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Guhanudan aivaraanOm
Date: Wed Dec 19 2001 - 21:05:26 PST

SrImathE Gopaladesika mahadesikaya namah:
Dear Smt Raji,
you asked:
Subject: Ramayanam

Pranams Sriman Madhavakannan

I enjoyed the Kalyana gunas of Sri Rama.  Thanks for
your explanations.

Can you also explain this?

Why did Sri Rama accepted Sabari's fruits whereas He
only touched but didn't eat Guhan's offerings?

I vaguely remember hearing from a discourse that
because of acharya's sambandham Lord took Sabari's

I request learned members in this list also to explain
me more on this.

raji sridhar
Lord Rama's most auspicious qualities are infinite; He Himself would not
have known :-) He is Bhaktha vathsalan.
This Guhan incident is well brought out also by Thirumangai AzhwAr
yEzhai, yEthalan, Keezhmagan- ennaadhu irangi...
what a beautiful line!

Rama is such a sowlabhyan! Never even considers one's status..
In front of Him, all devotees who have surrendered to Him are equal be he,
deva, human, or elephant..

There are hundreds of stories to depict the power of love and pure
devotion. We know the story that Krishna could not be weighed against gold
- tons of it - offered by Sathyabama whereas the simple - and single -
Tulasi leaf placed on the balance by Rukmini equalled His weight. We also
know the story of Kuchela - Sudhama - who brought a very simple offering,
aval, (rice flakes) to the palace of Krishna and how joyfully the Lord took

Let us enjoy Kamban's description of this scene Guhan- Rama meeting.

This whole write up opened up in front of my eyes, when I was wondering as
to what to write for your query, Smt Raji.
This web site has got excellent artciles everyday.. and now it is Guhan's
story.. what a great coincidence! How the Lord wants us to enjoy! I am just
reproducing the articles.


Here comes a simple boatman and a hunter. What would he eat as a delicacy?
As a hunter, he frequented the forests and had a plentiful supply of honey.
The best of it. He was a person who lived in the banks of the Ganges and
naturally he lived on fish. What is good for him must be good for the Lord
also. Therefore, Guha had taken along with him honey and the best of fish
with him when he went to meet Rama who was staying in a hermitage, in the
company of great sages! How would he know that the sages did not eat fish
and that taking it inside the abode of a hermit is abominable?

'sirungibEram enath thirai gangayin marungu thOndrum nagar urai
vaazhkayan.' Guha was a resident (the king) of Srngaverapura, on the banks
of Ganges. 'orungu thEnodu meen upagaaraththan.' He had honey and fish
alike, for being offered to Rama. 'irundha vaLLalaik kaaNa vandhu
eidhinaan.' He came to see Rama who was in the company of hermits.

Guha stood outside the doorsteps of the hermitage and immediately Lakshmana
came out to see him. 'yaavaan? yaar? ena anbin irainjinan.' 'Who are you?
Where are you from?' Lakshmana asked him gently and lovingly. Note the word
'irainjinaan.' Lakshmana solicited for information - no matter he was a
prince in exile and the person to whom he was speaking was a rustic. That's
a splendid quality of the Ayodhya family. Even as a boy, when returning
from his gurukula, Rama, along with Lakshmana, used to walk his way back to
the palace and did not use the chariot. Kamban describes the polite ways in
which he used to converse with the citizens, whoever he comes across, so
lovingly and showing all care and attention. Therefore there is no wonder
that this trait could be seen in Lakshmana as well.

'Bring him here,' told Rama and Guha was brought to him. 'kaNNanaik kaNNin
nOkkik kanindhanan.' Guha melted at the sight of Rama. 'maN urap paNindhu
mEni vaLaithu vaai pudhaithu nindraan.' He fell at Rama's feet. Stood
before him, his body bent and stooping and his fingers covering his mouth
in reverence.

'iruththi eeNdu ennalOdum irundhilan.' 'Be seated here,' said Rama,
offering a seat close by. But Guha did not sit. 'ellai neeththa
aruththiyan.' Boundless joy, love and devotion were welling up in him.
'thEnum meenum amdhinukku amaivadhaagath thiruththinen koNarndhEn endraan.'
I have brought honey and very nicely cooked fish for you to eat. 'en kol
thriu uLam?' What have you in mind?

I have brought the finest of fish for you to eat. I have cooked it
exceedingly well. 'amdhinukku amaivadhaagath thiruththinen.' What would you
do my royal Sir? Would you eat now?
Please remember. Rama was surrounded by sages and hermits and was in a
discussion with them

en kol thriu uLam?' asked the simpleton. A direct translation would mean,
'What do you intend to do?' 'Would you please have them now', is what Guha
conveys. Rama turned to the sages and smiled. 'virutha maadhavarai nOkki
muruvalan.' He looked at the hermits and smiled. Quite a pregnant smile it
was. It was not the smile that hides an embarrassment. It was not an
apologetic smile either. It conveys, 'I know that this fellow has brought
something that is obnoxious to you all. But I look at the love behind his
act. I am bound by love and anything that comes to me with love is
acceptable to me.' Let's see the verse that follows.
'ariyadhaam.' It sure is dear to me 'vuappa uLLaththu amaindha kaadhal
theri tharak koNarndha endraal,' if what is brought to me is impelled by
love and devotion welling up in the mind. 'amizhdhinum seerththa andrE.' It
is more delightful to me than elixir itself. 'parivinin thazheeya ennin
paviththiram emmanOrkkum.' If what is offered is suffused with love and
devotion, it is sacred for the likes of me.
'No matter what is offered to me. I go by love, affection and devotion. The
offering of the devotee is saturated with love and that's sufficient for
me.' Kamban makes Rama play both his human and superhuman roles here. It
was the prince in exile and it was the Lord as well who was talking.
'Though you may not like it, I value it because it is my devotee who has
brought this,' is what the verse connotes.
This verse, followed by the last line of the previous verse, 'virutha
maadhavarai nOkki muruvalan' confirms that Rama's smile was neither
embarrassed nor apologetic. There is no reason for the Lord to feel
embarrassed or to apologise to one devotee for the act of love of another
devotee. He finds no difference between these two. Whether you offer the
most delightful offering available on this earth and beyond, or you offer
him what may look like 'unacceptable' in the eyes of others it doesn't make
a difference to Him. Both were created by Him, after all!

Turning to Guha, Rama said, 'inidhin naamum uNdanam andrO.' Let it be taken
as having been eaten, delightfully. 'I accept what you have brought and let
it be considered that it has been eaten.'

When speaking of the ways in which Rama responded to love, it is apt to see
how he responded to Guha. Guha was the first person - king or not - who was
not his equal that Rama met after he accepted his exile. No doubt his
citizens followed his chariot with equal zeal. 'We will all go to forest
along with Rama. Let's see who remains in Ayodhya for anyone else to rule'
was what the people of Ayodhya had in mind when they followed him. But then
the standards that Rama set for himself would not allow such a thing to
happen. He would neither relent and return nor allow the citizens to follow
him. His intentions to enable Bharata to rule a country that had loyal
subjects were true and sincere.
That is, Rama no doubt allowed himself to be bound down by love. But he
never allowed that to come in the way of performing his duties. The case of
Guha was no different. Let's see how Rama responded to the love and
devotion of Guha and how beautifully and lovingly he handled the situation
when that love called for rewriting the way he intended to undergo what he
was ordained and what he had accepted.

'I need to cross the Ganges,' said Rama. 'pongum nin sutrathOdum pOi
uvandhu inidhu un ooril thangi,' you go back to your town with all your
kith and kin and stay there happily and 'naavaayOdum saarudhi vidiyal
endraan' bring us a boat in the morning for us to cross the river.
Guha was not aware of the fact that Rama was on exile then. He was shocked
however to see him wearing the tree-bark and could not understand the
reason for his royal sire wearing a dressing that was worn only by sages
and hermits. 'ip paar kulaam selva' 'My respected Sir, who is the protector
of this entire earth,' 'ninnai inganam paartha kaNNai eergilaak kaLvanEn
yaan' 'I am such a base thief who has not yet plucked off my eyeballs that
have seen you in such a condition.' 'innalin irukkai nOkkith theergilEn.' I
am burdened with the sorrow that fills my heart in seeing you wearing the
tree-bark and therefore, I will not go back to my place. 'aanadhu iya,
seyguven adimai endran.' Let me remain here. Allow me to stay with you to
do whatever little service that I can.'

And then Guha enquired with Lakshmana the reason why Rama and he left the
boundary of Ayodhya, relinquishing all the royal attire and other
associated paraphernalia. He was so overwhelmed with grief when he came to
know the reason. Rama realised that this was a person whose love knew no
'seethayai nOkki,' Rama turned to Sita and looked at her and then 'thambi
thirumugam nOkki,' he turned to Lakshmana to look at him. 'theerak
kaadhalan aagum endru karuNayin malarndha kaNNan.' His eyes lit up with
compassion. 'His love for us is endless,' Rama told them. Turning to Guha
he said, 'yaadhinum iniya naNba iruththi eeNdu emmodu endraan.' 'My friend
who is dearer than anything to me! Stay here as you please, along with us.'
Note the word 'friend.' This is the first endearing term that Rama uses and
establishes a personal relationship between him and Guha. Let's also see
how Guha could not notice this difference at all, drunk with the joy of
being called 'a friend'.

That was the night on which Rama and Sita were for the first time having
their nightly rest in the jungle. Rama slept on a bed of straw while
Lakshmana stood guard, remaining wakeful throughout the night. Guha stood
by his side. 'thumbiyin kuzhaathin sutrum sutrathan.' His kith and kin
stood like a herd of elephants close to him. 'thoduththa villan.' His bow
was bent and drawn. 'vembi vendhu azhiyaa nindra nenjinan.' His mind was
boiling with anger and was full of sorrow too.
Valmiki shows a bit of a touching conversation between Guha and Lakshmana.
'I will stand guard here. You may have your rest, offers Guha. "As such I
shall with my kindred guard in everyway, bow in hand, my beloved friend,
Sri Rama reposing with Sita. Nothing in this woodland is unknown to me,
wandering (as I do) all the time in it. We can (also) undoubtedly get the
better of surpassingly huge and exceptionally mighty army consisting of the
four limbs (viz., elephants, chariots, horseman and foot soldiers."
(Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kanda, Canto LI, Sloka 6-7)
'I cannot sleep when my brother is lying on the grass,' says Lakshmana.
"Being protected by you who keep your duty alone in view, O sinless Guha,
we all are not (the least) afraid (of any) in this land. But so long as Sri
Rama (Son of Dasaratha) remains lying down on the ground with Sita, how can
sleep be had by me, much less nourishment intended to keep the body and
soul together or amenities of life? Behold him, who cannot be withstood in
battle by all the gods and demons (put together) fast asleep with comfort
on a bed of straw with Sita!" (Ibid, Sloka 8-10)/
That was a quality that was ingrained in the nature of Rama. Sita would
later recall in Asokavana how Rama's face was like a lotus in blossom -
unchanging like it was painted on canvass - when the throne was offered to
him as well as when he was asked to go to the jungle.

Guha's mind was working on something else. Rama was asked live in the
forest. He wanted his Lord to stay with him. That would not be in violation
of what was imposed on Rama. He would still be in the forest, under his
care, though.
'ai iru pathOdu aindhu aayirar uLar,' he told Rama in the morning. 'We are
50,000 strong. 'aaNai seigunar silai vEdar.' These hunters are at your
service and would wait on you for your orders. 'dhEvarin valiyaraal.' (You
need not be worried about their prowess!) They are stronger than the
celestials. 'uigudhum adiyEm em kudilidai orunaaL nee vaigudhi enin mEl oru
vaazhvu ilai piridhu.' We would consider ourselves fortunate and blessed if
you stay with us just for one day.

Rama knew that that was a request, which if accepted, would extend to
another day and another day. Where is the end for the desires of a devotee,
that too when it comes to his Lord! But how difficult it is to refuse this
request, without hurting the feelings of this simple minded, loving and
devoted friend!

Aldous Huxley in his introduction to Perennial Philosophy said, "The
Perennial Philosophy is primarily concerned with the one divine Reality
substantial to the manifold of things, lives and minds. But the nature of
this one Reality is such that it cannot be directly and immediately
apprehended except by those who have chosen to fulfil certain conditions,
making themselves loving, pure in heart and pure in spirit."

Well, Guha was one such person who fulfilled all the conditions that Huxley
speaks of. That was why the Lord was close to him. Please note that we have
not mentioned that Guha was close to the Lord. It was the other way about.
Rama when replying to Guha's request speaks as if he were speaking to a
child. The verse reads like the excuse that a father would give to his
child, giving some promise to postpone avoiding immediate commitment.

'annalum adhu keLaa agam nirai aruL mikkaan.' Rama heard his request, and
his mind was filled with compassion. 'veN nira nagai seidhaan.' He smiled.
'veera ninuzhai yaam puNNiya nadhi aadi, punidharai vazhipadu utru, eNNiya
sila naaLil kurughdhum inidhu.' My dear brave man! I have a few things to
do. I have to go and have my holy dip in waters in different places and I
have to meet sages, fall at their feet and get their blessings. I will come
back to you and stay with you in a few days, when I come back.'

'eNNiya sila naaLil.' In a few days. There is a pun on the use of the word
'eNNiya.' It means to count. Count the days. I would come back in a few
days. It also means, 'to think, to decide.' I will come back to you at the
end of the 'few days' that I have thought of staying in the forest, at the
end of which I sure will come and stay with you.

It sounds strange that Rama uses an intended pun in order to pacify this
hunter. This was something that he never did in any other circumstance. His
words were always straight and set very clear - excepting perhaps on one
other occasion, in his conversation with Surpanakha, when he was in a
playful mood when the ogress grew lusty about him.

Rama is not able to say 'no' to the request of Guha. He could say that to
Sugriva and also Vibishana when they requested him to come to their
palaces. 'I am under a vow to live in the forest for specified number of
years. I am not supposed to enter any city during this time. I am therefore
not able to come there,' was his clear and firm response to both. The
reader would recall that it was Lakshmana who presided over the coronation
of both Sugriva and Vibishana and consecrated them to the throne.

Why would Rama not be so firm with Guha? Why could he not show the same
firmness that he showed to Sugriva and Vibishana? Once again we have to
recall the words of Tagore. "Here is thy footstool and there rest thy feet
where live the poorest, lowliest and lost." His compassion runs deeper when
he is with the poorest, lowliest and the lost

Rama was tongue-tied when the persisting Guha changed the line of argument
soon after he ferried the former across the Ganges. 'It is all right sir,
if you do not stay with me. Take me along with you. I will be useful to
you. Sir, you are going through forests and will be living there for a long
time. I belong to the jungle and know the topography like I know the lines
on my palm.'
'neRi idu neRi vallEn.' I know all the paths and those that branch from
them, in the jungle. 'nEdinEn vazhuvaamal naRiyana kani kaayum naRavu ivai
thara vallEn.' I know where good fruits, vegetables and honey could be
obtained. I would look for them and bring them to you. 'uRaividam
amaivippEn.' I will build the hut for you to stay. 'oru nodi varai ummaip
pirigilEn.' I will not leave your side for as long a time as a second.
'udan Egap peruguven enin naayEn.' If this dog is blessed to accompany you.
(In the prose order, the last phrase would be read first.)

This was a place where no reason, no logic, no excuse could work. 'Take me
along with you. If you do not stay with us, I will stay with us. I will not
be a burden on you. I will be very useful to you. In fact, you need a
person like me, because you are going to spend a long number of years in
the deep jungle, of which I am familiar with. If you so order, I will come
with all my army with you.'
What could one do when love persists? Guha was a chieftain who was never
educated. He did not know the ways of the erudite. His system had place
only for passions, emotions and strong feelings. It was untouched -
unadulterated - by knowledge. He could not be called wise by any standards.
He was guided by his instincts and no more. The task becomes harder for
Rama to convince him, without hurting him the least. Rama knew that he was
running the risk of hurting Guha if he said 'no' to him. We saw in contrast
how easy it was for him to say so to Sugriva and Vibishana.

Guha spoke the language of love and Rama knew that the only way to make him
understand is to speak to him in the language of love, the only language he
understood. 'annavan urai kElaa amalanum urai nErvaan.' Rama listened to
Guha and replied. 'en uyir anayaai nee.' You are like my very soul. 'iLaval
un ilayaan.' This, my younger brother is your younger brother. 'nannudhal
nin kEL.' Sita is your relative. 'naLir kadal nilam ellaam unnudayadhu.'
This entire world surrounded by the sea is yours. 'naan nin thozhil
urimayin uLLEn.' And I am here, by your skills. In other words, I am here,
protected by your chivalry, served by your devotion and my heart bound by
your love.
With regard to Sabari, she was only waiting for Rama, and Rama was only a
witness to her mOksham.. sabarI mOksha saakshi bhUtha- says Swamy desikan
in Raghuveera gadyam. Thus, the point is that one must have high reverence
for a devotee irrespective of his caste , but the code of conduct between
the devotees of various varnAs (which in one sense a restriction / limit)
is specified by sAstrAs.

Thanks for your question which made me read and enjoy this.
Namo Narayana
adiyEn dAsan

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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