Leaving the Ganga behind, they walked through the forest. It was nearing sun set. Consuming some fruits and roots they could find in the forest, Sita and Rama slept under a tree while Lakshmana stood in vigilant guard to them with drawn weapons. Having spent the night, they did their morning routine and started walking through the forest. On the way, they met a young saint from whom they understood that saint Bharadwaja’s Ashram was nearby. Rama told him: “Please convey saint Bharadwaja that Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, king Dasaratha’s sons and daughter-in-law request for an audience with the saint.”
On hearing this from his disciple, the saint rushed with all pooja ingredients and worshipped them.
He said: “Rama, my life has become fruitful and my hermitage is purified with the dust of your holy feet. I have known who you are and have also understood the secret of your human incarnation.”
They spent the night in saint Bharadwaja’s ashram discussing various philosophical and transcendental issues.
In the morning, they left the ashram and crossing river Yamuna, reached Chitrakoota hills through the routes guided by saints. There they found the fascinatingly serene and beautiful ashram of Brahmarshi Valmiki. The surrounding was permeating fragrance of various flowers.
They found saints of various orders in the ashram.
They entered inside the ashram and seeing the Brahmarshi, prostrated before him with utmost devotion. Observing Rama with wife and brother who looked resplendent with the most charming face and trait physique and tuft of hairs tied with garland of beads and chest and loin covered by tree barks, weapons around the shoulders and hands, Valmiki with love and bliss eternal, hugged Rama and patted him all over fondly. The Brahmarshi then hosted the royal guests with all delicious fruits and other delicacies which they partook with pleasure and quenched their hunger and fatigue. Thereafter Rama addressed the Brahmarshi: “We have set out to live in the forest at the orders of our father. As you are the omniscient, we need not tell you the reasons. Please tell us where we can live with Sita peacefully. We have a longing to live in this periphery for a long while. Places like this, where noble souls like you are dwelling are worth living.”
Hearing this paradox, the Brahmarshi smiled and answered:
“O Rama, all worlds dwell in you and you live in all worlds. “
Your name itself is ambrosia to ears. A savage and hunter as I was, I became Brahmarshi just because of chanting your mantra.”
Then Valmiki narrated his encounter and the consequent change in his life to Rama.
The Brahmarshi selected a place between Chitrakoota hills and the Ganges and built a fine Parnasala (an ethnic cottage) with the help of his disciples and made Rama stay there with Sita and Lakshmana.
-KK Shanmukhan ?