Back to translation of Sarga 2ContentsNext SargaPrevious Sarga

Valmiki Ramayana - Bala Kanda in Prose
Sarga 2

 

Sage Valmiki goes to River Tamasa for a bath and sees a couple of birds, of which a hunter kills one. Valmiki unintentionally utters a poem, which is rich in grammar and new in metre, of which he is very much confused as to why such a poem has come from his tongue. Brahma, the presiding deity of letters appears and ordains Valmiki to author Ramayana, excellent epic of Rama, for which purpose alone he gave such divine meter and grammar to him.

.

 

On hearing that sentence of that eminent sentence-maker Sage Narada, that contains , or Ramayana in a nutshell, narrated in the previous chapter, that great sage of virtuous mind, namely Valmiki, revered the Divine Sage Narada, along with his disciples. That divine sage Narada is worshipped that way by Valmiki in a befitting way, and on seeking permission of Valmiki to leave, and having been permitted by Valmiki went away heavenward. 

A while after the departure of Narada to heavens, Valmiki proceed to the riverbanks of Tamasa, which are not far-off form River Jahnavai i.e., River Ganga. Then Valmiki drew nigh of River Tamasa's riverbanks, and on beholding an un-filthy strand of that river, he spoke to his disciple available at his side. 

"Oh! Bharadwaja, un-filthy is this watery foreshore, and with pleasant waters it is heart pleasing... like a noble man's heart... behold it... Keep that handy-vessel there, and give me my loincloth... I will enter only this best ford of Tamasa River..." 

When Bharadwaaja is said that way by great-souled Valmiki, himself being a humble one before his mentor gave that jute-cloth to that saint, that humbly. 

That self-controlled Sage Valmiki on taking loincloth from his disciple's hands, indeed ambled towards the river, looking everywhere at the wide of forest. There godly sage Valmiki saw a couple of lovely krouncha birds, in the vicinity of that river's foreshore, flying there about in togetherness, and of course, fearless of any calamity, and calling charmingly 

A tribal hunter with all his evil intent, as he is an enemy of foresters, killed the male one of them the couple of birds, while Valmiki is looking on. 

She who is ever together with her husband, a lusty male bird with flighty wings and with a prideful red crest, and one who always had a heart for her, but she is now separated from him, and gone is that togetherness; and she, on seeing her slain husband whose body is blood-soaked, and who is reeling on the ground in the anguish of pain, bewailed with piteous utterances. 

Comment: Please ref. to verse section for words ussed. In this verse the bewailing of Mandodari, the queen of Ravana is indicated. bharyaa tu wife, Mandodari, but,; taamra shiirSeNa one with red crest crown, which is decorated with red jewels etc; patriNaa one who has winged vehicles, like Pushpaka aircraft etc; mattena who is intoxicated with Brahma's boons; sahitena one who is surrounded by Indrajit, Vibhishana, Kumbhakarna et al. tena from him; dvijena from that Brahman, from Ravana; viyuktaa, nihatam, mahiitale... as above. Govindaraja.

On seeing at that bird felled that way by the tribal hunter, compassion is aroused in that kind-hearted sage Valmiki. Then on seeing the wailing female krounchi bird, compassion haunting him and apperceiving the killing of male bird as unjust, the sage uttered this sentence... 

"Oh! Ill-fated Hunter, by which reason you have killed one male bird of the couple, when it is in its lustful passion, thereby you will get an ever-lasting reputation for ages to come..." 

Comment: This is a celebrated stanza of Sanskrit literature, and controversial too, in deciphering its meaning. The separation of compound tvamagama = tu, ama, gamaH. We are told that this is the first verse of human origin with metrical rules and grammar. Earlier to this, only Vedic stanzas were available with their complicated compositional rules. This is the verse where this epic, Ramayana is said to have triggered off. The above given meaning is just a dictionary meaning. This verse has many comports of which a few are given hereunder:

1 This verse is taken as magalcaraa to Ramayana, for any epic has to have magala dni magala madhyni magala antni A good pious beginning, pious middle and pious ending. Thus this verse has the letter maa at its start and maa is lakm vcaka in Sanskrit. It is di vara The first letter - loka mt m ram magala devat thus amara kosha says for Goddess Lakshmi.

m= Goddess Lakshmi; nida= Oh! Vishnu  for Goddess Lakshmi resides in the heart of Vishnu - niadti asmin iti nida ; yat = by which act; krounca midhunt = the couple of demons, namely Ravana and Mandodari; kma mohitam=  that impassioned one and stole Seetha; ekam= that one, Ravana; avadh= you killed; by that act of yours avatsam= everlasting for ages; pratim= divine sanctity; tvam agama= you, get.

 "Goddess Lakshmi's abode... Oh! Vishnu, by which act of your killing one male demon named Ravana, who in his passionabducted Seetha, and thus you eradicated the vice from the earth, for that you get an everlasting divine sanctity, as Rama, for ages to come."

2 There is another declination attributing this to Ravana. Ravana is the one who tortures others for his benefit. itaraam saadayati piiDayati iti niSaada - thus: Oh! Ravana; krounch+ midhunaat= from the couple of Rama and Seetha, who are flying from forest to forest like nest-less birds; ekam= one is, Seetha is; avadhii =as good as killing her with your torture of abducting; pratiSTaam= your glory in Lanka, at its zenith, as per the kindness of Brahma; ma+agama= never get, hereafter. But this declination is not held right, for it is like a curse, shaapa, and no epic shall start with a bad omen.

3 Next, this verse is said from the perspective of Rama alone. Sage Narada gave the details of the legend to Sage Valmiki and Brahma orders that the legend of Rama is to be recorded. But Ramayana is full of pathos, karuNa - shoka rasa prathaana. If it is to be penned the writer too shall have heart that can outpour that mood. So when Valmiki is at the river banks Rama, say Vishnu, came in the guise of a tribal, as with other mythological episodes like kiraataarjuniiya etc., and killed one bird. Valmiki reacted immediately and Vishnu's test is complete. But in exciting the mood of such holy sage, Rama gets a curse in this verse - maa nishaada.

nishaada= oh tribal: to Valmiki / Vishnu to mythology; for your killing one bird of the couple, to the misery of the female one; shaashvatii = as long as you live on this earth; samaaH+pratiSTaam= togetherness, with your wife; ma+agama= do not get.

Oh! Rama, as long as you are on earth, you do not get the love of being together with your wife... for you have to live with your wife departed to Lanka, come again and departed to forests.

But this is differed statement, since Vishnu do not require any personal testing of the capabilities of the writer of Ramayana. Brahma will look after such literary things.

4 The generally accepted meaning of this verse is this. Any epic's gist is to be said at the start or, at its commencement --- kvya artha scanam kascin dym eva nirpyate --- Thus the above verse included the meaning of whole of the epic, Ramayana.

i maa+niSaada= Goddess Lakshmi and Vishnu's marriage in their incarnations as Rama and Setha - depicts -- Bala Kanda.

ii pratiSTaam+tvam+agama= renown, you get - by following your father's orders you have repaired to forests, without any political upheaval, thus get an everlasting renown as an obliging son --- depicts-- Ayodhya Kanda.

iii shashavatii+ samaa= by dwelling in forest and eradicating demons and helping the saints and sages thus, you achieve an everlasting praise - depicts - Aranaya Kanda.

iv krounchayoH= from the atrocious couple; -- krunca gati kauily alp bhvayo ; the atrocious Vali, and Tara couple; ekam+kaama+mohitam = one, passion filled, i.e., Vali, avadhii= you killed Vali - depicts - Kishkindha Kanda.

v krouncha +mithunaat= from the couple of lovely passionate birds - here Rama and Seetha; niSaada he Ravana, kaama mohitam lustfully, ekam one i.e., Seetha; avadhii = almost killed, i.e., her residing in Lanka is as good as death; this depicts - Sundara Kanda.

vi krouincha+mithunaat = from the atrocious, couple - Ravana and Mandodari; ekam avadhii one - Ravana, is killed - depicts - Yuddha Kanda.

vii kaama+mohitam= by desire, fascinated  kama also means a longing, desire, let alone lusting; Seetha is fascinated by her desire to see sage's wives in uttara Ramayana and thus she is left in hermitage by Lakshmana. Hence vii canto uttara Ramayana is also suggested.

On saying thus, and pondering for a while in his heart, 'annoyed by the anguish for that bird, what is it uttered by me...' thus he became cogitative of those lines uttered. On thinking, he that eminently astute and intellectual sage made up his mind, and he that erudite scholar also spoke this sentence to his disciples, thus as... 

"This utterance of mine has emerged out of anguished annoyance, and it is well- arranged with letters metrically posited, tuneful and rhythmical to be sung with string instrument, and hence, this shall be a verse, not otherwise..." 

Comment: This verse he uttered is in four-quarters, each quarter with equally posited eight syllables. This is called anuSTubh metre in Sanskrit poetry. The eight syllables are, m ni da pra ti tva | ma ga ma va t sa m -- Each quarter is paada in Sanskrit, pede in Latin; with two quarters in first stanza, and two stanzas one verse. This is apart, there are other rules like caesura yati ; alliteration praasa ; and other compositional rules. It has come out of shoka sorrow, so the format is named as sloka. And, shloka also means yashas, kiirti renown.

Even the disciple happily received what that is articulated by the saint, a unique articulation, by which the saint too, became happy. Then that saint on performing his bathing in that ford according to custom, and still thinking on the purport of his utterance, he returned towards his hermitage.

Comment: This is mid-day bath for these hermits. tato madhyhna snnrtham mdam haret | - - prekya sa omkram dityam tri nimajje jalaye - - vysa smti The word abhisheka refers to ceremonial showering of waters on deities or on kings in his coronation. At the beginning Valmiki arrives at the river for a daily bath, which he would do by usual dipping in river waters. But here it appears that waters are showered on him, abhishekam kR^itva meaning that waters showered on him are on the anology of poetic verses of Ramayana.

Then Bharadwaja, the obedient disciple and an erudite scholar, for he heard and learnt many scriptures by listening, on taking handy-vessel full with water followed at the behind of his mentor. 

He that knower of dharma, Valmiki, having entered the threshold of hermitage along with disciples, and having seated spoke about the day-to-day teachings and also other things, but he himself is preoccupied in cogitation on the verse. Then, the great resplendent Four-faced creator of fourteen worlds, almighty Brahma, arrived there on his own, to see that eminent saint Valmiki. 

Comment; The deities do not usually arrive on their own, but reveal themselves after a great penance, or on raising hue and cry as is done by demon devotees. Here Brahma, one among the Trinity of Hindu mythology, arrives on his own, to execute a divine deed through Valmiki, i.e. authoring the epic, Ramayana.

Then that pious saint Valmiki is highly surprised on seeing Brahma, and on quickly getting up from his seat with his palms adjoined humbly, he stood aside, as he is spellbind. Valmiki venerated Brahma, on inquiring into his well-being, washed his feet, drenched his thirst, seated him to rest, and adored at best with customarily obeisance. 

Comment: Brahma is one in the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Brahma is pictured to have four faces, each representing one Veda, where Vedas are four in number. He is the creator of worlds, while Vishnu maintains them, and Shiva dissolute them. The concert of Brahma is Saraswati, the presiding deity of speech, who was earlier requested by Brahma to be on the tongue of Valmiki to utter the poem, as at 1-2-15 as an intuition to Valmiki. Thus Brahma now arrives to ordain Valmiki to author Ramayana.

Then god Brahma, who is seated on a high seat, very highly worshipped by Valmiki, also beckoned at Valmiki to take a seat. Even though Valmiki sat on his seat when duly permitted by Brahma, and though the Grandparent of the worlds is manifestly sitting before him, but the same broodings on those happenings occurred on that day have recurred on his mind. 

"He that tribal hunter, who killed a cutely calling krounch bird for no good reason than intending to capture the kill, is an evil souled one that caused hardship..."

Remaining in melancholic mood Valmiki turned his mind to the depth of thinking, and again thinking only on the krouncha bird he sung the same verse, involuntarily. Then, Brahma smilingly spoke to that eminent saint Valmiki, "But, what that is composed is a verse only... and there is no need to think through... 

"Oh, Brahman, that speech of yours sprang forth at my wish alone, hence oh, eminent sage, you shall render the legend of Rama, in its entirety... you shall narrate the legend of Rama, the virtuous, intellectual and an intrepid one, and a godlike person in this world as well, as you have heard it from sage Narada. 

"The adventures of valorous Rama along with Lakshmana, and the misadventures of demons, known or unknown in every detail, and even the plight of Vaidehi which is either revealed or un-revealed so far, and whatever legend that has happened, all that will also be known to you, even if it were to be unknown, as yet... you shall versify the heart pleasing and merit-yielding legend of Rama, and not a single word of yours will be unfounded in this epic... 

"As long as the mountains and even rivers flourish on the surface of the earth, so long the legend of Ramayana will flourish in this world... and as long as Rama's legend authored by you flourishes...till then you will flourish in heavenly, in netherworlds, and even in my abode, namely Abode of Brahma..." On saying thus that Divinity Brahma vanished then and there only, and then that godly sage Valmiki came by astonishment, along with his disciples. 

Then all of the disciples of Valmiki sang this verse time and again very delightedly, and muchstonished they also recited this verse, reciprocally. 

Equally lettered, four-footed is that verse when great Sage Valmiki articulated it, and when repetitively recited by one and all, it attained prominence as verse proper.

Comment: A poet never says poetry to satisfy his own instincts, but to imbue an involuntary imagination or passion in others when read or heard by the so called others. It is the empathy of that poetry. For Kalidasa it is ngara, passion, for Bhavabhuti it is pity 'eko rasaH karuNa...' for Valmiki it is pathos, shoka. For this Kavi Kalidas says: nida viddha aaja daranottha lokatvam padyata yasya oka -- raghu vaa 14-60 There are two texts for this one is, shlokaH shlokatam aagataH... meaning that the verse originally structured metrically can now can be sung. Second is shokaH shlokatvam aagataH... the pathos of the poet attained the status of verse that is now being sung by the disciples, thus anyone can recite it.

Born is an intuition in that great sage and contemplated soul asserting that "I will compose entire Ramayana, the epic, in suchlike verses..." 

That celebrated sage and magnanimous seer Valmiki then authored the highly renowned Rama's legend extolling Rama's renown, with symmetrically worded verses, and words versified to yield meanings semantically, prosody free-flowing, and with hundreds of such verses. 

That epic which is with uncomplicated compounds, conjunctions and conjugations, and which has expressive sentences that are well-knit and led evenly and sweetly, and that legend of the best one from Raghu's dynasty, namely Rama, which also includes the extermination of the Ten-headed evil named Ravana, that may be listened as narrated by the sage. 

 

Thus, this is the 2nd chapter in Bala Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India. 

Back to translation of Sarga 2ContentsNext SargaPrevious Sarga

@ 1998, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao Revised - March 04