Shabari – The Half-Eaten Berry

Shree Ram

The midday sun was gleaming beyond the normal. The hot wafts of winds were as dry as they could be. Though the seating arrangements in that old hut could have been better. Still, Lakshman couldn’t help but glee over the mere sight of (freshly collected) jujube fruits that the elderly unkempt lady had to offer.

The containers or patra that they were being served in, weren’t any treat for the eye either. Made out of old and almost crumbling leaves and twigs, they were displeasing, to say the least.

Prabhu Ram was unmoved by whatever was bothering Lakshman and his eyes were almost inundated with love and affection (which was often only reserved for Mother Kaushalya alone).

But, she was not offering those fresh berries fresh to either of them. Shabari would tear into the flesh of each berry, taste it to her satisfaction and then would place those half chewed berries into the patra.

Prabhu Ram picked the first berry out of the patra and was about to eat it when Lakshman protested.

‘The upholder of the Three World’s cannot eat half-eaten fruits from a shabby hut dweller.’

Prabhu was again unmoved on this outburst of his younger brother.

‘Lakshman, this lady, this fruit and us; we are all made out of same elements. Why do you see it as us and them?’

‘Just maybe, we are not. Prabhu!’ he replied.

‘What constitutes this berry?’ Prabhu said.

‘Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space; of course.’ he replied.

‘Hey Anuj (the younger one)! Does Earth discriminate the good from the bad? Does it not carry the burden of both.’

‘It does.’ replied Lakshman.

‘Does Water not harbor both the Goldfish and the venomous creatures, alike?’

‘It does.’

‘Does Fire not purifies what chooses to enter its reign?’ said Prabhu Ram.

‘It certainly does.’

‘Does Air not carry along the sweet smell of flowers and silently dissipates and annihilates the odor unbearable?’

‘It without a doubt, does.’ said Lakshman.

‘Does Space ask the past of man or woman before accommodating him or her?’

‘It surely never does.’ replied Lakshman.

‘A Sage, A Self-Realized Man never discriminates a person on either his outer appearances or his past deeds. The Asuras and Suras who devoured Amrit are long forgotten. But, Mahadev who drank Halahala toxin is revered by everybody. A mere touch of a Sadhu (Sage) cleanses one and all. Those who discriminate do not attain Self-Realization. Be a Sage and adore everyone alike. Look past through the failings of a being and look right into his sincerity and intentions.’

Lakshman nodded and picked a berry from the patra.

Prabhu Ram was meanwhile relentlessly cherishing whatever sincere offering Shabari made.

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