Over the centuries the two great epics, the Ramayanaand the Mahabharata, have had a tremendous impact on the life pattern and logic of governance in Bharatvarsha, i.e., India. Events and values upheld in these two epics are significant for the portrayal of all aspects of Dharma, set out in the Sastras, so much so that they serve as cornerstones for later laws and rules.
As early as 1980, the Publications Division, Ministry of Cultural affairs, decided to offer to the general reader authentic accounts of the life and works of great figures. As part of the effort, this booklet, Cultural Leaders of India--Valmikiand Vyasa, was brought out. It was reprinted in 1992.
Though the Ramayana is the most popular work in India, not much is clearly known about its author, says Kamala Ratnam, who has authored the write-up on Valmiki. She refers to the tales that mention Valmiki as a robber-turned scholar and to the point that he was a contempory of Rama. In the Uttara Kanda Valmiki refers to himself as the tenth son of Prachetas.Prachetas is another name for Varuna.
In this lucid write-up Kamala Ratnam, a critical writer and commentator on culture and civilisation, throws light on the legend of Valmiki and his enchanting narrative style. Drawing upon her vast knowledge of the scriptures and other sources and modern criticism, she gives a short critical appreciation of the Ramayanawith a literary flourish, underlining the genius of Valmiki.
Tattvãlokagives in the following pages edited extracts from her write-up.