Shabri was one of the innumerable devotees of Shri Raam. Her pure heart, unwavering belief in the Lord, her devotion without any expectations, and her modesty were responsible for bringing Shri Raam himself to her door.
Past Life of Shabri
Shabri was a queen in her previous birth, but her soul was so spiritual that she could not enjoy the wealth and the attention given to her as a queen. She attended the Kumbh Mela as a queen and was drawn to the sadhus who came to visit the Kumbh. However, as she was the queen, she must follow the protocols and remain distant from the sadhus.
As suicide is considered a sin in Hinduism, the queen could not even think about it. But she was desperate to end her life so that she could begin a new one that would take her on the path of religious devotion or bhakti. So, she meditated under the holy waters of Ganga to attain her goal.
Life of Shabri
Shabri was born in a family of a hunter in the forest. When Shabri came of age, she was engaged to be married. On the eve of her wedding, she saw her father butcher hundreds of cattle to feed the guests, as was the tradition in those days. Shabri could not see the lives of hundreds of cattle sacrificed for her wedding. She took the extreme step and left her home and her family to live in the jungle.
Life of Bhakt Shabri
Life, as she knew, was over for Shabri. However, she could not escape the caste barrier of the era. As a lower caste person, she was not allowed in the ashrams of the rishis. Shabri did not see that as an obstacle to serve them. She did their chores and plucked flowers and fruits for them without knowing. When the sages came to know who was helping them without their knowledge, they became angry due to her low caste. As a silver lining in the cloud, Rishi Matang took Shabri under his wing. He offered Shabri a hut to live in and gave her the knowledge of the scriptures.
Shabri had an unconditional affection towards Shri Raam. She learned from Rishi Matang and served him for years. When the rishi was ready to leave his mortal body, he called Shabri and told her that Shri Raam would visit her. For years after the rishi told her of Shri Raam’s visit, Shabri used to decorate her hut with the best flowers and collect sweetest berries hoping that Shri Raam would visit her that day. She used to bite the berries to ensure they were good enough for Shri Raam.
Once Shabri was filling water from Pampa lake near her hut. A few sages were bathing there who still held her caste against her. They threw a stone at her that injured Shabri. Her leg started bleeding. A few drops of her blood fell in the lake, turning the whole lake’s water into blood.
Visit from Shri Raam
During the Vanvas, Shri Raam was looking for Shugriv to help him reach Mata Sita. The rishis told him about the lake with blood and asked him to help them. Shri Raam did everything they requested, but the blood did not turn to water. Then he explained to the sages that it was the blood from his own heart as his disciple was hurt there. So, he could not turn it to water even if he tried. They invited Shabri to the lake, and some grains of sand from her feet fell into the lake. The lake immediately turned to water.
Then Shri Raam visited her hut where he ate the tasted berries tasted. When asked by Lakshman why he ate the fruits already half-eaten by her, Shri Raam exclaimed that they were the best berries he had ever eaten.
Shri Raam does not ask you about your knowledge of scriptures, wealth, caste, standing in society, or even who your guru is. He wants your devotion to him, your pure love, and your good intentions. Don’t stop yourself from doing bhakti because you don’t know how to. Recite the name of Shri Raam, and that is all you need to attain moksha as Shabri did.