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WOMEN IN EPICS

Role in Ramayana.
Sabari is one of the woman saints in Ramayana period, She belonged to the hunters tribe and was attached to Mathangha ashram, right from her youth. She used to pick fresh tasty fruits and keep them on the way of Matangha and stay away from them. When sage asked about a person who does this painstaking service, she presented herself and joined in that ashram. Before Matangha attained Heavenly abode, he told Sabari that Lord Rama will come to ashram shortly and bless her. Thus it is believed that sweating of Mathangha's disciples transformed as flowers then. Sabari was then waiting for Rama's arrival in the same hermitage. During search of Sita, Rama and Lakshmana killed Kabhandan who then changed as asura. He told Rama and Lakshmana about waiting of Sabari in Matangha's ashram. Then they visited ashram and saw sabari. She told about Mathangha and his disciple's Heavenly abode. She informed as Mathangha told her about the Rama and Lakshmana ,the Royal brother's visit to Ashram and then she will be able to do necessary services to them in the ashram. . Sabari offered fruits and showed the Yagna place to Royal brothers. Finally she sought liberation from the world and entered fire with deer skin in her body. Sabari transformed herself into Satwik devotee. Satwika joy according to Krishnas definition in Gita is experience only when the mind gets purified trough constant practice of meditation on God. Man seeking redemption should constantly find enjoyment in satwika joy alone. Rama then pleased with Acharya bhakthi, and Archana Bhakthi, and granted boons to join her Acharya in Paramapadam. As She emerged out of it, as a pretty woman wrapped in silk dress and in beautiful jewels, attained heavenly abode and rejoined Mathangha, with the blessings of Rama.

GLORIES
Rama redeemed and gave salvation to three characters in Ramayana. They are Jatayu, Guha and Sabari. Sabari was helpless and hapless old woman with no one to look after. Her preceptor told about Rama. She was yearning the arrival of Rama, whom she considered to be her saviour. She was then deeply absorbed in the contemplation of Rama's name at all times and in all places. Tara in kishkintha, Mandodari in Lanka, Sumitra in Ayodhya , and Sabari in Matangha's ashram are all having uniform understanding on Rama as the supreme phenomenon "Parathathvam " the main cause of the entire universe. Sri Vedanta Desika in Raghuveera Gadhyam narrates this episode as "sabari moksha sakshi bootha". The greatness of service, devotion and faith of common woman and the grace of Gurus and the Almighty even to a hunter woman are excellent features in this episode. Sabari finds place in first sarga of Valmiki Ramayanam itself in In Samshepa Ramayanam sloka 55. This is stated as Rakshasa stood for sometime in the sky and advised Rama to contact Sabari who was knowledgeable of Dharma , who was following its percepts and who renounced the world, indicating Sabari's conduct.

Thyagaraja's Songs
Saint Thyagaraja in his compositions on Rama starting as Entani ne sung in Mukhari, paid his homage to Sabari , the woman from the hunter clan whose good fortune surpassed that of many wives of the sages of the forest. There is another hymn begin with Karuna jalathe dasarathe , kamaniyanana suguna nithe sung in Ragamalika ,depicting entire personality of Rama as exemplary man , attractive physical features, , admirable virtues, and intellectual attainments. Thyagaraja mentioned in his poem as Rama, the son of Dasaratha is possessor of all invaluable excellences -Sundaram, Sivam, Satyam, Dharmam,Karuna, Beauty, Truth, Righteousness, Grace and as Purushothama .All these praises were done by Sabari also when she first met Rama.

Rama Nama
Sabari whispered 'Rama' ' Rama' in reverence and thankfulness always. Sabari's utterances to Rama were "Lord, I have no desire. I survived until now for darshan of Rama . I was just reciting Rama nama only. ". After relishing the fruits given by Sabari , Rama told her that fruits are as sweet as her own heart. Fruits are on the tree of life, on the branches of pure mind, in the sunshine of love. Sabari then told as she is of low caste, dull intellect, but with love for God getting His boundless grace. But Rama told that of the nine ways of earning and cultivating devotion, she followed all the nine ways. Also her mind does not blossom when good comes and does not wither when bad comes. She is thus blessed for ever.

Chanting the name of the lord in steady meditation is an important part of worship. Each and every aspirant is eminently eligible for this spiritual practice, without any distinction of caste, sex, age and there are no restrictions regarding time or place for this exercise. Sabari was having required earnest orientation to lord, intense urge, to meditate on him. Firm faith, sincere application, and devotional fervor make this namajapa fruitful beyond calculation and brought Sabari ,such a peace and bliss.

Devotion

Sabari's Devotion to God is supreme attachment to Rama through a Bhava predominant, and is out and out concerned with Him. One cannot develop true devotion to God if he is crooked in his heart, if he has got objects of love in this world, if he is tempted by charming worldly things. Perfect detachment from all objects is a preliminary to real devotion. Vairagya is the product of real love for God. One who has love for the world cannot have love for God. One has to be renounced for the attainment of the other. This renunciation can be acquired through the nine forms of Bhakti. The nine forms of Bhakti . They are Sravana (hearing of God's stories) Kirtana (praying and singing of His glories) Smarana (remembrance of His name) Padasevana (service to His feet) Archana (worship of God) Vandana (prostration to Lord)Dasya (cultivating as a servant with God)Sakhya (cultivation of the friend-Bhava) and Atma nivedana (Total surrender of the self).The nine modes of Bhakti are the ways in which a devotee attains the Supreme Ideal of life. A devotee can take up any of these paths and reach the highest state. The path of Bhakti is the easiest of all and is not very much against the nature of human inclinations. It slowly and gradually takes the individual to the Supreme without frustrating his human instincts. It is not direct assertion of God, but a progressive realization. Note In woman in epics, we saw Kaikeyi with talent, Tara with love, Mandodari with care, Manthara with gesture, Trijadai with goodness, and Ahalya with morals ,and now Sabari with devotion . This will be continued about Urmila in next.

Arumbuliyur Jagannathan Rangarajan