The date of Valmiki and his composition is around 4400 B.C.
The text as available to us now consists of 24,000 verses – 24,253 to be exact – and is divided into seven kandas or
Books. Each kandas is subdivided into sargas or chapters (total number of sargas being 647) and these comprise shlokas or
verses. Though the work is almost entirely in the shlokas or the anushtubh metre, bigger metres like indravajra or
upendravajra have also been employed.
Three pathas or recensions of the Ramayana have been discovered so far: the Dakshinatya (southern), the Gaudiya (Bengali)
and the Vayavya (north-western).
There are some well-known commentaries in Sanskrit. They are:
1. Tilaka or Ramabhirami by Nagoji Bhatta
2. Shiromani by Shivasahaya
3. Bhusana by Govindaraja
4. Tattvadipa by Maheshvara Tirtha
5. Ramanujiyavyakhya by Kandala Ramanuja
6. Vivekatilaka by Varadaraja
7. Dharmakutavyakhya by Tryambakaraja
8. Ramayana-kuta-vyakhya by Ramananda Tirtha
A ceremonial recitation of the text, especially during he Ramanavami (in April) and the Navaratri (during September-
October) celebrations, is believed to confer great religious merit.
Q1. What is
Valmiki famous for?
Valmiki lived a simple life as a poet and holy man
in a hut in the forests of northern India. Valmiki was inspired to compose his
verse of Ramayana after visits from the Gods Narada
Valmiki had a burning question and asked Narada: who was the greatest person in
the world – the most accomplished, wise and compassionate? Narada replied that
the ideal human being was a famous king called Rama: “He is strong and beautiful, wise and compassionate, pure in character
and loved by all. He has deeply studied the ancient wisdom, is brilliant in
archery and courageous in battle. In gravity he is like the ocean, in constancy
like the Himalayas and in generosity like rain”.
inspired Valmiki writing?
Brahma came to give Valmiki divine inspiration for
his verse and afterwards, Valmiki fell into a meditative trance and saw for
himself the life and adventures of Rama
and Sita. He wondered "How
mysterious is the play (lila) of
God!" and sat down to meditate. Then, Brahma appeared before him and said,
"This incident happened only to inspire you to write the divine story of
Q3. Was Valmiki
Maharshi Valmiki, the author of the great Indian epic Ramayana, was a Hindu sage who lived
around the beginning of the first millennium B.C. He is referred to as the 'adikavi', the original creator of the
Hindu 'sloka' — a verse form in which most of the great epics such as Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas, and
other works are composed.
Q4. How did
Valmiki get his name?
He was a Brahman by birth belonging to the lineage
of Bhrigu. Fate consigned him to a family of robbers which brought him up.
Accidental contact with the Saptarishis
— the Seven Sages and with the sage Narada changed his life. By the repetition
of Ramanama or the name of Ram, he attained the supreme state of a 'maharshi' or great sage. Since a 'valmika' or an anthill had grown over
his body during his long period of austerities and poised state of penance, he
came to be known as Valmiki.
Q5. How did
Valmiki know about Ramayana?
When the mythical sage Narada came to his hermitage,
Valmiki who received him with due honor, posed a question — who was an ideal
man? The reply came from Narada in the form of Samkshepa Ramayana which formed
the foundation on which the magnificent 24,000 verse edifice was built by
Valmiki. Then, immersed deep into this story, Valmiki left for the river Tamasa
with his disciple Bharadwaj. The pleasant and placid river reminded the seer of
the mature and modest quality of his hero.
Q6. How many
lines does Valmiki Ramayana have?
Today, the text of the Sanskrit Valmiki
Ramayana has around 24,000 shlokas, a shloka being a verse. These 25,000
shlokas are distributed across seven kandas
– Bala Kanda (Book about Youth), Ayodhya Kanda (Book about Ayodhya), Aranya Kanda (Book of the Forest), Sundara Kanda (Book of Beauty), Yuddha Kanda (Book about the War) and Uttara Kanda (Book about the
Sequel). Kanda refers to a major section or segment and is sometimes
translated into English as Canto.
Q7. Where is
the original Valmiki Ramayana kept?
A 6th-century manuscript of Ramayana, which focuses
on the separation of Rama and Sita and portrays them more as humans, has been
found tucked inside a Purana at a
Sanskrit library in Kolkata. It is markedly different from the more
accepted 4 BC Valmiki Ramayana. The 12th-century rendition by Tamil poet Kamba
is generally considered the second oldest among the more popular versions.
However, now that may change.
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