Srila Gurudeva explains that South India is Vaikuntha-puram. It is the appearance place of many brahmanas, vaisnavas, and bhaktas, called the alvars. These bhaktas sere Laksmi-Narayana, Lord Visnu, and Lord Rama.
One day, Sabari, a low-caste lady dwelling in the forest, thought, “All the brahmacaris, rsis, and maharsis are very great. I have not served any Guru, Vaisnava, bhakta, or brahmana in this life. If I continue in this way, my life will be useless.” From that day on, she would daily go to the asrama of the rsis and maharsis and serve there. But she would not go during the daytime. Rather, in the middle of the night or early in the morning, before brahma-muhurta, she would clean the asrama and the surrounding areas, like the nearby gardens and lake. She would collect jungle flowers fruits and dry wood, and would strategically place everything she collected close to the asrama in the forest. The next morning, when the brahmacaris would go out to collect the paraphernalia for their puja, they would very easily find all the items she had collected. As soon as the rsis and maharsis would start to wake up, she would disappear from that place and hike in the forest.
All the brahmacaris and rsi-kumaras became very surprised. “Oh our asrama is very clean these days. Who is cleaning it?” they wondered. “And just see! Everyday nice fruit and dry wood is available so close to our asrama. We are lucky! Also, Gurudeva becomes very happy when we bring these nice paraphernalia for the puja.” But Sri Guru is antaryami – he knows everything. He knew that the brahmacaris had not arranged these collections, but he did not say anything.
Every evening, the Guru would speak harikatha for all the brahmacaris. At that time, from her hiding place in the forest, Sabari would also listen. She would hear the sweet sound of the sabda-brahma coming from the lips of her Guru. Because she was continuously engaged in her service to Guru, Vaisnavas brahmanas, and bhaktas, her heart had become completely pure. She could thus drink the nectarine advice of her Gurudeva, and through this her heart respectfully connected to his. The brahmacaris, however, were filled with pride. They all thought, “I am very qualified! I am great!” Because their heart was filled with such feelings, there was no space left for what their Guru was trying to give them. Their heart was disconnected from their Guru’s heart.
The Guru was observing all these things. One day he asked his so-called disciples, “How can you realize your soul and the Supreme Soul in this life? How can you obtain pure knowledge?” The brahmacaris tried to answer by expressing their own understanding of the subject matter. The Guru was not pleased with this. He said, “If anyone has relationship with God, with parama-brahma Lord Sri Hari, then he will have all spiritual knowledge and understanding. But if someone who only has relationship with his own body and mind, and with his own understanding and philosophy, says anything, this will be nothing more than mundane ideas. Whoever hears my harikatha – no matter where he is present at that time, in the sky or in a forest or jungle, and no matter whether his is human or animal – he will develop a pure relationship with God. He will be able to give a pure answer to my questions.”
At that time, they could hear a voice, coming from far away. A realized soul, someone who follows the sabda-brahma, is called acarya or Guru. If anyone comes to sri guru and takes shelter at his lotus feet by completely surrendering there, then, by the mercy and blessings of sri guru, he will be able to develop a real relationship with God. God will give him all pure knowledge and facilitate all his needs – then everything will be very easy.”
The Guru asked the brahmacaris, “Who is speaking Who is answering my questions from afar? Go and find that person.”
They all started searching and soon found Sabari hiding nearby. They told their Guru, “It is just a low-caste lady from the forest speaking. She probably received some inspiration from a demigod who wanted to cheat and defeat us.”
But the Guru replied, “Only one who serves Sri Guru will have such a sharp memory. Spiritual power flows from the heart of Sri Guru to that person’s heart, giving him good inspiration. He will thus be able to speak pure knowledge.’Seeing that their Guru was supporting Sabari instead of them, the brahmacaris became very disturbed. “Why is he supporting and glorifying this lady?” But the Guru called Sabari and told her to come every day to the asrama to hear harikatha.
Sabari started to attend her Gurudeva’ classes. Whenever the Guru would ask a question, she could give the right and proper answer. This made all the brahmacaris angry and disturbed They tried to throw her out of the asrama, but by the mercy of Guru and guru-shakti, they could not disturb her. She had no problems, and this made the brahmacaris burn in anger more and more. After first abusing Sabari, they also started hating their own Guru and finally they left their Guru’s asrama all together. Then only Sabari was left there, serving her Gurudeva.
After some time, the guru entered into samadhi. Before leaving he told Sabari, You will never have to face problems in your life. serve in this asrama and wait. One day, God Himself will come here and give you His darsana. At that time, He will directly accept you seva. So just stay in the asrama and serve. I will be present here too, in samadhi. If there is anything you need, it will automatically and naturally come to you.”For a long time Sabari stayed in her guru’s asrama. everyday she would clean the entire asrama, arrange fruits and flowers from the forest, decorate Thakurjis altar, and offer bhoga. One day Lord Rama and Laksmana crossed that forest and arrived at the asrama where Sabari resided. After first respecting Sabaris guru, Matanga Rsi, the Lords accepted some fruit, water, and honey from her. When she heard that Lord Rama was searching for his wife, Sita-devi, who had been kidnapped by the demon Ravana, she requested Rama to meet with Hanuman and Sugriva, who resided nearby. “These two qualified monkeys know all the news of this forest” she said. “They will surely help You find Your wife.”
When Lord Ramacandra left the asrama, the brahmacaris that used to live there approached Him and stared to complaining. “This lady has destroyed our asrama! She also polluted the lake nearby. Now we have no drinking water and no water for bathing. Our Guru has entered into samadhi, so we are all suffering. Please help us.”
Lord Ramacandra replied, “If you want to clean the polluted lake you should go to Sabari, wash her feet, and pour that caranamrta into the lake. Then the water will again become pure. You have disobeyed your Gurudeva and your Gurudeva’s true follower. Therefore your heart is now dirty.”
Lord Rama replied, “Yes! It is because you have not gone there and have not touched the water that it is polluted. Their heart is dirty, so wherever they go they will make that place dirty as well. You should go to the lake now and touch the water. All of the brahmacaris had now become afraid. Sabari went to the lake, and as soon as she touched the water, it became pure and clean, just like her heart.
In this way Srila Gurudeva explained how Sabari was serving her Gurudeva. If Guru is pleased then God automatically will be pleased as well. Everybody may be against such a person but he will have no problem. If anyone sincerely tries to serve God, serve Guru, or just do good things, then so many people will be against him. They will make propaganda against that person and try to create problems for him. It is not our aim and object to become absorbed in these things. The sincere sadhaka should always be strong and serious, and continue to sere his Gurudeva with heartfelt devotion, then problems will never come to him. He will always be protected.
Premanada Prabhu ki jaya! (excerpted from the samadhi book “SRI GURU DARSANA – As It Is. Please order your hard copy from bhaktabandhav.org)