I do not know how I recalled this story today, but what struck me (which I had not noticed earlier) today was how it has emphasized that ultimately everyone has to be responsible for his or her deeds in life. No society, no relatioships can every be enough of an excuse.
Chapter – V
The Story of Valmiki
Valmiki is the saint who is credited with having written the epic Ramayana. But he was not born and brought up as a scholar. His original name was Ratnakara and he was actually a robber. He would live in a jungle, and would rob the unfortunate people who happen to pass through his area. That’s how he earned a living for himself as well as his family consisting of his wife, parents and son. One day Saint Narada happened to pass by this Jungle. Ratnakara caught hold of him too. At this point Narada asked him as to why was he doing a thing like this and accumulating all the sin for himself. Ratnakara replied that it was his duty to earn livelihood for his family and they all will share his sin. Narada asked him if he was sure and why does he not ask them once. Ratnakara saw a trick in this and told Narada that he was trying to find a way to escape while he goes back to his family. Narada was straightforward and told Ratnakara that he could bind him to a tree while he goes back. Ratnakara agreed and went to his home. He asked his wife first as to whether she will share his sin. She outrightly refused saying that it was his duty to feed her and his family. How he does is not her concern; why should she share the sin then? Ratnakara was shocked. He still had hopes from his parents and son. But they all gave similar answers. Ratnakara had never imagined something like this. He went back to Narada, quite ashamed. He asked for his forgiveness and asked him to show him the right path. Narada asked him to just keep chanting Lord Rama’s name. But Ratnakara had never uttered the name of God in his whole life. He simply was unable to utter that name. Then Narada asked him to utter “maraa-maraa” instead, which when read backwards will be pronounced as “Rama”. So, when he would utter it repeatedly, he would end up uttering “Rama-Rama”. That’s what Valmiki did. Later he bacame a great Saint himself and wrote Ramayana (the story of Lord Rama).
The later part of the story is something I do not have much to tell about. But the point where everyone refuses to share Valmiki’s sin has the gist of the story according to me. The learning is not to give in to the pressures of the society while deciding on one’s own deeds. Ultimately one has to reap what one sows and the unit here is really the individual, not a group he or she may belong to.