“To be happy always is difficult to achieve. That is to say, happiness and sorrow alternate in one’s life and there cannot be uninterrupted happiness alone.”

Maharishi Valmiki, the composer of the holy epic Ramayana was among the first poets of the Sanskrit language. The date and time of Valmiki’s birth are unknown as there are no valid records available but he is believed to have lived around 500 BC. According to a Hindu belief, Valmiki at a tender age went into the forest and got lost. A hunter started taking care of him thereafter. Walking along with his foster father’s steps, he became an excellent hunter too, and was married to a beautiful girl from a hunter’s family. It is believed that Valmiki was known by the name Ratnakara in his early years and was a dacoit. As his family grew larger, Ratnakara was trapped in a miserable menace. Sustaining his family was similar to boiling the ocean for him. As a result, Ratnakara took to robbery and began looting people passing from one village to another.

Image source: Dainik Bhaskar

The point of transformation in his life was when he crossed paths with the divine sage- Narada Muni. It is known that once Ratnakara attacked Narada when he was passing through the forest. Muni started playing his veena and sang praises of the sacred Lord Rama. He told Ratnakara to sit in deep meditation, chanting the name of Rama, till he came back. In this way, Muni transmuted Ratnakara to an avid devotee of Lord Rama and was bestowed with the name Valmiki (meaning ant-hill). One day Valmiki had the fortuity of receiving Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and brother Lakshman at his ashram. Lord Rama always took Valmiki’s advice and it is known that Maharishi taught him the Ramayana. Valmiki also rescued and sheltered Sita after Rama banished her from the kingdom of Ayodhya.

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Narada Muni visited Maharishi Valmiki in his ashram once and there, he narrated the story of Lord Rama. Thereafter he received a vision in which Lord Brahma directed him to write Ramayana in slokas, which the sage followed. Ramayana consists of 24,000 verses (shlokas), 500 upkhands, and 7 cantos (kandas). It is composed of 480,002 words. Yoga Vasitha, a wide-ranging philosophical text was also attributed to Valmiki. It acts as a guidebook for spiritual awakening according to the teachings of Vedanta. Valmiki is also known as the “Adikavi” which means the First Poet.

Image source: Parent Circle

Valmiki Jayanti falls on the full moon day of Ashwin which corresponds to September-October in the Gregorian calendar. It is celebrated enthusiastically in northern India particularly by the Hindu devotees and is also known as pragat diwas. Valmiki Jayanti will be celebrated all over India on 30 October this year(2020). On this day people take part in colorful processions called Shobha yantras and the temples of the great sage are decorated with flowers and lights. The devotees offer free food and recite prayers in the temples. Thousands take part in these congregations all over India and it is a celebration worth being a part of.

“One who is haughty, who does not know whether what he does is right or wrong and who has taken to the wrong path is to be disciplined even if he is the guru, parent or an elder in the age of learning.”

The story of Maharishi Valmiki, from a highway dacoit to a learned sage and Adikavi is truly inspiring and his life should be celebrated with enthusiasm and joy always.

Contributed by Amanpreet, Content Writer at Mitti Ke Rang

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