Valmiki, the most ancient poet known as Adi Kavi, once happened to meet Devarshi Narada. Such meetings are the blessings of many lifetimes and the poet with all reverence quizzed the sage who is ever engaged in austerity and study of the self. “Is there any one in our current times O sage, who is endowed with noble qualities, strong, knows what is right action, who has gratitude, speaks the truth, is firm in his vows, follows good conduct, works for the welfare of all, knowledgeable, capable and adept, pleasing in countenance, rooted in the self, has conquered anger, is resplendent, has no jealousy, of whom all the Gods are afraid when he stands in the battle field?”
You and I might have thought it is quite a tall order, right? Even the sage Narada thought so. He smiled and said, “It is quite difficult indeed to find a person with all these qualities in one place. Yet, I know of a man. He is born in the dynasty of the Ikshvaku. His name is Rama.” He goes on describing the greatness of the king of Ayodhya and the protagonist of the Ramayana, a tale to come after this conversation.
Maharishi Valmiki heard with great love and enthusiasm Sri Narada’s account of the whole story of Sri Rama. It was time for the sage to continue on his sojourn through the 14 worlds of experiences and the Maharishi saw him off with great love and respect.
He went with his disciple Bharadwaja to the banks of the river Tamasa. “How clear is this river’s water, like the minds of good-hearted people?” he said, before taking a ritual dip in it.
Just as he came out, he heard a crane wailing in the ground, its wings snipped and covered in blood. Even as the Rishi was seeing this, the female bird was filled with grief on losing her mate. The grief of the bird overpowered the Master. He spelt out a curse. “O hunter! May your mind never be settled at any time. You have killed one of the mating birds.”
“What have I done?” thought the Rishi. “It is none of my business to interfere with the job of the hunter.” Even as he tried to come out of the thought by focusing on other things, the poet was unable to forget it. Brahmaji, the creator, stepped by at his Ashram at that time.
He enquired what bothered him. Listening to what happened, Brahmaji blessed, “May the shoka (sorrow) turn into a shloka (verse). May this be the beginning of your effort to write the story of Rama. Not a false note will be there in your tale. The story will stand as long as there are mountains and rivers on earth.”
The author is Acharya, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi