Since today happens to be Valmiki Jayanti, I thought of sharing this beautiful story of transformation as told by Osho during one of his discourses. A robber and murderer Valya becomes Maharishi Valmiki.
“I would like to tell you a beautiful story. There was a man, thousands of years before. His name was Valmik; his profession was robbery. And if needed, he had no hesitation in killing people. If they resisted giving him their money, their valuable things, he had no hesitation for a single moment to kill them. He was a strong man.
At that time he was not known as Valmik, he was known as Valya Bhil — the bhils are aboriginal, primitive tribes. And who would call Valya Bhil “Valmik”? — because Valmik means the same, but becomes respectable. He was a robber and a murderer, and everybody knew it. It was very rare that people would pass through the forest where he lived. The road had almost become unusable, because whoever passed that way was going to be robbed or killed.
A musician, a poet, and a very beautiful man, Narada, who always, even while moving, continued to play on a very simple musical instrument — and remember, the more simple the instrument the more difficult it is to create great music out of it. He used to carry a simple instrument, an ektara — a one-stringed sitar. It is easy when there are many strings to create music, because you can create different notes on different strings.
The ektara has only one string — that is the meaning of ektara. Ek means one; tara means string. It has become almost the symbol of Narada. You will not find a statue or a painting of him without his ektara. He was a master musician, and a great poet — and perhaps the only man in India who knew the hilariousness of existence, who used to laugh….
When he was leaving, people told him: “Don’t go — otherwise you will lose your ektara. That Valya does not care who you are, and if you try to save your ektara you will lose your head. Better is to follow another route, although that route is a little longer.”
Narada said, “If I had not known I might have gone by the other route, but now it is a challenge, between Valya and Narada. I would love to see this man, who has made you all cowards, so afraid. Just a single man, and the whole traffic on the road has disappeared. Must be a lion, living in the forest… and thousands of people used to pass on this road. Now nobody goes there; the road is closed — not for repair!”
Narada went, because he trusted in music more than in the murderousness of a man. What kind of music it is that cannot transform the murderous animal instinct in a man?
Valya heard the music — it was enchanting, it had a magic. And when he saw Narada alone — with no weapons, with no possessions, just one ektara … the man was even more beautiful than his music. It has to be so, because the creator of anything is always greater than his creation; the creation cannot be greater than the creator. For the first time Valya felt hesitant, indecisive whether to let this beautiful man pass. But to make an exception would not be right — this was his fame, that nobody could pass on that road without being robbed or killed.
So he warned the great musician and seer: “I pray to you, go back. If you don’t go back I will have to take your possessions, whatever they are. If you resist you may lose your life. And I don’t want to do anything with you — neither do I want to take your instrument nor do I want to deprive you of life. And don’t say later on that I did not warn you.” But Narada went on playing on his ektara. And rather than going on the road he came and sat by the side of Valya, who was sharpening his sword. Narada said, “You are a beautiful man; but why do you do such a thing?”
He said, “What else can I do? I don’t have any education; I am an untouchable, the lowest and most condemned class of the Hindus. I cannot go to a temple, I cannot go in the city — but I have to look after my wife, my old mother, my father, my children.”
Narada said, “If that is the case, I would like to go to your home and ask everybody — you are committing things which are inhuman. Who is going to be punished for them? You are committing all those things for your old mother and father — ask them, `Will you share my punishment too?’ Ask your wife, ask your children: `Whatever I am doing I am doing for you — are you going to share my punishment?”‘Valya laughed, and he said, “You seem to be very clever and cunning! I will go home and you will disappear. Nobody can cheat Valya.”
Narada said, “There is no question of cheating. You can tie me with a rope to a tree — and you know nobody comes here; I will wait. And whatever you want to do after, you can do. But first bring me the answer.” He had never thought about it. He went home. He asked his father, mother, his wife, his children — nobody was ready to share the punishment. They said, “That is not our business. It is your responsibility to take care of your family; we are not concerned with how you are taking care. What you are doing is totally your responsibility.”
It was a great shock. He could not believe that the parents he loved so much, the wife he loved so much… his own children, for whom he was committing all kinds of crimes… flatly refused: “It is your duty to take care of us. The question of sharing in your punishment does not arise.”
He came back with tears in his eyes, untied Narada, touched his feet, and said, “Just by a single question you have transformed me. I don’t have a family. If they cannot share my punishment they don’t love me — I was living in an illusion. They loved all the money that I was bringing to them, but when the question of punishment was raised not a single one answered that `I will share with you.’ Now I don’t have any family.”And he threw his sword away in the forest and asked Narada, “Initiate me so that one day I can also feel the same music and the same poetry and the same joy that I see on your face.”
Narada said, “Much is not needed — just the name of God. You have to start chanting the name of God, RAM.”
This story is excerpted from the book The Messiah – Vol 1.
A few things to note – Osho says, the Ram mentioned here by Sage Narada is the name of God, not just the historical King Rama whose story Ramayana is written by Valmiki. Also it is said, that Maharishi Valmiki wrote the Ramayana BEFORE it happened and Bhagwan Rama had to follow his script. How fascinating.
This story of transformation of a robber into Maharishi Valmiki has huge learnings for us … an uneducated man can become a Maharishi who tutors Bhagwan Rama’s sons Lava and Kusha. What it tells us is that anyone can become a Sage, a learned Master, notwithstanding the circumstances of their birth. This is a very uplifting thought in a world fractured by misunderstood concepts from Hinduism.
Read an earlier blogpost about the transformation of Sage Valmiki – Osho – Ego, The only Sin…
Happy Valmiki Jayanti.