According to the Adhyatma Ramayana, when God-incarnate Lord Rama visited Shabri’s hermitage, Shabri told Rama that she had been waiting for his visit ever since her guru, Rishi Matang, left for Lord Brahma’s abode. Her mystic guru had foretold her that the Eternal Supreme Soul, who had 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 Rama and offering him some fruits, Shabri asked a question, “When even my guru, a great sage, could not obtain your darshan, how could I — a socially disadvantaged person — attain it?”
In reply, Lord Rama explained 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
, virtuous actions like sacrifices, charity, asceticism, and learning are fruitless in leading to his darshan
Chanting, God remembrance, and prayer are interrelated devotional techniques for spiritual connectivity, and they can also antidote some of our bad karma while transforming us. Once love of God gets triggered, we may achieve the grace of God (kripa), which should generally include guidance for our liberation from the universe. Grace may also be seen in the spiritual guidance that we already possess — from religious scriptures, from discourses by saints, and from our learning experiences in temples. And grace may also be seen in our interest in spirituality.
In Goswami Tulasidasa’s retelling of Shabri’s meeting with Lord Rama in the Ramacharitamanasa, Lord Rama gave Shabri a discourse on the nine kinds of devotion through which an individual soul (jiva) can reach God. Rama concluded 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.” Lord Rama explained that his darshan has a unique result for an individual soul (jiva): the attainment of one’s true nature.
Because Hinduism allows multiple approaches to God, devotion and faith in God are not seen as prerequisites for liberation. If we choose to approach God through Bhakti Yoga, we can add devotional elements like forgiveness, patience, perseverance, and enthusiasm to our favorite devotional techniques to shape our spiritual path to God. It is interesting to note that some members of Hinduism’s devotional schools do not cherish liberation as highly as a darshan. It is the face-to-face meeting with God that the devotee seeks. Transcendence of the karmic field and permanent proximity to God consequentially follow a darshan.
Edited on July 24, 2019.