Sabari, an old woman mentioned in the Ramayana, attained moksha through her devotion to Sri Ram. Through the story of Sabari, Sri Ram demonstrated to the world that what is more important is devotion and not caste, creed or the value of the offerings. There is always a debate regarding the fruit offered by Sabari. Whether the fruit was bitten or not bitten is a worthless debate. It is when we are bound by this body and ego that we feel bad about a bitten fruit. When True Bhakti dawns the difference melts away.
Sabari, a very old woman, was an ardent devotee of Sri Ram. During His search for Sita in the forest, Sri Ram along with Lakshman reached the hut of Sabari.
The old woman who was overwhelmed with joy had nothing to offer to Sri Ram. Tears trickled from her eyes and then she remembered about the wild fruits that she had collected the other day.
Sabari was not sure whether the fruits were tasty, sour or poisonous. So she tasted them first a little and threw away all that was sour and not good.
So when she was about to offer it to Sri Ram she realized that she had bitten all the fruits. She did not want to offer the half-eaten fruits to Sri Ram.
Sri Ram, who realized the difficulty the pious lady was facing, asked Sabari to share the half-eaten fruits. Thus the all knowing Lord proved that it is not the condition or value of the offering that matters but devotion of the devotee who offers it.
Sabari then told about her Guru Rishi Matangi – who had predicated about the arrival of Sri Ram and Lakshman. She also told Sri Ram that He will surely find Sita and for this He need to take the help of Sugriva and Hanuman. She then gave the direction to reach the abode of Sugriva.
After this divine incident, Sabari attained Moksha.
Note – Sabari offering the fruits is not part of the Valmiki Ramayana but it is very popular in all regions. Some people are of the view that an observation in the Padma Purana led to belief that She shared half eaten fruit with Sri Ram.
There are some who are of the view that offering half eaten fruit to Sri Ram is unthinkable and Sabari would have never done it.
The story is part of the great Bhakti tradition in India. In which the Bhagvan and Bhakta are one. It has been shown by our great Bhakti tradition saints that what matters is only devotion. Bhagvan is happy with any offering when it is performed with devotion.
So did Sabari Offer Half Eaten Fruit to Sri Ram? Yes she did. I would like to believe it like that. That makes the unwavering devotion of millions true.
The Bhakti of Sabari has taken the form of motherly affection. Bhagvan has become her son. She is concerned and wants to make sure that her son does not get to eat sour, bad or poisonous fruits. Numerous are the ways in which a devotee shows Bhakti, and Bhagvan obliges and appears in the way the Bhakta wants.
Sabari – Mythology Short Story