Chapter 2 — Reason for Writing the Ramayana

Salutation to the Lord, the Universal Soul, shining manifest in heaven, earth and the sky, and both within and without myself.

He is entitled to read this work who is convinced that he is bound, who desires his liberation, and who is neither wholly ignorant of nor quite conversant with divine knowledge. The wise man, who has well considered this work as the first step, and then comes to think on the means of liberation, truly shall be exempt from rebirth.

Valimiki speaking to King Arishtanemi:—

Know, O destroyer of your enemies, that I have written the history of Rama in the Ramayana as a preparatory step to salvation. I gave that history to my attentive pupil, the obedient and intelligent Bharadwaja, as the sea yields its gems to their seeker. The learned Bharadwaja repeated the history of the Ramayana in the presence of Brahma, seated in a certain forest of the Sumeru Mountain. Lord Brahma, the great grandfather of the inhabitants of the three worlds, was so highly pleased with him that he addressed him saying, “O my son! Ask the best boon that you wish for.”

Bharadwaja said, “O lord who is master of the past and future times, grant me the boon of telling me how people are liberated from their miseries.”

Brahma said, “Go ask your teacher Valmiki to complete the faultless Ramayana that he has undertaken to write. 10 By hearing this work, men will overcome their many errors in the same way as the bridge that was built by Rama, who was filled with all good qualities, allowed men to cross the sea (to Lanka).”

11 Valmiki said:—

Saying this, Brahma, the supreme maker of all beings, accompanied Bharadwaja to my hermitage. 12 I eagerly welcomed the god with the argha offerings of water and the like, when the lord of truth spoke to me for the good of all creatures. 13 Brahma said, “Do not, O sage, give up your undertaking until its final completion. No pain ought to be spared to make the history of Rama as faultless as it ought to be. 14 By this work of yours men will pass over this repetitive history of the world (samsara) in the same manner as one crosses the sea in a vessel.”

15 Again, the uncreated Brahma said to me, “I come to tell you this very thing, that you complete the work for the benefit of mankind.” 16 Then, O king, in a moment the god disappeared from my sacred hermitage, just as a wave subsides in water.

17 I was struck with wonder at the god’s disappearance, then composing my mind, I asked Bharadwaja, 18 “Tell me, Bharadwaja, what did Brahma tell me in the hermitage?”

Bharadwaja answered, 19 “The god commanded you to complete the Ramayana for the good of men and as a means for them to cross over the gulf of the world. 20 Now sir,” continued Bharadwaja, “explain to me how the great minded Rama and his brother Bharata conducted themselves amidst the troubles of this world. 21 Tell me also how Satrughna, Lakshman and the renowned Sita, and all those who followed Rama, and also the ministers and their highly intelligent sons, conducted themselves on earth. 22 Tell me clearly how they escaped all the miseries of this world so that I may do the same for the rest of mankind.”

23 Being thus respectfully addressed by Bharadwaja, I was led, O great king, to carry out the request of my lord Brahma and narrate the Ramayana to him. I said, 24 “Listen, my son Bharadwaja. I will tell you all that you have asked. By hearing, you will become able to cast away the impurity of errors. 25 You are wise and you have to manage yourself in the manner of the blissful and lotus-eyed Rama, with a mind free from worldly attachments.”

26 “It was by this means that Lakshman, Bharata, the great minded Satrughna, Kausalya, Sita, Sumitra, as well as Dasharata, 27 with Kritastra and the two friends of Rama, and Vasishta and Vamadeva, and the eight ministers of state as well as many others reached the summit of knowledge. 28 The eight ministers of Rama — Dhrishta, Jayanta, Bhasa, Satya, Vijaya, Vibishanah, Sushena and Hanumana, and also Indrajita 29 — are said to have been equally dispassionate in their minds and content with what was their lot. They were great souls, free in their lives.”

30 “Well my son, if you follow the manner in which these men observed sacrificial rites, gave and received their offerings, and how they lived and thought, you are at once freed from the turmoil of life. 31 One fallen in this boundless ocean of the world may enjoy the bliss of liberation by the magnanimity of his soul. He shall not come across grief or destitution, but shall remain ever satisfied by being freed from the fever of anxiety.”