Valmiki was a Maharishi, a great saint, who portended the story of Lord Rama. He is regarded as the first poet in Sanskrit language and hence, also revered as Adi Kavi. He composed the first poem, RAMAYANA, wherein he brought himself into this epic.
Interestingly, after he repented for his sins, he was initiated by the Great Sage, Narada, to meditate on the name, “Rama”, with the purpose of bringing in balance and further Spiritual upliftment to become a Saint.
The First Verse in Sanskrit
Strangely enough, the words of the first shloka were curse words from the Maharishi. One day, as he was bathing in the river Ganges, he saw a crane (kraunch) couple mating. He was extremely happy and experienced bliss seeing the birds. Suddenly, the male bird was hit by an arrow, and died. The female bird screamed in pain and died immediately. Anger came upon Valmiki and he cursed the hunter in a haste. This spontaneous curse became the first verse in Sanskrit. The curse literally meant, “Oh hunter, may you not get rest for eons, for you killed a ‘Kraunch’ from the pair, when they were in so much bliss”. After calming down, when he looked upon the curse from a higher perspective, it sparked a vision to create a Mahakavya, which is known as Ramayana.
Valmiki’s Life before Transformation as a Saint
He is said to be a robber named Ratnakkardah in his early life. He lived in a forest and his wife and children were in a town nearby. Before that, he was a soldier and he used to kill soldiers who behaved brutally towards the women of those who lost the war. That made the king and other soldiers go against him. So, he had to escape from there. Later, he became a robber and lived in a forest.
One day as sage Narada passed through the forest, Ratnakkardah threatened to kill him, if he did not give away all the wealth that he had. Narada did not get afraid, and instead asked him why he was committing such a sin. Ratnakkardah did not consider this to be a sin and justified that he was robbing others of wealth in order to take care of his family. To this, Narada questioned if his family would be willing to share the sins that he was earning while using the money from such wrong doings? Ratnakkardah had never thought about this earlier. He tied Narada to a tree and hurried home to check with his family. His family disagreed to share his sins. They said that it was his responsibility to earn for them and that they had nothing to do with how he earned the money.
Suddenly, reality dawned upon him and he realized the negative entitlement that he was generating by his actions. He ran back to Narada and pleaded him to help and save him from all the sins that he had committed.