We all know the story of Shabari and Sri Rama. This is the story of Shabari, who did not know God or bhakti or shraddha, how she got Sri Rama’s darshan only because of Guru Kripa. This story teaches us gratitude, satsang, selfless service, bhakti, shraddha and saburi
Shabari came from an un-civilized man animal community called Shabara. Since she hailed from this community she was named Shabari. Being an orphan she dint know what mother, father, kith-kin, God, love meant. Her life was spent roaming around, wandering aimlessly, killing animals and eating them when hungry. She did not know how to live like normal humans. She would watch how the animals hunted and ate their prey and she imitated them. [ Our behaviour and habits are more or less related to the kind of company we keep ] One day, as she was wandering around, she came to an unusual place. That place was serene. Everything about that place was divine. The flowers, luscious fruits, birds, wild and domestic animals are playing with each other in harmony…….. there she saw an unusual sight. The mother deer was licking her fawn with love and in turn the fawn looking back at mother with gratitude. Shabari was in awe and starts to appreciate. She thought, too bad, all these years I’ve been killing animals and eating them. Shabari, who did not know how to appreciate, now finds herself appreciating things. She realises that there is something divine about this place which also brought a sense of peace in her, and decides to stay there. As Shabari was exploring this place, she saw three Rishis walk by. Unknowingly her hands folded in reverence. Without their notice she quietly follows them to their ashram. Next morning she saw that the rishis woke up early, so she too woke up early like 3 am , cleaned the ashram area, plucked flowers etc. Shabari, who did not know what serving others was like, was now feeling happy to serve the rishis. Everyday without the rishis’s knowledge she would wake up early and keep the ashram clean, plucked fruits and flowers, clean the pathway which was full of thorns. The rishis were surprised as to who is doing this everyday. One day the Guru asks his disciples to go and find out who has been doing this noble deed. The rishis find Shabari and bring her to their Guru Matanga . Guru tells Shabari that he was very pleased with her service and would like to bless her with a boon. Shabari humbly said ” I did not do all these things to get a boon, I did it only because I felt happy doing it “. But the Guru insisted on giving her a boon. Shabari says, “If at all you want to give me something, then please allow me to stay here forever. That is all I wish.” Guru Matanga was very happy and thought to himself, what a pious soul she is. She started living and serving in the ashram. There, under Guru’s guidance she learnt the vedas, shastras. She became a learned person with her Guru’s blessings. Time flew by and Shabari became old. She was about middleaged when she first came to the ashram. Now she was about 80 years old.
One day she learns that her Guru is going to give up his mortal body and go to the heavenly abode. Guru calls all his disciple and says that he would like to give each one a boon. He personally calls each disciple and grants their wishes. However, Guru Matanga feels sad that none of them asked for Guru’s feet/ be with the Guru forever. It was finally Shabari’s turn. She humbly says ” When I first came here you asked me the same question. My answer is still the same, what it was that day.” Guru was very touched and thought to himself, she is the right heir to my fortune. He calls her and says, from today onwards the only word that should come from your mouth is ” RAMA “. The obedient Shabari asked her Guru if there were any rules and regulations to saying this word” Rama “. Guru kindly says, ” You can say this name whenever you feel like, how many ever times you feel like”. Shabari asks , ” what is the meaning of the name Rama? ” Guru says, “this name will come looking for you and knock at your door one day.” This is none other than God himself, who will come to seek your darshan. Shabari starts crying in gratitude, thinking what did I do to deserve this. From that day onwards every breath of Shabari uttered only RAMA. Everyday she would go to the forest and pluck fresh flowers and fruits, thinking what if Rama comes to my door today. She would tell all the passerby that my Guru has told that Sri Rama is going to visit me. By and by twelve years passed. Everyday without fail for twelve years, Shabari went to the forest and plucked fresh flowers and fruits for Rama. Such was Shabari’s bhakti/devotion and shraddha in her Guru. Now,over 90 years old she thinks, my soul is going to leave the body very soon. How long are you going to keep me waiting for your darshan Lord Rama. She says, ” my Guru has told me that Sri Rama will definitely come, hence I will not allow the soul to leave this feeble body till then. Around that time Rama comes to Chitrakoot searching for his beloved Sita and knocks at Shabari’s door. Her happiness knew no bounds. She served Shri Rama to her heart’s content. When Sri Rama askes her,”Shabari what boon would you like”. Shabari says, ” With my Guru’s blessing I was blessed to have your darshan today. I do not desire anything else now. Please give me the permission to give up my mortal body.” Thus, she gives up her mortal body and joins her Guru.