Valmikis and the Indian elections

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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By Justice Markandey Katju

An interesting incident happened yesterday.

I was travelling in a car and I asked my driver whom he is going to vote for in the ongoing parliamentary elections? He said he will vote for the BJP.

When I asked him why, he replied that he belonged to the Valmiki caste, and his ancestor Valmiki wrote the Sanskrit Ramayan, and Valmikis were great bhakts of Lord Ram. Since Modiji had built a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya, all members of the Valmiki caste will vote for BJP.

I then asked whether Valmikis belong to the OBCs.

He said they are SCs.

I then said that I thought all SCs are with Mayawati.

He replied that that was not correct. SCs are also divided into sub castes e.g. Jatavs ( chamars ), paasis, koris, dhobis, etc. Mayawati was a Jatav, and she only helped Jatavs when she was the Chief Minister, but neglected the non-Jatav SCs. He also called her corrupt.

He said that as a Valmiki he had memorised large parts of the Sanskrit Ramayan, and he recited some shlokas from it.

He then told me that Valmiki, who wrote the Ramayan, was an SC, and a robber.

One day he accosted a sadhu and wanted to rob him. The sadhu asked him why he was doing such an evil act as robbing ? Valmiki said it was to feed his family.

The sadhu said he should go to his family members for whose sake he did robberies, and ask them whether they would share in the 'paap' of his evil deeds. In the meantime Valmiki could tie the sadhu on a tree with a rope so that he may not run away.

Valmiki agreed, and after tying the sadhu went to his family members and asked them whether they would share in his 'paap'. They refused. This shocked Valmiki, and he came back to the sadhu and after untying him fell at his feet, and asked for forgiveness.

The sadhu said he would be forgiven provided he chants the name of Lord Ram and writes about his life in Sanskrit.

Valmiki said he was illiterate and so how could he write it?

Also, he said he was so full of evil that he could not utter the word 'Ram'.

The sadhu said that in that case he should chant ''mara mara'' in quick succession, and when Valmiki did that the words became ''Ram Ram''.

The sadhu told him not to worry, Lord Ram would give him knowledge of Sanskrit if he prayed to him and gave up his profession of robbery..

Valmiki did that, and immediately acquired the knowledge of Sanskrit, and there upon he became a bhakt of Lord Ram and wrote the Ramayan.

(Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court. These are his personal views.)

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