What is Valmiki Jayanti?
Sage Valmiki is regarded as the first poet of Sanskrit literature. His birth anniversary is celebrated as Valmiki Jayanti. It is celebrated on Ashwin Purnima as per the Hindu lunar calendar, which corresponds to the month of October. His works are regarded as immortal and are raised to the level of greatest sacred texts of Sanatana Dharma. It was Valmiki who authored the epic, Ramayana, which consists of 24,000 verses and 7 cantos. His contributions are enormous and he is among the greatest saints of the world.
The significance of Valmiki Jayanti:
Maharishi Valmiki was the contemporary of Lord Rama. He was not only the author of Ramayana but was also the Guru for Lord Rama’s sons, Lava and Kusha.
Sage Valmiki was born as Ratnakara in an outcast family and his main occupation was burglary and murder. One day, he met Sage Narada, son of Lord Brahma, who gave him spiritual guidance. Sage Valmiki did severe penance, meditating on Lord Rama for years together, so that even an anthill came up around him.
The Mythology behind Valmiki Jayanti:
According to the Ramayana, Shri Rama met Valmiki during his period of exile. Later, Valmiki gave shelter to Rama’s wife, Sita, in his hermitage when Rama sent her away. Rama’s twin sons, Lava and Kusha, were born in Valmiki’s hermitage. Valmiki taught Ramayana to both of them.
In his early life, Maharishi Valmiki or Ratnakar was a highway dacoit who used to rob and kill people. It was Sage Narada who transformed Ratnakar into a great devotee of Lord Rama. On the advice of Narada, Ratnakar performed penance by reciting the name of Rama. After he had meditated for many years, a divine voice declared that his penance was successful and conferred on him a new name, Valmiki, the one born of ant-hills. Once, he heard a divine voice from heaven which changed his life completely and gave him divine blessings, after which he was revered as Sage Valmiki.
Rituals of Valmiki Jayanti
‘The Maharishi Valmiki temple’ at Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai, is the biggest temple dedicated to Rishi Valmiki, and is more than 1300 years old. The area is also called Valmiki Nagar. It is believed that Sage Valmiki, rested at this same spot where the temple is now found. On Valmiki Jayanthi, special rituals are carried out in temples like group chanting on the sacred hymns of Ramayana, dance dramas based on Lord Rama’s stories, and Homas, where people flock together to worship Lord Rama. Reading the Ramayana is also an important ritual of this festival.
Benefits of celebrating Valmiki Jayanti
By praying to Rama on Valmiki Jayanti, people become more spiritual. Remembering the life and deeds of a noble soul like sri rama uplifts our minds and souls. Rama represents a glorious ideal of manhood who fulfilled his various duties – as son, brother, husband and king – with great integrity and spirit of self-sacrifice. Valmiki jayanthi also reminds us that whenever evil threatens to overcome earth, God will be at hand to ensure that dharma prevails.