Valmiki is known mostly from the great epic of Hindus called “Ramayana”, the life story of Lord Rama. He is also believed to be the author of Yoga Vasistha, a text that elaborates on a range of philosophical issues. It is believed Valmiki existed in Tetra Yuga and envisioned the life of Lord Rama as the events occurred with the blessings from Lord Brahma.
Valmiki is known to be the first poet, in the Sanskrit language thus called Adi Kavi (The first poet)
Ramayana is the very first poem written in Sanskrit, consisting of 24,000 verses and is called Adi Kavya (The first poem).
Valmiki is not the birth name but got this name after he came out of the anthill where Valmika stands for anthill in the Sanskrit language. His actual name was Ratnakara, which was given by his birth parents. His father was a sage named Prachetasa.
At a very young age, Ratnakara went into the forest and got lost. A hunter, who was passing by, saw Ratnakara and took him under his own care. Under the love and care of his foster parents, Ratnakara forgot his original parents. Under his father’s guidance, Ratnakara turned out to be an excellent hunter. As he approached marriageable age, Ratnakara was married to a beautiful girl from hunter’s family.
In few years, Ratnakara was blessed with few children. As his family grew larger, he found it next to impossible to feed them. As a result, he took to robbery and began looting people passing from one village to another.
Sage Narada Helped a Ratnakar Daku to be a Maharshi Valmiki
One day, the great sage Narada, while passing through the jungle, was attacked by Ratnakara. As Narada played his Veena and sang praises of the Lord, he saw a transformation coming over Ratnakara. Then, he asked Ratnakara whether the family, for whom he was robbing others, will partake in his sins also. Ratnakara went to ask the same question to his family and on being refused by all his family members, he went back to sage Narada. Narada wanted to teach him the sacred name of ‘Rama’ and asked him to sit in meditation, chanting “Ma Ra”, until the time Narada came back.
Ratnakara followed the instructions and kept sitting in a meditative posture for years, during which his body got completely covered by an anthill. At last, Narada came to see him and removed all the anthills from his body. Then, he told Ratnakara that his Tapasya (meditation) paid off and the God was pleased with him. Ratnakara was bestowed with the honor of a Brahmarshi and given the name of Valmiki since he was reborn from the Valmika (the ant-hill). Sage Valmiki founded his ashram on the banks of River Ganga.
One day, Valmiki had the fortuity of receiving Lord Rama, His wife Sita and brother Lakshman at his ashram. On Valmiki’s suggestion, Lord Rama built his hut on Chitrakuta hill, near the ashram.
Narada visited Maharishi Valmiki in his ashram once and there, he narrated the story of Lord Rama. Thereafter he received a vision from Brahma in which the Lord instructed him to write Ramayana in slokas, which the sage readily followed.
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