Valmiki Jayanti marks the birth anniversary of the great Sanskrit poet and author Maharishi Valmiki who wrote the legendary ancient epic ‘Ramayana’. As per Hindu lunar calendar, his Jayanti is celebrated on full moon day which is known as Ashwin Purnima. This year Valmiki Jayanti will be observed on October 5. Ramayana, written by this great sage consists of 24,000 shlokas and 7 cantos (kaṇḍas) including Uttara Kanda.  The day is also referred to as Pragat Diwas.

Here are 8 things you need to know about Maharishi Valmiki:

  1. Valmiki composed ‘Ramayana’ and taught the song and story to Lava and Kusha. Lava and Kusha sang the story before Rama very sweetly; Rama did not know that they were own sons. It is remarkable that Sri Rama himself listened to the story of the Ramayana’ and was pleased.
  2. Valmiki’s ‘Ramayana’ is called ‘Adikavya’ as it is the first poem in Sanskrit therefore Valmiki is also referred as ‘Adikavi’ which means the first poet.
  3. Valmiki’s real name is Ratnakara
  4. Valmiki was a hunter but after marriage it became very difficult for Ratnakara to provide food and clothing to his large family. So he opted for robbery, he began to attack people going from one village to another.
  5. Valmiki in the only person in ancient India, who is a scholar both in Sanskrit and Tamil
  6. Rama met Valmiki during his exile period making him Ram’s contemporary.
  7. Valmiki provided shelter to Sita in his hermitage after Rama banished her.
  8. India is home to several Valmiki temples but the most prominent one is perhaps the one in Chennai. The Valmiki temple in Thiruvanmiyur in Chennai is believed to be around 1300 years old. It stands on the East Coast Road in the aptly named Valmiki Nagar. Legend has it that after writing the epic Ramayana, Maharishi Valmiki rested at the spot where the Valmiki temple now stands.