Srimad Valmiki Ramayanam
Baala Kaandam First Sarga
Summary of this sarga:
The prominent sage Valmiki asked the following question to Sage Narada, who came to his Ashrama. Who is Supreme among all?. Narada started answering to Valmiki. Sri Ramachandra is the Supreme person among all in the entire Universe. He is full of auspicious qualities. Answering this, Narada explained the entire Ramayana in a nutshell to Valmiki. Also explained in this Sarga, the benefits one can get by listening to Ramayana.
Thapaswadhyaya Niratham Thapaswi Vaagvidhaam varam |
Naaradham paripapracha vaalmikir muni pungavam ||
Sage Narada is the best among all in doing penance and Veda recitation. He knows and understands the meaning of the Vedas thoroughly. Valmiki was most happy in welcoming such pious Sage to his hut. He gave a grand reception and started asking above questions to Narada.
Valmiki got surprised and most happy on the visit of Narada to his hut. He gave a grand reception, made him sat in a place, and started asking his doubts. Answering to his questions, Narada started giving upadesha of Ramayana. The story of Ramayana which Narada explained to Valmiki and the benefits of hearing / reciting Ramayana is explained in this first sarga.
1. 'Thapaswadhyaayascha thapa: Swaadhyaayow thapa: Swaadhyaayayo: niratham thapaswadhyaaya niratham' is how the word is derived. Penance and Knowledge - Saga Narada is superior in these both is what we have to understand. According to a Veda script 'Swadhyayo Vedhathapayo:', Swadhyaya means Veda itself. As Penance and Knowledge, both are important properties, these two are explained in the beginning of the Kavya itself.
Thapo vidyacha viprascha nisreyasakaram param |
thapasa kalmasham hanthi vidhyayaa gnanamasnuthe ||
Penance and Knowledge these two very important tools to a Brahmin for attaining Mukthi. By doing penance, he eliminates his own bad qualities. By attaining good knowledge, he becomes a scholar.
2. There is another meaning for the word Penance. It means Knowledge. It came from the sentence 'Thapa Alochane' and also as Veda says 'yasya gnanamayam thapa:' - we can conclude that Penance means Knowledge. Swadhyaaya means Veda. Hence, from these, we can say that Narada is supreme in Knowledge and Veda rendition.
3. The Veda sentence 'Thapo hi Swadhyaya:' explains that Veda rendition is itself a Penance. In another place, 'Swadhyayo veda japayo:', Swadhyaya word means Japa. Hence as per 'Swadhyaayaad maa pramadha' (Taittriya Upanishad) and 'Vedameva Japannithyam', Sage Narada is superior in Veda rendition and in doing Japa.
4. 'Thapasvena Srutha: Swadhyaya: Thapa:Swadhyaaya:' As per this sentence, we can say, Narada was doing the Veda rendition itself as a Penance. By calling him as Munipungava, Valmiki meant that Narada is the prominent person in doing Penance. By meaning Penance here, we should assume it is Swadyaya only. 'Thapascha Swadyayascha Thapaswadyaayau' - We should not assume both are different words. As per the sentence 'Vakvidhaam varam' - One who learns the Veda, recites them but later does not teaches the same to others, his knowledge is of no use.
Yadhatheethama vigyatham nigathenyaiva shapthaithe |
anagnaaviva shushkaitho na thajvalathi garhichith ||
Even if the wood is dry, the bonfire which is putdown, will not burn it. Similarly, one who learns the Veda - just by byhearting & without understanding its inner meaning; If he teaches the same to others - it does not serve the real purpose. Such people will not be possessing any powers also. Moreover, whatever they learnt is considered as waste. Hence, one should teach others whatever the knowledge they possess. He is mentioning that Sage Narada is the best in teaching others, by the words 'Vagvidham param'. 'Anadhinidhana hyesha vaguthsrudva swayambuva' - this sentence uses 'vaag' as Veda; and explains one who teaches Veda is known as Vagvidhar. Narada is the best among this.
5. The word 'Vaag' also means Grammar. It says Narada is knowledgeable in all the six parts of Veda and hence Narada is called as 'Vagvisharadha'.
1. One who has good thoughts. Narada is excellent in this.
2. Muni means Scholar. Narada is the best among all the scholars.
Thapa:Swadyaya niratham means Hearing. Vaagvidham means Thinking. Munipungava means Feeling. Hence it implies that Narada is best in all these three - Hearing, Thinking & Feeling.
The word 'Naara' can mean both Knowledge and Ignorance. Naaram = One who gives Knowledge is called as Narada. Naaram = One who corrects the Ignorance is called as Narada.
In the veda sentence 'Tho avakandane', Tho means 'destroying everything'. The Ignorance of people is called as 'Naara'. The person who destroys this ignorance is called as 'Narada'.
The message of Narada destroying / removing the ignorance of people is explained in Narada Purana as follows.
Gaayan Naraayanakathaam sadhaa maayapayaapahaam |
Naaradho naashayannethi nrunaam agyaanajam thama: ||
Narada was always singing the praise of Narayana - who removes the fear and ignorance of people. He also removed the ills raised out of ignorance. Hence we can say that he justified his name Narada very well.
The important point to be noted here is:
According to Upanishad saying 'Tham yadha yadha upasathe thadheva bavathi', Narada always praises Lord Narayana as the one who removes the ignorance and fear of the people. Hence, Narada himself got the above skills of Lord Narayana.
Knowledge related to the people is called Nara. Whoever gives that knowledge is called as Narada. Hence, Narada is considered as Guru of all beings.
3. Vedavyasa said this in Mahabharatha.
Naratheethi nara: proktha: paramathma sanathana: |
cha eva naara: tham thadhatheeth upadhishatheethi naarathaStham ||
Narathi = One who gives salvation. Hence Srihari is called as Nara. One who preaches / spreads SriHari's teachings is called as Narada.
'Narathi sathgathim praapayathi ithi narada:' He gives salvation hence he is called as Narada.
1. Thapasvi = This word explains the qualities of Valmiki. 'Thapa: asya astheethi thapasvi' is sanskrit grammar. One who has done rigirous penance - is the meaning.
2. One who has done all the primary and secondary penances - is the other meaning. As per the saying of veda 'Manasascha indriyaanascha ekagram paramam thapa:', the meaning of penance is controlling the mind and all the organs and senses. 'kruchra chandrayana ekadasi upavasam' is an important penance. One who completed both the above penances is called as Valmiki.
'valmikasya apathyam valmiki' is the sanskrit grammar. He was born from the snakepit and hence he got the name Valmiki. As per Vishnu purana, he was born to Brugu rishi. It says 'Puthrobooth bargavas thasmath valmikir yopidheeyathe'. Even Ramayana says Valmiki is the son of Brugu rishi - 'Bhargavenethi samskruthau bhargavena thapasvina'. But it also says in another place as Valmiki is of Prachesa's son - 'Chakre prachethasa: puthrastham brahmapyanva manyathe'. Another evidence also there for this as 'Vedha: Prachethasaadhaseeth'. When so much evidence is there, why should be say that Valmiki born from Snakepit? Here is how we can give a convincing answer.
Varuna who is also known as Prachethasa, brought Valmiki up from Snakepit, by giving more rainfall. Hence we can say both that he is born from snakepit and also Prachethasa's son. Moreover, since he was born through Brugu rishi, we can say he is Brugu's son.
From these explanations, we can say Valmiki had all the auspicious qualities such as sama, dhama etc. and Hence, Valmiki is well qualified to do Ramayana upadesa to all.
'pariprachcha' - He asked the questions in very polite manner. As it said 'Thath vigyanartham sa gurumeva abigacheth', we can presume Valmiki invited Narada as per the rules, treated him as his Guru, and then asked him questions.