Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Where Ramayana Whispers: Echoes of Valmiki’s Ashram in Amritsar, Punjab

by Manjari Singh

As the grand consecration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya draws near, our hearts turn not only to the future but also to the rich heritage of the Ramayana’s past. And woven into this heritage, with threads of devotion and knowledge, lies Valmiki’s Ashram, believed to have found its abode in the holy city of Amritsar.

Tradition whispers through the centuries, painting a vivid picture of a tranquil haven amidst the bustling streets. Here, beneath the shade of sacred trees, the echoes of ancient wisdom still resonate. It is here, under the benevolent guidance of the revered sage Valmiki, that Luv and Kush, the twin sons of Rama, are said to have received their education in scriptures and weapons.

At present, a mere 11 kilometers west of Amritsar, Bhagwan Valmiki Tirath Asthan invites devotees with a serene sanctuary of faith. While the historical accuracy of its location as the exact ashram from the Ramayana remains debated, the spiritual significance of the site is undeniable. The complex boasts ornate temples, built on stilts amidst a sacred pond, their golden hues shimmering under the sun.

Stepping within the main temple, one marvels at the 8-foot-tall, 800-kilogram gold-plated idol of Sage Valmiki, installed in 2016. Its gleaming presence seems to echo the timeless wisdom penned by the revered scribe. Devotees offer prayers, seeking blessings and knowledge, their whispers mingling with the gentle lapping of the pond’s water.

It wasn’t just a school, this ashram. It was a sanctuary, a crucible where righteousness was forged and knowledge blossomed. Within its walls, Luv and Kush were not just taught words from holy texts; they were imbued with the very essence of the Ramayana – the ideals of courage, love, and unwavering devotion. They learned not just archery, but the art of wielding faith as a shield.

And just as the Ramayana transcends geographical boundaries, so too does the legacy of Valmiki’s Ashram. In Punjab, its whispers find a voice in the intricate folklores woven by generations, in the devotional fervour that fills the air during Ramlila performances, and in the hearts of countless pilgrims who seek solace and wisdom within its embrace.

The spirit of the ashram lives on, not just in Amritsar, but across the lands touched by the Ramayana. It lives on in the temples dedicated to Valmiki, in the classrooms where the epic still stirs young minds, and in the countless acts of kindness and compassion inspired by its timeless message.

As the Pran Pratishtha of the Ram Mandir marks a new chapter in Ayodhya’s saga, let us remember Valmiki’s Ashram – a silent witness to the Ramayana’s journey, a testament to the transformative power of knowledge, and a symbol of the enduring bond between Punjab and the epic that continues to shape our hearts and minds.

Manjari Singh

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