Sabari in Valmiki Ramayana


SABARI is one of the popular characters from the epic Ramayana. But have you ever considered whether the character of Sabari was mentioned in Valmiki Ramayana or not? 

Here is an interesting Twitter post with the same question. 

Out of 83 votes polled, 72.3% (60 out of 83) voted YES and 27.7% (23 out of 83) voted NO. 

Now, we will see whether there is a mention of Sabari in Valmiki Ramayana or not.

Balakanda Sarga-1 of Ramayana starts with Sage Narada narrating the characteristics of Lord Rama to Valmiki and in the process of explaining the characteristics, Sage Narada mentions all the important events in Lord Rama's life. 

One such event was the killing of Kabanda, 

मार्गमाणो वने सीतां राक्षसं सन्ददर्श ह ।

कबन्धन्नाम रूपेण विकृतं घोरदर्शनम् ।।1.1.55।।

Meaning: This sloka says that Rama who is searching for Sita in Dandakaranya has seen a Rakshasa Kabanda who was deformed in shape and dreadful in his deeds.

So, why do we quote Kabanda here? Because he was the one who mentioned Sabari to Lord Rama while attaining moksha in the hands of Lord Rama.

तं निहत्य महाबाहुर्ददाह स्वर्गतश्च स: ।

स चास्य कथयामास शबरीं धर्मचारिणीम् ।।1.1.56।।

श्रमणीं धर्मनिपुणामभिगच्छेति राघव । 

Meaning: Rama with his prodigious arms killed Kabanda. While Kabanda is engulfed with flames and about to attain moksha, he says, "Oh Raghava, there is a female ascetic by the name of Sabari who is proficient in performing austerities and religious duties. You may visit her".

Thus Sabari was mentioned by Kabanda in the first Sarga of Balakanda. 

Did Rama visit her? Yes, it was mentioned in Aranya Kanda Sarga 74. Aranya Kanda, Sarga 74 starts with the mentioning of Kabanda.

तौ कबन्धेन तं मार्गं पम्पाया दर्शितं वने।

प्रतस्थतुर्दिशं गृह्य प्रतीचीं नृवरात्मजौ।।3.74.1।।

Meaning: As told by Kabanda, Lord Rama and Lakshmana went westwards towards Pampa.

And they reached the hermitage of Sabari.

तौ पुष्करिण्याः पम्पायास्तीरमासाद्य पश्चिमम्।

अपश्यतां ततस्तत्र शबर्या रम्यमाश्रमम्।।3.74.4।।

Meaning: On the west bank of Pampa, they reached the hermitage of Sabari.

Now that we are clear that Sabari was very much an integral part of Valmiki Ramayana, let's look at the other aspect of the popular story about Sabari propagated through our serials and movies.

What is that popular aspect? Sabari ate the fruits to test their taste and then offered them to Rama.

This is a false narrative and was created just to give a cinematic effect in the name of creative liberty.

In Valmiki Ramayana, it was mentioned that Sabari offered fruits to Lord Rama and Lakshmana, but without tasting them. It was never mentioned anywhere in the epic.

Here is the sloka which mentions that Sabari offered fruits to Lord Rama and Lakshmana.

मया तु विविधं वन्यं सञ्चितं पुरुषर्षभ।

तवार्थे पुरुषव्याघ्र पम्पायास्तीरसम्भवम्।।3.74.17।।

Meaning: Sabari is saying, "Oh best of the humans Lord Rama, I collected the different kinds of fruits that are grown on the banks of Pampa for you and Lakshmana".

From this, it is clear that Sabari offered the fruits, but did not taste any of them as shown in serials and movies.

So, what happened to Sabari after Lord Rama and Lakshmana visited her hermitage?

इत्युक्ता जटिला वृद्धा चीरकृष्णाजिनाम्बरा।

तस्मिन्मुहूर्ते शबरी देहं जीर्णं जिहासती।।3.74.32।।

अनुज्ञाता तु रामेण हुत्वात्मानं हुताशने।

ज्वलत्पावकसङ्काशा स्वर्गमेव जगाम सा।।3.74.33।।

दिव्याभरणसंयुक्ता दिव्यमाल्यानुलेपना।

दिव्याम्बरधरा तत्र बभूव प्रियदर्शना।।3.74.34।।

विराजयन्ती तं देशं विद्युत्सौदामिनी यथा।

यत्र ते सुकृतात्मानो विहरन्ति महर्षयः।।3.74.35।।

तत्पुण्यं शबरी स्थानं जगामात्मसमाधिना।

The above slokas mention that Sabari emancipated her body from all worldly deeds with the contention of being visited by Lord Rama and Lakshmana. Thus she reached the heavens, the abode of righteous people, where she looked like a streak of lightning.

*****That's the story of Sabari from Valmiki Ramayana*****

***Jai Shree Ram🙏***


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