In the previous episode we saw the uniqueness of Hanuman in the entire Ramayana story and why is he affectionately worshipped as the “Rama Bhakta” and “Rama Dasa”. Further we also saw in brief about the structure of the Ramayana as an epic, written by Valmiki Maharishi in the Sanskrit language.
Who was Valmiki Maharishi? What is his background story? How did he compose this great Ramayana? Let’s see today.
Did Valmiki have a “Guru Parampara” (Lineage of Saints by birth)? Did he have a formal education? The answer is NO!! Normally in literature texts like the Ramayana, etc., the past backgrounds of the authors are not described in much detail. However, it is believed that Valmiki, prior to being a Maharishi (Saint), was a very ordinary human being who was involved in a lot of wrong practices in his life.
It’s always important not to grind about one’s past behavior. All what is important is that, how is that person’s behavior today. If he/she is trying hard to meticulously follow the rules and regulations laid down by the “Shaastraas” (Spiritual texts), all we’ve to do is to respect them, instead of pondering over their past misbehavior (if any). Let’s think about ourselves for a moment – How were we before coming into spirituality? We were also doing numerous bad deeds for so many days, months and years, and even for numerous births, but somewhere and somehow, through somebody we were pulled into the righteous way of living by the grace of Bhagawan. Only a very few people are born with the noble quality of Bhakti (devotion to the Lord). Hence, it’s important for all of us not to make fun or derogatory comments about any person for his/her misdeeds in their past, just because we feel that we’re in the righteous path.
In that way, Valmiki was also one among us, who was into doing some misdeeds in life, but was brought back to the righteous way of living with the grace of Bhagawan. As mentioned before, he was not into the formal education system like the other great sages. Then how did he develop this kind of an expertise to compose such a renowned “Shaastra” called the Ramayana?
“Valmeekam” in Sanskrit means “Holes” in the earth’s surface. In daily life we see anthills, snake hills, etc. wherein, these creatures drill small holes on the earth’s surface and make their homes. We walk, run, stamp our foot, ride bicycles, cars, keep constructing tall buildings, lay roads, railroads, etc. in our everyday life – It’s believed that Goddess Bhoomaadevi (Mother Earth) uses these holes to know what all is happening above the earth surface. (It is to be noted here that Goddess Bhoomaadevi is also one of the wives of Lord Vishnu, along with Goddess Shreedevi). It is because this person was born from the “Valmeekam” on the earth’s surface; he’s referred to as “Vaalmiki”. It is also believed that Goddess Bhoomaadevi herself incarnated in the form of Valmiki Maharishi in order to sing the praise of her beloved husband – Lord Vishnu. It’s only because of this uniqueness that Valmiki possessed he was able to sing the Ramayana with such an expertise.
Valmiki Maharishi’s ashram can be worshipped even today. The ashram where he sat and wrote the entire Ramayana text is on the banks of the holy river Ganges at a place called “Bittur”, near Kanpur in the present-day state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is only at this place that Goddess Sita Devi was staying when she was a pregnant woman, and later on gave birth to two sons – Lava and Kusa. Just as the Ramayana is so sacred for all of us, so is its birthplace as well.
How was Valmiki initiated into writing the Ramayana story? Who were instrumental in making him write it? What is the story behind all this? Let’s see in the next episode!!