Like the story of Valmiki's becoming a
sage, the story of his composing the Ramayana' is also very interesting. One day the sage
Narada came to Valmikis ashrama. Valmiki was very happy. He showed him great
courtesy, offered milk and fruits. Valmiki and his disciples sat with folded hands before
Narada. Then Valmiki said to the divine sage, "Sire, you visit all the three worlds,
and therefore know what happens anywhere. You can certainly answer my questions. Please
tell me, who is the most virtuous person among all the human beings on the earth? One who
always speaks the truth, and is always calm? Who is he, who desires the well being of
everyone, and is loved by all? Who the man, whose words and actions are praised by the
gods? Who is famous as the greatest hero and the noblest of men in the world?"
In answer to Valmiki's question, Narada mentioned the name of Sri Rama. Narada narrated
how Sri Rama was born as the eldest son of King Dasharatha, married Seethadevi, and went
to the forest for fourteen years to honour his father's promise. He told them in detail
how in the forest Ravana stole Seetha, how Sri Rama killed that very evil person, returned
to Ayodhya with Seetha and Lakshmana, and was finally crowned as King. Hearing all this,
Valmiki was very happy. He praised Narada and bowed to him. The divine sage blessed him
Some time after Narada left, Valmiki went to the river Ganga to bathe. A disciple by
name Bharadwaja was with him carrying his clothes. On the way they came across the Tamasa
Stream. The water in it was very clear. Valmiki said to his disciple, "Look, how
clear is this water, like the mind of a good man ! I will bathe here today."
Valmiki was looking for a suitable place to step into the stream, when he heard the
sweet chirping of birds. Looking up he saw two birds flying together. Valmiki felt very
pleased on seeing the happy bird couple. Just then one of the birds fell down hit by an
arrow. It was the male bird. Seeing the wounded one, its mate was screaming in agony.
Valmiki's heart melted at this pitiful sight. He looked around to find out who had shot
the bird. He saw a hunter with a bow and arrows, nearby. The hunter had shot the bird for
food. Valmiki was very angry. His lips opened and words came out: "You who have
killed one of a happy couple, may you not yourself live long!" Of course, he spoke in
Sanskrit. The form he used is called a 'sloka' in Sanskrit. It means a couplet. A sloka
was born out of his sorrow.
The sad plight of the birds had moved Valmiki to curse the hunter, but yet he felt very
unhappy, because he had cursed him. He expressed his sorrow to Bharadwaja who was with
him. He was equally surprised that a sloka should have come from his lips. He was thinking
of this all through his bath. As he walked back to his ashrama and also later, he thought
only of the sloka.
While Valmiki's mind dwelt so intensely on the sloka that had sprung from his lips,
Brahma, the Lord of Creation, appeared before him. He said to Valmiki, "O great sage,
the sloka which came from your lips was inspired by me. Now you will write the 'Ramayana'
in the form of slokas. Narada has narrated to you the story of the 'Ramayana'. You will
see with your own eyes all that happened. Whatever you say will be true. Your words shall
be truth. As long as there are rivers and mountains in the world, people will read
the'Ramayana'." So Lord Brahma blessed him and disappeared.
Valmiki wrote the 'Ramayana'. He taught the slokas first to the sons of Sri Rama, Lava
and Kusha. They were born twins in Valmiki's ashrama and grew up there. Now, why did they,
a king's sons, grow up in a hermitage? That is also an interesting story.