After Valmiki, the illustrious sage, learned all about the life of Lord Rama, he went to the river to bathe. Close to the river were two large and pretty birds sweetly singing and playing together. A vicious hunter, who was plotting evil, shot an arrow which struck the male bird. Upon seeing her partner trembling on the ground, his body covered in blood, the hen cried out in great distress for her beloved’s life.
As Valmiki witnessed this ruthless hunter strike down the male bird, he became sad and thought to himself, “This was not dharma to kill a sweetly singing bird for no reason at all.” As he listened to the hen pour her heart out, he said to the hunter:
After what you have done to this bird, peace will be no more than a word.
Then Valmiki realized that he had unintentionally created a work of poetry and he named the metre shloka because it was spoken in shoka (sadness). And thus he began penning one of the greatest texts on dharma the world has ever seen.