There are no authentic records about Valmiki’s parentage. The popular version considered him to be the tenth son of Varuna, god of the sea.
Valmiki was considered to be the first poet. There is an interesting story about the earlier part of Valmiki’s life. He began this life as a hunter named Rat- nakra who looked after his family in the forest by hunting for animals—but also by robbing travelers. One day he happened to see the saptarishis (seven sages), who warned him about the consequences of his sins and predicted that no one would share the consequences with him. This striking truth awakened Rat- nakara. He went home and asked his wife whether she would share the consequences of his sins. His wife said that one enjoys the fruits of one’s own actions and these cannot be shared with anybody. This revelation of the saptarishis changed Ratnakara.
When Ratnakara met the saptarishis again, he began to chant the name of Rama according to their advice. Many years went by as he practiced austerities (tapas). The body of Ratnakar was covered with termites. Finally, the saptarishis came back on the same road. They called to Valmiki for him to come out of his tapas. They named him Valmiki because he came out of a termite’s nest (valmiki).
Valmiki was living in his asrama (hermitage) by the river Tamasa. One day he saw a hunter who shot a bird from a tree with an arrow. It was one of a pair. The surviving bird was flying around in agony. This tragic scene inspired Valmiki to write his first verse.