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Valmiki Muni
Valmiki Muni

Previously Valmiki, having the name Ratnakara, was living in the forest, and to maintain his family he would kill and rob passers by as they went through the forest. Some days he would come back with not very much, to which his demanding wife would reply to his entrance, "Is that all you've brought?" "Be patient dear, tomorrow a group of rich merchants will pass through the forest and I will relieve them of their wealth, " he would dutifully reply.
One day the seven great sages (Sapta Rishis) passed through the forest. Ratnakara stopped them with his usual demands for their wealth or their lives. The sages replied that they were actually in the renounced order, and did not possess any material wealth. They then asked the robber why he robbed as a profession. Ratnakara replied that he had to maintain his family, and robbery was his only option as a means of livelihood. The sages asked him if his family, who live on the fruits of his sinful activities, would partake of the results of his sins also, that he comited by putting his victims through various ordeals, and told him to go and ask them and then come back with their answer.

Ratnakara seemed to think they would be with him completely, however when the robber asked his wife and son if they would also share in the resultant reactions to his sins as well as the fruits, they both replied, No! You are the sinner. Why should we share your sins?"

Devastated at the replies from his so-called loved ones, in tears he returned to the seven great sages. Throwing himself at their feet he begged for their mercy and forgiveness. The sages told Ratnakara to chant the holy name of Rama, but Ratnakara stated that he had always preferred to chant Mara, or death. Anyway, those Saptarishis, who are full of compassion told him to just sit there and recite Mara continuously. As he chanted 'maramaramaramara' continuously like that, the holy name of 'ramaramarama' gradually became manifest. Sitting and chanting in this way in deep absorption on the holy name of the Lord, he sat for months and years, until finally his body became covered over by a 'valmik' (ant hill).

One day, many years later, the seven great sages returned and called to the now reformed robber. Bursting from the ant hill, the pleased sages gave him the new name Valmiki. By the constant and intense devotion of Valmiki Muni, best among the 'Rshis', he had meditated on the holy name of Lord Rama, even at first unknowingly, but the potency of the holy name acts whether chanted knowingly, unknowingly, or even in a mocking way.
Valmiki, now surcharged with spiritual potency, became respected everywhere by saintly devotees of the Lord. At this time, Narada Muni came to see Valmiki. Valmiki, accepting Narada as his eternal spiritual master, enquired from him as to who among men is the most perfect. Narada Muni said that King Rama, the King of Ayodhya, is the most perfect person, for He is the Personality of Godhead Narayana Himself. Then Narada Muni narrated the full story of the Ramayana - the wonderful life story of Lord Rama, after which he took his leave.

Valmiki thought of nothing else, for he was always absorbed in thoughts of the saintly Lord Rama.

Once Valmiki, with some of his 'sisyas' (students) headed for the Tamasa River for bathing, as Valmiki described the glories of the Lord's creation - the river, the forest, the animals and birds who have taken shelter of the forest, he saw two kraunch birds in a tree, in courtship. Then in a second, a hunter pierced the male bird with an arrow and the bird fell to the ground, dead. The female bird, in despair, wailed in grieving tones for her mate.
Valmiki said, even to his own surprise, to the hunter in perfect rhyme,

ma nisada pratistham tvam agamah sasvatissamah
yat krauncamithunad ekam avadhih kamamohitam

"O hunter! May you ne'er be blest, nor reach the realm of timeless rest, for thou hast rent this kraunch-pari, while they were joined in love most rare."(Valmiki Ramayana 1:2:14.)
As soon as he said these very poetic words, which were born out of grief ('shoka'), he had realised that a new format of stanza had come about. Later as Valmiki wrote down the Ramayana, the 'Sanskrit shoka' became 'shloka', the poetry of his writing.

Lord Brahma personally came and instructed Valmiki Muni, who had heard perfectly from Narada Muni the story of Rama, to write down the epic Ramayana. Empowered by 'guru', he propounded these following pastimes.
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