A Tale of Shabari
(Mere Ram Ayenge – My Ram will come)
Shabari was a disciple of Matanga Rishi. Although she was uneducated, she had an immense amount of faith and devotion and firm belief in her Guru. When Rishi Matanga became old and realised that his time on earth was coming to an end, he asked Shabri to look after the ashram after he was gone.
He told her that she will have the good fortune of having the darshan of Lord Shri Ram. Shabari, the true devotee, dedicated her life to her Guru’s words of advice and spent her days waiting for Shri Ram’s arrival. Every day, she swept and cleaned the ashram, replenishing the jugs with fresh water and gathering fruits and tubers for Shri Ram. She waited and waited for years on end. She became old and feeble, but the assurance in her heart that Shri Ram would arrive, remained ever-fresh.
At last in search of Sita, Shri Ram and Lakshman arrived at Sage Matanga’s ashram, after killing the demon Kabandh. Shabari welcomed them and washed their feet reverentially with the tears that flowed from her eyes. Shri Ram asked her to fetch some fruit. Shabari offered him berries (ber) and fruits but before giving them to Shri Ram, she tasted each one of the berries, drowned in devotion.
She forgot that she was feeding Shri Ram with berries that were bitten and therefore unfit and impure for offering. But swayed by her intense devotion, Shri Ram ate the berries with joy. It was a moment when the devotee and divine were joined in immense love and devotion. Laxman, with tears rolling down his cheeks, was silently observing the pure love between God and the devotees.
When Shabari talked about imparting spiritual knowledge to her, Lord Rama then proceeded to give a short discourse to Shabari on Navadha Bhakti. Lord Rama said to Shabari, “O Dear One! Do not despair. I only concern Myself with devotion. I give no regard to religion, caste, creed, family, stature, position, wealth, qualities, cleverness, strength or power. Even if someone possessed all these qualities and qualifications, but was devoid of My devotion, he is like an empty cloud that produces no rain. I do not care for such a person.”
Lord Ram explaining Navadha Bhakti, declared that His devotion can be performed in nine different ways. Continuing with the details He said,
नवधा भक्ति कहहुँ तोहि पाहीं ।
सावधान सुनु धरु मन माहीं ॥
Satsang with My Saints, i.e. closely associate with My Saints in your heart and mind.
प्रथम भक्ति संतन कर संगा।
दूसरि रति मम कथा प्रसंगा ॥
Have a keen interest and intense desire to recite and hear the sacred legends about Shri Rama and the holy Ramayana.
गुरुपदपंकज सेवा तीसरि भक्ति अमान ।
चौथि भक्तिमम गुन गन करड़ कपट तजिज्ञान ।।
Possess a strong desire to perform the selfless service of Saints and Guru with your heart and soul.
मंत्र जाप मम द्दढ़ विश्वासा।
पंचम भजन सो वेद प्रकासा ॥
Leave aside all cunningness and sing the glories of the Lord with your heart.
छठ दम सील विरति कहु करमा ।
निरत निरन्तर सज्जन धरमा ॥
Chant the divine name of Shri Rama with full faith and conviction that He resides in His name with all His powers.
सातवँ सम मोहि मय जग देखा।
मोते संत अधिक कर लेखा ॥
Harbour an intense feeling of detachment from all worldly affairs.
आठवँ जथा लाभ संतोषा।
सपनेहुँ नहिं देखहिं परदोषा ॥
Realise that Lord Rama resides in everyone’s heart and is also omnipresent in every particle of existence. Believe without reservation that a true Saint is even more revered and exalted than God Himself.
नवम सरल सब सन छल हीना।
मम भरोस हिय हरषन दीना ॥
Remain completely satisfied feeling happy with whatever God has provided; never find or observe any fault in another.
नव महँ एकहुँ जिन्ह के होई।
नारि पुरुष सचराचर कोई ॥
Discard cleverness and love God just like a child loves its mother, with full faith and conviction that He will surely meet me one day. Depending on God entirely, live in His shelter with a sense of total surrender unto His lotus feet. Lord Ram continued imparting instructions to Shabari declaring, “If someone sincerely follows even one of the above nine rules of navadha bhakti, I love him with all My heart and shower My Grace upon him.”
The Lord then looked at Shabari and said, “As far as you are concerned, you are enriched with navadha bhakti. You are most deserving of all My special graces that even the greatest of yogis cannot dream of. O Shabari! I have appeared before you as a result of your intense love and devotion towards Me, and therefore, you are naturally most deserving of all My graciousness.”
In this way, the tale of Shabari will never die because it demonstrates a benchmark for devotion and love towards God.
*A brief introduction of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj*
(Known by His devotees as Shri Maharaj Ji)
The original title of Jagadguruttam (‘Greatest Spiritual Teacher of the World’) was bestowed upon Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj on January 14, 1957, by ‘Kashi Vidvat Parishad’ (a council of 500 greatest scholars saints of India). He composed divine texts like ‘Prem Ras Madira’, ‘Prem Ras Siddhant’, and ‘Radha Govind Geet’ to lead us on the right path of devotion. He also gave priceless monuments as gifts to the world which include - Bhakti Mandir located in Bhakti Dham, Mangarh, Prem Mandir located in Vrindavan Dham, and Kirti Mandir located in Barsana Dham. Shri Maharajji also built hospitals for the impoverished, the Jagadguru Kripalu Chikitsalaya in Vrindavan, Jagadguru Kripalu Chikitsalaya in Barsana, and another one in Pratapgarh. All three help millions of underprivileged to gain free access to medical care. His Kindergarten, School, and College for impoverished girls Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat Education is located in Kunda and provides completely free education.