Book III : Aranya Kanda - The Forest Trek
Shabari is emancipated from mortality after her showing Matanga hermitage to Rama. Both the brothers approach Shabari as said by Kabandha and she adores them on their seeking her presence. She honours them as visitant guests and expresses her desire to depart to the spheres where her teachers are. Rama gives consent to it, on which she offers herself into fire and emerges as a divine angel, to ascend to heaven.
tau kabandhena tam maargam pampaayaa darshitam vane |
aatasthatuH disham gR^ihya pratiiciim nR^i vara aatmajau || 3-74-1
1. tau= both; nR^i vara aatmajau= king, best one, sons of; vane pratiiciim disham gR^ihya= in forest, west, side, on taking up; kabandhena darshitam= by Kabandha, shown; tam pampaayaa maargam= that, Pampa's, passage to; aatasthatuH= travelled on.
Both the sons of that best king Dasharatha, on taking up westerly path in that forest travelled on the passage to Pampa as shown by Kabandha. [3-74-1]
tau shaileSu aacita anekaan kSaudra kalpa phala drumaan |
viikSantau jagmatuH draSTum sugriivam raama lakSmaNau || 3-74-2
2. tau= those two; raama lakSmaNau= Rama, Lakshmana; shaileSu= on mountains; aacitan= studded [thicketed]; an ekaan= not, one [several]; kSaudra kalpa phala drumaan= nectar, similar, fruits having, at trees; viikSantau= while seeing; sugriivam draSTum jagmatuH= Sugreeva, to see, moved forward.
Those two, Rama and Lakshmana, while seeing several of the ticketed trees on mountains which have nectarous fruits on them moved forward to see Sugreeva. [3-74-2]
kR^itvaa ca shaila pR^iSThe tu tau vaasam raghu nandanau |
pa.mpaayaaH pashcimam tiiram raaghavau upatasthatuH || 3-74-3
3. tau = those two; raghu nandanau= Raghu's, legatees; raaghavau= Raghava-s; shaila pR^iSThe vaasam kR^itvaa= mountain, on top, sojourn, on making; pampaayaaH pashcimam tiiram= Pampa's, westward, bank's moorland; upatasthatuH= drew nigh of.
Those two legatees of Raghu on making a sojourn on the mountaintop, they the Raghava-s drew nigh of the moorland on the westward of Pampa Lake. [3-74-3]
tau puSkariNyaaH pa.mpaayaaH tiiram aasaadya pashcimam |
apashyataam tataH tatra shabaryaa ramyam aashramam || 3-74-4
4. tataH= then; tau= those two; pampaayaaH puSkariNyaaH = of Pampa, of lotus lake; pashcimam tiiram aasaadya= westward, moorland, on getting at; tatra shabaryaa ramyam aashramam = there, Shabari's, idyllic, hermitage; apashyataam= they have seen [spotted.]
Then on getting at the westward moorland of that lotus-lake Pampa, there those two have spotted the idyllic hermitage of Shabari. [3-74-4]
tau tam aashramam aasaadya drumaiH bahubhiH aavR^itam |
su ramyam abhiviikSantau shabariim abhyupeyatuH || 3-74-5
5. tau= those two; tam aashramam aasaadya= that, hermitage, on getting at; bahubhiH drumaiH aavR^itam= with several, trees, wreathed round; su ramyam= highly, picturesque [environ]; abhi viikSantau= on perusing; shabariim abhyupeyatuH [abhi upa eyuH]= of Shabari, came nigh.
On getting at that hermitage and on perusing at that picturesque environ that is wreathed round with several picturesque trees, those two came nigh of Shabari. [3-74-5]
tau dR^iSTvaa tu tadaa siddhaa samutthaaya kR^itaa.njaliH |
paadau jagraaha raamasya lakSmaNasya ca dhiimataH || 3-74-6
6. tadaa= then; siddhaa= sublimated [by yogic practices, Shabari]; tau dR^iSTvaa tu= them, on seeing, but; kR^ita anjaliH= making, palm-fold; samutthaaya= on getting up; raamasya= of Rama; dhiimataH lakSmaNasya ca= sagacious, of Lakshmana, even; paadau jagraaha= feet, taken [braced.]
On seeing them that sublimated yogi Shabari instinctively made palm-fold, got up imperatively, and then she braced the feet of Rama, and even that of sagacious Lakshmana, impressively. [3-74-6]
paadyam aacamaniiyam ca sarvam pradadaat yathaa vidhi |
taam uvaaca tato raamaH shramaNiim dharma sa.msthitaam || 3-74-7
7. paadyam aacamaniiyam ca= water for feet-wash, mouthwash, also; sarvam yathaa vidhi pradadaat= all [viands for the visitants,] as per, custom, she gave; tataH= then; dharma sam sthitaam= in duty [not virtue etc.,] well [unflinchingly,] one abiding in; taam shramaNiim= to her, that anchoress; raamaH uvaaca= Rama, spoke - asked after her.
She gave them water for feet-wash and mouthwash, and other viands customarily affordable to visitants, and then Rama asked after that anchoress who is unflinchingly abiding in her duty. [3-74-7]
kaccit te nirjitaa vighnaaH kaccit te var.hdhate tapaH |
kaccit te niyataH kopa aahaaraH ca tapodhane || 3-74-8
8. tapaH dhane= oh, [lady with] ascesis, as wealth; te vighnaaH= your, deterrents; nir jitaa= completely conquered [overcome]; kaccit= isn't it [somehow]; te tapaH vardhate kaccit= your, acetic practises, culminating, isn't it [someway]; te kopa= your, annoyance; aahaaraH ca= ailment, also; niyataH kaccit= regulated [adjusted,] isn't it [somewhat.]
"Oh, ascetically wealthy lady, perchance your deterrents in ascesis are completely overcome, somehow... your ascetic practises culminating, someway... your annoyances and ailments are adjusted, somewhat... isn't it! [3-74-8]
The word kaccit is a phatic expression like 'isn't it?' but without question mark, as a statement of reasoning out as in hai naa, hai kyaa.../ illeyaa.../ kadaa... But it had to be said here in a roundabout way. The detrimental factors for loosing balance of mind, as asked by Rama, are kaama, krodha, lobha: tri vidham narakasya idam dvaaram naashanam aatmanaH | kaamaH krodhaH tathaa lobhaH tasmaat etat trayam tyajet || 16-21 Gita. The Doors of Hell / Are threefold, whereby men to ruin pass,- / The door of Lust, the door of Wrath, the door / Of Avarice. Let a man shun those three! - Sir E. Arnold.
kaccit te niyamaaH praaptaaH kaccit te manasaH sukham |
kaccit te guru shushruuSaa saphalaa caaru bhaaSiNi || 3-74-9
9. caaru bhaaSiNi= oh, suave, speaker; te niyamaaH praaptaaH kaccit= your, commitments [to certain pledges, like caandraayaNaadi vrata-s,] achieved, anywise; te manasaH sukham kaccit= your, self, appeased, anyway; te guru shushruuSaa= your, mentors, subservience to, sa phalaa= with, fruit [brought to fruition]; kaccit= isn't it!
"Oh, suave speaker, mayhap your sacred commitments are achieved, anywise... appeased is your self, anyway... and your subservience to your mentors brought to fruition, perchance... isn't it!" Thus Rama enquired with Shabari. [3-74-9]
raameNa taapasii pR^iSThaa saa siddhaa siddha sammataa |
shasha.msa shabarii vR^iddhaa raamaaya prati avasthitaa || 3-74-10
10. raameNa pR^iSThaa= by Rama, she who is asked thus; siddha= sublimated yogin; siddha sammataa= to sublimated yogis, adherent to; taapasii= anchoress; vR^iddhaa= senescent lady; saa shabarii= she, that Shabari; prati avasthitaa= afore, remaining - en face Rama; raamaaya shashamsa= to Rama, she informed.
When Rama asked her in this way she that Shabari who is a senescent anchoress, sublimated yogin and an adherent to the sublimated yogis of higher rank, informed Rama remaining in his vis-à-vis. [3-74-10]
adya praaptaa tapaH siddhiH tava sa.mdarshanaat mayaa |
adya me saphalam janma guravaH ca supuujitaaH || 3-74-11
11. adya= just now / today; tava sam darshanaat= by your, pleasing appearance - manifestation; maya= by me; tapaH siddhiH praaptaa = ascesis, accomplishment, is achieved; adya= now only / today; me janma sa phalam = my, birth, with, fruit - fructified; guravaH ca su puujitaaH= to mentors [my subservience,] also, well, hallowed.
"Just now, on your pleasing manifestation before me my ascesis is accomplished, and now only my birth is fructified, and now only my subservience to my mentors is well hallowed... [3-74-11]
Annex: 'My dear boy, you are so late... having come too lately how is that you ask whether everything is sanctified or beatified long back and there is nothing for you to do... here I am too bored to stay in this withered body and I am longing to go to my gurus' place to serve them... not that they are in need of any maidservant, but I need much to be in their presence as a maidservant... whether you are god or no god... that is not my concern... my teachers told me to stay here until your arrival... and you have arrived now, so fructified is my teachers' saying... what is the result of subservience to teachers... release, deliverance, etc., thus my teachers said... so I got it just now... that way, what is it a commoner birthed on earth wishes... an emancipation from the cycle of births and deaths... so my teachers said... thus I got it just now... on envisioning you... I know that you are unknowable, thus said my teachers, but I have known you, because I have seen you... hence I am redeemed by my gurus... this is the resultant factor of my unswerving servitude to my teachers... by the way, my teachers used to say about it quoting from some sweta Upanishad... now I am unable to recollect it... Lakshmana, can you recite it for me...' Lakshmana: yasya deve par˜ bhakti× yath˜ deve tath˜ gurau | tasya ete kathit˜ hi arth˜× prak˜þante mah˜tm˜× |prak˜þante mah˜tmana iti | shvetaashvataropanishad 6-23 'for a noble soul who reposes devotion in god, and an equal devotion in his teacher, to such a noble soul all truths manifests themselves... to such a noble soul all truths manifests themselves...' Shabari: Yes, yes, so also I stand ennobled after envisaging you, just now...'
adya me saphalam taptam svargaH caiva bhaviSyati |
tvayi deva vare raama puujite puruSarSabha || 3-74-12
12. puruSarSabha= oh, best one among men; deva vare= gods, among best; tvayi puujite = in you [now,] when worshipped; raama= oh, Rama; adya me taptam saphalam = now, mine, whatever ascesis I practised, is fruited; svargaH caiva bhaviSyati= heaven, also thus, will be there.
"Oh, best one among men, now all my ascesis is fructified when I personally worshiped you, who are none other than the best god among gods, thus the heaven will also be there for me... [3-74-12]
Annex: 'thus my teachers were discussing about you when you were in Chitrakuta... but I have no knowledge about you or your Being... as said by my teachers you have come, thus my teachers' words came true... then you must be that 'Being' according to my feminine logic... and I could personally see you with theses hazy, foggy mortal eyes, which my teachers could not... am I to self-ascertain that I edge over my teachers, though I have not performed any rituals or ceremonies, which my decrepit and doddering teachers painfully did... not so, it is their way of knowing you and this my way of reaching you... they also said that there is a returnless sphere, apart from brahma loka, indra loka... 'abode of Brahma or paradise of Indra...' and when I was saying 'heaven to me...' I intended that returnless 'heaven...' to where my teachers have gone, as they did not wish to go to Indra's paradise to enjoy the dance programs of Rambha or Tilottama, as said by Gita 8-16: aabrahma bhuvana lokaaH punar aavartino arjuna | maam upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate || The worlds, Arjuna!- even Brahma's world- / Roll back again from Death to Life's unrest; / But they, O Kunti's Son! that reach to Me, / Taste birth no more. - Sir E. Arnold.
tava aham cakshuSaa saumya puutaa saumyena maanada |
gamiSyaamyakshayaa.nlokaa.nsvatprasaadaadarindama - yadvaa -
gamiSyaami akshayaan lokaan tvat prasaadaat ari.ndama || 3-74-13
13. saumya= oh, kind one; tava= by your; saumyena cakshuSaa= with kind, eyes; aham puutaa= I am, sanctified; maana da= respect, endower of; tvat prasaadaat= by your, beneficence; a+ kshayaan= un, diminishing [returnless]; lokaan= worlds; gamiSyaami= I wish to go; arin dama= oh, enemy, subjugator.
"Oh, kind one, your blessed sight has sanctified me... and oh, endower of respect, by your beneficence I wish to go to those returnless worlds because I have subjugated those enemies of yours, viz., ari SaD varga-s in me, and I think my prayer to you is justified because you are a subjugator of such enemies... [3-74-13]
Annex: 'Now that you have come I conclude you to be that "Absolute' and I repose the same faith and confidence in you which I have for my mentors... hence give me the worlds of no return, to where my preceptors went...' 'Or, tava saumyena cakshuSaa by your magnanimous visual acuity, gratis visualis, puutaa asmi I am depurated of all of my three fates, sancita, aagaami, praarabdha karma-s, hence, oh, enemy subjugator, subdue all enemies in me, ari SaD varga - kaama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, maastarya, even the present lobha, moha for a returnless world, and then tvat prasaadaat by your nirhetuka dayaa kaTaaksha prasaadaat, your unconditional salvation, salvas gratis, grant me those returnless worlds...' Govindaraja. Ravana's ten heads are identified with the above six negativities plus four more as - kama : lust; krodha : anger; lobha : greed; moha ; delusion; mada : pride; maatsarya : envy; manas : mind; buddhi : intellect; chitta : will; ahamkara : ego.
citrakuuTam tvayi praapte vimaanaiH atula prabhaiH |
itaH te divam aaruuDhaa yaan aham paryacaariSam || 3-74-14
14. aham yaan paryacaariSam= I, whom, I was in tendance of; te= those sages [disciples of Matanga]; tvayi citrakuuTam praapte= on your, Chitrakuta, arriving at; atula prabhaiH vimaanaiH= by unequalled, in refulgence, by divine aircrafts; itaH divam aaruuDhaa= from here, to welkin, lifted up.
"Divine aircrafts of unequalled refulgence have lifted those disciples of Sage Matanga in whose tendance I was, to welkin on your arriving at Chitrakuta... [3-74-14]
taiH ca aham uktaa dharma j~naiH mahaabhaagaiH maharSibhiH |
aagamiSyati te raamaH su puNyam imam aashramam || 3-74-15
sa te pratigrahiitavyaH saumitri sahito atithiH |
tam ca dR^iSTvaa varaan lokaan akSayaan tvam gamiSyasi || 3-74-16
15. dharma j~naiH= probity, knowers of; mahaabhaagaiH ca= highly providential ones, also; taiH maharSibhiH aham uktaa= by those, eminent-saints, I was, told; raamaH= Rama; te su puNyam= your, highly, blest; imam aashramam aagamiSyati= to this, hermitage, will come; saumitri sahitaH= Soumitri, along with; saH te atithiH= he is, your, guest; prati grahiitavyaH= he is to be cordially welcomed; tam dR^iSTvaa= him, on seeing; tvam varaan lokaan= you, to best, worlds; a+ kSayaan= un, diminishing [in merit]; gamiSyasi= will go.
"Those knowers of probity, highly providential, and eminent-saints have told me, 'Rama will come to this highly blest hermitage of yours along with Soumitri... and you have to cordially welcome them as your guests, and on your seeing him you will go to best worlds, where merit remains undiminished...' [3-74-15, 16]
This suggests that subservience to preceptors will generate the merit that causes deliverance to the student or servant by the active participation of the deliverer. The best world or sphere, or state attainable by soul-searching individuals is kaivalya whereas seeing that deliverer with one's own eyes bhagavad avalokana, is far beyond these worlds or states with nomenclature, and it is mukti, salvation from life cycles. Govindaraja
evam uktaa mahaabhaagaiH tadaa aham puruSarSabha |
mayaa tu vividham vanyam sa.mcitam puruSarSabha || 3-74-17
tava arthe puruSavyaaghra pampaayaaH tiira sa.mbhavam |
17. puruSarSabha= oh, man the best; mahaabhaagaiH aham evam uktaa = by highly providential sages thus, I, in this way, was told,; tadaa= then onwards;= puruSavyaaghra= oh, manly tiger; puruSarSabha= oh, best of the men; mayaa tu= by me, on my part; tava arthe= for your, sake; pampaayaaH tiira sambhavam= of Pampa Lake, moorlands, occurring on; vividham vanyam samcitam= various, forest [fruits and eatables,] are gleaned.
"Oh, best one among men Rama, thus I was told by those highly providential sages, oh, best one among men, oh, manly tiger, and I have gleaned various forest fruits and eatables that occur on the moorlands of Pampa Lake for your sake..." So said Shabari to Rama. [3-74-17]
Out of the three epithets for Rama, the twice-repeated epithet is puruSarSabha has two different meanings in vernacular translations. One is the usual intensifier puruSa R^iSabha 'bull among men...' where The Bull is the bull from the zodiacal sign or constellation Taurus to that of stock exchanges. And it is Latin bulla 'rounded object', in medieval Latin 'seal' or Latin bullire 'to bubble', from bulla 'bubble' etc., where Rama is the rounded off seal for kingship, and even known for his bubbly fermentation to deal with atrocities. The other is puruSa tilaka 'the vermilion mark one the forehead of mankind...' rather the husband of mankind, or the husbandman for mankind who cultivates good on the earth as a farmer, after weeding out the weeds called evils. The version of Gita Press has this as the 'flower of humanity...'
And then it is said in vernacular translations as a 'bullish man' is for his impetuousness and aggressiveness towards evil called Ravana, when he started from Ayodhya. The second is to tell that he is a yeoman, a man holding and cultivating a small landed estate, taking care of every weed or withering plant, as he has come to see Shabari, and Shabari like an old plant did not stir out. The third is puruSa vyaaghra 'manly tiger...' but this is actually 'man, the lion...' and if a lion sets out he will not take a back step until his pursuit is fulfilled. Thus Shabari is given the lines with three epithets to Rama, as she is already in the know of this Rama, and now on seeing him personally, some divine wisdom dawned and she is able to foresee what this man, rather this lion, is going to achieve at end point. We glean these meanings, one, or two, and we appeal to Sanskrit pundits to derive which epithet is used with which purpose, once again.
By the way, where is the scene of Rama eating fruits and eatables bitten and tasted by Shabari? Has this old woman not offered the fruits to the guests, or just said that they are available? We listen many stories and see many pictures telling that she gave many fruits after biting them with her own teeth to test the taste. All that is not in Valmiki Ramayana. This amplification is from Padma Purana. phal˜ni ca supakv˜ni m¨l˜ni madhur˜õi ca | svayam ˜s˜dya m˜dhuryam parŸkÿya paribhakÿya ca | paþc˜t niveday˜m˜sa r˜gh˜bhy˜m dh®ýhvrat˜ |
evam uktaH sa dharmaatmaa shabaryaa shabariim idam ||
raaghavaH praaha vij~naane taam nityam abahiS.hkR^itaam |
18b, 19a. shabaryaa evam uktaH= by Shabari, that way, one who is= addressed - Rama; dharmaatmaa= graceful souled one; saH raaghavaH= he that, Raghava; nityam= ever vi j~naane= from clearly, knowing - from gnosis, from esoteric knowledge; a+ bahiSkR^itaam= not, debarred lady - Shabari; taam shabariim = to her, to such Shabari; idam pra aaha= this, clearly [enquiringly,] said.
When that graceful souled Rama is addressed thus by Shabari, he that Raghava enquiringly said this to that Shabari who is never ever debarred from esoteric knowledge and gnosis. [3-74-18b, 19a]
'though ignoble by birth...' is the assumed finishing line. There are many exclamations and arguments for and against this caste oriented banalities. So taking by those days we may find the characters of this Shabari, tribal king Guha, Dasharatha's minister Sumantra, and the like and then we may examine how much the so-called outcaste is cared for or sought after. They may be ineligible to perform ritual deeds but none is barred from esoteric knowledge.
danoH sakaashaat tattvena prabhaavam te mahaatmanaH ||
shrutam pratyakSam icChaami sa.mdraSTum yadi manyase |
19b, 20a. mahaatmanaH danoH sakaashaat= great souled, son of Danu's, presence [from the wraith of]; tattvena shrutam= in nutshell, what is heard; te prabhaavam= your, [and your preceptors'] effectiveness; manyase yadi = you feel like, if; pratyakSam samdraSTum icChaami= personally, to clearly see, I wish.
"Your and your preceptors' effectiveness is heard in effect from the wraith of the great souled Danu's son, Kabandha, and if you feel showing it like I wish to clearly see it, personally..." Thus Rama asked her to show hermitage. [3-74-19b, 20a]
He is rather showing that hermitage to us in order to emphasise the path followed by the disciples of Matanga, whom this Shabari served that laboriously.
etat tu vacanam shrutvaa raama vaktraat viniHsR^itam ||
shabarii darshayaamaasa tau ubhau tat vanam mahat |
20b, 21a. shabarii= Shabari; raama vaktraat viniHsR^itam= from Rama's, guttural, emerged from [worded gutturally]; etat vacanam shrutvaa= all that, but, sentence [wording,] on hearing; tau ubhau= to, both of them; mahat tat vanam darshayaamaasa= unique one, that, woodland, started to show.
On hearing those words voiced by Rama, Shabari started to show that unique woodland to both of them. [3-74-20]
pashya megha ghana prakhyam mR^iga pakSi samaakulam ||
mata.nga vanam iti eva vishrutam raghuna.ndana |
iha te bhaavita aatmaano guravo me mahaadyute |
juhavaan cakrire niiDam ma.ntravat ma.ntra puujitam || 3-74-22
21b-22. raghunandana= oh, delight of Raghu-s lineage, Rama; megha ghana prakhyam = clouds, crammed, comparable; mR^iga pakSi samaakulam= animals, birds, compacted with; matanga vanam iti eva vishrutam = Matanga, woodland, that way, well known; pashya= you see; mahaa dyute= oh, highly, resplendent Rama; bhaavita aatmaanaH= contemplative, souls; me guravaH= my, teachers; iha= here; mantravat= hymn oriented; mantra puujitam= with hymns, worshipped; niiDam= nest, snuggery; te juhavaan cakrire= they, activities of fire [Ritual-fire oblations,] conducted.
"Oh, Rama the delight of Raghu's lineage... this one comparable to a crammed cloud that would be ever ready to yield much cherished cloudbursts, and compacted with animals and birds that are ever ready to enjoy seasonable rains, is that hermitage to which you have come, that way this woodland is well known as Matanga, meaning a cloud, or an elephant, or an elephantine cloud that showers blessings on all... and oh, highly resplendent Rama, you may see this nest, snuggery, where those contemplative souls, my teachers, used to conduct oblations into the Ritual-fires, orienting and worshipping them with Vedic hymns... [3-74-21b, 22]
There is another shade with a little different wording cakruH analam mantravat mantra kovidaaH meaning mantra kovidaaH experts in hymns; mantravat hymn oriented; analam Ritual-fire; juhaavaan oblations in fire; cakruH conducted, worshipped.
iyam pratyak sthalii vedii yatra te me susatkR^itaaH |
puSpa upahaaram kur.hvanti shramaat ud vepibhiH karaiH || 3-74-23
23. me= my [by me]; su satkR^itaaH= highly revered; te= by those [great sages]; yatra= where; shramaat= arduously; ut vepibhiH karaiH= with extremely, doddery, hands; puSpa upahaaram= flower, submittal [worshipped the Altar of Fire]; kurvanti= they used to do; such a; pratyak sthalii vedii= westerly, raised, altar; iyam this= [alone.]
"Where those great sages that are highly revered by me used to offer flowers with their extremely doddery hands in the worship the Altar of Fire, this alone is that Altar of Fire raised at western end... [3-74-23]
The Altar of Fire is the sanctum sanctorum of Vedic-ritual, like that of present day temples. It took some two hours for Rama to enter such a hermitage of Agastya, that too after Agastya's permission. Now a so-called low-caste woman is able to detail about it, naming by their technical names as pratyak stalii vedi, praacii sthalii vedi, puSpopahaaram, and she is detailing their acts of doddery worship, sympathetically. Hence, she should be in proximity at those places when her preceptors actually worshipped the fire offerings. That way, she is a bahiSkR^itaam - api samiipaat ' not, debarred lady, even, from the proximity' of Vedic-rituals. These Vedic time yanj~na-s were more secular than the present day commercial temple complexes, cf., ashva medha yaj~na in Bala Kanda. Nobody debars any in such Vedic ceremonies, but some are not expected to perform them personally, again cf., Vishvamitra-Trishanku episodes. If everybody becomes a Bishop, who will be remaining for appointment as pastoral staff? The Reverend Bishop is the Bishop, but staffers are many.
teSaam tapaH prabhaavena pashya adya api raghuuttama |
dyotayanti dishaH sarvaaH shriyaa vedyaH atula prabhaaH || 3-74-24
24. raghuuttama= oh, best one from Raghu-s; teSaam tapaH prabhaavena = by their [my teachers,] ascesis, by efficacy; a+ tula= not, comparable; prabhaaH= in irradiance; vedyaH= Altars of Fire; shriyaa= with solemnity; adya api= now, even; sarvaaH dishaH dyotayanti= all, directions, irradiating; pashya= you see.
"Oh, best one from Raghu-s, by the efficacy of the ascesis of my teachers these Altars of Fire are with incomparable irradiance, and even now they are irradiating all of the directions with solemnity... see them... [3-74-24]
ashaknuvadbhistairgantumupavaasashramaalasaiH - yadvaa -
ashak.hnuvadbhiH taiH gantum upavaasa shrama aalasaiH |
cintite abhyaagataan pashya sametaan sapta saagaraan || 3-74-25
25. upavaasa= by dieting; shrama= by straining; aalasaiH= enervated; gantum= to go [to sea baths]; a+ shaknuvadbhiH= not, capable were they; taiH cintite= by their, thought process; abhyaagataan= to close by [oceans] came; sametaan= in coalescence; sapta saagaraan= [all of] seven, seas; pashya= see [them.]
"Enervated by dieting and straining they were incapable to go for sea bathing, and just at their thought process all the seven seas came close by, in coalescence... see them... [3-74-25]
That is why Pampa Lake is held sacred. Instead of rivers going into sea, seas flowed back to form this lake for the sake of these old sages. Sea bathing is the best, river bathing is of medium merit, and bathing with well or vessel water is worst, in terms of holy baths.
kR^ita abhiSekaiH taiH nyastaa valkalaaH paadapeSu iha |
adya api na vishuSyanti pradeshe raghuna.ndana || 3-74-26
26. raghunandana= oh, Raghu's legatee; iha kR^ita abhiSekaiH= here, on performing, holy baths; taiH= by them [by sages]; pradeshe= in this place; paadapeSu = in tees - on trees; nyastaaH valkalaaH= kept [spread for drying,] jute-cloths; adya api= now, even; na vi shuSyanti= not, completely, dried.
"On performing holy baths those sages have spread their jute cloths on those trees with their own doddering hands here at this place and oh, Raghu's legatee, those cloths did not dry even now by the touch of their hands... [3-74-26]
deva kaaryaaNi kurvadbhiH yaani imaani kR^itaani vai |
puSpaiH kuvalayaiH saartham mlaanatvam na tu yaanti vai || 3-74-27
27. deva kaaryaaNi kurvadbhiH= for gods, rituals, while doing [while the sages were worshipping gods]; kuvalayaiH saartham puSpaiH= black-lotuses, along with, [other] flowers; yaani= which [garlands]; kR^itaani= were made [knotted together]; imaani= these - these are those garlands, and these are; mlaanatvam na yaanti vai= state of discolour, not, but, going in, indeed.
"Which garlands they have knotted together with black-lotuses and other flowers while they were worshiping gods, these are really those garlands, and indeed there is no discolouration to them... [3-74-27]
kR^itsnam vanam idam dR^iSTam shrotavyam ca shrutam tvayaa |
tat icChaami abhyanuj~naataa tyakshyaami etat kalevaram || 3-74-28
28. tvayaa= by you; kR^itsnam idam vanam dR^iSTam= in its entirety, this, woodland, is seen; shrotavyam ca shrutam= listenable, also, listened; tat= thereby; abhyanuj~naataa = to be a permittee [where you are my permitter]; etat= this one; kalevaram [kale aavaram= for aliveness, encasement, body of living being]= sheath, called body; tyakshyaami - tyaktum= to leave off; icChaami= I wish to.
"You have seen what is seeable and you have listened what is listenable of this woodland in its entirety... thereby I wish to become a permittee, where you alone are my permitter, as I wish to castaway this sheathe of soul, called my body... to make that soul to move nigh of my teachers feet... [3-74-28]
teSaam icChaami aham gantum samiipam bhaavita aatmanaam |
muniinaam aashramo yeSaam aham ca paricaariNii || 3-74-29
29. aashramaH= [this] hermitage; yeSaam muniinaam = of which, sages - belonged to which sages; aham ca [yeSaam] paricaariNii= I, also, [whose,] maidservant; bhaavita aatmanaam= to contemplative, souled ones; teSaam= to their; samiipam= proximity; aham gantum icChaami = I, to go to, yearn [soulfully.]
"Of which sages this hermitage is, and of which sages I am also a maidservant, I soulfully go the proximity of those contemplative souls..." Thus, she appealed to Rama. [3-74-29]
dharmiSTham tu vacaH shrutvaa raaghavaH saha lakSmaNaH |
praharsam atulam lebhe aashcaryam idam ca abraviit || 3-74-30
30. saha lakSmaNaH raaghavaH = along with, Lakshmana, Raghava; dharmiSTham vacaH shrutvaa= duty-congruent, [her] words, on hearing; aashcaryam idam [aashramam]= astonishing, is this [hermitage and its inmates]; [iti= thus]; abraviit= he said; atulam pra harsam lebhe= unique, high, rejoice, he obtained.
Rama on hearing those duty-congruous words of Shabari along with Lakshmana, obtained a uniquely high rejoice and he also said, "astonishing is this..." [3-74-30]
Annex: 'astonishing is this hermitage and its inmates... where the inmates praise their bygone masters, as said at gurum prakaashayet dhiimaan 'gurus are to be extolled by true and wise disciples...' and the masters made the environ blissfully livable, all this is without any maya or magic... so, fairness has its own place...'
taam uvaaca tato raamaH shabarii sa.mshrita vrataam |
arcito aham tvayaa bhadre gacCha kaamam yathaa sukham || 3-74-31
31. tataH= then; raamaH= Rama; samshrita vrataam= one firmed up, in faith [towards her masters]; taam shabarii [shabariim]= to her, to Shabari; uvaaca= spoke; bhadre= oh, saintly lady; aham tvayaa arcitaH= I am, by you, treated with deference; kaamam= as you please; yathaa sukham= as per, your solace, [where you solace yourself with]; gacCha= you may go.
Then Rama spoke to that Shabari who is firmed up in her faith towards her masters, "oh, saintly lady, you treated me with deference... thus may go to your cherished worlds, where you can solace yourself with your masters... [3-74-31]
iti evam uktaa jaTilaa ciira kR^iSNa ajina a.mbaraa |
anuj~naataa tu raameNa hutvaa aatmaanam huta ashane || 3-74-32
jvalat paavaka sa.mkaashaa svargam eva jagaama saa |
32, 33a. iti evam uktaa= thus, that way, said [by Rama]; jaTilaa= tufted hair wearing; ciira= jute-cloths; kR^iSNa ajina= deer, skin; ambaraa= having for dress; anuj~naataa raameNa= consented to, by Rama; aatmaanam= herself; huta ashane hutvaa= in char, eater [Ritual-fire,] offering as oblation; jvalat paavaka samkaashaa = flaring, fire, similar to; saa svargam eva jagaama = she, to heaven, alone, went to.
Thus that way said by Rama in consent, she who is wearing tufty-matted hair, jute-cloths, and deerskin as her clothing, she offered herself as an oblation into Ritual-fire, and then like a flaring fire, she went to heaven alone. [3-74-32, 33a]
divyam aabharaNa sa.myuktaa divya maalya anulepanaa ||
divya a.mbara dharaa tatra babhuuva priya darshana |
viraajayantii tam desham vidyut saudaaminii yathaa || 3-74-34
33b, 34. divyam aabharaNa samyuktaa= angelic, ornaments, joined with [bejewelled]; divya maalya anulepanaa= angelical, with flowery tassels, cosmetics; divya ambara dharaa = angle's, wraparound, wearing; vidyut saudaaminii yathaa= electric [spark,] scintillations, as with; tam desham viraajayantii = that, province, scintillating; tatra priya darshana babhuuva= there, angel-like, for a sight, she became.
Now she appeared as an angle bejewelled with angelic ornaments, wearing angle's wraparound and angelical flowery tassels, and bedaubed with suchlike cosmetics, and as with the scintillations of electric sparks she scintillated that province. [3-74-33b, 34]
yatra te sukR^ita aatmaano viharanti maharSayaH |
tat puNyam shabarii sthaanam jagaama aatma samaadhinaa || 3-74-35
35. shabarii= Shabari; aatma samaadhinaa= soul, by meditative concentration [for she is a yogin]; su kR^ita aatmaanaH= good, done, souls [blest souls for their good deeds]; te maharSayaH= those, sublime sages; yatra viharanti= where, they saunter; tat puNyam sthaanam= to that, sanctum, locus; jagaama= [she] went to.
Shabari who is a perfect yogin with perfected meditative concentration, now went to that sanctum locus where the blest souls of those sublime sages, namely her masters, saunter. [3-74-35]
For this Dharmaakuutam says: tat udŸritam ati dharmiÿ÷ham vacanam ˜karõya harÿa nirbhara m˜naso r˜meõa samaujñ˜t˜ þavarŸ bhujagŸ iva jŸrõ˜m tvac˜m tanum hut˜þane nikÿipya divya m˜ly˜ ambara dhar˜ þiras˜ r˜mam praõamya guru jana maõýala k®tam puõya sthalam jag˜ma || dk She left her body as a female serpent does in its ecdysis. This metaphor of a snake shedding off skin is repeated time and again in Ramayana and here the commentator is using it. This is indicative of the thousand hooded serpent aadiseSa who guards Vishnu like a mosquito net. The fibre like sheath released by a snake will be beautiful for a look as it glitters with all the charms of a charming snake. The minute you finger it, of course when snake went a long way off, then that sheath splinters in hundreds of pieces. That is why this metaphor is used to suggest the world as viSNu maya, which remains beautiful and if touched shatters all misconceptions. Saint-singer Tyaagaraaya has a kR^iti on this pannagapu doma tera paikettavemayya… So Shabari is rid of that illusion, or maya…
The meaningfully meaningless caste system of India
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At the outset let us say that there is no Hinduism as such but bhaaratiiya sanskR^iti is there, and that is not concentrated in an around Indus valley alone. So also there is no caste system in India, but it is to be called varNa, varga categorisation, class, social stratification etc. Oxford has this to say for the word caste - Spanish and Portuguese casta 'lineage, race, breed', fem. of casto 'pure, chaste' and we are still lingering ourselves to the unwitting misnomer of Portuguese. In Ch. 1 of Bala Kanda, we put this as - Brahman - teacher-class; Kshatriya - ruler-class; Vyshya - trader-class; Shudra - worker-class. And if the word 'class' is also a pungent word let us use this Latin word classis 'assembly...' a near relative of varNa, varga and which does not mean the colour of skin, but it is meant to be a group. Thus the groups or assemblages are classis of intelligentsia and classis of sovereignty and classis of commerce and classis of peasantry or smithery or its various branches. Unfortunately, this word is mixed up to mean nonsense, and it remained to mean only as 'casta' of Portuguese. If it were to mean bloodline, race, or caste, then to which bloodline Kshatriya-s belong, either to Solar dynasty or to Lunar dynasty. Likewise to which bloodline the many kinds of Brahmans, say Vaidic, Niyogi, Bhatt, Caturvedi, Dwivedi, Iyer, Iyyangar, Namboodri etc., belong. By the way, what is the caste of Parashu Rama, or Bhaargava Rama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu on earth and generally ascribed as a Brahman? His father is Jamadagni, said to be a Brahman, and his mother is Satyavati, the sister of Vishvamitra, a Kshatriya. Thus, the present day confusion and wrong terminology do not apply to Vedic times, because they believed in the 'seed-and-field syndrome' biija kshetra nyaaya and perhaps a phenomenon recently found may match it - ``when we look at the Y-chromosome DNA, we see a very different pattern. The lower castes are most similar to Asians, and the upper castes are more European than Asian... Further, when we look at the different components within the upper caste, the group with the greatest European similarity of all is the warrior class, the Kshatriya, who are still at the top of the Hindu castes, with the Brahmins... But the Brahmins, in terms of their Y-chromosomes, are a little bit more Asian - So the genetic results are consistent with historical accounts that women sometimes marry into higher caste, resulting in female gene flow between adjacent castes. In contrast, males seldom change castes, so Y chromosome'' so says geneticist Lynn Jorde of the University of Utah.
This discussion has its orientation in the word shramaNii prefixed to Shabari, which originally means a Hindu wandering friar, not to be confused with the monk of Buddhism. Many take her to be a tribal or lowborn woman, and puzzle about the availability of Vedic knowledge or yogic practise to her. It is pertinent to ask why lowborn people and women were not authorised to perform Vedic rituals. We may see the queens of Dasharatha have performed Ashvamedha ritual in Bala Kanda. So women are not barred. Then the classis laboris had a different kind of labour to undertake, than this relax -less labour of rituals. So, their manpower was used that way and the brainpower of these Vedic pundits was used this way. The difference belonged more to the occupational interests than congenital inheritance. The lateral thinking or the vertical thinking changed them, and it is now we have a counter-culture than that of Vedic times. We still see sons and daughter of film actors, industrialists, or politicians becoming father-like, but sons of washermen and shore-makers are turning out differently.
Though Shabari is given a direct charge-free flight to heaven but poor Shambuka, another shuudra, is eliminated by Rama. Shambuka is neither a poor, innocent, meekish shuudra. He had to be eliminated when he was practising haTha yoga 'meditating upside down...' only to conquer the world with his negative logic like Ravana. He is not even a Yogi, but a bhogi, enjoyer and one who started his mission with half-knowledge with para apakaara dharma. But Shabari is a yogin by her aatma samaadhi, that too a reverential lady by her steadfastness in what she believed sva dharma .
Regarding the accessibility of Vedas or Vedic knowledge to each and every body, the first question that arises is 'what for it is required by everyone?' If the answer is 'to know what Vedas say...' then the reply is, 'sun rises in east, cloud brings rain, so it is to be worshipped, and beyond it there are some forces to cause all this, so they are to be known, by which you obtain heaven... this Vedas say...' Therefore, this knowledge was unnecessary for the commoners in those days, because they were on heaven-like earth, so we presume by epics. And there are no such episodes where such questions were raised by some characters. Even Vali, a vanara was an adherer of Veda-s. This knowledge is now sought for because earth is turning into hell. But if Vedas are required for practising to purchase a direct ticket to heaven, the episode of Trishanku is there to tell us what sort of heaven we gain by short-cut methods. Even if they are taught to one and all and all sit chanting those hymns, since it appears to be an easy job to chant un-understandable hymns, gone is the agriculture, commerce, defence etc., to dogs.
Such a state of turmoil has occurred with the advent of Buddhism and its relative conversions. Then the Magadha and Maurya empires have utterly outdone the Kshatriya-s, by hiring mercenaries as their army. When the defence of a tradition itself is defeated then that tradition had to crumble, and in to that crumbling tradition, many outlandish traditions have intruded to intermingle, so says our known history. But when the question of - caste vs. Vedas - arises, there are many caste-less characters in Veda made eligible to learn Vedas, for e.g., Jaabaala Satyakaama, vide channdogya upaishad 4-4-1 to 4-4-5. Adi Shankara's commentary on Brahma sutra-s 34-38 refuses the right of practising Vedas by Shudra-s, but his maniiSaa pancakam salutes a caNDaala - caNDaalo astu sa tu dvijostu... 'may he be a Brahman or a Profaner, salute him [who has right knowledge about the Absolute...] This appears self-contradictory, but not so, because the ritual acts are prohibitive to women and shuudra-s, but not knowledge or personal excellence in it. Admittance of everyone in every sphere of activity is as good as admitting a nondescript into an operation theatre when heart transplantation is going on. Or, asking an airhostess to build a space shuttle because she has more flight hours on her record. Why all of them, some categories of Brahmans are not allowed in certain areas of rituals though conducted by Brahmans. Vedas say that it is a difficult path to follow them: uttiÿ÷ha j˜grata pr˜pya var˜n nibodhata | kÿurasya dh˜r˜ niþit˜ dur atyay˜ duram patha× tat kavayo vayanti || 1-3-14 ka÷hopaiþad 'Arise Awake, resort to best teachers to know 'That...' it is a walk on the razor's edge, difficult to follow, so the wise say...' then, why walk on a razor blade when air-conditioned roads of VB, Java, C , Oracle are there, like Vishvamitra who has taken many chapters to become Brahmin pundit, for no practical purpose. Vedic culture is different to Puranic culture, Puranic culture differs with epical, where examples are Lakshmana's boundary line to Seetha, and Shabari's tasting fruits before giving them to Rama, from Padma Purana, and everything or anything of that time is unavailable now, except these palm-leaf books and this pseudo-casteism. Anyway, let bygones be bygones, and let Veda or Vedic knowledge remain in a showcase of some archaeological museum, and let us revert to the story telling. So in conclusion it is to be said whether Shabari is the Spanish casto lady or Indian shramaNi she got what she wanted by her own sva dharma , and the portrayal of her divinity in the last but one verse is enough to tell whether she is lowborn human, or high-rising angle.
Though we may not elicit the caste, creed, or classis of Shabari, but she is an important Yogic character according the viewpoint of Yoga on Ramayana. In Yoga kunDalini 'the cosmic power in living being...' has a good part to play. It flows though the Sympathetic and Para-sympathetic ganglions though bio plexuses. If we take Ramayana as a humanoid epic, and the gist of the epic as its life force, that force has an upward movement via these ganglions. By the boons of Kaika this élan vital of Ramayana has moved from its serpentine coil reposing in muula aadhaara cakra sacro-coccygeal plexus, and reaches svaadhiSTaana cakra sacral plexus, when Bharata takes Rama's sandals to enthrone, and then it ascends and spends time in maNipuuraka cakra, the lumbar plexus, in the solacing laps of great saints and hermits like Atri, Anasuya, Agastya, and then it ascends and listens to the noise made by Kabandha at anaahata cakra cardiac plexus, where an aahata is 'un beaten...' a sound made without any external beating, the lub-dub beating of heart. That noise of heart will be unbearably noisy for cardiac patients. So is the thunderous voicing of Kabandha on his entry. This élan vital of Ramayana, which started with its primeval pureness, touches water and fire in earlier plexuses and now is ready to touch air at cardiac plexus. And air wants an egress and the story wants to go to the next plexus vi shuddha cakra 'very clean, pure, friendly and pleasant area...' laryngeal plexus, that of clean Pampa, pure vanara-s, friendly Sugreeva, Hanuma, and pleasant Rishyamuka. But where is outlet for that agonised 'airing of heart' of the epic? Frail Shabari is that slender duct-stem of a lotus, and through her, viz., on exiting her, the story enters into an area where the problems of the characters can be explained to other characters. Having spent some time there, then it enters aaj~naa cakra the ordering plexus in between brows. One does what his mind orders. Here that mind is Sugreeva and irrefutable are his orders. When vishuddha cakra is available at throat, svaadhiSTaana cakra is there at sacral place. The area from throat to sacrum is madhya kuuTa Vali's birth is from this place and Sugreeva's birth is from throat of their father turned mother. And what that is throated by Sugreeva is the activity of aaj~naa cakra and Seetha is found thereby... - after raamayaNa paramaartham by Dr. Ilapaavuluuri Panduranga Rao, a T.T.D publication.
iti vaalmiiki raamaayaNe aadi kaavye araNya kaaNDe catuH saptatitamaH sargaH
Thus, this is the 74th chapter in Aranya Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India.
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© May, 2003, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao [Revised : January 05]