A hermit who was the first among poets and the author of Ramayana.
He wrote the Ramayana during Treta Yoga, so we are talking millions of years ago.
1) General information. Knowledge about this hermit who was the first among the poets of Bharata, is scanty. So we have to depend mainly on some hearsay for the life history of this sage.
It is said that Valmiki was the tenth son of Varuna. But in his younger age he fell into the hands of wicked people and became a wicked man, like his friends. Then his name was not Valmiki. Being a father, he had to support his family. For this purpose he used to plunder travellers. Once he happened to catch the Saptarsis (the seven hermits) who passed by that way. The hermits asked him whether his wife and children would share the sins had incurred by plundering. The plunderer could not answer that unexpected question. He ran home and asked his wife and children if they would share the sins incurred by him. They were not prepared to do so. In a moment his life underwent a thorough change. He ran to the Saptarsis and knelt before them. They imparted to the forester, knowledge of the Vedas. The forester sat under a tree and began to sing `Rama Rama’.
Days and months and yearn passed, unknown to him. He did not know that white ants had built a shelter above him. After several years the Saptarsis returned by that way. They broke the ant-hill and took the hermit out. Because he came out of Valmika or white-ant-hill he came to be known as Valmiki.
He built his hermitage on the bank of the river Tamasa and lived there with his disciples. It was at this place that he composed the famous poem Ramayana.
2) Other details.
(I ) Valmiki shines in the palace of Indra. (M.B. Sabha Parva, Chapter 7, Stanza 16).
(ii) Mention is made in Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, Chapter 83, Stanza 27, that Valmiki met Sri Krsrra who was going to Iiastinapura as a messenger of the Pandavas.
(iii) Satyaki recited a poem composed by Valmiki, after having killed Bhurigravas in the Bh~urata-battle. (M.B. Drona Parva, Chapter 143, Stanza 57).
(iv) Valmiki told Yudhisthira of the benefits of his devotion to Siva. (M.B. Anusasana Parva, Chapter 18, Stanza 8).
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