Lord Rama meets Shabri: Devotion is the sole reason for ‘darshan’

According to the Adhyatma Ramayana, when God-incarnate Rama visits Shabri’s hermitage, Shabri tells Rama that she has been waiting for him ever since her guru, Rishi Matang, left for Lord Brahma’s abode. Her mystic guru had foretold her that the Eternal Supreme Soul, who has incarnated on earth for the preservation of dharma, would bless her with his darshan (face-to-face meeting with God) one day and had instructed her to maintain her life till that moment. After pleasantly receiving Lord Ram and offering him some fruits, Shabri asks a question, “When even my guru (a great sage) could not obtain your darshan, how could I — a socially disadvantaged, uneducated person — attain it?”

In reply, Rama explains that his remembrance is not influenced by gender, caste, title, or age but finds its source in bhakti (devotion) alone. In the absence of bhakti, actions like sacrifices, charity, asceticism, and learning are fruitless in leading to his darshan. In Tulasidasa’s retelling of the same theme in the Ramacharitamanasa, Rama compares a person who possesses social privileges, a clan, virtues, ethics, brightness, strength, and riches but lacks devotion to “a cloud devoid of water” (Aranya Kand; 34–3).

Finally, Rama gives Shabri a discourse on the nine kinds of devotion through which a jiva (individual soul) can reach God and concludes by clarifying that devotion leads to the experience of the Divine which, in turn, leads to emancipation: “I am here because you are endowed with bhakti. And my darshan will unquestionably lead to your liberation.”

It is interesting to note that some members of Hinduism’s devotional schools do not cherish realization and emancipation as highly as a darshan. Though the darshan of God is not a prerequisite for liberation, it is the face-to-face meeting with the Personal God that the devotee seeks and attains.

One thought on “Lord Rama meets Shabri: Devotion is the sole reason for ‘darshan’”

  1. Sabari's devotional service to her Guru is the cause for the dharshan or Lord Rama. The article is wonderful and necessary for this world.V.S.Thirumalai

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