When Maharishi Valmiki met Narada and saw the sad death of a pair of cranes, he was blessed by the visit of Brahmaji, who said that his very curse would become a verse with which he would begin the immortal story of the Ramayana. The underlying emotion of Ramayana is sorrow and compassion as the incident with which it all began indicates.
After Brahmaji left, Valmiki sat down to contemplate on the meaning of the story. Taking some holy water in his hand, he sat on a seat of darbha facing east and began contemplating on the ways of dharma. His meditations brought him images of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, Dasharatha, his wives and kingdom, what they joked and laughed about, what they spoke, how they conducted themselves, their activities and so on. Everything that happened in the past, the poet saw as if it was a clear fruit in his hand.
Having intuitively seen everything so clearly, he set about to tell the story of Rama, who is Abhirama or the most dear. Ramayana is a tale of love and seeking of wealth. It is a tale of a righteous way of living. It is like an ocean full of precious jewels. It combines the essence of all the Vedas, and is pleasing and attractive to the mind.
The contemplative saint who is indeed god incarnate, the sage Valmiki began to narrate in his own words, what the celestial sage Narada had told him before—the story of Raghuveera. From the birth of Rama to his wedding with Janaki and the tales of sage Vishwamithra—the Ramayana has many beautiful and variegated stories woven into it. He told the whole story in 24,000 verses. In six main chapters along with the seventh called Uttara Kanda, the story was further divided into 500 smaller chapters.
Having completed it, he thought: “To whom can I impart this story to?” In his mind flashed the beautiful faces of Rama’s children Lava and Kusha who were holding his feet. When Sita was again sent to exile during her pregnancy, it was in the Ashram of Sage Valmiki that the twins were delivered and they were happily growing up there. They were two boys of exemplary qualities who could sing, play the veena, were very knowledgeable in the Vedas and Shastras, were established in righteousness and had a sweet voice too.
When they recited Ramayana before the assemblage of Rishis in the Ashram, tears came to their eyes as they were overwhelmed with the recitation. They all gifted the children whatever they had—a bark of a tree for loin cloth, deer skins, the yagna upaveetha threads, water pots, fans, a knife for cutting wood and hair bands to tie their long matted locks. Some others gave their blessings and these two little cherubs, armed with the story of the Ramayana, were ready to go out into the world and recite the immortal story.
The author is Acharya, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi (www.sharanyachaitanya.blogspot.in)