VALMIKI-—THE IMMORTAL BARD
VALMIKI-—THE IMMORTAL BARD
(Published on the occasion of Valmiki Jayanti)
“Whoever has done or willed too much let him drink from this deep cup a long draught of life and youth. Everything is narrow in the West—Greece is small and I stiﬂe, Judea is dry and I pant. Let me look forward to lofty Asia, and the profound East for a while. There lies my great poem, as vast as the Indian Ocean, blessed, gilded with the sun, the book of divine harmony wherein is no dissonance. A serene peace reigns there in the midst of conflict, an inﬁnite sweetness, a bound fraternity, which spreads overall living things, an ocean of love, of pity, of clemency.” These were the observations of Michelet, the French historian about the Ramayana as early as A.D. 1884. There can be no truer description of the work in which lies enshrined the very soul of India.
Its Creator, the poet Valmiki, has created it with the flood of life's experiences. He, the immortal bard, has sung the song that has sprung from the innermost recesses of his heart when it was touched by a circumstance which would have left many others cold. In the Ramayana the experience became the language and the language became the experience. Out of this happy intermixture of the two the primeval bard was able to create a song and sing it so melodiously, so sonorously, that it has continued to inspire generations of mankind for thousands of years. From the depth and the fullness of his heart ﬂowed Forth poetry which had a universal appeal and which in its sweep was simply unrivalled. Valmiki was a genius, if there was one, and all this genius, all this prophetic vision, was poured into his poetry Valmiki was not merely a student of the shastras, he was a poet and a poet in his own right. He could delve deep into mysticism, he could climb up the greatest heights of poetic fervour, he could go into ecstasies and entrancing raptures and there would then ﬂow forth a ﬂood of words, of images, of tears, to which all he gave the name Ramayana.
People have been and are the greatest poets. With their beliefs, their superstitions, their customs and rites they are able to create songs which have a special appeal for the human heart. Valmiki was one such poet rooted in the soil, the people's poet.
To the popular image he gave the form of a ﬁnished product; to the inartistic framework he supplied the body, gave daubs of colour and then it became a piece of art, a work of magic drapery.
One of the strangest characteristics of the Ramayana is the quick transition in emotions that it delineates. Valmiki sometimes is seen to be gay and vivacious, at other times he is grave and melancholy, and at still other times he is brooding and
deliberative. The reason for all this probably lies in the nature of his theme. The Ramayana purports to describe the eternal conﬂict of mankind, the conﬂict between the good and the evil, the conﬂict in which the good have to suffer all misfortunes and privations till at last they are able to conquer the evil. The victory of Rama over Ravana is symbolic of the victory of the good over the evil. But look, what trials, what tribulations the good are put to! This is as it happens in this world. The conﬂict is a part of the Cosmic order. There is no escape from it. It is this conﬂict, this dualism, which is responsible for conﬁicting emotions which not unoften crisscross each other.
It is these which make Valmiki go into ecstasies and then in a matter of minutes make him sad and melancholy. It is this constant seesaw, this constant swinging between the emotions often contrary to each other, cutting into each other, that has made the Ramayana what it is, a song of the human heart, with all its joys and pleasures, with all its sorrows and sufferings. Valmiki had a message for the mankind which he wanted it to learn and which he was able to impart to it most effectively. He was no mere preacher, a priest delivering sermons from the pulpit, nor was he an old man of the village pouring out a mass of genomic and didactic poetry. He was a poet, a bard, a
musician, all rolled into one. He did not say anything directly and yet everybody understood him, appreciated his message, learnt it, digested it and translated it into practical life. For centuries has this message of love, of pity, of devotion to duty, of ﬁdelity and self abnegation been recited day in and day out in every Hindu household and yet it has not lost its appeal; it is as fresh as when it was first delivered by Valmiki, nay, it has an added appeal. Riding on the wings of poesy it has reached the places where even the rays of civilization dare not enter. From the grandest palaces down to the humblest huts it has been recited and has become the common property of all. Men and women, the young and old—all rejoice in it, for it is in it that they ﬁnd the image of their own heart. So it is no wonder that they have come to identify themselves with the heroes and heroines of this work. When Rama and Sita feels happy they too feel happy; when they feel unhappy and shed tears, they too feel likewise and shed tears. Such is the identity they have developed, such the communion! And herein lie the real secret of Valmiki’s success who knew the real art and the use to which it should be put. He was a real artist who used his pen for delineating his emotions and experiences.
(Source:- The Ramayana A linguistic Study by Satyavrat)