Maharshi Valmiki

Composer of The Ramayana

Maharshi Valmiki, the first poet of Sanskrit literature was originally named Ratnakar. In his youth, Ratnakar was a robber. One day, while Sage Narada was passing through a dense forest, he was ambushed by Ratnakar. Narada asked him certain questions which, in turn, put Ratnakar in a dilemma. Ratnakar realized the futility of his existence and started meditating. As the years went by, an ant hill covered his body, while he meditated oblivious of the world around him. He was blessed by the Gods for his penance and renamed as Valmiki – a name derived from the Sanskrit word ‘valmik’, meaning white ant hill. Valmiki set up his hermitage in the forest. Once, Valmiki saw a pair of herons sitting on a tree, enjoying love-play. A hunter saw the birds and killed one of the herons. Overcome by grief of the heron pair, Valmiki recited a poem. This poem or ‘shloka’ became the first piece of poetry in Indian literature. Taking up the rhyme of the same verse, Valmiki composed The Ramayana – the epic story of Lord Ram.

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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