According to tradition, Valmiki was the author of the Indian epic poem Ramayana (“journey of Rama”), which is thought to have been created in the third century B.C. Legend says that Valmiki was a thief who one day tried to rob a Hindu holy man. The holy man had no riches to steal, but gave Valmiki a mantra—a word to be repeated in meditation. Valmiki liked the mantra and began using it. Years later he had become so absorbed in his meditation that ants built an anthill all around him, yet still he did not move; in this way he earned the name Valmiki, which comes from the Sanskrit word for anthill. When Valmiki emerged from the anthill, he had become a wise and humble saint. Later he wrote the Ramayana to record the great deeds of the hero Rama, who was one of several human forms taken by the Hindu god Vishnu.
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