Oct. 20, 2021, 5:51 a.m. by Karuwaki Speaks ( 325 views)
For children growing up in the early seventies, Amar Chitra Katha comics were part of the childhood.The familiar storylines already heard from grandparents, were comforting and reinforcing the Indian values.Most of us have first read about Valmiki, Ramayana,Ram & Sita from the Amar Chitra comics.
The story of how dasyu Ratnakara reformed himself & became Adi-kavi Valmiki is well known to most of us.Valmiki Jayanti, also known as Pragat Diwas is celebrated to honour the ancient poet Maharishi Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana. The epic has 24,000 verses and 7 cantos and the maharishi Valmiki has penned many shlokas in Sanskrit.
Valmiki is known as the first poet of Sanskrit- adi-kavi.Valmiki Jayanti is observed on the 15th day of the Shukla Paksha in Ashwin month, according to the Hindu lunar calendar.Valmiki is also said to be an reincarnation of Brahma when he wrote Ramayana & later on as Tulsidas who wrote Ramcharitmanas.
The Nagara Khanda of the Skanda Purana in its section on the creation of Mukhara Tirtha mentions that Valmiki was born a Brahmin, with the name of Lohajangha and was a devoted son to his parents. He had a beautiful wife and both of them were faithful to each other.
Once, when there was no rain in the region of Anarta, for twelve long years, Lohajangha, for the sake of his hungry family, started robbing people that he found in the forest. In the course of this life he met the Saptarishis and tried to rob them as well.
But the learned sages felt pity on him and showed him the folly of his ways. One of them, Pulaha gave him a Mantra to meditate upon and the Brahmin turned thief got so engrossed in its recitation that ant-hills came up around his body. When the sages returned and heard the sound of the mantra coming from the ant-hill, they blessed him and said, "Since you achieved great Siddhi seated on an ant hill,you are christened Valmika"!
Another story about the Adi-kavi is that Valmiki was born as Agni Sharma to a Brahmin named Pracheta/sumali of Bhrigu gotra.According to legend, he once met the great sage Narada and had a discourse with him on his duties.
Moved by Narada's words, Agni Sharma began to perform penance and chanted the word "Mara" which meant "die". As he performed his penance for several years, the word became "Rama", the name of Lord Vishnu. Huge anthills formed around Agni Sharma and this earned him the name of Valmiki. Agni Sharma, rechristened as Valmiki, learnt the scriptures from Narada and became the foremost of ascetics, revered by everyone as Maharishi Valmiki.
Valmiki is also quoted as being the contemporary of Rama. Valmiki is "the first author in all history to bring himself into his own composition.In the last chapter of Ramayana,Uttara khand which is believed to be taken up from Sesha Ramayana,According to the legend,after being crowned as king of Ayodhya, Rama sends Sita to the forest & she finds refuge in Sage Valmiki's ashram, where she gives birth to twin boys Lava and Kusha.
Lava and Kusha were Valmiki's first disciples to whom he taught the Ramayana. Bala Kanda of the epic also tells the story of Valmiki narrating the Ramayana to his disciples Lava and Kusha.The Balmiki sect of Hinduism reveres Valmiki, where he is also known as Lal Beg or Bala Shah, as a patron saint and Valmiki ashrams are communities that take in Valmiki devotees.
Most of these ashrams are characterized by a flag outside called nishan sahib, a bow and arrow emblem which depicts Valmiki s disciples Lava and Kusha, a study room where the Ramayana is discussed, a prayer hall, dining area, washing area and a music room.
Valmiki ashram in vrindavan
Devotees usually sit on the floor during prayer sessions to show that all are equal in the eyes of God.One of the famous ashrams is in Amritsar,where it is said Sita stayed with lav& kush.The ashram at Bithoor in UP is where the Ramayana was written and the Valmiki ashram in New Delhi,where Gandhiji stayed for 214 days & from where the swacha bharat abhiyan was started.
Valmiki ashram in New Delhi
Kurukshetra, Chitrakoot, Kankhal-Haridwar, Chandigarh, Hissar-Hariyana, Sannor, Patiala are some of the other popular Valmiki ashrams steeped in both history & religion.
There are many temples dedicated to the maharishi, including an area in Chennai, Thiru-Valmiki-Oor. There is a temple for Valmiki located in this place, which is believed to be 1300 years old and also Shree Valmiki Mata Maha Samsthana in Rajanahalli, Karnataka.