Valmiki composed 24,000 verses and taught them to Lava and Kusha, the sons of Rama and Sita. The two youngsters sang the ballad among the assemblages of sages and saints, and won laurels. Rama on seeing the boys singing on the streets and king’s ways of Ayodhya, brings them to his palace, and summons all his brothers and ministers to listen to the ballad. Rama himself is put to the turmoil, for the ballad sung by these youngsters narrates the legend of Sita. But he himself collecting his calm, Rama paid his attention to listen the ‘Legend of Sita’ sithaayaH charitam mahaanas Valmiki calls Ramayana.
प्राप्त राज्यस्य रामस्य वाल्मीकिर् भगवान् ऋषिः |
चकार चरितम् कृत्स्नम् विचित्र पदम् अर्थवत् || १-४-१
chakaara charitam kR^it.hsnam vichitra padam arthavat || 1-4-1
The godly saint Valmiki composed Ramayana on Rama’s retrieving kingdom, wording admirably and meaningfully. [1-4-1].
चतुर् विंशत् सहस्राणि श्लोकानाम् उक्तवान् ऋषिः |
तथा सर्ग शतान् पंच षट् काण्डानि तथा उत्तरम् ||१-४-२
tathaa sarga shataan paMcha shhaT kaaNDaani tathaa uttaram ||1-4-2
Sage Valmiki said Ramayana in twenty four thousand verses, in six hundred chapters, in six books, likewise an end-piece too. [1-4-2]
The twenty-four are the letters in Gayatri hymn. Ramayana’s scheming is based on Gayatri hymn and for this: atra catur vi~Nshati sa~Nkhyo uktyaa catur vi~Nshati akShara gaayatrii tulyataa suucitam | prathama adhyaaye – tapaH svaadhyaaya – ityatra prathamam ta kaarasya – sargapraante – iti etasmin padye – mahatva miiyaat — ityatra yaat – iti akSharasya grahaNaat api gayatrii ruupatvam suucitam – dharmaakuutam
There is a controversy about the number of verses and cantos. If Uttara Ramayana, otherwise called abhudaya kaanDa , is ascribed to Valmiki, the cantos are seven and chapters are about 649 and verses are about 24,253. But some verses and chapters are deleted for standardization of Ramayana as per this verse and they contain 560 chapters and 24,00 verses only. Some argue that when it is said 24, 000 verses are there, it does not actually a mathematical assertion, like the calculation of mahaa yuga -s and manvantara -s, and as one would give a reply to his age as 30 years, or 60 years, but not as 29 years, 6 months, seven days or so… In furthering that standardization affair, some said that even this canto, Bala kaanda is not authored by Valmiki. It is not clear as of now when the pundits can decide as to which is standard and which is not.
The transcendental aspect of Ramayana and its content is explained in 18 terms by ancient commentator Govindaraja. 1] Rama’s Absoluteness, paramaatma tattva ; 2] Ideation to know Him, upaaya ; 3] Dedication in Him, kainkarya ; 4] Human aspect, puruSaakaara ; 5] Diviner, adhikaara ; 6] Resolve in God, adhikaara paaratantrya ; 7] God’s resolve in Dedicate, bhagavat paaratantrya ; 8] Knowledge of five Meanings, artha pancaka GYaana ; 9] Self-denial, akincinatvam ; 10] Teacher selecting, aacaarya varaNam ; 11] Climax, autkaNThata ; 12] Behaviour, pravartana ; 13] Residence, vaasa sthaana ; 14] Two Narayana hymns, naaraayaNa mantra dvaya ; 15] Gayatri, Gayatri hymn; 16] Negating negative-thinking, durvicaara parihaara ; 17] negating Love for Living, samsaara jihaasa ; 18] 64 Divinely Arts, catuSaSTi kalamayatva . Of them we take up the15thGayatri.
The identification of Gayatri with Ramayana scheme is explained in many ways. By tat savitR^i the features and attributes of the Absolute as per narrations in Bala Kanda. vareNya by the narration of Absolute’s attributes in Ayodhya and Kishkindha kaanda-s, and adherents like Lakshmana, Bharata, Sugreeva take shelter in Him here only. bharga is identified as per the description of resplendence of The Divine as envisaged by the sages and hermits in Aranya Kanda. devasya and in dhiimahi where that deva the Divine is explained by Hanuma, not only to Seetha but to all in Sundara kanda. hi dhii mahi is as explained in Uttara Kanda, which centers around moksha salvation..
कृत्वा तु तन् महाप्राज्ञः स भविष्यम् सह उत्तरम् |
चिन्तयामास कोन्वेतत् प्रयुंजीयाद् इति प्रभुः ||१-४-३
chintayaamaasa konvetat prayuMjiiyaad iti prabhuH ||1-4-3
Though that great scholar composed thus with leading and sequel legends, that godly saint thought over thus ‘really, who will render all this ballad…’ [1-4-3].
तस्य चिन्तयामानस्य महर्षेर् भावितात्मनः |
अगृह्णीताम् ततः पादौ मुनि वेषौ कुशी लवौ || १-४-४
agR^ihNiitaam tataH paadau muni veShau kushii lavau || 1-4-4
Then Lava and Kusha who are in the attire of hermits have touched the feet of that contemplative soul Valmiki, who is now thoughtful. [1-4-4].
कुशी लवौ तु धर्मज्ञौ राज पुत्रौ यशश्विनौ |
भ्रातरौ स्वर संपन्नौ ददर्श आश्रम वासिनौ || १-४-५
bhraatarau svara saMpannau dadarsha aashrama vaasinau || 1-4-5
Glorious Kusha and Lava are the virtue knowing princes, and they are endowed with melodious voice, besides being the residents of the same hermitage, thus Valmiki saw them saluting at his feet. [1-4-5].
स तु मेधाविनौ दृष्ट्वा वेदेषु परिनिष्टितौ |
वेदोपबृंहणार्थाय तौ अग्राहयत प्रभुः || १-४-६
vedopabR^iMhaNaarthaaya tau agraahayata prabhuH || 1-4-6
On seeing that pair intellectuals who are proficient in Veda-s that self-reliant sage Valmiki made those two to memorize the epic, as the epic Ramayana is composed only to reinforce the import of Veda-s, as an ancillary. [1-4-6].
काव्यम् रामायणम् कृत्स्नम् सीतायाः चरितम् महत् |
पौलस्त्य वधम् इति एवम् चकार चरित व्रतः || १-४-७
paulastya vadham iti evam chakaara charita vrataH || 1-4-7
That sage with observed sacred vows has rendered the entire epic in the name of ‘Ramayana’, ‘Sublime Legend of Seetha’ and ‘elimination of Ravana’. [1-4-7]
Seetha’s conduct is the primary aspect and Ravana’s elimination is secondary in the epic of Ramayana. poulasthya vadha . Giving one to many names to poem/epics is usual as in maagha kaavya’ which is known as shishupaala vadha whereas it is actually kR^ishNa carita ..
पाठ्ये गेये च मथुरम् प्रमाणैः त्रिभिर् अन्वितम् |
जातिभिः सप्तभिः युक्तम् तन्त्री लय समन्वितम् ||१-४-८
jaatibhiH saptabhiH yuktam tan.htrii laya samanvitam ||1-4-8
To read or to sing it is melodious, adaptable to music with three scales and sevenfold tune, and orchestral to the tunes of string-instrument and rhythm included… [1-4-8]
The three Indian scale pauses are dR^ita, madhyama, vilambita . These though not equal but identical to Breve, Minim and Quaver of Western classical music. The seven fold classifications of swara-s are 1] shadja  madhyama  gaandhara  niSaada  R^iSabha  dhaitava  pa~nchama . These are roughly identical to Accelerando, Calando, Decresando, Smorzando, Sostentuo, and others of Western classical music..
रसैः शृंगार करुण हास्य रौद्र भयानकैः |
विरादिभी रसैर् युक्तम् काव्यम् एतत् अगायताम् ||१-४-९
viraadibhii rasair yuktam kaavyam etat agaayataam ||1-4-9
Aesthetics like romance, pathos, comic, fury, fright, valour etc., embodying the epic is sung [by Kusha, Lava.] [1-4-9]
The Indian categorization of aesthetics rasaa -s is in nine emotions. sR^ingaa [romance] haasa , [humour] shoka , [grief] krodha , [fury] utsaaha , [enthusiasm, bravery] bhaya , [fright] jugupsa , [disgust] vismaya [amaze.] Again sR^ingaara is of two kinds – a] sambhoga , [being with his/her partner,] b] vipralamba [not being with his/her partner.]
Rama’s togetherness with Seetha from Bala Kanda till her abduction is the first category of romance. After her departure and until regain, it is second sort of romantic narration. Episodes of Surpanakha, Trijata are humorous. Those of Dasharatha, Jatayu etc., are of grievous nature. Killing, torturing etc., situations arouse furiousness. Lakshmana, Indrjit and others are showing bravery. Seeing ugly demons either in forests or those that surround Seetha is causing fright. The very sight of ugly bodied demons like Viradha, Kabandha is creating disgust. Hanuma’s leaping ocean, burning Lanka, and the entire Rama-Ravana war are amazing.
तौ तु गान्धर्व तत्त्वज्ञौ स्थान मूर्च्छन कोविदौ |
भ्रातरौ स्वर संपन्नौ गन्धर्वाः इव रूपिणौ || १-४-१०
bhraatarau svara saMpannau gandharvaaH iva ruupiNau || 1-4-10
They are conversant with the art of music and proficient with the pitch and pausing their voices, and those two brothers have not only a wealthy voice, but they also look like celestial singers. [1-4-10]
The gandharva-s are celestial beings with adorable personalities and performers of all kinds of performing arts. Hence, Indian musical art is termed as gaandhava vidya ..
रूप लक्षण संपन्नौ मधुर स्वर भाषिणौ |
बिंबात् इव उथीतौ बिंबौ राम देहात् तथा अपरौ || १-४-११
biMbaat iva uthiitau biMbau raama dehaat tathaa aparau || 1-4-11
They have charm in their appearance and melodiousness in their voice, they are like the two reflections of one original object, and thus they came out from the body of Rama, separately. [1-4-11]
Vishnu’s reflection is Rama, and Kusha, Lava are two reflections of Rama, and thus, in turn, these two princes are adorable like Vishnu, as in bimba-pratibimba nyaaya , image-reflection syndrome..
तौ राज पुत्रौ कार्त्स्न्येन धर्ंयम् आख्यानम् उत्तमम् |
वाचो विधेयम् तत् सर्वम् कृत्वा काव्यम् अनिन्दितौ || १-४-१२
vaacho vidheyam tat sarvam kR^itvaa kaavyam aninditau || 1-4-12
They the princes have memorized that virtue-expounding epic, the best; in its entirety and in doing so, they rendered that epic faultlessly. [1-4-12].
ऋषीणाम् च द्विजातीनाम् साधूनाम् च समागमे |
यथा उपदेशम् तत्त्वज्ञौ जगतुः तौ समाहितौ || १-४-१३
yathA upadesham tattvaGYau jagatuH tau samaahitau || 1-4-13
They sung the epic as schooled, well aware of its content and intent, among the assemblages of sages, scholars and also of eminent persons, with their best concentration [1-4-13].
महात्मनौ महाभागौ सर्व लक्ष्ण लक्षितौ |
तौ कदाचित् समेतानाम् ऋषीणाम् भवित आत्मनाम् || १-४-१४
मध्ये सभम् समीपस्थौ इदम् काव्यम् अगायताम् |
tau kadaachit sametaanaam R^ishhiiNaam bhavita aatmanaam || 1-4-14
madhye sabham samiipasthau idam kaavyam agaayataam |
Once those two great-souls who endowed with musical talent and with all remarkable features, sung this epic, standing nearby the midst of a gathering of sages and pious souls. [1-4-14-15a].
तत् श्रुत्वा मुनयः सर्वे बाष्प पर्याकुलेक्षणाः || १-४-१५
साधु साध्विति ता ऊचुः परम् विस्मयम् आगताः |
saadhu saadhviti taa uuchuH param vismayam aagataaH |
On hearing that, the eyes of all the sages were overspread with tears of happiness, and they appreciated saying, ‘splendid, splendid is this…’ [1-4-15b-16a].
ते प्रीत मनसः सर्वे मुनयो धर्म वत्सलाः || १-४-१६
प्रशशंसुः प्रशस्तव्यौ गायमानौ कुशी लवौ |
prashashaMsuH prashastavyau gaayamaanau kushii lavau |
All those saints being the saint-patrons of virtue are pleased at heart, and praised the praiseworthy Kusha and Lava, while they are singing. [1-4-16b-17a].
अहो गीतस्य माधुर्यम् श्लोकानाम् च विशेषतः || १-४-१७
चिरनिर्वृत्तम् अपि एतत् प्रत्यक्षम् इव दर्शितम् |
chiranirvR^ittam api etat pratyaksham iva darshitam |
“The melody of the ballad, especially the meaning of verses, aha! Superb… though this has happened long-ago it is shown like the one happening presently… [1-4-17b-18a].
प्रविश्य ता उभौ सुष्ठु तथा भावम् अगायताम् || १-४-१८
सहितौ मधुरम् रक्तम् संपन्नम् स्वर संपदा |
sahitau madhuram raktam saMpannam svara saMpadaa |
“On getting into the mood of the epic, those two sang its import in one tune, that too melodiously and rapturously, marinating the pitch and tune…” So said the saints. [1-4-18b-19a].
एवम् प्रशस्यमानौ तौ तपः श्लाघ्यैः महर्षिभिः || १-४-१९
संरक्ततरम् अत्यर्थम् मधुरम् तौ अगायताम् |
saMraktataram atyartham madhuram tau agaayataam |
While the great saints of blessed ascesis are appreciating that way, those two melodiously sang very effectually and very meaningfully. [1-4-19b-20a].
प्रीतः कश्चिन् मुनिः ताभ्याम् संस्थितः कलशम् ददौ || १-४-२०
प्रसन्नो वल्कलम् कश्चिद् ददौ ताभ्याम् महायशाः |
prasanno valkalam kashchid dadau taabhyaam mahaayashaaH |
And someone, a pleased saint, got up and bestowed a handy vessel to them… another reputed sage, lauding them contributed a jute robe. [1-4-20b-21a].
अन्यः कृष्णाजिनम् अदद् यज्ञ सूत्रम् तथा अपरः || १-४-२१
कश्चित् कमण्डलुम् प्रदान् मौञ्जीम् अन्यो महामुनिः |
ब्रुसीमन्यः तदा प्रादत् कौपीनम् अपरो मुनिः || १-४-२२
ताभ्याम् ददौ तदा हृष्टः कुठारम् अपरो मुनिः |
काषायम् अपरो वस्त्रम् चीरम् अन्यो ददौ मुनिः || १-४-२३
जटाबन्धनम् अन्यः तु काष्ठ रज्जुम् मुदान्वितः |
यज्ञ भाण्डम् ऋषिः कश्चित् काष्ठभारम् तथा परः || १-४-२४
औदुम्बरीम् ब्रुसीम् अन्यः स्वस्ति केचित् तदा अवदन् |
आयुष्यम् अपरे प्राहुर् मुदा तत्र महर्षयः || १-४-२५
ददुः च एवम् वरान् सर्वे मुनयः सत्यवादिनः |
kashchit kamaNDalum pradaan mau~njiim anyo mahaamuniH |
brusiimanyaH tadaa praadat kaupiinam aparo muniH || 1-4-22
taabhyaam dadau tadaa hR^iShTaH kuThaaram aparo muniH |
kaaShaayam aparo vastram chiiram anyo dadau muniH || 1-4-23
jaTaabandhanam anyaH tu kaaShTha rajjum mudaanvitaH |
yaGYa bhaaNDam R^iShiH kashcit kaaShThabhaaram tathaa paraH || 1-4-24
audumbariim brusiim anyaH svasti kechit tadaa avadan |
aayuShyam apare praahur mudaa tatra maharShayaH || 1-4-25
daduH cha evam varaan sarve munayaH satyavaadinaH |
And another sage bestowed a black-deerskin, and like that yet another a sacred thread… someone gave a water-pot and another great saint a girdle of maunja grass to singers, while that way another contributed an under cloth; another sage gladly contributed a hatchet to them, another a saffron clothe, and yet another saint bestowed a cloth-wrapper; another delivered tuft-headband also, and another enchanted for their singing ballad handed out a sacrificial vessel, and another a bundle of firewood sticks, and yet another gave a plank-seat of audambari wood, and other called forth blessings, and someone then happily chanted bless-hymns for longevity… there by all the truth-avowing saints, those that are great sages have thus bestowed boons. [1-4-21b-26a].
आश्चर्यम् इदम् आख्यानम् मुनिना संप्रकीर्तितम् || १-४-२६
परम् कवीनाम् आधारम् समाप्तम् च यथा क्रमम् |
param kaviinaam aadhaaram samaaptam cha yathaa kramam |
“Surprising is this well-said rendering of Valmiki… it is the subsistence for tomorrow’s poets… and this is completed sequentially, as well… [1-4-26b-27a].
अभिगीतम् इदम् गीतम् सर्व गीतेषु कोविदौ || १-४-२७
आयुष्यम् पुष्टि जननम् सर्व श्रुति मनोहरम् |
प्रशस्यमानौ सर्वत्र कदाचित् तत्र गायकौ || १-४-२८
रथ्यासु राज मार्गेषु ददर्श भरताग्रजः |
aayuShyam pushhTi jananam sarva shruti manoharam |
prashasyamaanau sarvatra kadaachit tatra gaayakau || 1-4-28
rathyaasu raaja maargeshhu dadarsha bharataagrajaH |
While this song that generates longevity and prosperity, and one that is melodious one to all ears is being sung everywhere in streets and king’s ways and while those two singers who are experts in singing any kind of music are being appreciated everywhere, Rama has seen them. [1-4-27b-29a].
स्व वेश्म च आनीय ततो भ्रातरौ स कुशी लवौ || १-४-२९
पूजयामास पुज अर्हौ रामः शत्रुनिबर्हणः |
puujayaamaasa puja arhau raamaH shatrunibarhaNaH |
Then on seeing them Rama, the enemy-eliminator, fetched those honour-worthy bothers, Lava and Kusha, to his palace and honoured them. [1-4-29b-30a].
आसीनः कांचने दिव्ये स च सिंहासने प्रभुः || १-४-३०
उपोपविष्टैः सचिवैः भ्रातृभिः च समन्वित |
upopaviShTaiH sachivaiH bhraatR^ibhiH cha samanvita |
He that king Rama is then surrounded by his ministers and brothers that are sitting his nearby, he himself sat on a divine golden throne. [1-4-30b-31a].
दृष्ट्वा तु रूप संपन्नौ विनीतौ भ्रातरौ उभौ || १-४-३१
उवाच लक्ष्मणम् रामः शत्रुघ्नम् भरतम् तथा |
uvaacha lakshmaNam raamaH shatrughnam bharatam tathaa |
Having seen the mannerly brothers endowed with beautiful features, Rama spoke to Lakshmana, and Shatrughna, and Bharata likewise. [1-4-31b-32a].
श्रूयताम् एतद् आख्यानम् अनयोः देव वर्चसोः || १-४-३२
विचित्रार्थ पदम् संयक् गायकौ समचोदयत् |
vichitraartha padam saMyak gaayakau samachodayat |
Rama said to thus, “Let this ballad be keenly heard from these divinely resplendent brothers, for it contains versatile words and meanings…’ and thus he motivated the singers. [1-4-32b-33a].
तौ च अपि मधुरम् रक्तम् स्वचित्तायत निःस्वनम् || १-४-३३
तन्त्री लयवत् अत्यर्थम् विश्रुतार्थम् अगायताम् |
tan.htrii layavat atyartham vishrutaartham agaayataam |
Even those two singers have sung the ballad melodiously and effectually, with their clear and clarified voices, like the melody of string and rhythmic instruments, with very clear and meaningful intonation. [1-4-33b-c].
ह्लादयत् सर्व गात्राणि मनांसि हृदयानि च |
श्रोत्राश्रय सुखम् गेयम् तद् बभौ जनसंसदि || १-४-३४
shrotraashraya sukham geyam tad babhau janasaMsadi || 1-4-34
Enthralling courtier’s bodies, minds and hearts also, and thus that song sone forth as it is for all ears, bearing a comfort in its manifestation, among the gathering of the people. [1-4-34].
इमौ मुनी पार्थिव लक्षणान्वितौ
कुशी लवौ च एव महातपस्विनौ |
ममा अपि तद् भूति करम् प्रचक्षते
महानुभावम् चरितम् निबोधत || १-४-३५
kushii lavau cha eva mahaatapasvinau |
mamaa api tad bhuuti karam prachakshate
mahaanubhaavam charitam nibodhata || 1-4-35
“These two saint-like Kusha and Lava, who also possess kingly features, but they are great hermits… this narration is endowing good fortune to me also, listen to that great efficacious legend [of Seetha…]” [So said Rama to those courtiers.] [1-4-35]
Here Rama tells that this legend is ‘efficacious’ for it is the legend of Seetha, and should it be Rama’s alone, he will get the blemish of self-glorification, aatma prashamsaa doSa , and brave heroes of legends cannot be subjected to such a blemish. And to listen to the legend of his dearest, who at present is not with him, gives a kind of consolation, and thus he is asking all of us to listen to siitaayaH caritam mahaan ….
ततः तु तौ राम वचः प्रचोदितौ
अगायताम् मार्ग विधान संपदा |
स च अपि रामः परिषद् गतः शनैर्
बुभूषय आसक्तमना बभूव || १-४-३६
agaayataam maarga vidhaana saMpadaa |
sa cha api raamaH pariShad.h gataH shanair
bubhuushhaya aasaktamanaa babhuuva || 1-4-36
Then those two singers, motivated by Rama’s words, sang the ballad in maarga system, for they are well versed in it, then even Rama, who is also in the congregation, again to pacify his mind, [for the story of Seetha puts his mind to turmoil,] became interested at heart [to continue listening Seetha’s story…] [1-4-36].