Shabari’s Berries

[Shabari offering fruits]“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)

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मया तु विविधं वन्यं सञ्चितं पुरुषर्षभ।
तवार्थे पुरुषव्याघ्र पम्पायास्तीरसम्भवम्।।

mayā tu vividhaṃ vanyaṃ sañcitaṃ puruṣarṣabha।
tavārthe puruṣavyāghra pampāyāstīrasambhavam।।

There is someone you really care for. They mean a lot to you. They have done so much, even if they are unaware. Sometimes people can influence in the subtlest of ways. The teacher in school pushes you. They demand to the point that you hate them. Only until years have passed do you fully appreciate their influence.

Then there are those who set a good example. They are not directly teaching, but the impact is there just the same. You want to give something back. A gift. Make them happy. Show your appreciation. There are many options, especially if you have the means.

1. An expensive watch

[expensive watch]One of those that you need an insurance policy on; just to guard against theft. Others will take notice as soon as they see. If the recipient should happen to not like the style, if they don’t want to flaunt an expensive gift, they can at least exchange for something else. In dire circumstances, they can sell and use the money however they wish.

2. A new house

Some charitable organizations operate this way. For instance, to help the families of fallen soldiers or police officers, there is a sizeable donation to the point of paying off a mortgage. Thus in the time of great difficulty the family left behind has one less thing to worry over. They can at least remain in their home. They don’t have to sell it in order to make ends meet.

To that person who means so much to you, offer an improved residence. They can then live in comfort and style. They will really appreciate such an uncommon gift. There will be no doubt as to the impact they made on you.

3. Berries from the forest

This was the offering made one time by a female ascetic known as Shabari. This was to the most important guest, who is also described as the best of men. The Sanskrit is purusha-rishabha. Rama is the greatest enjoyer. He is the original dominating force of this world. All others are prakriti, the enjoyed, in comparison.

Rama also had the greatest impact on Shabari. He was the reason for her turn towards asceticism. She followed the guidance of her spiritual mentors in order to please Rama, which is another name for God. Thus there was no accurate way to measure the positive influence of that single person.

He happened to appear as a guest. Shabari had the opportunity to welcome God in person to her home, but she did not have much to offer. This was renounced life. Residence in the forest, the preferred place for yogis and brahmanas wanting to focus on tapasya and yajna, austerity and sacrifice.

She offered Rama berries collected from the forest. A person might chuckle thinking of the harvesting effort. The berries were not really hidden. It was not like they were grown for such a purpose. Rama is the origin of the material world, so everything belongs to Him originally. What will a few wild berries do for Him?

In truth, the offering was accepted with great appreciation. This means that Rama is the greatest benefactor and also the kindest soul. He does not require an expensive gift in return. He requires nothing at all, but He appreciates any sincere gift made to Him. In explaining devotion to Arjuna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead does not list anything expensive or difficult to find in the example listing of offerings [Bg 9.26].

[Shabari offering fruits]Not that I should be a miser when dealing with that great well-wisher of living entities. Not that I should skimp out in the bhakti process and spend lavishly in other areas. But the meaning is that even if I am not wealthy, if I don’t have much around, I am not restricted from connecting in the closest way to that husband of the goddess of fortune.

In Closing:

Berries from the forest collecting,
To welcomed guest directing.

Renounced so not available much,
But offered with a sincere touch.

Shabari to Shri Rama visiting,
Liberated before life quitting.

Hope then even this miser to take,
That smiling Lord to make.

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