said, "Give up you Ma nishada pratishtham tvamagamah shashvatih present course of life. You see that none of your samah; family really loves you, so give up these delusions. Yat krauncha-mithunad-ekamavadhih kama-mohitam. Therefore worship Him who stands by us whether we are doing good or evil." ill-fated hunter! You shall not command any Ratnakara interrupted, saying that he was so sinful E in society for a long time, for you have shot that he could not even utter the holy name of God one of the courting cranes. Narada then instructed him in spiritual life and initiate (Valmiki Ramayana, Balakandam, 2.14) him into the Rama mantra in the reverse form, ma-te When repeated continuously, this became ra-ma.
Never a poet, even Valmiki was surprised. Brahma Ratnakara entered the forest near the river Taman then and commanded him to write the and lost himself in prayers, worship, and meditation a in verse form for the benefit of the world. Days rolled into months and years, and years in ha bestowed on him the power to see the past more years. The great burden of his sins was being w the future, Valmiki already knew the current phase slowly burnt away by the fire of intense austerities the story, as Sita, having been banished by Rama, One day his meditation was broken when he hea laying in his hermitage with her sons Lava and a voice which he recognized as his guru's. On opening He was asked to write a story, the current his eyes, he saw Narada. As he tried to sit up, W of which was happening right in front of him. found he could not do so. Except for his eyes, Valmiki wrote the Ramayana and taught Lava and whole body was now encased in an anthill.
how to sing it with musical instruments. After many years, he took the boys and their mother to the outskirts of Ayodhya. Here a great Vedic sacrifice was being conducted by Shri Rama. After announcing his presence, Valmiki led his pupils, Lava and Kusha, to the main stage and asked them to sing the Ramayana. This was its first public recital. The audience was stunned by the beauty of the poetry, which brought the story to life. Even to this day, there is not a atma who is not moved upon hearing or reading it.
By the time Lava and Kusha had finished, Rama was in tears. It was then that Valmiki told him: 'Do not be grieved. I will now bring in Sita.' Valmiki majestically led Sita to Rama among the assembled people. The rest of the story is well known.
The wonderful epic poem Ramayana, containing 9,000 verses, still lives as vibrantly as it has for thousands of years, making a deep impression on the minds of all who encounter it. It has immortalized Valmiki.
Valmiki is also mentioned in another mighty epic, the Mahabharata. There his meeting with Shri Krishna ni Yudhisthira is portrayed. One of the heroes, Hatvakt, is depicted reciting the Ramayana after the Nothing is known about how Valmiki's earthly i ended, but being a yogi we can safely assume the gave up his body at will and merged with the Supreme Light of God.