In Search of Sanjeevani, Once Again - 2

Wisdom of Valmiki

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People have witnessed the finest sages, saints, and poets of ancient India throughout history. Maharishi Valmiki was one of the names that stood out the most. Rishi Valmiki is Adi Kavi — the first poet – of Sanskrit. He wrote the epic Ramayana, which is one of the most prominent Hindu scriptures. Rishi Valmiki was an intellectual genius and a great sage of purity, kindness, mercy, poetry, and wisdom.

After witnessing a hunter kill a mating bird duo at the Tamasa brook, Maharishi Valmiki wrote the first Shloka in Sanskrit literature:

ma nisada pratistham tvam agamah sasvatih samah
yat krauñcamithunadekam avadhih kamamohitam

(“You will find no rest for the long years of Eternity,
for you killed a bird in love and unsuspecting.”)

Writing the Adi Kavya (First Poem) Ramayana is Valmiki rishi's greatest efforts. The Ramayana is the oldest Sanskrit poem. Valmiki's epic Ramayana has 24 thousand shlokas and seven cantos. It details Sri Rama's complete biography, including his birth, education, marriage to Devi Sita, and 14 years of exile in the wilderness. The conflict between Rama's Vanara (monkey) and Ravana's army ultimately came to an end when Devi Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, and Lord Rama killed him. After returning to Ayodhya Rama established Ramrajya and ruled for many years.  He left the material world by immersing himself in the Sarayu river since he had accomplished his mission of freeing the world from demons as promised to the people, ends Ramayana.

Aside from the Ramayana, several Indian philosophers ascribed Rishi Valmiki's work with Yoga Vasistha. Yoga Vasistha is a philosophical story about the discourse between Sri Rama and the sage Vasistha. There are six books by Yoga Vasistha. Each one highlights different events and facets of life, such as Rama's disappointment with nature and human miseries, Rama's longing for salvation, others seeking release, spiritual paths to freedom, and finally, the value of human willpower and creativity.

According to Uttara Kaanda, sage Valmiki played a significant role in Ramayana. After Devi Sita was exiled by Sri Rama, Rishi Valmiki offered her refuge at his ashram. Lava and Kusha were born at the rishi's ashram, where both Lava and Kusha heard the Ramayana from their guru Valmiki.

Cultural Consequences - Maharishi's philosophical works affected the cultures and arts of numerous sections of the Indian subcontinent, as well as some portions of Southeast Asia. It inspired authors and poets from all walks of life to reinterpret Valmiki's Ramayana in their own languages. It comprises the Tamil Kambaramayanam, the Telegu Molla Ramayanam, the Kannada Torave Ramayana, the Bengali Krittivasi Ramayana, and the iconic Ramacharitamanas in Awadhi.

On the walls of temples and stones across Bharat, many scenes from the Ramayana were carved. The stone in Nagarjunkonda, Andhra Pradesh, depicting Sri Rama and Bharata's encounter is a wonderful example. Valmiki's Ramayana has influenced modern films, television shows, music videos, theatres, paintings, literature, and temples. Ramlila, a dramatic depiction of the Ramayana, is being performed in front of Hindu worshippers in Bharat and around the world.

Rishi Valmiki is honoured in a 1300-year-old temple in Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai.

Valmiki’s Ramayana is a gift to humanity, written in seven kaandas, namely, Bala Kaanda, Ayodhya Kaanda, Aranya Kaanda, Kishkindha Kaanda, Sundara Kaanda, Yuddha Kaanda and Uttara Kaanda,  with the first two Kaandas advocating about  family principles. Dharma is the central idea in each Kaanda, describing several facets of it  that assist humans in developing their identities at various stages of life. In short, it showcases the ethical code of our wonderful country Bharat, foundation of which is Sanatan Dharma.

The word ‘dharma’ is derived from the root ‘dhr’ which means ‘to uphold or stabilize or make secure’. It is a manmade construct that creates civilization. Civilization is essentially a shelter from the world’s temporary and unpredictable nature. It is created when humans look beyond self-preservation and self-propagation. It is created when the beneficiary of human action is not just the self, but others around us. One way of creating civilization is to do one’s duty, dharma, not what one wants for oneself but what one is expected to do for the larger good of the society.

The Bal Kaand discusses the bond of love between parents and children, which is the cornerstone of all human relationships. Maharaj Dasaratha alongwith  Kaushalya, Kakeyi, and Sumitra teaches the parents' responsibility to their children. The four boys were raised with love and care, but they were also taught to be disciplined. The brothers were raised to appreciate everyone, regardless of their social status. This had a significant impact on the brothers, and they have never done anything against their parents' desires. Be it Sri Rama and Lakshman leaving for Gurukul Ashram to further their education or be it Sri Rama and Lakshman leaving on their father's command with Rishi Vishwamitra or be it they both leaving for exile. The principle in respecting elders always came first in their lives in order to obey their parents' command. The four boys were always obedient to their parents, who had given them all the love. Rishi Vashishta teaches them the greatest virtue of humility at the Gurukul Ashram. He teaches them that no matter how intelligent a person is, they must be humble in order for their wisdom to show. These remarks had such an impression on Sri Rama that he adopts it as his greatest virtue, making him beloved by all. Rishi Vashishta also instructs students to be ready for any conditions life may throw at them. He teaches them about the difficulties that ordinary people encounter.

In several ways, the Ayodhya Kaand teaches loyalty. It is rich with principles such as responsibility, dharma, and sacrifice, which are the most important ideals for mankind to follow. Despite the fact that he knows it will cost him his life, Maharaj Dasarath keeps his word to Kaikeyi. Sri Rama, who abandons his vast kingdom and retreats to the wilderness, is equally honest. Devi Sita teaches the most crucial part of faith when, despite having the option of going to her parents, she chooses to go to Sri Rama. Despite having all the strength in the world to fight for his brother, Lakshaman is obedient to Sri Rama and restricts himself to carrying out Sri Rama's commands and sacrificing himself for service. Urmila, as Lakshman's loyal wife, similarly commits herself to duty towards the elders and in-laws and bravely bears the pain of separation.

Sri Rama inherited a vast kingdom and the unconditional adoration of his people. However, he first sets out to fulfil his father's word and departs into exile in a forest in Aranya Kaand, refusing any favour or comfort from his father or the kingdom during his exile. But he brings his most valuable possessions with him: confidence, drive, and faith in Dharma. Sri Rama was a blessed man in the company of his two most cherished companions, Mata Sita and Lakshman. While Mata Sita was his constant companion in the forest, Lakshman looked after all of their requirements, ensuring Sri Rama's safety. As a result, Sri Rama could begin his mission of destroying the demons. His legendary bravery spread like wildfire after he received blessings from all the great rishis, including Bharadhwaj, Atri, and Agastya. When Rishi Agastya bestowed tremendous weapons upon him, he became even more knowledgeable and valiant. His dedication provided him the strength to overcome the difficulties. The demonic powers were notified that their destroyer had come.

Kishkindha Kaand depicts the meeting of Lord Rama and his student Hanuman, two vanar brothers Bali and Sugriva, Rama's slaying of Bali to free Surgriva's wife, and Hanuman's realisation of his own strength, powers, and capacities through Jambuvant. Despite having all of the riches, Ravan was unhappy because he was consumed by lust and greed. Sri Ram, on the other hand, had a pure faith and defended Dharma. His aim was to impose Dharma and fight for the dignity of all women via Mata Sita, not to seize the riches of Lanka.

Sundar Kaand is the only chapter in Ramayan in which Hanuman is a hero and not Sri Rama. The chapter speaks about total submission and love of Hanuman for Sri Rama. After learning about Sita, Hanuman takes on a colossal shape and sails across the ocean towarda Lanka. Hanuman searches for Sita in Lanka and eventually finds her in Ashok Vatika. Getting angry at the treatment meted out to Sita, Hanuman wreaks havoc and sets fire in Lanka except Ashok Vatika. He returns back to Kishkindhaa bringing the joyous news to Sri Rama that he has found Sita.

Vibhishana's visit with Rama and Lakshmana is recounted in the Yuddha Kaand. The construction of the Setu Bandha bridge across the ocean to reach Lanka, as well as everyone's contribution to the bridge's construction and march to Lanka. The battle between Rama and Lakshmana and Indrajit, Hanuman's heroic effort, Kumbhakarna's struggle with Rama, the death of Indrajit and Ravana, and Rama's victory are all shown in Yuddh Kaand. Sri Sri's genuine faith and commitment in Dharma enable him to complete his duty successfully. Sri Rama gives the city and throne to Vibhishan after Ravan's death, and goes back to his most prized city, Ayodhya, without any fascination to the golden city of Lanka.

The Uttara Kaand begins with Sita's exile from Ayodhya and follows Rama, his sons, and brothers until their final years. Ravana never touched Sita and was defeated by an army of monkeys and bears, according to Uttara Kaanda. Lakshmana, who was regarded as a brother and brother-in-law, is more reflective in this scene. He is older, wiser, and more depressed. In the Uttara Kaanda, we see Rama as a monarch for the first time. Rather than the man of action we've seen so far, he appears to be more of a presiding, polite ruler.

Maharishi Valmiki's Teachings - Maharishi taught us the following teachings to pursue the true path of Dharma and Karma through the Ramayana:

  • Always tell the truth. The truth will always triumph over evil, no matter how powerful it is.
  • Strength comes from unity. Even though their circumstances separated them, Rama's family's hearts were united, which helped them overcome obstacles. 
  • Keep your commitments.
  • Take the road of virtue.
  • Others should be treated with respect and mercy.
  • Everything should be treated equally.
  • Never associate with negative people. 
  • Peace and harmony require forgiveness. 
  • Not everything that glitters is gold.

Rishi Valmiki's most famous quotes include:

  • Time is the most powerful deity.
  • Everything a man does, good or bad, comes back to him at some point. He must pay for wrong doings.
  • Anything that is overdone brings sadness.

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Image (c) istock.com


More by :  Dr. Satish Bendigiri

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