Who was the Guru of Sage Valmiki?
Sage Valmiki entered the nearby thicket along with Sage Bharadhwaja and watched the Krauncha birds, while they remembered the divine couple Sri Rama and Srimati Seeta Devi in their hearts. No sooner, did Sage Valmiki enter a divine mood, than a merciless arrow from the bow of a bird-hunter brought down the male Krauncha bird. Sage Valmiki felt deep pain and uttered a “Shloka” (श्लोक verse) owing to “Shoka” (शोक inner pain and sadness). Just as a river that is full of water, overflows, drowning its banks, a human being whose heart is full of sorrow, releases it through words from the mouth. Sage Valmiki, could not contain the sorrow and hence uttered a curse on the bird-hunter in the form of a harsh but beautiful verse. He did not stay there for a moment and returned to his hermitage immediately with sage Bharadhwaja.
After returning to the hermitage, sage Valmiki wondered about the “Shloka” or verse and realized that for the first time he had formulated a beautiful verse, in the form of a curse. The sage analyzed his verse, in his mind and weighed it with respect to the rules of Sanskrit grammar as well as poetry. Although he had formulated a very beautiful verse, he was bothered about it because the words that formed the verse spelt inauspiciousness; naturally because it was meant to be a curse. It was at that moment that the Creator of the Universe, Sri Brahma, made his way to the hermitage. Sage Valmiki and Bharadhwaja, prostrated Sri Brahma and offered the customary water-based ablutions to Sri Brahma, the father of the Universe. After receiving Lord Brahma with due honor, sage Valmiki offered him a seat. Sage Valmiki and Bharadhwaja stood with folded hands by the side of the Creator seated in a befitting manner. Sri Brahma noticed the sorrowful face of sage Valmiki. He asked “Why are you disturbed O Holy sage?” Sage Valmiki responded, “Yes, I am quite disturbed. I had created a verse, the verse is very beautiful but its context is completely inauspicious”, he said. Sri Brahma said, “I shall help you make the same verse auspicious.” The original meaning of the verse of sage Valmiki was “Oh bird-hunter, you too shall suffer just as the female Krauncha bird suffers witnessing sorrowfully her male partner perish, for the rest of time.”
One may wonder as to how the same inauspicious context can be transformed so easily. This is possible because of the rules of Sanskrit, as a language. Sanskrit is a scientific language and by altering it in a minimal way, the placement of the vowels and consonants, a massive alteration can be carried out which will change the mood of an entire composition, without making any change to the literation of the composition. The power of the language also depends on the knowledge of Sanskrit of the reader. If the reader has in-depth knowledge of the language, he shall be able to extract many a harmonizing meaning from the same verse. Sri Brahma then rendered the verse in such a way that it could be interpreted as “The one, who enables the final communion of Sri Rama with Mother Sita, after having been separated for a year by the demon king Ravana, shall remain prosperous and happy for the rest of time.” Sri Brahma continued, “You should be picking up from here and complete the work.” Now this was confusing. Sage Valmiki asked “What is this work that you are talking about grandsire?” Lord Brahma wondered “I had already sent Sage Narada for educating sage Valmiki about the work of documenting the Ramayana.” The great grandsire Lord Brahma said “It was I, who sent sage Narada to you, so that he initiates you into writing the Ramayana. It was I, who inspired that inauspicious verse with the aid of Saraswati Devi to occur at the tip of your tongue.” Thus there were three events that preceded the writing of the great Epic of Ramayana they were:
1) Arrival of Sage Narada at the hermitage of Sage Valmiki
2) The utterance of the curse from the mouth of Sage Valmiki in the form of a verse.
3) Arrival of Sri Brahma at the hermitage of Sage Valmiki.
Sri Brahma then blessed sage Valmiki and also gave a certain guarantee about the forthcoming work of sage Valmiki. He announced “As long as the Sun, the moon and the stars shine on the planet, as long as the Ganges, the Himalayas and Mount Meru occupy their space on Mother Earth, until such time, this work that you shall create, shall remain and proliferate profusely on the planet. This is my assurance. Till the time Ramayana remains on this planet, you shall never be forgotten. Your renown shall stay intact.” Normally the word “Katha” (कथा) in most of the Indian languages stand for a weak English translation of the word, which means “story”. A story represents falsity, something imagined. This concept of story comes from “illusion” or even “fiction”. Our day to day events are a representation of facts. But these facts can never be directly verified as days pass and slowly they slump to the category of a story. But such cannot be the case with “Itihasas” or the eternal history represented by scriptures like the Ramayana and Mahabharata. These are not “Katha” in the typical sense but they represent the highest truth which can never be a figment of imagination. Our daily lives are an aspect of “our imagined life”, which we lead with the aid of our transitory minds, however the Itihasas are eternal, Truth, just as the Sun and the Moon that stay eternal.