Three events form the prelude to the Ramayana.
1) Devarshi Narada Meets Sage Valmiki
Sage Valmiki and his disciple Sage Bharadhwaja lived an austere life at the hermitage of Bithoor.
The Ashram was located, centrally in the now modern Indian province of Uttar Pradesh.
Once, the great sage Devarishi Narada paid a visit to their hermitage at Bithoor.
So, both the sages Valmiki and Bharadhwaja offered extended prostrations at his lotus feet.
Furthermore, Valmikiji received Narada Muni with all customary ablutions, as part of his reception.
Then, Narada Muni sat on an “asana” (आसन a seat made of cloth or a special material).
Sage Valmiki took this opportunity to learn of an exceptional individual, possessing 16 highly divine qualities.
To this, the celestial sage, Narada replied: “I know of a man who has infinite extraordinary qualities including the 16 ones you inquire of.
In addition, this man has a flawless character.“
After discussing the glorious characteristics and pastimes of Sri Ramachandra, Sage Narada instructed Valmiki Ji.
He said: “You should document whatever I have told you in great detail.
Do not worry, a time shall come when this shall happen.”
So saying, sage Narada blessed the two sages and left for the heavenly abodes.
Sage Valmiki bathes in the Tamsa River
Tamsa river lies in the Satna district of Madhya Pradesh.
Here, Sage Valmiki along with his faithful disciple Sage Bharadwaja performed their customary evening prayers.
Sage Valmiki along with his eternal disciple offered prayers at the feet of sage Narada and received His blessings.
After Sage Narada left for the heavenly abodes, the two sages rushed to the Tamasa River to perform their evening ablutions.
Renunciants of the Dharma perform these evening ablutions at the twilight hour.
They spoke for a while, describing the waters of the Tamsa river.
2) Story of the Krauncha Birds
Normally after the evening ablutions, the sages walk back to their hermitage without wasting much time.
But, this evening, sage Valmiki decided to visit the neighboring thicket, instead of directly retiring back to the hermitage.
Indeed, this happened by the will of Sri Rama.
In that thicket the sage saw Two Krauncha birds, one male, and the other female, enjoying each other’s company.
As he watched the two birds, he became ecstatic, for he felt that it was Sri Rama along with His eternal consort Srimati Seeta Devi.
The sage grew joyful to witness the shared joy of the Krauncha birds.
Suddenly there was a din.
The sage saw the male Krauncha bird brutally killed by a bird hunter.
This event marks a significant episode of Sri Ramayana, forming its very first verse.
It was by the Will of the Superior Forces.
Sage Valmiki Curses Nishada
Sage Valmiki felt deep pain and uttered a curse, which became the subsequent shlokas of the Ramayana.
The “Shloka” (श्लोक verse) expressed his “Shoka” (शोक inner pain and sadness).
Just as an overflowing river drowns its banks, a grief-stricken human being releases his pain through words.
Sage Valmiki, could not contain the sorrow.
Hence, he uttered a harsh, yet beautiful curse on the bird-hunter.
“Oh bird-hunter, you too shall suffer like the female Krauncha bird who sorrowfully witnessed her male partner perish. You shall undergo this agony for the rest of your life.”
He did not stay there for a moment and returned to his hermitage immediately with Sage Bharadhwaja.
After returning to the hermitage, the sage analyzed his verse and weighed it with respect to the rules of Sanskrit grammar as well as poetry.
Although he had formulated a wonderful verse, he felt uneasy since the words spelled inauspiciousness.
3) Sri Brahma meets Sage Valmiki
It was at that moment that the Creator of the Universe, Sri Brahma, made his way to the hermitage.
Sage Valmiki and Bharadhwaja, offered the customary water-based ablutions to Sri Brahma, the father of the Universe.
After receiving Him with due honor, the sage offered him a seat.
The two stood sorrowfully in front of Him, with folded palms and that caught Sri Brahma’s attention.
He asked, “Why are you disturbed O Holy sage?”
Sage Valmiki responded, “Yes, I am quite disturbed. I created a verse, which looks beautiful but its context is completely inauspicious”,
In return, Sri Brahma said, “I shall help you make the same verse auspicious.”
Now, one may wonder as to how the inauspicious context can transform into an auspicious one?
Indeed, the rules of Sanskrit, as a language, make this transformation possible.
Sanskrit is a scientific language.
By altering the placement of the vowels and consonants, in a minimal way, the entire mood of the composition changes.
The power of the language also depends on the proficiency of the reader.
So, an in-depth understanding of the language shall give us many meanings of the same verse.
Lord Brahma gives a New Meaning
Sri Brahma then rendered the verse in a unique way: “The one, who unites Sri Rama with Mother Sita, after a year-long separation, due to the demon king Ravana, shall always remain prosperous and happy.”
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 already sent Sage Narada to educate him about the work of documenting the Ramayana.”
The great grandsire Lord Brahma said “It was I, who sent 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, Sage Valmiki on the instruction of Sri Brahma and the inspiration of Sage Narada wrote the Ramayana.
Blessings of Lord Brahma
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.”
Why should we read the Ramayana?
By reading the Ramayana we get spiritual insights. Our intuitive capabilities increase as we connect with higher forces of nature.
Sage Valmiki compiled the first verse of Ramayana, in a state of compassion for the dead-male Krauncha bird.
Hence, by reading this revered scripture we tap into the subtler aspects of nature.
Also, we develop sensitivity towards nature and other creatures.
So, Ramayana is an ideal scripture for householders.
In addition, it teaches great lessons on character building, modesty, and value systems.
In fact, it is a highly recommended scripture for children too.
Sri Rama Blesses Valmiki Ramayana
When devotees recollect or intend to perform the Lord’s personal activities, the Supreme Lord immediately makes arrangements to make it happen.
Such is the mercy of the Divine Lord.
Lord Rama blesses Valmiki Ramayana after seeing the great sage’s pure intentions
He says: “My story, shall represent the Vedas directly.
The story shall be non-different from the objective of the Vedas and that is to attain Me alone.“
This was the thought in the heart of Lord Rama, as the conversations between the two sages happened at Bithoor.
The Lord intended thus: “The one who remembers my stories documented by Sage Valmiki, shall immediately be redeemed of all sins.
Such an ardent devotee shall ascend to my spiritual Kingdom of Saket.“
Saket is the spiritual domain of Ayodhya.
The Lord continues: “Not only shall the devotee attain pure Bhakti towards my Holy feet, but all his relatives who love him shall attain the same state”, intended the Lord.“
Thanks for reading!