In Indian spiritual philosophy the human soul is likened to the Lotus – a most beautiful flower that grows in a miry existence but emerges skyward, delicate petals unfurling at the touch of the suns rays, offering its beauty and fragrance to the heavens. The human soul too has to struggle in the watery bog of the material world – through the practice of prayer and meditation and the cultivation of all the divine qualities we can rise above this material condition and be fully conscious of our divinity.
There was once a bandit by the name of Ratnakara who carried out a life of thievery and deception until one day quite by chance he happened across the great sage Narada whose thoughts were constantly immersed in Lord Narayana. Narada looked on Ratnakara with qualities that were so foreign to Valmiki that he could not recognize them – love, and compassion. Baffled by these emotions which he had never received even from his own wife and family, he asked Narada the reason for it. Narada replied that his constant love and adoration was for his Lord Narayana whose image he saw in the hearts of all, including the bandit Ratnakara. Narada instructed Ratnakara in the ways of meditation and advised him to repeat the name "Rama" which is another name for God. Ratnakara’s nature however was so tainted with sin he simply could not utter the holy name "Rama", thus Narada instructed him to repeat "mara" which is the word for tree.
Ratnakara was a forest dweller so he was able to repeat "mara" with ease. On constant repetition of the word "mara" it becomes "Rama" and in this way Ratnakara was able to repeat this divine incantation. Narada took leave of Ratnakara who was so earnest in his meditation that when Narada returned several years later, he was still fixed to the same spot, although over the course of time he had been covered by an ant hill. After cracking open the anthill Narada found Ratnakara – utterly transformed by his profound meditation into a saintly person. He bestowed on him the name Valmiki and instructed him to establish a hermitage where one day very soon a banished Queen by the name of Sita would be sheltered…
Valmiki became the sage who uttered the first poem and created the poetic epic the "Ramayana" – the account of the India’s great King Rama which to this day is a spiritual reference and source of inspiration for millions of truth seekers throughout the world.
The story of Valmiki teaches us that through sincere aspiration a seeker of any caliber may attain the greatest heights. Like Valmiki and the lotus we too must not be daunted by the impurity which clings to us at present and endeavour to transform ourselves through constant and heavenward prayerful effort.
Article by: Kate Carvalho. Kate Carvalho practises meditation with the Christchurch Sri Chinmoy Centre
Photo by: Abedan, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries