New Delhi: Valmiki Jayanti, also known as Pragat Diwas is celebrated to honour the ancient poet Maharishi Valmiki- who is also the author of the great Hindu epic Ramayana. The epic has 24,000 verses and 7 cantos and the maharishi Valmiki has penned many verses (shlokas) in Sanskrit. Valmiki is also known as the first poet of Sanskrit- adi-kavi. Valmiki Jayanti is observed on the 15th day of the Shukla Paksha in Ashwin month, according to the Hindu lunar calendar.
Maharishi Valmiki is also called the Adi Kavi or the first poet in the Sanskrit language. He is also responsible for writing the first-ever Sanskrit shlokas. It is believed that Maharishi Valmiki, who lived in Treta Yug, learned the story of Lord Rama from Narad Muni, and under his guidance, he wrote the epic Ramayana.
Maharishi Valmiki has a very significant role to play in Hindu Mythology and hence his birth anniversary is an important festival for devotees.
During the period of Lord Rama’s exile, he met Maharishi Valmiki and later the great sage provided shelter to Rama’s wife Sita when she was banished from the kingdom of Ayodhaya by Lord Rama. Sita even gave birth to her twin sons Lava and Kusha at Rishi Valmiki’s ashram and he became their teacher and taught them Ramayana. Lava and Kusha sang the divine story in Ayodhya during the Ashwamedha yajna which led to Lord Rama questioning their identity. Lord Rama visited Maharishi Valmiki’s hermitage to confirm whether Lava and Kusha’s claims of him being their father was indeed true and met Sita in the Hermitage.
Valmiki was the tenth son of a Brahmin named Pracheta (also known as Sumali) and is of Bhrigu gotra. It is believed that in his previous life the sage was a highway dacoit named Ratnakara and used to kill and rob people. A chance encounter with Narada Muni changed his life forever and he became a great devotee of Lord Rama. During his severe penance huge anthills formed around him which earned him the name of Valmiki.