Sage Valmiki, also known as Adi Kavi or the first poet, is celebrated as a revered poet in the world of Sanskrit literature. The entire Ramayana is accredited to Valmiki and it is dated back to the 5th century BCE to the 1st century BCE. The very first and the oldest mythical and mythological story of Ramayana is composed of 24,000 shlokas and seven kandas. Valmiki and Ramayana are almost synonymous. It goes without saying that in today’s day and age, Ramayana is described as Valmiki Ramayana and no other way.
Many foreign scholars consider Valmiki as a literary genius and an outlaw. He was a part of the Indian enlightenment period and the biggest contributor to it. Valmiki born as Agni Sharma is the son of Pracheta. He belongs to the Bhrigu clan. He had apparently met with Narada in his life as Agni Sharma and had a quarrel regarding his duties and responsibilities. He listened carefully to Narada and understood his purpose in life.
After that, he started performing meditation and chanted “Mara” which means to die. He performed the penance for various years and the chanted word of “Mara” turned into “Rama”. Rama was in fact an incarnation of the Supreme Lord Vishnu. As he was meditating, massive anthills started forming around him, giving him the name of Valmiki. He was metaphorically reborn as Valmiki who learned scriptures from sage Narada. He took control of his ascetics and started to become an aspiration for people. There are some existing stories that mention Valmiki being a thief before he turned into a sage.
He played a very crucial role in the last chapter of the great epic Ramayana. This chapter is also known as the Uttara Kanda. It is considered to be taken from Shesha Ramayana. The story is of Lord Rama sending his spouse, Sita to the forest. Sita finds a home in Sage Valmiki’s hermitage. She gives birth to Kusha and Lava. Kusha and Lava are the first students of Valmiki. Bala Kanda mentions the incident of Valmiki telling the story of Ramayana to Kusha and Lava, the very own children of Lord Rama and Sita.
Now let’s go over the story of how Valmiki created his first-ever shloka. Valmiki was going to the river Ganga for his daily cleansing and purification. They came across the Tamasa Stream. Bharadwaja, a disciple of Valmiki accompanied him and carried his clothes. Bharadwaja, instantly impressed by the water, said that it looked so clear. It resembled a good man’s mind to him. He decided to bathe in that stream that day. They saw a crane couple happily enjoying each other’s company and love. As they were observing the birds, suddenly an arrow came and hit the male bird killing it on the spot. His partner screamed and died of shock. Valmiki felt very sad and pitied the birds. He looked around to figure out who had killed the bird and spotted a hunter. He grew furious and cried out his first shlok.
It is mentioned in the Vishnudharmottara Purana that Valmiki was born in the Treta Yuga as a manifestation of Lord Brahma. He composed Ramayana in this Yuga and taught a lot of people various virtues of life. He then incarnated as Tulsidas who composed the great Ramcharitmanas which was none other than a version of Ramayana itself but in the Awadhi-Hindi language.