Narada muni, the devout and mystic sage, set out to help the vicious hunter. As he walked through the dangerous forest, his heart was overwhelmed with compassion to see a large number of animals mercilessly slaughtered on the path. Some were half killed, and writhing in pain, they were left alone to bleed to death. Knowing this to be Valya Koli’s doing, Narada muni was determined to save him from the terrible future suffering that awaited him.
Soon he found Valya Koli and offered good instructions to him. The hunter flatly refused to change his wicked ways, and argued that this was the only way he could sustain his family.
“You are blinded by passion and cruelty”, implored Narada, and through his mystic powers, the sage showed the hellish future that the hunter’s bad Karma was going to bring him. Seeing the gory suffering of the hellish planets, Valyakoli argued, “But I am doing this for my family, and I have heard that one’s family shares the burden of bad Karma.”
“Are you sure your family members want to share your terrible Karma?” smiled Narada, “Why don’t you to first go and ask them if they want to share your Karma?”
Valya Koli rushed home, and shared the graphic facts that Narada had shown him. “I feel fearless facing these consequences because I know you would all share a good burden of my Karma”, expressed the hunter, “After all I love you and I am working hard only to serve you”
Almost instantly the mood at home changed. The wife was the first one to respond, “I married you and undertook vows to share your good Karma and you vowed to share my bad Karma, and it’s not the other way. I deny suffering in hell due to your cruel activities”. His father then spoke up, “Dear son, we cared for you all these years and now in old age, as we lie depending on you, you intend to give us all suffering that is due to you. We too refuse to take any of these reactions”. He then desperately turned to his children, who giggled and coldly rushed to play, but not before affirming, “We have a whole life ahead of us to enjoy; how can we afford to ruin it by burdening ourselves with your bad Karma?”
The turn of events shocked Valya Koli, and pained by the lack of empathy by his family, he rushed back to Narada Muni. “You have opened my eyes, oh great sage”, pleaded the hunter, “The truth has now dawned on me that I alone am responsible for my cruel acts; it’s my bad Karma and no one is going to suffer with me.” The hunter further pleaded, “Please guide me how I could be saved from the terrible suffering that awaits me”
Narada then instructed him to chant the Holy Names of Lord Rama. However the extent of his sins made it impossible for Valya Koli to vibrate God’s Holy Names; hard as he tried, his tongue just couldn’t chant. Narada then suggested he chant the Names in the reverse order; Rama then becomes ‘Mara’, which technically means ‘Death’. This wasn’t difficult for the hunter to chant as his life until then centred on causing death to so many innocent creatures. Repeated chanting of ‘mara’ eventually helped him chant the right mantra, Rama, which is the opposite of mara. Mara, Mara, Mara….Rama, Rama, Rama,….. he was soon chanting the pure Holy Names of God. These spiritual Names purified the hunter completely and he went on to become the celebrated Valmiki muni. Soon he was personally selected by Lord Brahma to write the twenty four thousand verses epic Ramayana, the story of Lord Rama. This is a classical and poetic masterpiece and even today, millions of years since it was composed, Ramayana is an integral part of India’s traditional and devotional culture.
The story of the dramatic transformation of Valya Koli the hunter, to Valmiki muni, the devotee, reveals how we are individually responsible to face reactions for all our actions, and it’s our own job to purify our lives through spiritual practises. Our family, friends and well wishers can help us only with good counsel but they can’t live our life for us, just as a pilot could be trained and guided by superior intelligence, but ultimately he has to fly his own plane. We may get help from many quarters but eventually we have to take charge of our lives, and become serious in our spiritual practises. Only then we can neutralize all bad Karma, rid our lives off negative reactions and earn spiritual credits through spiritual activities of which the most important is chanting the Holy Names of Rama and Krishna.