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Rama and Sabari

Sabari and Rama

RIGVEDA proclaim,
( There is only one truth, only men describe it in different ways).


Reads the motto of the Scouts movement

Are You Prepared?

Sant Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanasa in Aranya Kanda tells of one person .... a woman who lived up to the Scouts motto ... Sabari. She was a member of the Sabaras tribe that lived in the depths of virgin forests as a hermit in an age and time barely imagined in today's world of communications and technology. Yet, in her own way she prepared herself and religiously directed her thoughts and action towards her goal. What she did and achieved then, emphasises today the need for us to BE PREPARED.

Sabari's life told in Tulsidas' Ramacharitamansa continue to inspire millions of people, of varying walks of life in different ways, and yet few are conscious of its influence. One such person whose life was influenced was Basmath Sharma, whose attempt within her last year re-emphasises that it is never too late to BE PREPARED.

Friday August 28, 1998

is the day


was rushed to the

Eric Williams Medical Complex at Mount Hope

and after emergency examinations warded in the Hibiscus Suite.

Overnight she was moved into Intensive Care where she

passed on to the beyond on

Friday September 11, 1998.
Was her attempt too late or did Sabari started too early? Whatever be the answer we must ask ourselves NOW


Sabari a saint and Basmath, a housewife and mother of eight,


each in their own way sought the same goal

Shri Rama says:

parahita basa jinha ke mana mahin

tina kahun jaga durlabha kachu nahin

There is nothing in the WORLD beyond reach of
those who prioritise the needs of others before self.

Ramcharitmanasa, Aranyakanda

Basmath, Pandit Samsundar Maharaj's daughter, and I were married according to Hindu rites on June 8, 1941 and we became the priveleged and honoured parents of six daughters and three sons. Our first child and daughter, Lalita died 1945.

Sabari, born in the jungle amid the Sabaris tribe, certainly had no knowledge of the outside world. She could not read or write but clearly understood the ways of life in the wilds of the forest where she grew to love and care for the several natural plants and animals. And yet, she eventually ran away from home.

There are two schools of explanation for this behaviour:

But be that as it may. She did leave her parents home and went deeper into the forest where she found several aashramas ... a settlement of rishis and munis and pleaded for a place to stay. Matanga rishi, an old saint granted her permission to stay in the settlement. This she did but went on to serve the rishi with household chores. Over several years, she too became immerced in divine thoughts but when Matanga rishi, her guru, was ready to go to the beyond, she declared that she must follow.

Matanga rishi then told her that she was not quite ready but should wait for the arrival of Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu and so obtain the bliss of his darshan. She had no doubt that her guru's words were true. It was her duty to obey her guru and so she did.

Sabari understood and accepted what she had to do. And she readied herself. She wanted to be prepared for when Rama came. Rama's darshan became her goal ... life, otherwise held no meaning or purpose. She understood that only by being prepared, at all times, she would not miss the opportunity but in being so ready at all times she would achieve the goal of her life to see Rama in person and so obtain permanent and true happiness.

When did Sabari start to prepare?

It would seem that she started on the path of caring for others when to save the lives of the several animals gathered by her parents for feasting at her wedding, she left home with the thought:
If that was not the time, then surely she got on the right path when she undertook the household chores at the aashramas ... which she was under no obligation to do ... and thereby became associated in divine company from whom divine knowledge flowed outward as the rays of the sun on a cloudless morning.
Sabari though illiterate ... could not read or write ... heard and memorised and understood the chanting of the rishis and munis, particularly that of Matanga Rishi, whose disciple she had become. She had become a sanyasini.

Today in the "civilised" world as then in the jungle one can be easily known by the company one keeps and surely one cannot expect to swim with the fish and don't get wet. There are choices. Sabari did not have to stay at the aasharama or even become a sanyansini. She could have moved on to another tribe or perhaps, tame and train some wild animals and become the earliest Queen of the Jungle. She made her choice. Sabari, the sanyansini chose the path of divinity.

She immediately set about preparing for Rama's darshan, the moment her guru, Matanga Rishi had gone. She lost count of the days and nights, but never, never got tired or bored or frustrated in her preparation and vigil for Rama's arrival.And so it was, when Rama and his brother Latchmana in search of Sita ... Rama's consort ... wended their way to the aashrama, Sabari was wide awake and ready and waiting to welcome them.

Frail with dark set eyes and wrinkled skin, Sabari had readied herself. With a garland of flowers hanging on her breast and her hair tied in a matted knot on her head. Sabari saw Ram and Latchmana approaching her aashrama and she knew the moment she was waiting for was at hand.

Tulsidas describes:
syama gaura sundara dvau bhai
sabari pari charana lapatai
Sibari on seeing both brothers, one dark and the other fair but both exquisitely charming, she fell prostrate and embraced their feet.

prema magana mukha bachan na ava
puni puni pada saroja siru nava
sadara jala lai charana pakhare
puni sundara asana baithare
Speechless, Sabari bowed again and again to their feet before she, eventually brought some water and reverently washed their feet and finally conducted them to seats of honour, as was the tradition in welcoming a guest.

There after she offered eats ... bulbs, fruits and roots ... to her guests. After they had eaten, Sabari stood with clasped hands and gazing upon Rama and in words barely audible, pleaded:

kehi bidhi astuti kara-un tumhari
adhama jati main jaRamati bhari
adhama tey adhama adhama ati nari
"How can I extol you. I am the lowest in descent and the dullest of wit. A woman", she pleaded, "is the lowest of those who rank as the lowest of the low. Of women again I am the most dull-headed."

Sabari made clear the social order and custom of the forest people. She, however was unaware that the social order and customs varied in other parts. Rama, however did not leave her with that feeling.
Promptly, Rama emphasised to Sabari that
he recognised no other kinship except that of devotion.
Rama continued:
jati pati kula dharma barie
dhana bala parijana guna chaturai
bhagati hina nara sohai kaisa
binu jala barida dekhai jaisa
Despite caste. kinship, lineage, piety, reputation, wealth, physical strength, numerical strength of family, accomplishments and ability,
a man lacking in devotion
is of no more worth than a cloud without water.

Rama hastened to enlighten Sabari on the several types and methods of devotion that led to the path of divinity.

Stages of Devotion or Bhagti

nava mahu ekau jinha kem hoi
nari purusa sach ra char koi
soi atisaya bhamini priya moren
sakal prakara bhagti drkha toren
Should one sincerely practice even one of the nine devotional types ... man or woman, animate or inanimate ... then that person becomes very dear to ME.

without a shadow of doubt
carried out her responsibilities and duties
as a wife and mother
never forgetting her dharma.
By this she by her practise showed the path in this age and time ... you don't have to be a sanyasini to serve GOD.
May BASMATH find the peace and happiness at the feet of Lord Rama for all times.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
Hari Om.