Shabri was a woman of ‘low caste’.
Hindu Scriptures speak of the four castes, which is nothing but four types of professions.
Let me tell you about them.
The first is Brahmin. The Learned, professors, priests…
The Second is the Kshtriyas: The warriors, soldiers, protectors…
The third is the Vaishyas: the Commercial community, shop keepers, traders…
The fourth is the Shudras: The working community, those who serve the first three…
In ancient India, the above were considered professions, and one could change them at will. Thus, if one was born into the business community, no one could stop him from becoming a teacher or washing dishes in a restaurant.
As time passed, the learned class started to feel very arrogant and believed themselves to be the’ highest’, because they were the most learned, and knew the Scriptures.
They imposed the ‘law’ that if one was born into one caste, they would remain there for life.
And so the menial workers were referred to as ‘low’ and later ‘untouchable’
If the so called ‘low castes’ had been taught Sanskrit, and to read and write it, they would have known that God did not recognize such a terrible ‘law’
I am going to tell you the story of Shabri.
Shabri belonged to the ‘low caste’
No one befriended her.
So she lived alone.
Her Guru had told her, that Sri Ram would one day visit her cottage.
Shabri would decorate her cottage with beautiful flowers every day, hoping that that would be the wonderful day, that Sri Ram would visit her.
One day Ram arrived at her village, as he traveled, far and wide, in his search for Sita.
And He did visit Shabri cottage.
Shabri was beside herself with joy.
She made him sit and brought a plate of berries for him to eat.
She wanted to make sure that they were sweet. It is popularly believed that she tasted the berries before giving them to Sri Ram to eat.
Sri Ram ate them with great relish and was happy at the faith and love that Shabri possessed.
The people in the village were appalled at Shabri’s audacity, but could say nothing to Sri Ram.
They requested Sri Ram to restore the water that had dried up in the well of the village.
Sri Ram said that, that would happen if Shabri bathed in the water of the well, first.
Shabri did. And fresh water returned to the dry well!
NAVADHA BHAKTI (9 STEPS TO DEVOTION)
Shabri wanted to learn more from Sri Ram about the path of Bhakti (Devotion)
Sri Ram explained:
1) Pratham Bhagati Santan kar sangaa
Which means: The first step to devotion (Bhakti) is to keep company of the Saintly
2) Doosri rati mam kathaa prasangaa
Which means: The second step is to enjoy listening to discourses pertaining to the Lord.
3) Guru pankaj seva, teesri bhakti amaan
Which means: The third step, is to believe, humbly in Guru/God.
4) Chouthi Bhagati mam gun gaan, karai kapat tajee gaan
Which means: The fourth step is earnestly (without hypocrisy) sing the praises of the Lord.
5) Mantra jaap mam dridh Visvaasaa, Pancham, bhajan jo Ved Prakaasaa
Which means: Chant the Vedic Mantras with immense faith.
6) Chattha dasa seela birati bahu karmaa, nirat nirantara sajjan dharma
Which means: The sixth step is not to react in adverse circumstances, yet act, perform ones karma, like the great ones do.
7) Saatvam sam mohi main jag dekhaa, motey sant adhik kar lekhaa
Which means: The seventh step is to perceive the world as God Himself.
And believe the saintly to be greater than the Lord.
8) Aathvam jathaa laabh santoshaa, sapneu nahin, dekhai par doshaa
Which means: The eighth, is a state (which one arrives at when one travels the first seven steps) where there is no desire left, but the gift of perfect peace. (In this state) one does not see fault in others, even in a dream.
9) Navam saral sab san chhal heena, mam bharos heenya harash na deenaa
Which means: In this state one has full faith in the Lord, becomes (child-like) simple with no hypocrisy. In this state, he does not fly high or sink low (but becomes equanimous).
Sri Ram adds that Shabri’s Bhakti is perfectly complete.
Yet if anyone were to have taken even one step towards devotion, out of all nine, he/she would be very dear to the Lord.