Episode 21: Valmiki Maharishi goes for a bath to the banks of River Tamasa

rama-sita

Till yesterday we saw the various incidents that took place as part of the “Naarada – Valmiki Samvaadham” (The conversation between Sage Naarada and Vaalmiki Maharishi). We saw that Valmiki Maharishi asked Sage Naarada a set of sixteen questions and in turn, Sage Naarada explained Lord Rama’s life in a brief, which is called as “Samkshepa Ramayana”. However, Sage Narada thinks and feels for a while that this story has to be elaborated in a bigger detail, so that all the people in the world would be able to enjoy it and follow it’s principles in their lives. It is at this point that Bhagawan showers His grace and the next series of events commences. In today’s episode we shall start with what happened after Sage Naarada left the Valmiki Ashram.

Now we’re going into the next Sarga (Chapter) and let’s look at the sloka for better understanding:

“Naaradassathu thath vaakyam shruthvaa vaakya vishaarathaha!

Poojayaamaasa dharmaathma sahasishyo mahaamunim!!”

The above sloka says that Valmiki Maharishi, along with his “Sishya” (Student) Sage Bharadwaja, offers all the respects to Sage Naarada while he’s leaving from their ashram. After Sage Naarada leaves, Valmiki Maharishi looks at Sage Bharadwaja and tells him, “Just now Sage Naarada has left. It’s getting late for our “Nithya – Naimitthika Karma” (Daily routine prayers) and hence let’s quickly go, have a bath and come back”. Normally the two of them go to the banks of the river Ganges daily for their bath and their daily routine prayers. Even today we can see that the Bittur ashram of Valmiki, is quite close to the banks of the river Ganges, but even before reaching the Ganges, there’s another river by name “Tamasa”, which is a small tributary of river Ganges that flows very close to their ashram. Valmiki Maharishi thinks that a majority of the time in the day had gone in the conversation between himself and Sage Naarada and now there’s no time to walk up to the Ganges for their bath and hence, for this day we shall go to the river Tamasa for the day’s bath and duties.

“Samuhurtham gadhe tasmin deva lokham munistathaa!

Janaama tamasaa dheeram jaanhavyaastvavi dhoorakaha!!”

Here in this sloka we can see the detail in much more clarity. “Jaanhavi” is another name of river Ganges. Valmiki Maharishi says that this Jaanhavi River is very far to walk down. However, there’s this river Tamasa that is not very far off (avi dhoorakaha). So both of them start walking down towards River Tamasa now.

“Satudheeram samaasaadhyam tamasaayaa munistathaa!

Sishyamaahashitham paarshve drishtvaa teerthamakarthamam!!

Akarthamavitham theertham bharadwaaja nishaamaya!

Ramaneeyam prasannaambu sanmanushyamano yathaa!!”

For people who know Sanskrit, it might be very interesting to note here that the second sloka is incomplete. This kind of “Incomplete slokas” can be found at various places in the entire Ramayana text and this can be considered as the specialty and the uniqueness of this great text. If we see the commentaries that were done by the Aalwars and the Aacharyaas, these “half-slokas” would be mentioned in atleast a hundred places. The gross meaning of this half sloka is as follows:

Valmiki Maharishi talks with his sishya Sage Bharadwaja and exclaims to him, “Oh Bharadwaja.. Look at the clear water in this Tamasa River! Such is the natural beauty of this place!” He says “Ramaneeyam prasannaambu sanmanushyamano yathaa!!” He continues to convey this message with a beautiful comparison – Just as the hearts and minds of “Saadhus” (Good people) are so clear and pure, the water that flows through this river is also so pure…

Here’s an important message for all of us:

If we’re amidst people who are pure and clear in their minds and hearts (Saadhu Samaagamam), even our minds and hearts would become as pure as theirs. This is the main reason why people say that we need to choose our friends/companions very carefully in our lives! If by mistake, we end up choosing the wrong people as our companions, then we would be pulled into the wrong path and ultimately we would fail to realize the purpose of our birth in this world! Also, if we have a healthy relationship with Bhaagavathaas (Ardent devotees of Bhagawan), they would clear away all the confusions that we have in our minds and pull us into the “Bhakti Maarga” (Path of devotion towards the Lord).

Hence we see here that both Valmiki Maharishi and Sage Bharadwaja enter inside the river Tamasa for their bath. After finishing bathing and their regular prayers, normally great sages and aacharyas head back to their home/ashram straightaway and never waste their time in doing unwanted stuff like gossiping, roaming around needlessly, etc. However on this day quite peculiarly Valmiki Maharishi and his sishya did not return home directly, but they went somewhere else!

Where did they go and what happened next? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

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