Sage Valmiki, author of the great epic Ramayana was initially a thief. He used to steal valuables and money from travellers and used to feed his family from the loot.
One day he saw the seven divine sages also known as saptrishis and decided to loot them. He took out his dagger and ordered them to give away their valuables.
One of the saptrishi asked him – “Those for whom you commit such a ghastly sin, do they accompany you in it. Ask them. If yes, then we will give away all our valuables.”
Valmiki rushed to his house and asked his family members the same question but to his surprise none rose in his favour. Everyone said that he is a criminal and will be punished by God for his sins.
With a broken heart he returned to the seven divine sages and fell down on his knees. He asked them to curse him for all the sins that he had committed but instead of punishing him, the sages told him to chant “RAM” repeatedly.
Instead of chanting “RAM”, Valmiki chanted its opposite “MARA” which in Hindi means death and that is when he was blessed by the almighty and thus became enlightened.
This story was narrated by Rishi Valmiki himself to Lord Rama.