Valmiki Jayanti. Sage Valmiki is revered all over India as the Ādi Kavi, the first poet, the composer of Ramayana, the first epic poem in Sanskritam.
It is said that once Rishi Valmiki was going to the river Ganges for his daily ablutions. On the way, he came across a clear stream called the Tamasa, flowing through a forest. Valmiki decided to bathe in the stream. As he prepared to step into the stream, he saw a pair of Cranes in a courting ritual prior to mating.
Valmiki was engrossed in observing the ritual courtship dance of the cranes when a hunter shot an arrow at one of the birds. The male crane died on the spot and the female crane was grief stricken. Seeing the female crane wail in agony, Rishi Valmiki spontaneously cried out in Sanskrit,
मा निषाद प्रतिष्ठां त्वमगमः शाश्वतीः समाः।
(O hunter, you will find no peace through the long years of Eternity,
For you have killed a crane lost in love.)
Emerging from Valmiki’s rage and grief, these lines are believed to be the first pure poetic expression in Sanskrit literature. Rishi Valmiki termed it as ‘shloka’.
Valmiki later composed the entire Ramayana. As we all know, Ramayana is considered to be the story of Lord Ram, an avatar of Shri Vishnu himself, and the prince of Ayodhya. Ramayana as written by Rishi Valmiki, consists of 24,000 shlokas and 7 cantos (kaṇḍas). Valmiki is said to be a contemporary of Lord Rama himself and Sita stayed at his ashram while she gave birth to her twin sons, Luv and Kush.
Lord Brahma is said to have commanded Rishi Valmiki to write the Ramayana with the following words.
न ते नागनृता काव्ये काचिदत्र भविष्यति ||
कुरु रामकथां पुण्यां श्लोकबद्दां मनोरमाम् |
यावत् स्थाप्यन्ति गिरयः सरितश्च महीतले ||
तावद्रामायणकथा लोकेषु प्रचरिष्यति |
(You shall compose the pleasing and punya
giving legend of Lord Rama, and not a single word of yours will be out of place. As long as mountains rise and rivers flow on the surface of the earth, the legend of Ramayana will be heard and spread among the people)
“Valmiki Jayanti” ~ The birth anniversary of the great Sanskrit poet Maharishi Valmiki
Adi Kavi Maharishi Valmiki is admired as the first Sanskrit poet in India and his greatest work can be seen in the ‘Ramayana’ which consists of 24,000 verses and 7 cantos (Kandas). The exact date and timings of his birth is not known but it is believed that he existed in the same era of Lord Sri Ram.
Lord Sri Ram met Rishi Valmiki during his exile and Rishi Valmiki also gave shelter to Lord Sri Ram’s wife Sita. When Sita was banished by Lord Sri Ram, Rishi Valmiki came to her rescue and she gave birth to Lord Sri Ram’s twin sons – Lav and Kush. During their childhood, it was Rishi Valmiki who taught them the Ramayana.
In his early life, Rishi Valmiki was a highway dacoit. His name was Ratnakara and he used to kill and rob people. But the day he met Narad Muni (Hindu Divine Messenger), his life changed. He became a great devotee of Lord Sri Ram and started chanting ‘Ram Nam’ (the chanting of Lord Sri Ram’s name). He meditated for years and one day a divine voice declared his atonement successful. That day, the divine voice renamed him as Valmiki, which means ‘born out of ant-hills’.
Rishi Valmiki holds an important position in Hindu dharma. Being Pracheta’s tenth baby and author of the Ramayana, he has a great religious significance in Hinduism.
The birth anniversary of this great Sanskrit poet is also referred to as ‘Pragat Diwas’ and is celebrated with great enthusiasm by Hindu devotees worldwide. Hindus worship Maharishi Valmiki and celebrate this day with great processions or shobha yatras and religious gatherings. Devotees also offer free food to people and recite prayers in honour to celebrate Valmiki Jayanti.
Devotees also decorate Maharishi Valmiki’s temples with flowers and light the temples. The whole atmosphere gets filled with purity and happiness.