In a recent interview, poet Munawwar Rana tried to defend the Taliban by comparing it with Maharishi Valmiki.
In the interview with News Nation’s Deepak Chaurasia, he said, “Valmiki became a God after he wrote the Ramayan, before that, he was a dacoit. A person’s character can change. Similarly, the Taliban, for now, are terrorists, but people and characters change.” He further said, “When you speak about Valmiki, you will have to talk about his past. In your religion, you make anyone the God. But he was a writer. Okay, so he wrote the Ramayan, but we are not in competition here.”
While, it is one of the most repeated stories of Indian history, and there is a possibility that most of us have heard it at some point in time, the Valmiki Samaaj is quite sensitive about it. The story states that Maharishi Valmiki was once a dacoit named Ratnakar before he became a sage and wrote Ramayana.
The legend says he was born in a so-called low-caste and later attained the name of Valmiki and given the status of Maharishi (great sage) and a great Brahmin by Narada Muni after Ratnakar performed tapasya or deep meditation.
The Valmiki Samaaj, especially those who live in Punjab, disagree with the part of the story that he was a dacoit at any given time. If someone repeats it, that means he is disrespecting the Maharishi, who is worshipped as a God by the community. Repeating the story on a mass media platform can even attract the wrath of the activists from the community. By narrating the sensitive story in an interview, Rana possibly has offended the members of the Valmiki community.
Rakhi Sawant had gotten into soup for her comments on Maharishi Valmiki
In 2017, TV actress and host Rakhi Sawant had gotten into soup for repeating the story and sensationalizing it. She turned the ‘dacoit’ part of the story into a ‘murderer’. She was making a point how someone who once indulged in criminal activities can turn into a great sage but ended up offending members of the Valmiki community. A case was registered against her under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code for offending religious sentiments.