“O best among men, thus I was spoken to at that time by those greatly fortunate sages. O best among men, indeed for Your sake I have collected a variety of forest fruits which were growing on the banks of the Pampa Lake, O tiger among men.” (Shabari speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 74.17)
He was ready to leave home. Not a planned trip by any definition, it was a sudden reversal of fortune. The wife Sita insisted on accompanying. So did the younger brother Lakshmana. As a king’s son, Shri Rama had valuable possessions. If net worth were calculated, it would be considered tremendously high.
Yet the stipulations for this journey were that the group had to live like renounced mendicants. Therefore, prior to leaving Rama gave away practically everything He owned. The recipients were the brahmanas, the priestly class. Accustomed to worshiping Rama without motive, they received material benedictions directly from Him.
Though Rama is never poor, He possesses the full renunciation spirit simultaneously. It is not surprising that those who are renounced themselves are eligible for worshiping Him. An aspect of worship is offering, and even those who don’t have much can still honor Rama satisfactorily.
1. The brahmanas worship Him
As mentioned above, they are something like the priests of society. They have six designated occupations, and just performing one is sufficient for fulfilling the obligations of the order. The brahmanas are to be like the brains of society, guiding the hands, legs and stomach represented by the other classes.
Since they are usually poor, what can they offer Shri Rama? There is no large house in which to set up worship. Sufficient funds for hiring a top-rated chef to prepare food dishes are lacking. They accept gold and jewels from others in charity, so how can they offer the same to the Supreme Lord?
The Supreme Lord is still known as brahmanya-devaya. He is the worshipable deity of the priestly class. Especially dear to Him are the brahmanas and the cows, neither of which are known for their material wealth.
2. He accepts fruits as offering
Take a look at the altar in a formal house of worship. There is likely fruit sitting in front of the deity. Shri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are usually standing on either side, with the devoted servant Hanuman in front. The offering is made to all four, as Bhagavan is never considered to be alone.
The fruits are sufficient for pleasing Him. Surely something more palatable can be prepared and offered, but the sentiment is what counts. In the mood of bhakti, love and devotion, the offering wins Rama’s favor. The simple fruit or water offering shows that bhakti is not restricted by economic class. Even a person without a home can find a piece of fruit to offer. The principle is validated through Rama’s own pastimes, like when He met the female ascetic named Shabari in the forest. She was renounced, but she still pleased the Lord through offering the fruits she could find.
3. The goddess of fortune is His wife
Who is actually wealthy, anyway? This life is temporary. The living force within is permanent, but a life as we know it involves the combination of spirit and body. The stay, the lease for that residence, so to speak, does not renew indefinitely.
During that temporary residence a person may become wealthy, either through their own work or from the efforts of past generations within the family. Nevertheless, the real source is always the goddess of fortune. The wealth is something like on loan from her, with an intended purpose.
As she serves the Supreme Lord, so the benedictions she offers should be earmarked similarly. In whatever way a person is blessed by her, with either a little or a lot, there is always the opportunity to serve her husband, which is the ultimate objective of life.
Money with you not a lot?
Still opportunity you’ve got.
For worshiping in way sufficient,
Person who of nothing deficient.
Example from Rama’s forest time stay,
Like when coming Shabari’s way.
The brahmanas as worshipers known,
His wife already fortune to own.
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