SHABARI’S SRI RAMA
Shabari waited for Sri Rama with bathed breath for many years. He indeed came for her, because her devotion was such. She held nothing else in her mind except Rama. She bore him in her heart which had no room for any other thoughts. Sometimes, I wonder, if Rama will actually come down for me? Probably if I wait with bathed breath, I might end up with a heart failure, but Rama will never come. Is it my fault that he won’t come?
May be yes. Sometimes, we have to learn to blame ourselves even when we are right.
Life is harsh that way. If you live amidst people who get convinced and decide to forgo whatever you have done, life’s complication is easy to tackle. But what if you are amidst unreasonable and incorrigible mindset; nothing can be done obviously. At this stage, there is still a solution; put the blame on yourself and stay quiet.
Nevertheless, your time too will come.
Why did I get Shabari in my thoughts today? Let us see, maybe she is my inspiration today. I hope, she sends a good message by entering my mind’s framework.
I was casually staring at the wall in my living room, which beholds a huge Tanjore painting of Rama Pattabhishekam. I continued to gaze at the portrait with an empty mind like as if there was no past and there would be no future. After a while, I realized that I was so fresh. My mind had instantly felt relaxed and I needed nothing. That’s when I remembered Shabari, one of Sri Rama’s loved devotees. Even though their meeting was short, it still carried such intense love and affection. In a flash I felt that probably, this is what Shabari did to make Sri Rama come longing for her. Her mind was empty from all other thoughts and was completely focused on Sri Rama.
Shabari was a tribal woman hailing from the Shabara clan. She became an orphan at the very beginning of her life. With very little understanding of the world, she lived in the forest like a mere animal. Wandering aimlessly, she ate raw flesh of animals, drank water from the river and slept on barren land. Her life changed one day, when the forest caught on fire.
She had to run, fearing for her life.
A tired Shabari had reached the banks of Pampa. As she gazed at the beauty of Pampa, she felt a sudden calmness filling her mind. Without wandering away any further, she turned to see what had caused this sudden change in herself. A divine sage walked towards the river with his pupils. Without her knowledge, she realized that she began to bow to the sage from behind the tree.
Very soon, she was chosen to serve in the ashram of Matanga.
One day, sage Matanga decided to leave the earthly realm. Before leaving, he pronounced to give away all that he had learnt, to his disciples. He called them all, one by one. But to his dismay, one asked for riches, another sought food, the other opined for magic and so on and so forth. There was none who would ask him the most important ultimatum to attain liberation.
He finally called out to Shabari.
“Shabari, my child, I have decided to leave this earthly realm. Ask me, whatever you want for all the service you have rendered to the hermitage.”
She looked at the sage with a heavy heart and said, “Dear sage, I have no wants. Why will a being like me with animal instincts have anything to seek?”
Taken aback by her ripened thought, Matanga quickly responded, “Ah! Shabari! You are still the same innocent woman, I met when you first came here. I will preach to you, a very sacred chant. You are the only deserving disciple for this,” he declared.
“A chant?” she exclaimed.
She continued, “How am I supposed to intonate it?”
Without breaking into a pause, she exclaimed, “Should I wake up early in the morning, take a bath in the river? Should I fast before saying this prayer? How many hours in a day should I chant this?”
The sage laughed at her innocence and said, “Shabari, come on say this aloud, Rama… Rama… Rama… Rama…”
With a smile as incandescent as the sunlight, Matanga preached, “You can chant this anytime of the day. You can intonate this during any activity. Mark my words Shabari, remember to chant this always. He will come looking for you one day.”
With great belief in her heart, Shabari chanted the mantra day and night, continuing her chores in the ashram. She would fetch water every day, clean the hermitage premises, pick fruits and flowers from the tree as an offering to Rama.
She informed the little boys in the hermitage that Matanga had told her that a Godly figure called Rama would come seeking for her.
She waited and waited.
Twelve years had already passed.
One fine day…..
“Shabari… Shabari…” screaming thus, the hermit boys came running towards her.
The eldest boy implored, “Two men, just like how you described are heading towards the hermitage. They look so bright and radiant like the morning sun. They carry in their arms, bow and arrow. They look like, they have just descended from the heaven. We saw them at a distance. I think they have come to see you Shabari”.
With tear filled eyes, she ran towards the two men.
Her heart pounded in excitement for her ‘Teacher’s’ words had come true.
Rama had come for her.
Her wait was now over.
She hugged Rama tenderly like a mother, like a daughter and like a devotee. She welcomed them both into the hermitage and as her daily routine would go, she offered them the fruits she had got. She ensured her Rama ate the choicest berries. She looked at him to her hearts content and waited eagerly for him to speak.
“Mother Shabari, I have come for you. Your love has surpassed everything. I have come to accept your devotion wholeheartedly”, the Lord appealed.
“My prayers didn’t fail me, Rama. This crude animal is so fortunate that she has seen the Supreme. What many saints are waiting to see, I have seen. My teacher Matanga hasn’t failed me. I have nothing else left in this world. I waited all these years only to see you and today you have fulfilled my wish. I shall leave now,” she said.
“Please liberate me”, she said as she bowed with folded palms.
“So be it”, remarked Sri Rama.
I inferred that, from Shabari’s life, one can learn lot of life lessons. Shabari didn’t remain a forest woman for all her life. The course of her life changed. Her association with good men like Matanga, led her towards the path of enlightenment. She believed in her Guru Matanga completely. Upon his prophecy, she waited all her life to meet Sri Rama.
Isn’t our life very similar to Shabari’s? The only difference is we lack faith at many junctures. But to fulfil one’s goal, faith and focus are a must. Probably, that’s why Shabari didn’t fail.
Our life too isn’t destined to remain the same. We may be oppressed at some point, but the change will soon follow. If we associate ourselves in the company of good, life’s course will change drastically to achieve betterment. Faith is the most important tool one must incorporate in life. For faith to live permanently, one must have great focus. Performing the same act everyday might tire one’s mind. But having faith that it will progress would save the order of the day. If we incorporate Shabari’s attitude, Sri Rama will surely walk into your life and help you achieve your wants.
Then what are you waiting for!