Ratnakara forgot the human and Divine qualities in him took recourse to demonic qualities to foster his family and became a wanderer. There should be a close association with Godly persons for Divinity to emerge in humans. There is current in the wire. Without the bulb you cannot see the manifestation of power. Current is there but its result is not known to us. When we fix the bulb only then can we see the current. Even in Ratnakara there was Divinity. After some time he came in the company of some great sages. When we are in good company, good qualities in others will become ours. That is why good teachings are very much essential. Then good qualities are very much fostered even in us. Good company is necessary. Tell me your company and I shall tell you what you are. Depending on the type of company we keep, we develop qualities. Among the seven sages, Sage Gautama spoke to Ratnakara. He said, “Son! You have taken the human form. What is the reason that you have taken recourse to demonic qualities?” Ratnakara replied, “Master my family is very big. Other than this, I didn’t know any other path.” There were no factories and industries in those times. People had to do hard work in order to earn their living. They had to plough the land and make a living. Mother cow and motherland were the reason for their living. The sage then said, “Mad man! Do you think for the sake of family you earn this money? Your family may take the wealth you earn, but the sin that has accrued to you will not be taken by them. They may take a share in your wealth but they cannot share your sins. Your wife and children are not going to share your sins.” Ratnakara was annoyed hearing this. He asked, “As they share my wealth they should also share my sins, is it not?” But Sage Gautama replied in the negative. Two people may sleep on the same cot. Cot is same, but dreams are different. Sleeping on same cot they should get the same dream, but it does not happen that way. That is ignorance. Gautama said, “Whatever you do, you will have to experience, not your wife and children.” Then Ratnakara asked the sage, “Will they really not share my sins?” Gautama said, “Go back and ask your wife and children whether they will share your sins.” Ratnakara went back home and asked his wife, “You and our children are going to share my wealth. For whose sake am I earning this wealth? For your sake only. In the same way you have to share my sins also.” The wife said, “Because you have married me, you have to take care of me. In whatever way you get your wealth is your duty. And our duty is to eat what you get. But sin or virtue is yours only. I didn’t ask you to kill people. I didn’t ask you to harm them. You are doing something which we have not asked you to do. Hence you have to experience the results yourself.” Generally wives will have better intelligence. Women have seven virtues but men have only three. They have better foresight. You might have read this even in the Bhagavad Gita. Generally women have more of discrimination, more of wisdom, more sense of enquiry. She explained to Ratanakara clearly, “Oh ignorant one! You do not understand what I have understood. Your virtues will not come to me and your sins also do not come to me. But I have a share in whatever wealth and property you acquire.” As he heard this, there was transformation in his mind. Why? It was because of the company of saints and the consequent enquiry. He came back and prostrated before the seven sages and said, “Ignorantly I have committed many sins, pardon me. For sustaining my family I did all these. I have killed many people and earned this money. My family will not share my sins. I repent for all these sins. I am happy that they will be happy without sharing my sins.” Gradually the wisdom within him emerged. By the Darshan and listening to the advice of great people, anyone can get transformed. That was the impact of Treta Yuga.
The Glory of Rama Nama
In the Kali Yuga, people don’t pay heed to the teachings of good people. Their minds do not change by the sight of good people. That is the impact of Kali Yuga. Even the mind of such a cruel person like Ratnakara changed. By the sight of noble people, sins are destroyed and one gets liberation. Whatever worries you have, they stop bothering you the moment Swami talks to you. By conversing with the Divine, you forget all your worries and troubles. But due to the impact of Kali Yuga, even that does not happen. The reason for this is that man is not able to remove the bad qualities in him. Ratnakara asked the sage, “How can I atone for my sins?” The sage replied, “You go on contemplating on the name of Rama.” Because of harming others, Ratnakara could not even pronounce the name of Rama. He started chanting each letter separately ‘Ra’ and ‘Ma’. He could not even chant that. He chanted as ‘Aa’ and ‘Ma’. Small children will chant ‘Lama’ instead of ‘Rama’. But Ratnakara could only say ‘Aama’.
What is the meaning of the word Rama? ‘Ra’ means the individual self and ‘Ma’ means Divinity. The combination of the individual and the Divine is Rama. The name of Rama indicates the individual and Divinity. In the Bhagavad Gita, there is the ‘Kshetra-Kshetrajna Vibhaga Yoga’. Kshetra means body, Kshetrajna is God. This is called ‘Akshara Brahma Swarupa’. Many think Akshara means letter. In Vedantic parlance Akshara means that which is imperishable. That which is perishable is also there and that which is imperishable is also there. Akshara therefore is the combination of both individual and God. ‘Aa’ means Atma, ‘Kshara’ means the one which is perishable. ‘Aa’ means imperishable and ‘Kshara’ means perishable. Both are there in the word. Transient and eternal, both are there in the word. Rama is the combination of both individual and Divine principle.
Among the seven sages, Vashishta came there and said, “Son you are not able to chant the name of Rama.” He had a sword in his hand. It had a wooden handle. A screw fitted both the iron sword and the wooden handle. He asked Ratnakara, “What is this?” Ratnakara said that was ‘Mara’, which meant a screw. Then Ratnakara started chanting ‘Mara’. He did this for many years. What will happen if you chant ‘Mara’ in great speed? He finally arrived at chanting Rama. ‘Mara’ got changed into ‘Rama’ and he lost body consciousness. Snakes built their mounds on his body. After sometime the seven sages came the same way. They heard the chanting of Rama Nama and they were wondering from where it was coming. They went and saw there. Except the sage everything was covered by mud because of the snakes. They called him Valmiki. He did not know the meaning of the word Valmiki. One who resided in an ant hill (Valmika) was called Valmiki. They called him by the name Ratnakara. He then opened his eyes. The seven sages told him to compose the Ramayana. Then onwards he had an Ashram for himself.
The name Valmiki was given by the seven sages. They called him Valmiki because he came from ant hill. Puttaparthi was called as Puttavardhini or Valmikipuram. That is how he was called Valmiki. Actually he never had any education. Because of chanting of Rama Nama, all his ignorance was dispelled. The feelings developed on their own. Nobody can prevent such feelings. He could not contain his feelings. He went on writing stanza after stanza. But the world got only few of the stanzas he composed.
Even Danavas (demons) recognised the greatness of Valmiki. They came to the human beings and wanted to know the inner significance of the name of Rama. They also wanted to know how many stanzas Valmiki had composed. The humans requested the Danavas, “Even we do not know. Let us go and approach Brahma.” The Danavas and Manavas (humans) went to the Devas. The Devas said, “We also do not know. We need not know because we are already in it. We got this form due to Rama only. We do not involve in any action. Only human beings will have to face the consequence of their Karma.” Then they went to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was continuously chanting the name of Rama. They went there and praised Lord Shiva in many ways. They praised Him as the One who is always happy. They said, “We surrender at your Lotus Feet.” They went on praising the Lord and surrendered at the Lotus Feet of the Lord. Lord Shiva said, “To what extent can you understand the Shlokas (verses)? Even if human beings struggle for one lakh years, they can’t know. You have to know by yourself. Danavas, Manavas and Devas are all same. All the Manavas, Danavas and Devas must equally share among yourselves the one lakh Shlokas.” They divided amongst themselves equally 33,333 Shlokas each. Now, one Shloka was left. So they counted the number of letters in the stanza. There were 11 letters. How to divide these 11 letters? They shared 3 letters each. They shared 33,333 stanzas and the 3 letters of the last stanza. At last 2 letters were leftover. How to share these 2 letters? Everything is present in those 2 letters. All the crores, lakhs and thousands of words and their meanings are hidden in these 2 letters. They are the two letters ‘Ra’ and ‘Ma’. All are one. ‘Hari’ has 2 letters, ‘Hara’ has 2 letters, ‘Krishna’ has 2 letters, ‘Sai’ has 2 letters. All have 2 letters. You can chant any name, but the Atma means the same. Brahma also means the same. All are the same. These 2 letters contain everything. The Devas, Danavas and Manavas prostrated before Lord Shiva. Then He said, “Even I chant this name. I always keep chanting Rama Nama.”
Source: The Glory of the Lord’s Name, Discourse 18, My Dear Students Volume 5; Divine Discourse delivered on December 7, 1995 at Prasanthi Nilayam