In Search of Sanjeevani, Once Again - 3

Valmiki – The Genius

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In a literal sense, the word "Ramayana" means "Rama's march (Ayana)." The search for human values and then sustaining Dharma’s uprightness, or carrying out one's responsibilities. Dasharatha's major purpose as ruler is to promote civilization based on dharma, or bounden obligation. As a result, he must stick to his word, regardless of whether it means banishing his ideal son. Dasharatha ought to make a difficult decision. Sri Rama leaves Ayodhya because it is his dharma to bow to his father, not because it is his destiny or wish. He should do what most sons are expected to do, especially as a member of the royal family and a role model for his subjects. Dasharatha and his offsprings defeat the threat of life brought on by karma and kama (boons to Kaikeyi)  by choosing dharma. They create a civic society in which people are neither vulnerable to fate nor weak despite their freedom of thought since they are tied by their dharma. The desire to become recluses and live in solitude is no more..  Recluses start raising families under the watchful eye of the king and his offsprings, unafraid to face the unknown world.

What happens when there is no ruler to rule? After the death of Dashratha, the throne is vacant because Sri Rama is in exile and Bharata, the would-be king is at his maternal grandfather’s place. The ministers do not know when Bharata is likely to arrive at Ayodhya as Bharata  is unknown of the developments at Ayodhya and thus there is a vacuum at Ayodhya.  Valmiki describes what happens if the King is absent and the throne is vacant through the ministers and sages  of Dashratha  in these words:  After the long night had passed, the ministers, officers and elders assembled in the hall in the morning. Maarkandeya. Vaamadeva, Kaashyapa, Kaatyaayana, Gautama, Jaabaali and other learned men, with Sumantra and the other ministers, bowed to Vasishtha and said: "Sir, the night we have passed was like a century. The King is no more.  Rama is  in the forest. Bharata and Satrughna are in far-off Kekaya in their grandfather’s house. Someone must forthwith be asked to take up the responsibility of rule. A land without a king cannot survive. Order will disappear, and the son will not obey the father or wife of her husband. The rains will hold back. Thieves and robbers will range at will. There will be no mutual trust among people. Neither agriculture nor trade can flourish. Without a king, the land must lose its prosperity. The springs of charity will dry up. Festivals and services will cease to be performed in temples. There will be no expounding of Shaastras or epics, nor any listeners. People will no more sleep with doors open. Culture will decline and soon disappear. Penances, vows, enjoyments, learning -  all depend on the king’s protection. The beauty of women will vanish. The sense of security will be lost. Men will eat one another up as fish do. Cruelty and misery will grow apace and lay waste to the land. For good to prosper and evil to be restrained, a king is essential."  (Ayodhya Kaand. Sarga 67, shloka 1 to 38. Ramayana by C. Rajagopalachari)

Dharma could be linked to the idea that there is a divine person who holds humanity's destiny in a super-tight grip. In any case, dharma denotes people’s actions in light of ethical norms of good and evil, greatness and wickedness. It also implies that people should not be affected by their personal interests, desires, anger  (kama, krodha), or a sense of personal feud. In human connections and leadership, there should be more control, real understanding, and compassion. This is dharma, and it has the power to spare people's tears, anguish, and calamities. Because it is an impression of our religion and ideology, and such a sense of life values is uniquely Indian. It is the dedication to dharma as the incomparable worth of life that the appeal, Ramdivad vartitavym, na Ravanadivat, ( Behave like Rama, not Raavana) has the utmost significance. When Valmiki recommends it in his tale of Sri Rama, he leaves a special Indian mark on this legendary figure of Sri Rama.

Although Valmiki describes Sri Rama as a human being who appeared on earth to destroy those who did adharma, who practised evil, and gave protection to them who were right and walked on the path of Dharma, He has ceased to be a human and has become a divine entity to be worshipped wholeheartedly, placing  Him in the sanctum sanctorum of every Hindu home. Sri  Rama is an avatar to most of us, so the story of his life as a sacred act must be reverently repeated, a portion of it each day, to guarantee us a more deserving position.

Ramayana, thus is  a sacred script of every Hindu household and  the foundation stone of Sanatan Dharma.  Composed by  Adi Kavi Rishi Valmiki, it stands as one of the unique categories of Sanskrit literature. We, Bhartiya,  have been in touch with this monumental poem as we have lived and grown with it. As children we heard the story of Sri Rama from our elders, as young, we read its summaries, sometimes we even read original Sanskrit or parts thereof and as we stepped into old age, it has become an essential part of our reading to be retold to our grandchildren. The epic story and its main characters have left a lasting impression on us and made it a part of our family.

The reader of this epic poem sails through a journey of a divine entity in a manner which only Valmiki can describe. Valmiki’s powers of portraying call attention to the artistry of his style and expression, the appeal of his graceful actors and actresses, the assortment and clarity of his narration, and the wisdom he gives are dissipated like jewels in the crown throughout his colossal but amazing sonnet.

Valmiki's poetic inspiration is linked to the Ramayana’s well-known krauncha mating bird -episode.  Witnessing a hunter killing the male‌ bird and then the female bird's lament,  affected Valmiki profoundly by grief, he issued a curse, sentencing the hunter to hell for all eternity. 

ma niá¹£ada pratiṣṭham tvam agamaḥ sasvath  samaḥ, yat kraunchamithunadekam avadhiḥ kamamohitam (“You will find no rest for the long years of Eternity, for you killed a bird in love and unsuspecting.”) Some deeper desire gave this passionate utterance a metrical form. It's an incident with all the characteristics of emotional poetry. In some ways, it’s a poetic creation that foreshadows the epic creation to come, which becomes  greater and more stunning. Mahakavi Kalidasa narrates this occurrence in his Raghuvamsa, repeating the lines in sloka metre that express Valmiki's agony over the slaughter of mating birds. If we take "anguish," or more precisely "a passionate sentiment," to be the spirit of poetry, the Ramayana comes out on top.

The Ramayana glistens with numerous emotions, the most prominent is shoka. Aesthetic delights fill this great masterpiece without a doubt. All great poetries such as Mahakavi Kalidasa’s Meghdoot has this trait. There is no surprise as on this as Valmiki was Kalidasa’s inspiration as  Ramayana has a vast range and scope for such delights, which is unparallel. In this sense, Valmiki was an imaginative poet, since he was able to spontaneously put his emotional feelings into words. The enormity of Valmiki’s composition astounds the human intellect, which cannot imagine such a literary output. It is possible only with divine blessings for an epic composition of 24000 lines as the story of Sri Rama.  The intellect that could be moved by a bird's lament could not ignore the sadness in human life because  Rama's life is a terrible story that flows through the fabric of existence. Valmiki is attuned to humanity's still, sorrowful song, and he conveys it to us through Rama, the divine in human form. 

 Valmiki is a pioneer in bringing a variety of literary essentials into this story such as dividing the story into several sargas; using a  single metre, and then changing of metre near the end and beginning of the sarga.  The story develops through narration, descriptions, conversations, dialogues, and the occasional use of anecdotes to lend an element of comparison or contrast; and the story is written in a style rich and ornamental to sustain the length and breadth of the story. This kind of literary odyssey is perhaps the first time in recorded history. 

Using such literary jewels advocating to withstand Dharma is the culmination of Välmiki's virtuoso performance. Valmiki isn't just a driven artist; he's also a writer's motivation. His virtuosity is more than just emotive; it is awe-inspiring. It should also be considered as a public virtuosity in the illumination of his life values. Adi-kavi, Mah-kavi, and Bharata-kavi are three names for Valmiki. As a result, Ramayana is bound to our lives for the rest of life. While several artists can be identified with their great gorgeous achievements and read for delight and happiness regarding brilliance, Valmiki is a public memory that should never be forgotten,  never to be neglected, while different artists might be associated with their incredible melodious accomplishments and read for joy and delight in excellence. The prudence of Brahma: . “Yavat sthasyanti girayaḥ sarita cha mahitale, tavad Ramayaṇakatha lokeá¹£u pracariá¹£yati/ yavad Ramasya ka katha tvatkruta pracariá¹£yati, tavad urdhvam adhas cha tvam mallokesu nivatsyasi”. ( As long as the rivers flow, the might of mountains is sustained, the worlds should be fully flowing with„ Ramayana Prachaara‟) . It is correct in this sense, that Valmiki is a public figure and artist of the land of Bharat who communicates in the language of the country.

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More by :  Dr. Satish Bendigiri

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