Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Robber's Repentance

The Ramayana is the earliest epic of India. It depicts the biography, victory and virtues of Lord Rama, the great Emperor of Ayodhya in India.

It describes his exile, war with the evil Ravana, his victorious return to Ayodhya and exemplary rule as the emperor and embodiment of all the virtues of an ideal person. It upholds the importance of love, loyalty, values of life and human relationships. Its theme is the ultimate victory of good over evil. It was composed by the great sage Valmiki and is regarded as the first poem in human history.

There is a popular legend about the early life of Valmiki.

Before becoming a sage, Valmiki was a cruel robber by name Ratnakara. He used to plunder the travellers to support his family. One day a great sage, Narada passed through the path in a forest. Ratnakara sprang upon him to rob his belongings. The sage asked him, “Why do you attack travellers and rob them? “ To support my family”, he replied. The sage asked again, “Will your family share with you, your sin and its consequences?” He was not sure. So he went home and asked his family members. They declined, saying, “Everyone has to suffer the consequences of his own sin - alone.”

Hearing these words, the robber was transformed.

He sought the sage’s advice to do penance for his cruel and sinful actions in the past. The sage suggested that he should perform penance by practising austerities and praying in the deep forest repeating the name of the Lord. The sage left after blessing him. He abstained from food and water, focused his mind on God and remained in deep meditation, totally oblivious of the world around him. Years passed. Termites (white ants) built a huge termite-mound (ant-hill) around him. After several years, the sage returned through the same path. The sage heard the soft chanting but could not find him. So he broke the termitarium (ant-hill) and brought out the transformed Ratnakara with long hair and beard. Ratnakara became a great sage. He came to be known as ‘Valmiki’ as the word ‘Valmikam’ means ant-hill in Sanskrit. He became a strong devotee of the Lord and composed the historic epic Ramayana which is recited with great reverence in the Hindu homes of India.

During religious instruction, information is imbibed to induce formation and transformation. True transformation should affect the ‘Head, Heart, Hands and Habits’ of a person. His concepts, convictions, opinions, emotions, attitude, actions,behaviour and life-style should be refined.

God will not reject a humble and repentant heart.

We should no longer be the slaves of sin. Let us enjoy the free gift of God - eternal life in union with God.


© By Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016,Kerala, India and Leo. S. John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath,Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507,Kerala, India.

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