In the previous episode we had witnessed that Lord Rama and Lakshmana have reached Sabari’s ashram, on their way in pursuit of Sita. We had also seen that Sabari was the disciple of Sage Mathanga. When Sage Mathanga attained “Moksha” he had given a small assignment to Sabari that she should be of service to Rama and Lakshmana who would pass by her ashram, “for some reason”. Accordingly, Sabari was waiting till Rama and Lakshmana arrived.
Once Sabari sees Rama and Lakshmana approaching towards her hamlet, she was overwhelmed with joy that her master’s words have come true atlast! She invites both Rama and Lakshmana inside her hamlet and makes them comfortable. Upon seeing Rama, Sabari has tears of joy in her eyes and says, “Oh Rama! The moment I saw your eyes, something within me says that the purpose of my life is fulfilled! I feel that I’m now free from all my sins and you have purified me with just one look! I was waiting to do some service to you! Please accept these fruits that have grown in my garden. I’ve kept all of these for you!”
Thus from the above incident of Sabari, we can learn a very important thing: Once we obtain the grace of Bhagawan or the “Guru” (Aachaarya), all our sins get washed away and all our unwanted doubts in the mind get cleared off at that very moment! We read so much about Ramayana and Mahabharata from various texts, listen to prominent discourses from prominent and eminent speakers! Why do we do all that? The most important reason is that, we should make a conscious attempt to follow and implement the messages that the Ramayana and Mahabharata convey to us! Thus, it is not enough if we just read or listen and just get away. We should make a conscious attempt to put things in practice in our day-to-day life. We need to introspect and keep thinking all what Rama, Sita and Hanuman went through in their lives and should grasp the “Dharma” behind everything.
For putting the principles into practice, we need to recollect again and again all what we have learnt and listened from the textbooks and discourses. It should be remembered that the best way to remember what we have learnt, is to recollect the subject more frequently! It is only if we try and recollect what we’ve learnt, we would be able to remember things for a longer duration of time. If we fail to recollect, chances are high that we would forget the important points over time. For instance, when we learn and by-heart the Vedas, we normally sit and repeat the “Sandhai” of the Veda text minimum fifty times. However, if we fail to recollect the learnt “Sandhai” over time, we would eventually forget all what we had learnt with all the great difficulty! Hence, recollection of the subject is the best way to remember what we had learnt and this should be put in practice by all of us!
Thus Rama comes into Sabari’s hamlet and graces her with his eyes. Once she gets the grace from Bhagawan, all her sins and doubts were washed away completely! Sabari had plucked the best fruits from her garden to offer them to Rama and Lakshmana. It is quite interesting to note that there are two different points of view: One says that Sabari plucked the fruits and offered them directly to Rama, and the other view is that, Sabari plucked the fruits, tasted them and gave Rama. However, Rama doesn’t care about all that. It doesn’t matter for Bhagawan as to what offering we are giving to Him. All what is important for Him is our devotion with which we make the offering.
Sabari thus says to Rama, “Oh Rama! My guru, Sage Mathanga had given me this assignment that I should be of service to you and thus I’m offering these fruits to you and Lakshmana!” Upon hearing this from Sabari, Rama happily eats all the fruits one by one! We might have a doubt at this stage: In our previous episodes I had mentioned that when Guha offered food to Rama, he never accepted it! However, when Sabari (who is also basically from a hunter community) offers him with fruits, Rama accepts them happily! Why is this controversy? Why is Rama not accepting from Guha but is accepting the offering from Sabari? Here is the answer for the doubt: In the previous case of Guha, he had voluntarily come forward and offered Rama the fruits and other food items to eat. Whereas, in the case of Sabari, she is offering the fruits to Rama only because her Aachaarya (Guru) had ordered her to do so! Thus we should understand the important point here that, if an “Aachaarya” has given the task of offering something to Bhagawan, He would not deny the offering! In other words, if we voluntarily do an offering to Bhagawan, there are chances that sometimes he would refuse to accept them, whereas, if we offer something to Bhagawan, on the pretext of our Guru, He accepts it immediately! This is the significance of the Guru or Aachaarya or Spiritual Master! If we obey the words of our Guru meticulously, he/she would guide us the way for attaining the highest “Moksha”!
We can see this in the case of Sabari as well. Now, after Rama finises eating all the fruits that she had offered, Rama asks her for guidance to reach Kishkinta. Sabari replies, “Oh Rama! I’m an old woman. I wish I could help you, but unfortunately I do not know much about the topography. However, all I know is that, the lake called “Pampa Sarovar” is not very far from this place. It is near this lake is the Rishyamukha mountain. You go there and meet Sugriva for further details.”
Sabari continues.. “Oh Rama! I’m now preparing myself to attain “Moksha” after you leave this place. My Aachaarya has already granted me the wish to attain Moksha after being of service to both of you! So I’m leaving now as it’s time for me!” Upon hearing this from Sabari, Rama replies, “Yes Sabari! You can proceed to Moksha!” We would be again surprised at this point: In the earlier episode, I had mentioned that Rama granted Moksha to Jataayu Maharaja by saying, “I’m permitting you to attain Moksha”. In Sabari’s case, Rama is just approving her for attaining Moksha! Why is Rama not giving her the Moksha? The answer is simple: If a Guru (Aachaarya) has granted permission to attain Moksha, even Bhagawan doesn’t have a say in that! Thus we can learn from this episode that the Guru (Aachaarya) who has an expertise on the “Gnyaana” (Knowledge) and “Vairaagya” (Will power) has the right and power to grant Moksha to his/her disciples, provided if the disciple practises the required discipline (Aachaara-Anushtaana) properly.
Thus Rama and Lakshmana proceed towards Pampa Sarovar Lake as per the guidance of Kabhanda and Sabari. Did they succeed in finding Sugriva? What happened next? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!