Faith

Birth of the epic

Two great sages of high penance who are ‘kavis,’ that is, poets endowed with excellent poetic vision, are seen in conversation in the first chapter of the Valmiki Ramayana. Valmiki of austere penance asks Narada to tell him about that person who is of the highest admirable nature and even lists 16 specific qualities and attributes. Narada then brilliantly summarises the entire original Ramayana, believed to comprise 100 crore verses, in a mere 90 verses in the first chapter, said Sri R. Krishnamurthy Sastrigal in a discourse. Hence the adjective ‘Vakvidam Varam’ is most apt for him.

Valmiki is greatly impressed by the events and people in the story which, though short, is rich in emotion, pathos and depth of character. In this frame of mind, Valmiki goes for ablutions to the banks of Tamasa River, where he is moved when he sees the happiness of a pair of Krauncha birds rudely cut short by a hunter’s arrow. Spontaneously he curses the hunter and, strangely enough, he realises that this has taken the shape of a beautiful sloka with pleasing rhythm. It is surely divine will, he feels.

This is confirmed when Brahma and Saraswati visit him in his ashram and bless him with the vision of the entire story of Rama and also the poetic talent to compose this great kavya Ramayana. The verse he spoke is considered as a mangala sloka for the epic. Thus, by divine grace, Valmiki Ramayana is born, wherein the core story briefly told by Narada is explained and expanded into a magnificent work of 24,000 verses. Valmiki composed the entire epic in that metre. He taught it to Lava and Kusa, the sons of the Divine couple who were born in his ashram. They learnt the verses and used to sing them in melodious notes to take it to the people.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 3:10:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/birth-of-the-epic/article34352130.ece

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