Chapter III – Outline of the Composition

Having heard the story of righteousness and social conduct from Sage Nārada, Sage Vālmīki began his contemplation to probe the life of the brilliant prince.  He sat down on a mat of Kuśa grass, with blades that auspiciously pointed eastward.  He took a sip of water in the prescribed manner to help him concentrate.  The Sage meditated on the story.  He could visualize Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā, along with King Daśaratha, the King’s wives, and the kingdom.  He could distinguish their activities, their conversations, their pleasantries and their movements.  He could also visualize how Rāma was tricked into exile by the third wife.  He could visualize Rāma’s wanderings in the forest. 

The Sage could see it all clearly in his mind, through his state of yoga.  It was as clear as if he was seeing an am’lā[1] fruit placed in his palm!  After visualizing the story in depth, the wise Sage prepared to compose the details into words.  Gradually, the Sage produced the story of the clan of Raghu, as briefed to him by Sage Nārada earlier.  The composition became an ocean of orchestrated literary gems.  It contained heart-rending melodies, and became an epic that narrated the story of worldly happiness and wealth as well as of spiritual principles and progress.  It received commendation from all sectors of the population!

The Sage saw the birth of Rāma, his friendship with all, his popularity, his forgiveness, his amiability and his utter steadfastness in upholding the Truth.  He saw various episodes that occurred as Rāma travelled with Sage Viśvāmitra: these included the breaking of the famed bow and Rāma’s wedding with Jānakī[2].  He visualized the conflict between Rāma and Parśurāma and he saw the attributes of Rāma in depth.  He observed the preparations for Rāma’s installation as Regent, and the wicked maneuvers of Kaikeyī in disrupting this installation.  He could see Rāma’s exile, with the remorseful King wailing and then passing away in pain.  He saw the grief of the people in the kingdom, and their rejection of life and happiness.  He could then see Rāma’s meeting with the Niṣāda and the return of Rāma’s charioteer to Ayodhyā.  

The story continued, with Rāma and his party crossing the River Gaṅgā and meeting Sage Bharadvāja.  This was followed by instructions from Sage Bharadvāja, and the view of the Citrakūṭa mountains.  The poet could see the construction of the hut, the arrival of Bharata there, the details of Bharata persuading Rāma to return, and Rāma’s refusal.  He saw Rāma performing the last rites for his father.  He saw Bharata install Rāma’s footwear on the throne to declare Rāma’s presence, and Bharata staying at Nandigrāma for the period of Rāma’s exile. 

The Sage saw the party move to Danḍakāraṇya and Rāma killing the cannibal Virādha.  He saw Rāma meet the Sage S’arabhaṅga and then Sage Sutīkṣṇa.  He saw details of the story with Sage Anasūyā giving away ornaments to Sītā.  Following this, he saw the meeting between Rāma and Sage Agastya, and Rāma receiving the special bow from this Sage. He visualized the episode with S’ūrpaṇakhā, and her disfigurement by Lakṣmaṇa; this was followed by the killing of Khara and Triśirā, and the entry of Rāvaṇa.  The story continued with the killing of Mārīca and the kidnapping of Sītā.  The poet visualized the grief-stricken Rāma breaking down witnessing Jaṭāyu’s death.  He saw the monster Kabandha and the beautiful sights of the Pampā lake.  A pious tribal lady appeared in the story and the poet saw Rāma receiving hospitality from her.  

The story moved on with Rāma’s remorse, and his encounter with Hanūmān.  Rāma went to the Rṣyamūka mountains and met Sugrīva.  They created a trusting relationship, and Rāma learned about the animosity between Vālī and Sugrīva.  The poet envisioned the death of Vālī and the installation of Sugrīva as the Chief of the Vānara[3] clan, the grief of Tārā upon Vālī’s demise, and the commitment by Sugrīva that the Vānara flock would search for Sītā following the monsoons.  He marked the wrath of Lakṣmaṇa, and Sugrīva recalling his forces.   He noted the directions in which messengers were sent, and the indicative landmarks pointing in each direction, as stated.  He saw Rāma giving his ring to Hanūmān, and how the southern group got stuck in a cave while searching for Sītā.  He also saw their dejection, their decision to fast unto death, and then the eventual encouragement by Sampāti, to proceed with the mission.

The poet saw Hanūmān climbing the mountain, and hopping over the ocean.  He visualized the empathy of the ocean and noticed the Maināka mountains in the waters.  He saw Hanūmān encountering various demons and the dangerous Siṁhikā, who captured flying objects by pouncing on their shadows.  He visualized the opulence of Laṅkā, and the entry of Hanūmān into Laṅkā during the night.  He could feel Hanūmān’s discriminating mind, and his visit to the drinking site of Rāvaṇa and the associated boundaries.  The poet visualized how Hanuman would encounter Rāvaṇa, and the aerial chariot Puṣpaka.    

Eventually the poet saw Hanūmān move to the Aśoka[4] orchard, and his meeting there with Sītā.  The poet visualized how Hanūmān gave Rāma’s insignia ring to Sītā and listened to her story of the threats by the Rākṣasa[5] groups, including her retelling, for the welfare of Rāma, of the dream by Trishirā.  The poet saw Sītā give her head ornament to Hanūmān and how the latter went on a mischievous destructive spree breaking trees in the orchard.  He visualized how Hanūmān outmaneuvered the groups of Rākṣasīs and eliminated the servants.  He also saw haw Hanūmān was captured, and how he roared while setting fire to the city of Laṅkā.  The poet could see Hanūmān’s return, and the episode with stealing honey in Sugrīva’s orchard.

The Sage saw in detail how Hanūmān brought relief to Rāma by reporting on his meeting with Sītā, and giving Rāma Sītā’s head ornament.  He continued to see Rāma’s party travel to the sea and the construction of a bridge by Nala.  He could see how they crossed the sea, and blocked the exit from the island.  He saw the death of Kumbhakarṇa, and the demise of Meghanāda.  He visualized Rāvaṇa’s destruction and Sītā’s rescue from Laṅkā.  The story continued with the installation of Vibhīṣaṇa at Laṅkā and the return of Rāma to Ayodhyā.   On his return, Rāma met Sage Bharadvāja, and then sent Hanūmān to inform Bharata.  Finally, Rāma was enthroned, and the Vānara folks returned to their land in the mountains. The story ended with Rāma offering welfare and happiness to the people, and his eventual separation from Sītā. 

The Sage Vālmīki composed this epic including all of this and much more of Rama’s activities on Earth.

[1] A fruit with uneven structure, Amalaka in Sanskrit

[2] Another name of Sita, indicating her to be the daughter of King Janaka.

[3] A creature with monkey-like attributes but having human-like reasoning.

[4] A tropical flowering tree.

[5] A female Rākṣasa