Chapter IV - The Composition of  Ramayana + SJ edits

The Sage Vālmīki composed the Rāmāyaṇa after Rāma regained his kingdom and was installed as the king.  The poet told the story in twenty-four thousand stanzas of splendid word arrangements that contain colorful imagery.  The material was contained in approximately five hundred chapters, and organized into seven books, the last of which narrated the story of the period following the royal installation.  After completing the composition, Vālmīki looked for persons who could memorize the material and recite it to the public.  While thinking about this, he saw the two brothers Kuśī and Lava approaching him.  They were children of royal descent, were clad in hermit’s dress, and were living in the hermitage.  The princes paid their respects to the sage by prostrating themselves at his feet.  Vālmīki recollected their sweet voice, their talent and their study of the Vedas.   

The poet taught the epic to the princes.  The story consisted of the life of Sita up until the killing of Poulastya[1].  The princes were well versed in music, and had a good command of diction and accent. They practiced singing the composition melodiously, using the appropriate three vocal pitches and seven notes.  The composition itself was characterized by emotions (rasa[2]) such as love, compassion, laughter, anger, fear, valor etc.  Handsome, well- mannered and of high moral character, the princes lookd like two images created out of Rāma’s body[3].  They committed the entire epic to memory and when asked, they performed it in various assemblies of monks, hermits and Brāhmins, exhibiting artistry and excellence.

The renderings of the Rāmāyaṇa brought tears to the eyes of wise and thoughtful sages.  The quality of singing and the beauty of the rendering was stunning.  The sages were delighted, and admired the brothers’ performance - “Bravo! Bravo! We have witnessed directly how the singers immersed themselves in rendering the composition so sweetly.” They exclaimed: “Amazing! they presented with such heart-felt emotion and deep sonorous rhythm!  The matching voices and musical expressions were exceptional!”  Some sage would present the princes with a pitcher, others with a bark dress, another with a deer skin, and yet others with sacred threads.  Other gifts included drinking vessel gourds, a girdle of Munja grass, Kusa mat, hermit’s loin cloths, axe, pupil’s brown sashes, scarves, strings for hairdos, cords for bundling wood, sacrificial vessels, and many bundles of wood.  Some offered ritual seats made from Udumbara wood.  The sages blessed the brothers with a long life and continued well-being.

The ever-truthful sages bestowed boons on the princes, and declared: “Excellent is this narrative, beautifully composed by the Poet Vālmīki!  This composition would serve as a model for the future poets in creating sequential narratives that end on a good note.  You two have rendered the composition beautifully.  Your singing is sweet to the ears. It adds pleasure and happiness and creates life-giving energy.  You two should be felicitated everywhere!”  

King Rāma happened to witness the music scene on the streets of Ayodhyā.  He invited the brothers to the palace, and offered them hospitality.   Seated on his golden throne and surrounded by his counselors and brothers, Rāma was beholden to the handsomeness and humility of the bothers.  He said to his own brothers: “Please listen to the narrative sung by these two divine voices!”  He encouraged the young singers to present their song.  The brothers commenced their sweetly rendered composition, with interpretative expressions.  Their voices in unison were like a finely tuned lute.  The music brought pleasure and joy in all who were assembled and made a marked impression in the assembly.

Rāma said “These two singers, Kuśī and Lava, are endowed with the attributes that befit a royal pedigree, but they live as hermits in the forest.  They have fully comprehended the story in its depth and feelings.  Hearing it makes me happy, and I feel healed!”  Encouraged by such words, the two brother singers continued their performance with discipline, and followed the prescribed Mārga style. 

Rāma was immersed in joy in the assembly.  

[1] The person in the clan of Pulasti, another name for Rāvaṇa.

[2] A mental process triggered by a reactive impulse.

[3] They were children of Rāma.