[The hermit] Vālmīki, dedicated to austerities, asked Nārada, the best of munis, the best among experts skilled in speech [and] devoted to austerity and study [of the Vedas]:
My big problem (as a Hindi speaker) when I first read the first verse - I couldn't tell who was asking whom the question. And which descriptions went with which 'muni' Then I was given a small (actually, very big) hint. Work out what is in the nominative case (प्रथमा विभक्ति) and what is in the accusative case (द्वितीय). That is the key. In nominative are two words - tapasvi and Vālmīki. He is the doer/asker. In the accusative is Nārada, the one being asked, and all qualifiers in accusative are connected to him.