Mata Shabari is famous devotee of Prabhu Shri Ram. Her devotion earned her the highest place in Lord Rama’s heart . It is said that her real name was Shramana.
Shabari was a Hunter’s daughter
Mata Shabari was a bird hunter’s daughter. Albeit a hunter’s daughter, she was very kind. She was devotee of Lord Shri Hari. She remembered Lord and showed deep interest in serving to saints and learning about the grace of Shri Hari from them. When her parents observed her uncanny behavior, they grew despondent. They thought, Shabari’s merciful nature and devotion towards divine will unsettle her from her worldly duties of a hunter. She won’t be able to fend for herself and her future family. After much thinking they decided to get her married.
Shabari fled away from her marriage ceremony
Sahabari’s marriage was fixed with suitable groom from her own community. Day of Marriage arrived. A lot birds were caught to fed to welcome the guests in marriage. Shabari asked her mother, “Mother, why have we caught so many birds?”
Her mother replied,” Dearie, this is to feed the guests arriving in your marriage? We are hunters and and we have to welcome our guests as per our tradition. Your father has made a lot arrangements.”
Hearing this imminent slaughter of so many birds unsettled Shabari to the core. She thought to herself, ” Alas, What a pity a day which is supposed to be the happiest day of life will be the last day of life these unfortunate souls. How would I laugh being fully aware that the cause of untimely death of so many innocent creatures? No no this is not right…”
Thinking thus Shabari got up , while her mother was combing her hair. she opened up the doors of the big cage holding up all the birds. While her mother and family still stunned at what happened and trying to catch the birds. Shabari immediately ran away in jungle. Her family searched for her but they could not find her.
Blessings of Birds
It was Tretayuga, Birds freed up from cages , gave the blessing to Shabari,” O Shabari you have freed us from cage. May the Almighty free you up from this cage of cycle of birth and death. May you be free from the illusion of this Mayic world.” during Tretayuga and Satayuga even the birds and animals had their prayers heard.
Shabari went far away in search of purpose of her life. She met sages and learned people. She started living in forest. They said that you are a women and second your trade is of hunter , Shudra this is why we cannot let you enter in our hermitage.
It was a very painful dilemma for Shabari. Why Prabhu has left her in this untenable situation? She cannot live in her home where her parents kill animals daily and she cannot live the hermitage because of the same reason that she was a hunter’s daughter as shudra and a woman. What would she do now? After thinking over this for sometime finally she got the inspiration to service to their Rishis and Sages and spend her life with satisfaction of doing something good.
Silent service for Sages
But the problem was that the Rishis did not allow her to enter the Ashrama. So Shabari decided to do the service when no body could see her. At the time of night when everyone at Asharam was asleep, Shabari used to go to the Ashram do all cleaning , dusting and arrange for firewood, pooja flowers, water etc. She used to return before Brahammuhurta in morning, much earlier before anyone rose up.
Rishis and the dwellers of Ashram were puzzled at this clandestine service provided by some unknown person. They decided to find out. One day a disciple at Asharam caught Shabri with the pile of woods. He took her to his Guru, Matang Rishi.
Matang Rishi asked her, “Who are you and Why do you do this clandestine service in our Ashrama? “
Shabari told Rishi about her plight,” O Maharshi ! You are great seer and very kind. I am Shabari, daughter of a Shudra Hunter . I left my home as I could not bear the sight of slaughter of innocent creatures. I went to many sages and Asharams. But no one let me enter saying that I am a woman and a Shudra. I would not be able to follow the highly illuminated path of seers because of previous bad samskaras of a shudra hunter family. But unable to live a life of a hunter and have very kind heart. I find solace only in devotion of Prabhu and ins service of his devotees. O great Muni, Please give me shelter as I do not know any other way of life and my only purpose is Lord’s devotion.”
Shabari fell down into the feet of Matang Rishi Matang.
Matang Rishi accepted her as disciple
Maharshi Matang was pleased to hear the truthfulness of Shabari he said,” O Daughter! Get up ,do not be afraid. Your soul is of a true devotee. As your purpose of life is that of a Sanyasi. From today you will live in our Ashrama and do Sadhana of Ram naam as other disciple do.”
Shabari was pleased to hear this. She found the salvation path for her life. Although that period was very strict in following up assigned trade to people, Maharshi Matang had shown great courage of allowing a Shudra hunter girl to stay at his Ashrama and do Sadhana.
Shabari engaged herself completely into the Sadhana of Shri Rama. She chanted Ram-Ram and stayed true in her sadhana.
Matang Rishi’s Demise and His prediction for Shabari
Finally day came when Maharashi Matang was supposed to leave his mortal body to go to his final abode. That was the time when Rishi and Sanyasi used to the leave their bodies consciously with Pranayama and Dhyana.
All the disciple of Matang rishi gathered around him to bid final farewell to Maharshi. Everyone was in great grief. Shabari asked,”Father! Where are you going?
Maharshi Matang,” Daughter I am going to the final destination of all souls?”
Shabari, ” When will you return?”
Maharshi Matang,” No one returns from there?”
Shabari,” Then how will I live? who will support me without you?”
Maharshi, ” Almighty is the support of every being in this universe”
Shabari,” Where will I find him?”
Mahrashi,” O my beloved Daughter, You don;t have to go anywhere. Almighty will come himself and meet you.Its my blessing to you.”
Shabari had deep faith in Marshi Matang. She trusted his words more than anything in her life.
Next day everyone was still dejected because of Maharshi Matang’s Samadhi. While Shabri thought my father Maharshi Matang did not tell me when will Almighty come . It could be possible he might come today. She was elated at this thought and starter preparing for lords’ arrival.
Shabari’s long wait for Prabhu Ram began
She cleaned up Ashrama, threw flowers on the pathway of Ashrama, selected fruits from trees and kept them for Lord. Morning, afternoon , evening whole day passed and Lord did not come. Shabari was dejected but thought maybe he has not come today but he might come tomorrow. She prepared for Lord’s arrival next day also. Lord did not come next day also. Like this days, months and years passed and Shabari kept on preparing for Lord’s arrival everyday with same fervor. Her faith in her Guru’s word was completely firm. She knew that his words will be true one day.
Thus everyday and every moment of Shabari’s life was filled with the expectation of Prabhu Shri Ram’s arrivals. She thought of him , chanted his name as lived her every breath for Lord Ram only.
Prabhu Ram Met Mata Shabari
Finally the day arrived when Lord Ram came in forest and visited the heritage of other Rishis in visited. He inquired them about Shabari. Though Shri Rama knows everything yet he does ‘Leela’ to gives the credit to mortals. Forest people thought of Shabari as some old mad woman. But when Prabhu asked about Shabari , they realised the greatness of Mata Shabari.
That day mother Shabari woke up in morning. her left side organs hands , eyes were twitching, it was a sign of great impending joy to be showered upon her shortly.
Lord Rama came searching for her place. He saw her hermitage from a little distance.
“Shabari ke ashram Pabhu Pag Dhara…”
Meaning: Lord Shri Ram set his foot into the Ashrama of Mata Shabari.
Mata Shabari saw Prabhu Ram and thought Finally Lord has arrived at my home today. Path to her Ashram was not straight and Shabari felt for moment that Lord Shri Rama is just passing over and might not come to her at all. Shabari was enthralled at the mere sight of Lord and she closed her eyes suddenly. She thought if Lord is just passing , but let his beautiful face should not pass from my eyes. She closed her eyes and was completely immersed into the sight of Lord Rama.
Shri Rama arrived and he exclaimed,”O Lakshman! Are we not too late? Her eyes are closed and she is not moving. is she alright.Or she is angry for not showing up for such long duration of her and and doesn’t want to see us.
Hearing word of Prabhu Rama, Shabari Mata opened her eyes . She felt as if she was daydreaming. For a moment she felt it was not real. But seeing Lord’s smile she realized that today Lord has arrived to fulfill her lifelong desire. he himself has come, her Guru’s prophecy has bee fulfilled.
She seated Prabhu Rama and Lakshmana on beautiful seats . Washed their feet and brought them fruits. She brought Ber(Badri) fruits. Ber fruits can be sour or sweet. It is very difficult to predict just looking ta them. Mother Shabari used to eat a little from the tips to ascertain which one are sweet.She kept only sweet ones for Prabhu while discarded the sour ones.
She offered same berries (Ber in Sanskrit) to Lord Rama and Lakshamana. Prabhu understood Maa Shabari’s devotion and ate the bers with love. While eating he also praised the quality and sweetness of Bers. While Lakshmanji saw the already bitten fruits and was filled with disgust. He pretended to eat them but did not and kept on throwing them behind him.
Prabhu Rama is Almighty himself. For him love of devotee is most important thing and social ostentations are secondary. He ate all the Bers and praised the great devotion of Mata Shabari. Finally the purpose of Mother Shabari’s life was fulfilled. She saw Ram and didn’t want to see anything else in the world. Prabhu Rama was in search of Mother Sita at that time. After telling the necessary, next steps for the search of Mother Sita, Mata Shabari decided to leave her mortal body.
She took the permission from Lord Rama . She left her body ‘Yogagni’ (Fire produced by Yoga), produced by the power of penance . Seeing Lord Ram and filled with his oneness with everything inside and outside , Mata Shabari went to abode of Lord Rama. Her soul entered the feet of Lord Rama.
Lord Rama gave her highest regard in Ramayana. When he returned to Ayodhya after exile. When people asked who all did he meet in forest. While Shri Ram mentioned all Rishis and sages for once he mentioned about Mata Shabari andJtaatyu again and gain. He praised them and extolled their virtues.
The taste of Mata Shabri Bers never left the lips of lord Rama. When he returned to Ayodhya, his mothers and ladies of palace made food for him with great joy. They asked about the taste of food to Lord Rama. He still replied.,’ Food the great in taste, but the sweetness of Mata Shabari’s Ber is still missing from this.”
” Kai Shabri Kai Vidur ghara……….Jeeme do baar..”
Meaning: Once at Shabari’s and another at Vidur’s place..Lord Shri Hari ate to his satisfaction at these two times
Lord satiated only two times the most. One with Ber fruits offered at Shabari’s ashram in Rama Avatar and another at with Shaka(green leaf vegetables) at Vidur’s Place in Krishna Avatar. It is was not the taste of dishes but the taste of love and devotion that amalgamated with them to the core. Prabhu is hungry for love and not for the taste of recepies and deserts.
Hari Manau ek bhagti ka nata….
Q. How many years did Shabari wait for Ram?
A. Approximately 12 Years. Because Shabari’s Guru Matang Rishi left his mortal body when Bhagwan was in Chitrakoot. Prabhu Ram left Chitrakoot immediately after Bharat ji visited. Sita Haran happened a year befoer completion of 14 years of exile of Shri Ram. Prabhu Ram met Mata Shabari after Sita Haran, while searching for her. Thus if we reduce the first year spent in Chitrakoot and a year of Sita haran then 14-2=12 years seems to be period of Mata Shabari’s wait.
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