Dhanteras also known as the festival of...
The birth anniversary of the great sage Maharishi Valmiki who authored the epic Ramayana is celebrated as Valmiki jayanti. It falls on the full moon day of the ashwin month according to the Hindu calendar.
Valmiki is also known as Adi Kavi or the first poet because it was he who composed the first verse or Hindu sloka which set the foundation for Sanskrit poetry. The story of Lord Rama written by him is called Valmiki’s Ramayana and is the first epic of Sanskrit literature. Ramayana is also the first kavya.
Maharshi Valmiki : The legend
Valmiki’s birth name was Ratnakar. He was a Dacoit who mercilessly looted and killed people. One day sage Narad Muni came to see him and asked him a question– Why do you loot and kill people?
Ratnakar said– I do it for my family. Narad Muni then told him to go and ask each of his family members if they would share the punishment of all his evil deeds in Hell. Ratnakar came disappointed; nobody wanted to share the punishment for his deeds in Hell. He was shocked; it opened his eyes and filled his heart with dispassion for world. He asked Narad Muni to be his mentor and guide him on the path of salvation.
Narad Muni then asked him to recite God’s Name “Ram” continuously every day. Despite repeated attempts Ratnakar failed to say “Ram”; “Mara, Mara, Mara” was all that he could say. Narad Muni assured him that by the infinite grace of Lord Ram, he would reach enlightenment even by reciting “Mara”. Ratnakar started saying “Mara…Mara…Mara…” Slowly and gradually, the power of God’s Name and blessings of his Guru transformed him completely. All his sins were washed away and his heart was completely purified. Later he came to be known as sage Valmiki, who wrote most revered epics “Ramayan” and “Yog Vashisht”.
This story beautifully brings out the infinite glory of God’s Name and the power hidden in the Naam-Jap.
How Ramayana Was Written
One day, Valmiki was touched by seeing the love act between two birds. As he looked one bird was hit by an arrow which was shot by a hunter. The other bird’s agony melted his heart and he spontaneously uttered a curse which came in the form of a sloka
Ma Nishad Pratishtha Twamgam Shashvati Samah |
Yatkronchamithunadekam Avadhi Kammohittam ||
and then he turned into a poet.
This is the first sloka that was created. Then with blessings of lord Brahma he wrote the Ramayana in slokas. Another fact is that Valmiki was a contemporary of lord Rama. It was Valmiki who received the banished Sita to his hermitage and he also taught the slokas to Luv and Kush the sons of lord Rama. Valmiki aimed at enlightening the minds of people through his composition.