Once upon a time, while the sage Valmiki was performing austerities on the bank of the river Tamasa, Narada Muni appeared before him and narrated a summary of the Ramayana, called the “Mula-ramayana” or the Original Ramayana. This is the very first chapter in the Bala-kanda of Valmiki’s Ramayana and it consists of the main episodes of Sri Rama’s pastimes summarized in one hundred verses. The text itself suggests that the meeting of the sages took place some time after Sri Rama had defeated Ravana and before He became the king of Ayodhya. After hearing the Mula-ramayana, the sage Valmiki composed thousands of Sanskrit verses to elaborately narrate all the incidents in this great epic. Accepted as avatars of Lord Visnu and Lord Siva respectively, Sri Rama and Hanuman are some of the most beloved among the divinities in Hinduism and are worshipped in thousands of temples all over the world. For many centuries, Valmiki has been known as the adi-kavi, the first poet, and his Ramayana is considered by many as the most ancient poem, so famous in the Indian subcontinent that its story line is known in nearly every house. After the Mahabharata, Valmiki’s Ramayana is the second greatest Sanskrit epic and it has influenced the philosophy, religion and culture of India for centuries. It remarkably influenced the later Sanskrit poetry, drama and literature, and inspired many poets to write their own versions of the epic, among which some of the most notable are Kalidasa’s Sanskrit mahakavya “Raghu-vamsa,” written in the 5th century C.E., and Tulasidasa’s “Rama-carita-manasa,” written in Avadhi in the 16th century, which became so popular in North India.
Written by. Demian Martins