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  • Writer's pictureAshok Kumar Burra

Shabari's episode in Ramayana teaches lessons for Life

Ramayana is the first spiritual and inspirational story a typical Indian (Hindu) child listens from his/her mother or from the grand parents. I think there is no need to explain the past times of Lord Sri Rama. But sometimes we need to recall a specific event from those kinds of epics to evaluate or understand the real life situations. Following below is such an example.

Being the Supreme God’s incarnation himself, Lord Sri Rama to fulfill his father’s order under awful circumstances, set out on his journey of 14 years of exile from his kingdom Ayodhya along with his queen Sita and his brother Lakshmana. To add much to his troubles, the demon king Ravana abducted Sita during the absence the two brothers. Then both the brothers went in search of the queen Sita. On the way they fought with a demon ‘Kabandha’ and after killing him they came to know that this Demon was once a Gandharva and because of his arrogant behavior he was cursed by some sages. After his death in the hands of the Lord, this Demon regains his Divinity and suggests them to go to ‘Vrishyamukaparvath’where King of the Apes Sugriva lives with his fellow beings. On the way to that mountain they visit the house of Shabari an old woman. And the story continues with many more events…!

What we can learn from the episode of Shabari is this. Shabari was a Great Devotee of the Lord Sri Rama. When both the brothers went to her house she offered some fruits after tasting them. Lakshmana first hesitated if Rama can accept an offering already tasted by someone and even signaled the same to him. She did it without any second thought but only with divine bliss in her heart that the Lord is in front of her. And Lord Rama continued eating those fruits as he is much interested in the devotion of his devotees and not in the rituals or formalities.

Now let us observe the message behind this small extract from Ramayana containing Shabari’s episode.

The first thing is that whenever a poor or a needy person asks you, you have to give those items which you can use for yourself. For example, most of the people who are selfish in these days give the beggars those items which are of no use to them, like the left out food of the previous day. The good eatable items will be kept in their homes and spoiled items will be given to beggars and consider that they are doing a nice thing in helping the poor. In Upanishads, it is said that a Beggar is to be treated like the Supreme God Vishnu. This is because the poor man has no greed, no wealth, no selfishness, no ego, and so his mind will be pure.

So, if you are really good then can you give those items to others which you don’t prefer to eat? Here Shabari has done completely the opposite and it was a very good thing – by tasting each fruit and giving only the sweet fruits to the God. It may be perceived as a wrong doing by the orthodox minded fellows but it is the intention of the people that is more important than the action in the first place and the actions are finally required to justify our intentions and the action can’t be avoided.

Generally the mediocre nature of the human being is that if any good result occurs because of his work he takes it for granted and attributes it to his intelligence and if bad result for his effort occurs due to any reason he thinks that it is his fate and blames the God attributing Him responsible for this. But they don’t think God is responsible for everything. I have seen in my experience many persons who pray to God, saying something like, “God please excuse me for this sin”. You must come out of this blind and irresponsible belief that praying God will abolish all your sins. You are responsible for that sinful act and you should be courageous enough to face the result of such an act. Why the blame game with the God. No one wants to attribute the fruitful results to God. In this case if you observe properly, Shabari has given only the sweet things to God but not the wasteful things. You have to attribute every good deed to the God and you should bear the sin, so that you may feel ashamed of your deeds and will never do that sinful act again.

From now onwards try to follow this principle in your life and you will definitely get the bliss in moving along the good path to reach God. Remember in life the words of Swami Vivekananda, “God never gives what you want in your life, but God always gives what you need in your life”.

So always keep thanking God for what you have and accept whatever comes in your life as God’s gift for your own improvement. Judge your actions everyday during meditation to keep yourself under control and try to live a divine life free from anger, jealousy, hatred, revengeful attitude, selfishness and any other bad quality. Also remember that Swami Vivekananda has coined another phrase, “Service to Humans is Service to God”

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