Chapter II - The First Shloka,  Brahma's Blessings - Final

The Sage Vālmīki along with his disciples offered respectful services to the Sage Nārada.  After begging permission to leave, Nārada flew back to the heavens.  A few minutes later, Sage Vālmīki proceeded for his midday ablution.  He went to the River Tamasā, a tributary to River Gaṅgā.  On the bathing banks, the Sage said joyfully “Look Bharadvāja, the water here is clean and tranquil.  It looks beautiful.  The ambience is like that of a righteous mind. This place is just right for my bath! Please leave the pitcher here. Please give me my bark to change.”

The attending Bharadvāja passed the bark to the Sage.  Taking the bark from his disciple, the self-controlled Sage Vālmīki took a moment to look around at the splendid vegetation.  He reflected on the Nature’s bounty.  In a nearby tree, he happened to see a pair of cranes engaged in conjugal love.  He admired their sweet melodious noise.  As he was looking, he noticed a Niśāda[1] person take aim and shoot the male bird.  The blood-soaked bird fell on the ground.  His wings were stretched out, and he painfully palpitated, struggled for its life.  The sudden separation from her love with the copper-crested companion, left the female bird disoriented. Helpless, she cooed desperate shrills.    

Witnessing this sad turn of events, a sense of sympathy and compassion arose in the Sage’s mind.  Reflecting that the action by the hunter was sinful, he tried to console the female bird with the following words to the hunter: “May you never be in peace, O’ hunter, since you killed a member of the conjugal pair that was infatuated in passion.” The lines sounded like a curse and he felt uneasy.  Thoughts came to his mind: “what is this that I have uttered, in sympathy with a grieving bird?” Reflecting further, the learned Sage said to his disciple- “Look, these lines are set in organized syllables, and can be sung as a melody.  They were composed by me while consoling the bereaved bird.  Let such a composition be called a śloka[2].” The disciple Bharadvāja endorsed the statement made by the Sage, and committed the line to memory.  The Sage expressed his satisfaction.

The Sage returned to his hermitage after completing is ablution at the river.  He continued to ruminate on the incident, the obedient Bharadvāja followed him with the pitcher of water.  In the hermitage, the Sage sat down in meditation, then spoke about many topics.  Suddenly, he witnessed the Creator of the Universe, the four-faced effulgent Brahmā[3] himself, appearing to meet him.  The Sage was stunned, and rose to greet the Lord.  He stood with folded hands, in utter surprise. 

Offering hospitality and food, and worshipping him properly, the Sage asked Brahmā if all was well.  The Lord Brahmā seated himself on the decorated platform, and requested the Sage to take a seat.  Sitting down, the Sage again reflected on the cruelty of the hunter to the bird.  He thought how the bird was killed with no fault of his.  The śloka he composed for the grieving female bird again came to his mind.  He continued to feel remorse. 

Realizing the Sage’s grief, the Lord Brahmā smiled.  He blessed: “You should not continue to brood over the śloka that you have composed.  It was created by me, through your voice!  O’ Sage, please engage yourself by composing the story of Rāma.  Narrate the story of the righteous, brilliant and patient Rāma as you have heard from the Sage Nārada.  Write the story of that bright individual as you know, and as you may conceive.  Please tell about Rāma and Soumitrī[4], and the Rākṣasa[5] clan.  Please convey the story of Sītā as is known and conceived by you.  Whatever is unknown will be revealed to you, and your words in the composition will not go false.  Narrate the story in well-composed beautiful ślokas.  Let the story you narrate be heard all over the world for eternity!  Let the work prevail on the earth, in the sky and in my heavenly abode!”

The Lord Brahmā disappeared.  The Sage and disciples were in complete shock.  The disciples repeated the śloka again and again.  They were pleased as well as surprised.  By repeating the four segments of equal lengths using musical tones, their grief appeared to transform itself into verse in forming the śloka.  The Sage resolved “I can make the effort to compose the story of Rāmāyaṇa into an epic, using this meter.”

The illustrious Sage Vālmīki thus proceeded to compose the story, using musically appropriate words in heart-rending tunes.  With equal numbers of syllables in all four segments, the compassionate poet composed hundreds of verses to create the epic.  He used the proper qualifiers and compounds in creating words, which he arranged in melodious verses.

May the narrated story of Rāma and the destruction of the ten-headed Rāvaṇa give us blissful happiness!

[1] A forest dweller, who hunts for food.

[2] The Sanskrit word for a metric verse.

[3] The Hindu cosmology believes in a creator Brahmā, who sees in all four directions.

[4] Another name of Lakṣmaṇa.  He is the elder son of Sumitrā.

[5] Human like creatures with ferocious appearance and cannibalistic attributes.