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The robber who became a Saint

Thousands of years ago, there lived a fisherman namely Valya. He had a big family – his parents, wife and children. It was difficult for him to feed his family, as he was not able to catch enough fish to sell. Finally, out of disgust, he turned to robbery. He would rob people travelling through the forest or on lonely roads.

One day, he tried to rob a traveler, who had nothing with him. The traveler was none other than Sage Nārad. He said to Valya, "I am Narad. Tell me, why do you rob people? Don’t you know it is very bad to rob?" Valya replied, "I am unable to feed my family by selling fish only. So to support my family I have to rob. So, give me all your belongings.” Sage Narad continued, "Have you told your family that you rob people instead of selling fish to feed them? Go and ask them if they are happy about you earning money by robbing people, and if they will share your sins."

Valya had never thought of it this way. Hurriedly he went home and requested that his parents, wife and children gather around. He said, “I know you all love me and I love you all, too. I am sure you all are aware of how I support you and that you will share the sins I incur due to it!” His family said, “Yes. You earn a living by catching fish and selling those fish. There is no sin in it.” “Why do you ask, son?” asked his father. Valya said, “Actually, I am unable to feed us all by just selling fish, so I stopped catching fish sometime ago. Now I rob people and sometimes kill them if they refuse to give me money.” His family was shocked, “How can you rob and kill people!!” His wife said, "No! We cannot share your sins. Who told you to rob and kill people? You should earn honestly, even if you earn less!"

Valya could not believe it – he was sure that his family would share his sins because after all, he was doing this to feed them. He went back to Sage Narad and cried, “O Sage, no one in my family is happy about what I do and no, they won’t share my sins. Please tell me what I should do?" The Sage said, “Stop robbing people and do something honest. Whatever bad things you have done so far can be forgotten by chanting (repeating) Shrīram’s Name, ‘Ram- Ram- Ram’.”

Valya gratefully accepted Sage Narad’s advice and started chanting immediately. He forgot about food, water and even his own body, as he sat still in the forest for many days. As a result of his sitting still, ants started climbing on him, thinking him to be a non-living object. Soon, he was covered in an anthill that made him look like a mountain of ants. But Valya was not aware of it, he kept chanting God’s Name. Many years passed like this. One day Sage Narad came back to the beloved devotee, removed the anthill and said, "O devotee, wake up! From now onwards you will be known as Sage Vālmīki– the Sage, who was born in an anthill!”

Thus, the robber Valya got over his past deeds by chanting devotedly and became a spiritually pure Sage. Valmiki is one of the great Sages of Indian history. He wrote the Holy Scripture ‘Rāmāyan’ – the story of Shriram’s life.

Moral: The story above shows the power of chanting God’s Name, which can change even a criminal. Imagine the benefits of chanting for a normal, crime-free person! So, from this moment itself let us start chanting God’s Name as per our religion. We can chant anytime and anywhere, just before getting out of bed in the morning and going to sleep at night. We can also chant while doing other things like eating, walking, getting ready for school and so on.

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