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Simple Devotion of the boatman

From: sandhya_chandarlapaty (
Date: Sun Feb 24 2002 - 11:40:22 PST

Sree Raama Namaha:

Respected Bhaagavataas,

By God's grace I was reading the Raamaayana by Sree Tulsidaas. 
Almost all of you have read about the boatman's devotion to Sree 
Raama in the Raamaayana. The boatman's simple devotion is incredibly 
touching and depicts the joy of being a bhakta. I am merely retyping 
the few dohaas that I read, so that we all can enjoy once more the 
immense beauty of Sree Raamachandra and how devotion to Him is truly 
a blessing. This is a translation made by Sri F.S.Growse.
The scene is when Sumantra leaves Sree Raama at the banks of Ganga 
Doha 99: The very horses of his chariot, as he drove off, continued 
whinnying and looking back upon Raama; and the Nishaada at the sight 
gave way to grief and beat his head and moaned:

Caupai 100: "when even brute beasts," he cried, "are so distressed 
at parting, how can his subjects and his father and his mother exist 
without him?" Having thus perforce dismissed Sumantra, Raama went on 
his way and came to the bank of the Ganga. When he called for the 
boat, the ferryman would not bring it saying:"I know your magic 
power: everyone says that the dust of your lotus feet is a kind of 
magic charm for making man. A rock on which it fell became a 
beautiful woman, and wood is no harder than stone!Should my boat in 
like manner be turned into a sage's wife, the ferry will be closed 
and the boat lost, which is the support of my whole family. I know 
no other means of living. If, my lord, you are bent on crossing the 
river, you must allow me first to wash your lotus feet.

Chand 4: After washing your lotus feet, I will take you on board but 
I will not accept any toll. I tell you the truth, O Raama, swearing 
by yourself and Dasaratha - Lakshmana may shoot me with his arrows, 
but I will not take you across, gracious lord of Tulasidaasa, until 
I have bathed your feet!"

Sorathaa 100: On hearing the ferryman's rude but loving words, the 
merciful Lord smiled ( as much to say "we thought the Nishaada king 
a pattern of piety, but even he is outdone by this rude ferryman) 
and looked at Jaanaki and Lakshmana.

Caupai 101: Then said the Lord of grace with a smile :"Do anything 
to save your boat, bring water at once and bathe my feet; time has 
been lost; take me across.". The gracious Lord thus made request of 
the boatman; even he by one thought on whose name mankind is 
transported across the boundless ocean of existence, and for whose 
three strides the whole universe did not suffice. The Ganga rejoiced 
on beholding his toe-nails, and the sound of his voice was relieved 
of all anxiety. On recieving Raama's command, the ferryman brought a 
basin full of water and in an ecstacy of joy and love proceeded to 
bathe his lotus feet. All the Gods rained down flowers and enviuosly 
praised him, saying, "Never was any one so meritorious as he!"

Doha 101 : After washing his feet, and drinking of the water, both 
himself and his family, and thus redeeming the souls of his fathers, 
he joyfully conveyed the Lord across to the further bank.

Caupai 102 : They disembarked and stood on the sands of the Ganga, 
Sita, Raama, Lakshmana and Guha. The ferryman, too, got out and made 
his obeisance. The Lord was ashamed that he had nothing to give him. 
Sita knew what was passing in the mind of her beloved and cheerfully 
drew a jewelled ring from off her finger. Said the All-
merciful:"Take your toll."The ferryman in distress clasped his 
feet. "Lord," he cried, "what have I not already recieved this day? 
The fire of my sin and sorrow, poverty and all their attendant ills 
have been extinguished! I have laboured for a length of years, but 
today God has given me my wages in full. Now, graciuos Lord, I ask 
for nothing but your favour; at the time of your return, whatever 
you bestow upon me I will thankfully accept."

Doha 102: Though Lakshmana and the Lord pressed him much, the 
ferryman would take nothing. The All-merciful then dismissed him 
with a gift of unclouded faith, best of all boons. 

Sree Raama Saranam:


           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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