The Role Models from Ramayana- 5

"Sabari Moksham "

Contributed by RP Turaga

Shabari Moksham

 In the Ramayana we have the classic example of Shabari , who is an embodiment of unqualified & unassuming devotion.

Shabari comes very close to the heart of Sri Rama; she is praised as an embodiment of unqualified devotion to Sri Rama.

Her only life ambition was to see Lord Rama once in her life time.

Having seen Lord Rama, the devout and exceptionally affectionate Shabari merges as it were in the ocean of Bliss springing from the sparkling eyes of Sri Rama.

The story of Sabari starts with Kabandha telling about the Pampa Lake and the Mount Rishyamuka.

Kabandha extols Pampa Lake and details Sri Rama about the course to be adopted to proceed to Mount Rishyamuka to befriend Sugriva.

He details about Matanga hermitage and implores upon Sri Rama to visit an ascetic by name Shabari, who is waiting for ages to have a glimpse of Sri Rama.

Kabandha gives an advance description about Shabari to Sri Rama:

"A miracle is working in Matanga Ashram.

The Rishis who resided there are no more. So great was their devotion that the sweat drops which fell on the ground from their body, as they brought water for their daily pooja, have sprouted in to unfading flowers shining like garlands.Their servant woman belonging to a forest tribe is constantly engaged in TapoDharma (Spiritual Austerities).Shabari is eagerly waiting to greet You as a divine person and then ascend to higher worlds"

We are told that Shabari served for long Rishi Matanga in his ashram near Rishyamuka, and when he was ascending to heaven, he bade his disciple await the advent of Sri Rama who would come to her, bless her, and fulfill her tapas. Telling her the story of Sri Rama, the sage departed, leaving Shabari alone at the ashram.

Shabari continued her tasks at the ashram, keeping it ready for Sri Rama's arrival. She woke up everyday, wondering if this would be the day Sri Rama would arrive.

After completing her chores, she would make the place ready for Sri Rama's arrival, and collect fruits and berries for him to eat if he did come.

She spent hours removing the thorns from the bushes along the path and the stones on the path, so that her beloved lord wouldn't be hurt.

Thus, Shabari spent many years waiting for her lord who was on his way to her abode.

Having heard the story of Shabari the two brother move towards Mount Rishyamuka.

Both the brothers approach Shabari as told by Kabandha and she adores them on their seeking her presence.

One look at her made Sri Rama realise that Shabari had attained the highest stage of spiritual ripeness, 'Siddhahood'.

She honours them as guests and expresses her desire to depart to the spheres where her teachers are.

When Shabari sees Sri Rama, she says that she feels the purpose of her birth has been fulfilled only upon her seeing Sri Rama.

Shabari felt that her greatest desire had been fulfilled by meeting her lord, and, asking Sri Rama to give her salvation, she entered the fire.

As the old and emaciated lady wearing rags entered the fire, she was transformed into a beautiful young woman wearing silken cloth and many ornaments.

In this form, she gained deliverance at the hands of the lord, as Sage Matanga had foretold, and joined her lord and her guru in the heavens.

Shabari is extolled by the following adjectives:

Shramanim austere woman

Tapodhane ascetic woman

Siddha a lady who achieved Self Realisation

Charubhashini a lady of pleasant talk

Siddha Sammata a fully realised person and also adored and accepted as such by other Siddhas (realised persons)

Tapasi austere woman

What higher qualifications than these can one acquire for earning the descent of Grace from the Divine?

The story of Shabari teaches us the merits of unflinching devotion to the lord.

It shows us that no matter what our caste or creed is, it is always possible to attain the Lord through pure devotion.

The Divine person Sri Rama himself had to acknowledge Shabari's qualifications in appropriate words.

Then Sri Rama spoke to that austere woman Shabari who was observing spiritual practices.3.74.8 ।।

O austere woman! Hope you have overcome your obstacles and progressing in your penance! Hope you have controlled your anger and desire for food!

( 3.74.9) ।। O Shabari the pleasant speaker well! Have you practiced spiritual practices! Are you happy in your mind? Has serving your teachers yielded desirable results?

Shabari's response to Sri Rama's praise of her Sadhana is equally memorable.

(3.74.11) ।। My penance has been accomplished and yielded result by your visit today. I think my teachers have been served well. You have come as a result of all my merits.

(3.74.12) ।। O best of men and gods! My life has become fruitful and I will attain heaven also when a divine self like you revered by men has arrived.

।। (3.74.13) ।।O delight of Raghu family! I am sanctified by your look .O subduer of enemies by your grace I will reach the imperishable worlds.

I have been instructed by those great sages who knew dharma in the following way;

।।।। (3.74.15 ।।;।। 3.74.16) "Sri Rama will come to this pious hermitage along with Lakshmana.You extend hospitality to the guests and receive with due reverence extending hospitality. You will reach the inexhaustible world after meeting him".

When that righteous Sri Rama was entreated by Shabari in that manner he spoke to her who was always engaged in the study of sacred-lore.

।। (3.74.19) ।।From great Danu himself I heard about the power of your teacher. If it is agreeable for you I would like to get acquainted about it in person.

When Shabari heard the words spoken by Sri Rama she started showing that great garden to both of them.

Sri Rama! This garden solid and splendid like a cloud is and full of animals and birds is popularly known as Mathanga garden. See this.

।। (3.74.22) ।।My teachers, the great visionaries have made sacrificial offerings sanctified by mantras which are always worshipped with due sacred invocations.

This is the altar raised at the west at which the aged saints make offering of flowers with exhausted bodies and trembling hands.

O Sri Rama! Even now the bright sacrificial altars shed light richly in all directions due to their ascetic power.

You see the seven seas reaching here by their mere thought. They could not reach the seas due to exhaustion owing to fasting.

O Delight of Raghus! The bark clothes laid on trees even now after bathing are still wet due to the ascetic strength.

The flowers and lotuses arranged by those sages while worshipping gods have not yet wilted.

।। (3.74.28) ।।You have seen the entire garden, listened to what is to be heard. With your permission I would like to give up this body.

I wish to reach those visionaries whom I served and to whom this hermitage belongs.

।। (3.73.30) ।।Sri Rama and Lakshmana heard those virtuous words of shabari who had no equal truly, they felt happy about those wonderful true incidents.

(3.74.31) ।।Then Sri Rama looking at steadfast Shabari said "O ascetic you have worshipped me with devotion. You may go with pleasure (to the world you desire)"

Shabari with matted locks, wearing bark clothes and deer skin, offered her old and emaciated body to the fire at that moment, with the permission of Sri Rama and went to heaven acquiring a glittering fire like body.

Adorned with wonderful ornaments, wearing garlands and anointed with fragrant unguents, robed in most beautiful clothes appearing like a lightening streak her body shone bright. Shabari appeared very pleasing to those who looked.

By virtue of her austere practices Shabari went to the holy place where holy seers, accomplished people and great saints were moving about.

When Sabari departed to heaven with her brilliance Sri Rama started contemplating along with Lakshmana.

Righteous Sri Rama thinking about the power of the great sages said to Lakshmana who is always a well wisher with single pointed devotion.

"O pious Lakshmana, a very wondrous hermitage is seen where deer and tigers dwell together and where birds of all kinds are seen" (said Sri Rama to Lakshmana).

Lakshmana, we have bathed in the waters of seven seas (by bathing in these waters) and offered oblations to fore fathers in accordance with tradition.

 We got rid of inauspiciousness and good days are in our reach.Therefore I feel truly happy at present. Good fortune has come up again.

Come let us go to Pampa which is pleasing to look.

Sugriva the righteous self who is the son of Sun has been staying at the shining Rishyamuka ever with the fear of Vali. That place is not very far away!!


Om tat sat

Sita Rama Sharanam Mama (Lord Sri Rama & Mother Sita are my refuge)

 Jai Sita Ram