The original composer of the story of Sri Rama was Valmiki, who was called the original poet (Adikavi) and a seer (Rishi). He was called Adikavi, the word kavi meaning one with a revolutionary vision. Rishi (seer) is one who has seen truth.
The man who was called Valmiki in his later years was not a wise man by birth, nor was he born in a family of learned persons.
Ratnakara was a highway robbery. One day he dared to waylay Narada, a celestial seer, who was the mind-born son of Brahma. Narada enquired of him, why he was tormenting others and committing the cardinal sins of way-laying and murdering people. Ratnakara replied, “I commit these heinous crimes, in order to support my wife and children. I know my life is sinful, but, what can I do? I cannot do anything else”. Narada put counter-question to him, “Your wife and children partake of food earned out of this sinful profession. Will they share the wages of your sin and the punishment that will be yours here-after?”.
Ratnakara wanted to consult his wife and children on this matter of primary importance. He tied Narada to a tree and ran home to ask his people. “You enjoyed the wealth I bought for you. Do you accept a part of sins which I had to commit in order to earn that wealth?”. They replied, “We are concerned with the wealth which you bring us. We do not care what means you adopt to earn it. And we are not a party to your crimes. That is your own doom”.
Ratnakara was shocked. Wisdom dawned upon him the relatives were only to share the gains but not to stand by him in his hour of retribution. He ran back to Narada, apologised for his present crime and sought means of atonement of his past misdeeds.
Narada, the compassionate, wanted to teach him a method of coming out of his past. He taught him the name of God-“Rama”. But Ratnakara, the illiterate and uncultured hunter could not utter the simple word ‘Rama’. All that he could utter was ‘Mara’. Narada asked him to chant repeatedly whatever form of the word he could, but instructed that he should do it with utmost faith-shraddha.
Then Narada went his way. Ratnakara went on chanting ‘mara mara’ which turned into ‘Rama, Rama’. He identified himself with that holy sound and lost consciousness of his body. He turned his mind inward and meditated upon the word and the sound. His earnestness and simple faith coupled with his intense urge to see truth helped his growth inwardly. He was not aware of external world. An ant-hill grew and covered him. As he attained spiritual maturity from an ant-hill, he got the name Valmiki-the sage of the ant-hill.
Sri Rama is the manifest form of the world-sound ‘Rama’. Ratnakara chanted the sound form of God and realised God’s Truth-consciousness-Bliss form. He saw Rama as Atma Rama, his own superior self. Once again Ratnakara, now Valmiki, approached Narada and learnt the story of Rama on earth. He composed the Ramayana in pure and original words. Valmiki’s life is the first proof of the greatness of Rama’s name and of the glory of the Ramayana.
The event of the Ramayana took place in the Tretayuga-the second cycle.
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