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Maharshi Valmiki – A Great Poet, Hermit, Seer, Saint

It is one of the world’s most remarkable classic and excels all in its moral appeal. It is full of lessons for all and deserves to be read with interest and benefit by all lovers of healthy literature. It is noted for its poetic excellences and is the oldest specimen of epic poetry. For the benefit of those who cannot read Hindi and at the same time, who are not so well-versed in Sanskrit as to understand and appreciate original Sanskrit text, an accurate and faithful English translation of sacred Valmiki Ramayana is published by Gita Press.1

The purpose of writing this article, rather essay is the celebration of Valmiki Jayanti falling on 31st October 2020. Let us look at some different opinions about the linage of him. One opinion is that he was born as Agni Sharma to a Brahmin named Pracheta (also known as Sumali) of Bhrigu gotra. According to a legend he once met the great sage Narada and had a discourse with him on his duties. Motivated by the Bramharshi Narada’s advise, Agni Sharma began to perform penance and chanted the word “Mara”, which actually means “To die”. Valmiki continued his Tapasya (Long prayer of God), in which the word “Mar”, automatically became as “Ram”, the name of Lord Vishnu. A big anthill formed around his body and this earned him the name of Valmiki. Agni Sharma, renamed as Valmiki, who learnt sacred scriptures from Brahmharshi Narada and become revered for all the time to come.

There are also some other legends, which say that he was a thief and tuned into a great Sage. In the Skand Purana, about the creation of Mukhara Tirth mentions that Valmiki was born as a Brahmin, with the name of Lohajaangha. He had a beautiful wife. Once, when there was no rain for long years, Lohajangha, for the sake of his family, started robbing people, who used to pass through the forest. Once he was waiting for people to be robbed, he met Saptarshi and tried to rob them, but instead they felt pity about Valmiki and one of them gave a Mantra (A small and compact group of few syllables.)  to meditate upon. He engrossed in chanting that mantra day and night for several years without bothering for anything. During this time, a huge ant hill was built by ants around his body, but he was unaware due to his total submergence in the Bhakti (Prayers). When those Saptarshi were returning from there, they heard the deep resonating sound of that Mantra form the ant-hill. They stopped and blessed Valmiki, “Since you achieved the great Siddhi (A stage in the process of Kundalini Awakening through the passage of Six Chakras in the body.), you will become well-known in the world as “Valmiki.”3

Irrespective of who Mahrashi Valmiki was really, the fact remains that he is The Adya Great Poet of the World (First Greatest Poet of the World.) and one who created and started the Sanskrit literature with his first expression of grief and agony after seeing the hunting by a hunter of a bird couple engrossed in mating and that was in Anushtubh Chand (Meter).       

In Cambodia there is “Riemker”, in Burma (Mayanamar) “Yama Zatdaw”, in Japan “Ramaensho”, in Laos “Phra Lak Phra Lam”, in China “Liudu ji jing”, in Indonesia “Kakawin Ramayana”, in Thailand “Ramakein”, in Philipines “Maharadia Lawna”, in Malaysia “Hikayat Seri Rama”.

In India in 16th century it was translated in Hindi by San Tulsidas as Rama Charit Manas. In 17th century it was written in Urdu as “Pothi Ramayana”. In 19th century in Jammu & Kasmir it was written as “Ramavatara Charita”. In 17th century in was written inn Punjabi as “ramavatara by Guru Gobind Singh. In Gujrath, is it is the Tulsi-krita by poet Premanand, who has written it. In Maharashtra, it is the Bhavarth Raqmayana written by San Ekanath. In Assam, it is the Assamese Katha or Kotha Ramayana in 15th century by Madhava Kandali. In the same century in Bengal, it is written by Krittvas Ramayan by Krittivas. In Orissa, in 16th century it written as Balramadasa Ramayana by Balarama Das. In Andhra Pradesh, the Telgu Ramayana is known as Ranganatha Ramayana and was adapted by Buddha Reddy. In Karnataka, it is Kannada version of Ramayana the Kumudendu.   

In 13th century, Jain Version, the “Kumara Valmiki Torave Ramayana is made. In Tamil Nadu, the most popular version is Tamil Kamba Ramayana written by poet Kamban in 12th century. In Kerala, it was penned in Malayam as “Adhyatma Ramayana Kilipattu by Thunchaththu Exhuthachan in the 16th century. There are other 66 version also available in Sanskrit language. 2

The Epic poem Ramayana is a “Smriti”, which is translated as “from memory”. Shrimad Ramayana is composed in verses, which are called as “Shloka” in Sanskrit language, which is an ancient language form India. The complex meter is called as “Anushtubh” Chandaha. The origin of this Chanda (meter) is an imaginatively literary construction evolved naturally with the grace of God, by Maharshi Valmiki. The first piece of literature in the whole world is in Sanskrit in India. One day, Maharshi Valmiki was going to the river Ganges for his daily ablutions. A disciple by the name Bharadwaj was carrying his clothes. On the way, they came across the Tamasa stream. Looking at the stream, Valmiki said to his disciples, “Look, how clear is this water, like the mind of a good man! I will bathe here today.” When he was looking for a suitable place to step into the stream, he saw a crane couple mating. Valmiki felt very pleased on seeing the happy birds. Suddenly, hit by an arow, the male bird died on the spot. Filled by sorrow, its mate screamed in agony and died of shock. Valmiki’s heart melted at this pitiful sight. He looked around to find out who had shot the bird, He was a hunter with a bow and arrows, nearby. Valmiki became very angry. His lips opened and he cried out,

“मा निषाद प्रतिष्ठाम् त्वमगम: शाश्वती: समा: | यतक्रौंचमिथुनादेकमवधी: काममोहितम् ||”

You will find no rest for the long years of eternity, for you killed a bird in live and unsuspecting. This has emerged spontaneously form Rishi Valmiki’s rage and grief. This is considered to be the first Shloka in Sanskrit literature.  The above shloka is in Anustubh Chandaha (Meter). All shlokas are grouped in into chapters, which are called as “Sargas”. Sargas are further grouped in Kandas. There are six kandas in Ramayana.

  • Bala Kanda (Episodes of Youth) – 77 Sargas
  • Ayodhya Kanda (Episodes of Ayodhya) – 119 Sargas
  •  Arnya Kanda (Forest Episodes) – 75 Sargas
  •  Kishkindha Kanda (The Empire of Holy Monkeys) – 67 Sargas
  •  Sundara Kanda (Episodes of Beauty) – 68 Sargas
  •  Yuddha Kanda (Episodes of War) – 128 Sargas.   Shrimad Ramayana contains total 24,000 verses (Shlokas) arranged into numerous cantons (Sargas). Shrimad Ramayana consist about 4,80, 002 words, being a quarter of the length of the full length of the full text of the Mahabharat or about four times the length of the Iliad. A billion Hindus believe he did and unbroken tradition of Rama worship has continued for thousands of years in throughout length and breadth of India. Rama is also a hero in Indonesia even though it is a Muslim country. Thailand and other South Asian countries also worship Lord Rama. Maharshi Valmiki is referred in Taittiriya Brahmana (dated to 4600 BCE) and therefore, Ramayana must have been written before the Trattoria Brahmana was composed.

Dating of Ramayana: Historian Dr P V Varatak says: “Sage Valmiki has recorded the dates of events in detail, albeit by describing the positions of stars and planets. To decipher the astronomical encodings has not been a trivial task at all. It should be noted that the ancient Indian had a perfect method of time measurement. They recorded the “Tithis” (days) according to the Nakshatras (Star) on which the moon prevailed, the months, the seasons and even the different solstices. By noting a particular arrangement of the astronomical bodies, which occurs once in many thousand years, the dates of the events can be calculated. Dr Vartak says, “Valmiki records the birth of Lord Rama as Chaitra Shuddha Navami (9th Tithi / day), on Punarvasu Nakshtra and five planets were exalted then, Sun in Mesh up to 10 degrees, Mars in Capricorn at 28 degrees, Jupiter in Cancer at 5 degrees, Benus in Pisces at 27 degrees and Saturn in Libra at 20 degrees.

ततो यदनये समाप्ते तु ऋतुणाम षट् समत्ययु: | ततशच्य द्वादशे मासे चैतरे नावमिके तिथोऊ ||८||

नक्षत्रेsदितिदैवतए स्वचो संस्थेशु पंचयसु | ग्रहेषू करकटे लग्ने वाकपताविंदुना  सह ||९||

प्रोद्यमाने जगन्नाथम् सर्वलोक नमस्क्रूतम् | कौसल्याजनयद् रामम दिव्यलक्षणसंयुक्तम ||१०||

It is said that Ramayana has occurred 9300 years ago. Since Moon and Jupiter are together in Cancer in the first house or ascendant, it caused one of the best forms of Gaj Kesari Yoga. Jupiter is exalted, and Moon is in its own sign in Cancer. What could be better than that! And five exalted planets made him a divine, an emperor whose fame has refused to fade away.  If we look at Lord Rama’s planetary positions from a point of view of astronomy, and not astrology, we shall find that though both are intricately tied up with one another!! Both are intricately tied up with one another!!
This planetary data was fed into the Planetarium Software, a software which is now declassified, (it was earlier not available to public) and was used by NASA to calculate the exact position of planets for any given date – past, present or future, within a limit (unknown). The closest date from today into the past, for which the planetary data of Lord Rama’s birth fits in, is 10th January, 5114 BC. Since then this combination has never occurred in the skies which implies Sri Ram was born not later than 5114 BC. We celebrate normally Ram Navami in the month of March / April, and not in January. How it shifted back is having some astronomical reasons, which is not the subject here for our current discussions and hence, not dealt with here at length. Those who are curious and enthusiastic can find the same elsewhere.  The comprehension Ramayana as myths is the biggest disservice that we do to our own history. 

It is noteworthy that that at very beginning of Shrimad Ramayana of Maharshi Valmiki, he asks questions to Bramarshi Narada and he replies. The questions are important, so are their answers.

  • Who can possibly be full of virtue in this world at present?
  •  Who is possessed of prowess and knows what is right?
  •  Who is conscious of services done, truthful of speech and firm of resolve?
  •  Who is possessed of right conduct and?
  •  Who is friendly to all living beings?
  •  Who is a man of knowledge?
  •  Who is powerful and who has a singularly lovable appearance?
  •  Who has subdued himself?
  •  Who has conquered anger?
  • Who is possessed of splendour?
  • Who is above fault-finding?
  • When his wrath has been (apparently) provoked in battle?

Maharshi Valmiki says to Bramharshi Narada, “I wish to hear this, for there is a great curiosity in my mind about it, while you are capable of knowing such a man. O eminent Seer!

Hearing this appeal of Great Maharshi Valmiki, the sage Narada, who possessed knowledge of the three worlds, said, “Listen! and greatly delighted, addressed the following words:

  • I shall (duly) consider and tell you (of such a hero). Be pleased to hear (from me) of the man endowed with the manifold and rare virtues that have been described by you a Seer. There is one descended in the line of Ishwaku, and known by men the name Rama. He has fully controlled his mind, is very powerful, radiant and resolute and has brought his senses under control. “ईशवाकूवंशप्रभवो रामो नाम जनै: श्रुत: | नियतात्मा महावीरयो द्युतीमान धृतिमान वशी ||८||”
  • He is intelligent, sagacious, eloquent, glorious and an exterminates his foes. He is distinguished with broad shoulders, powerful arms, a neck-shaped as a conch and a stout chin.
  • He has marked with broad chest, a mighty bow and collar bone covered with flesh and is capable of subduing his foes. His long arms extend well up to his knees. He has a well-formed head, a shapely forehead and charming gait.
  • His stature is medium. He has well-proportioned limbs and has an unctuous complexion, is mighty, has a rounded chest, large eyes. He is full of splendour and has auspicious marks on his body.
  • He knows the secret of virtue. He is true to his promise and intent on the good of the people. He is illustrious, full of wisdom, pure in his dealings, a man of self-control and concentrated mind.
  • He is supporter of the creation like Brahma, affluent, the slayer of his enemies, a protector of living beings and a staunch defender of faith.
  • He vindicates of his own virtue and the protects people. He knows the truth of the Vedas and the (Six) sciences auxiliary to them. He is expert in the art of archery.
  • He knows the real meaning of all the scriptures. He is possessed of a sharp memory. He is popular in all the worlds, pious, high-minded and very diplomatic.  
  • He is always sought by the righteous as the ocean is by rivers. He is noble. He is alike to all and always wears a pleasing face.
  • He is endeared with all excellences and enhances the delight of (his mother) Kausalya. He vies with the ocean in understanding and compares with the Himalaya in point of firmness.
  • He is a replica of Lord Vishnu in competence. He has pleasing of aspect like the moon. In anger, he resembles the destructive fire.  
  • He equals Kubera (the God of riches, the bestower if Wealth) in liberality and is another Dharma (the God of piety) as it were in point of truthfulness.  
  • It is equally important to go through the “Uttarkand (उत्तराकांड)” of Shrimad Valmiki Ramayana. In 111 Sarg, Maharshi Valmiki stated that except Rambhakta Hanuman and few others, all his brothers, subject of Aayodhya and even animals expressed their desires to Lord Rama to accompany him to Swarg (Heaven) and prostrated themselves on the ground. Lord Rama, knowing fully well through Kaalshakti, realised that now it is time for him to ascend the swarg, leaving his human form (accepted for incarnation); still, he as a respect and learning, asked to Mahrashi Vasishta, his Raj Rishi what to do and Vasishta, advised Lord Rama, he being the King and subject loves him so much, must take them all with him for ascension (स्वर्गारोहण). Rama obeyed his Guru and assured his subject that he will take them all with him for ascension. On the pre-decided day, Lord Rama performed Agnihotra ( A pious worship of God of Fire) and by following Yoga after obtaining the blessings of His Raj Guru, Vashishtha, left the human body on the banks of river Sharayu, when Creator of Universe Lord Brahma appeared, to whom Lord Ram prayed to allow his brothers and subject of Aayodhya, with animals too, to enter the Swarg; to which Brahma blessed.
  • इदमाख्यानमायुष्यं सौभाग्याम् पापनाशनम् | रामायणम् वेदसमं श्राध्द्धेषयु श्रावयेद् बुध||४||  Shrimad Ramayana is the giver of longevity, the enhancer of fortune and the dispeller of sins and is equal to the Vedas (and) the wise should cause it to be heard in the funeral rites.
  • अपुत्रो लभते पुत्रमधनो लभते धनम् | सर्वपापै: प्रमुच्यते पादमप्यस्य य: पठेत् ||५|| The sonless one obtains a son, the poor gets wealth (by hearing it). He who reads even a quarter of this (Ramayana) is freed form all sins.  
  • पापान्यपि च य: कुर्यादहन्यहनि मानव: | पठत्येकमपि श्लोकं पापात् स परिमुच्यते ||६|| The man who commits sins every day, is also freed from sins, if he reads even one Shloka (Verse) of the Ramayana.
  • अश्वमेधसहस्त्रस्य वाजपेयायुतस्य च | लभते श्रवणादेव सर्गसईकस्य मानव: ||१२|| A man gets the retribution of (performing) One Thousand Ashvamedha and Ten Thousand Vajpeya sacrifices merely by hearing even one canto of this (Ramayana).
  • सत्यमेतद् विदीतवा तु श्रोतव्यम् नियतात्म्भि:| गायतर्याशच्य स्वरूपं तद् रामायणमनुततमं ||१८|| The Ramayana is the unsurpassed form of Gayatri.
  • य: पठेछ्रुनुयानित्यमं चरितं राघवस्य ह | भकत्त्या निशक्लमो भूतवा दीर्घमायूरवाप्रूयात ||१९|| He who narrates or listens always the story of Sri Ramayana with reverence and devoutly, becomes sinless and attains a (very) long life.
  • य स्वितदम रघुनाथस्य चरितं सकलं पठेत् | सोsसुक्षये विष्णुलोकं गच्छतेव न संशय: ||२२|| He who reads this whole story of Sri Rama undoubtedly shall attain the world of Vishnu after end of his life.
  • पिता पितामहस्तस्य तथैव प्रपितामह:| ततपिता ततपिता चैव विष्णुमं यांती न संशय: ||२२|| His father, grandfather and great grandfather and even the fathers of these attain the body of Vishnu.
  • श्रुन्वन रामायणम् भकत्या य: पादम् पदमेव वा | स याति ब्रम्हण: स्थानम् ब्रह्मणा पूजयते सदा ||२४|| Listening even a syllable or quarter of verse of the Ramayana with reverence, one attains the world of Brahma and is regarded and respected there by him.   
  • The beauty and grandeur of Shrimad Ramayana is par excellence. Whether you read it as a great literary work or as an epic or as a Smritigranth; irrespective of your faith, you will automatically get that which Maharshi Valmiki has predicted hereinabove. The words of such seers and saints are always, timelessly, charged with cosmic energy dully backed by their own earned pious, purest and enthralling power bestowed on them by the God. They are Vibhutis, whose life work is to preach, propagate and practise the sacred scriptures like Vedas, Upanishads etc. And therefore, Lord Rama or Lord Krishna were required to go tom their Gurus Ashramas, to learn the knowledge of Vedas etc. Let us follow the footprints of Lord Vishnu’s incarnations to get ourselves enriched with sacred knowledge, which is possible by even reading or listening the Shrimad Ramayana. Jai Shriram!!!      

1: Shrimad Valmiki-Ramayana, Gita Press, Gorkhpur, India, 13th Edition, 2019

2: Google documents

3 (a) Vishwanath S. Naravane (1998). Sages, Nymphs, and Deities: Excursions in Indian Mythology(https://books.google.com/books?id=DInXAAAAMAAJ&q=agnishar ma&dq=agnisharma). The Author. p. 86.

3 (b) History of Ancient India (a New Version): From 7300 Bb To 4250 Bc (https://books.google.com/books?id=b7 gOBW8oDFgC). Atlantic Publishers & Dist. 2006. p. 720. ISBN 9788126906154.

3 © “The Skanda Purana, Nagara Khanda, Chapter 124, Creation of Mukhara Tirtha” (https://cloudup.com/cYfW SvnuieF).

3 (d) The Skanda Purana, Part 17, (Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology Series, Vol. LXV) (https://www.abebook s.fr/Skanda-Purana-Part-Ancient-Indian-Tradition/7588 930100/bd). Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd. 2002. p. 506.

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One thought on “Maharshi Valmiki – A Great Poet, Hermit, Seer, Saint

  1. extremely informative and well researched! Special thanks to you for citing references at relevant places! This substantiated the arguments and made it an intellectual delight!

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