I bow again and again to Shri Rama
who removes obstacles, grants wealth and pleases all.
The life of Valmiki is steeped in legend. He lived in the fourth century BC and is considered
the author of the Sanskrit epic, Ramayana. Valmiki is known as First Poet in India as the
Ramayana is the first great Sanskrit poem. There are many legends about Valmiki. Dr. Leslie of the University of London
explores many in his book,
Hinduism and the Case of Valmiki. One is that Valmiki meditated in one place, totally
unaware of the outside world, until an ant hill was formed around him;
thus the name Valmiki which means ant hill. Valmiki had the gift of inner sight and saw the
life of Lord Ram with this inner vision.
Lord Ram visited the ashram of Valmiki in Amritsar, while in exile with Sita and Lakshman,
and was received by Valmiki. When Lord Ram asked Sita to leave his palace because
his subjects questioned her purity,
she was granted sanctuary by Valmiki at his ashram.
As do all great ancient works, the Ramayana shows signs of different layers of composition.
a brief synopsis of the Ramayana
King Dashratha of Ayodhya has four sons; Rama, Lakshmana, Shatrughana and Bharata; and three wives. He chooses his son Rama to be his heir.
His wife Kaikeyi pleads that he choose her son, Bharata, instead. The King owes her two favors;
she feels misfortune will befall her if Bharata is not made king and Rama banished for fourteen years.
Rama, seeing his father's dilemma, gives his magnanimous consent; the King reluctantly agrees. Rama leaves a life of wealth and privilege, with his two loyal companions, his wife Sita and his
brother Laksmana, to live a simple life in the forest.
In the forest a female demon, Surpanakha, falls in love with Rama. Rama refuses her advances.
Hurt and angry, she goes to see her brother Ravana, ruler of the island kingdom of Lanka, and
tells him of the great beauty of Sita, Rama's wife. Ravana decides that he must have this most beautiful
of women. He disguises himself as a wandering holy man and goes into the forest. When Rama and
Laksmana are away, hunting, Ravana grabs Sita and carries her off to his island kingdom.
Sita is deeply grieved to be a prisoner. Rama and Laksmana discover her gone and enlist the
help of Hanuman, the monkey king, to help them look for her. In searching for Sita, Hanuman
takes a giant step to the Island of Lanka. He has Lord Rama's ring and shows it to Sita when he finds her.
Sita is now happy, but Hanuman is caught by Ravana who sets Hanuman's tail on fire. Hanuman
escapes and sets fire to Lanka.
Rama, Laksmana, Hanuman, and his monkey army lay siege on Lanka. The monkeys make a bridge to
Lanka, and after a long battle with spears, bows and arrows, Rama kills Ravana. Sita, however,
is not received by Rama unreservedly; he questions her chastity after having lived in the house
of another man. When he asks her to undergo the test by fire; she agrees. Proving her chastity
by remaining unscathed by the fire, she rejoins Rama. Later, Rama abandons her to maintain the
sanctity of public opinion and she goes to live in the ashram of sage Valmiki and bears twin
sons Lava and Kusa, who as young men became reunited with their father, Rama.