Salute unto the holy feet of Valmiki
Once while Saint Valmiki was returning to his Ashrama (hermitage) after ablutions in the holy Ganges, he saw a hunter had hit with his arrow, one of the two love birds perching on a tree top. The poor bird fell down, writhed and died instantly. Observing this heart rending scene and the sorrow of the surviving bird, saint Valmiki spontaneously sang a verse in deep pathos and anguish forbidding the hunter. Saint Narada persuaded Valmiki to compose in the same meter the story of Rama and teach it to humanity as an errand of Brahma, Narada’s father and our procreator.
Before the turning point, Valmiki was himself a hunter. He, with full weapons, used to attack the passers-by and grab valuables from them. This was how he maintained his huge family. One day as he was engaged in his profession of looting, there happened to trespass the Saptarshis – the seven great sages of celestial order. Beholding the savage with armory the sages were in panic. They asked of him: “Stand there. Who are you? What is your mission?”
“My name is Ratnakara”, he started. “I live with my family in the forest nearby. Hunting and looting are my profession”. He continued: “My mission is simple. Rob of anything valuable from you.” His straight-forward answer gave the sages a little relaxed feeling. They asked: “Do you know, by grabbing and looting, you are doing sins?”
“I don’t know that.” He replied.“It is a grave sin,” said the sages. “But this is to look after my family.” “To maintain your family you continually commit sins, forgetting the values and duties of human life.” The sages asked: “Will your family that enjoys the fruits of sins committed by you, share the sins also with you?”
“I have no idea about it.”
“Then you go to them and ask. We shall wait here until you return.” With great haste, Ratnakara, proceeded towards his house. As he reached home, he called out to his wife and children. Expecting a cajoling and satisfactory answer he asked them: “With all kinds of heinous activities I feed you and look after all your requirements. Is it that you will also share the sins committed by me to maintain you or else should I be solely subjected to the sins?”
Having heard this strange question, Valmiki’s spouse and children burst into roaring laugher. They mockingly answered:
“How can you expect us to share your sins? Each individual that commits sins should consume their curse and punishment alone.” Ratnakara was shocked. He never expected such an insolent answerA sense of remorse haunted him.With a heavy heart and supplicant hands he approached the great sages and prostrated before them seeking refuge. The sages lifted him up and consoled him. They put their heads together. It is true that he is a sinner. But can one who surrendered his ego totally and sought refuge with the intension of making himself better, be forsaken?
Ultimately, the sages decided to resurrect him, liberate him. They ‘advised’ the divine mantra of Rama in the reverse letters. They said with extreme sympathy and affection: “Ratnakara,” they said: “Take this Tharaka Manthra ‘Ma Ra’ from us. Sit here with focused mind and chant it till we return”. And then the sages disappeared.
Ratnakara sat in meditating posture, with all senses and breath focused and chanted continually the divine Manthra MARA…MARA… which eventually became RAMA…RAMA…
All seasons rotated around him. Thousands of years passed. His tuft of hairs and beard grew up with countless lice and covered his whole person. Termites built walls around him. Still he went on chanting: RAMA…RAMA…RAMA…RAMA… Suddenly one day there re-emerged the noble sages. They invoked him: “Brahmarshe, please wake up. Get up. Not only that all your sins are pardoned, but you have been elevated to the stature equal to ours.” The sages then continued: “You shall henceforth be known as Valmiki.It is time for you to initiate your grandeur creation.”
Thus blessing, the sages again vanished.
This episode of Valmiki’s life teaches us that with hard work,dedication,concentration and sacrifice one can achieve any thing in life.
KK Shanmukhan ( To be concluded )