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Raghu Veera Gadhyam: AaraNya Khaandham : Part 5

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Sun Nov 17 1996 - 18:13:03 PST

Dhyaanam

Jayathu Jayathu RamO Jaanaki VallabhOyam I
Jayathu Jayathu RamO Chandrachootaarchithangri :II

Jayathu Jayathu vaaNinaathanaatha : paramaathmaa I
Jayathu Jayathu RamO nathanaatha: krupALu : II

Dear Bhakthaas of Jagadhaanadhaka Ramaa:

Swami Desikan covers the glorious incident of 
Sabari Moksham in his last salutation related to
aaranya khaandham .

GS 41 : avandhya mahima muni jana bhajana mushitha
hrudhaya kalusha sabhari moksha saakshi bhuta ! Jaya !
Jaya !
(Meaning ) : O  Lord  who was the witness to the Moksha
attainment of Sabari , who through her devoted service to the 
assembly of sages of unblemished reputation had
all of  her blemishes removed ! Hail to Thee ! Hail to Thee !

Sabari was an old lady, who lived on the banks of Pampaa river.
She spent her life serving the sages doing penance in that
region . This  service earned her a vast amount  of PuNyams 
which in turn destroyed any blemishes that she might have  had. 
She had started her Bhakthi Yogam in a previous birth and completed 
that yogam in her next  birth as a resident of Pampaa theeram .
When Rama stopped at Pampaa Vanam on his way to meet 
Sugreeva , she met Rama and was blessed to have his darsana 
bhagyam to her heart's content . She offered the Lord fruits that she 
had collected from the forest with great  affection . Then she ascended
Sri Vaikuntam right infront of Rama's eyes . Hence Swami Desikan 
describes Rama as the witness to Sabari's Bhagyam.

Srimad RamaayaNam devotes the entire 74th sargam of 
AaraNya Khaandham to describe Rama's visit to the asramam of 
Sabari  in Matanga Vanam on the banks of Pampaa river . Valmiki
describes Pampaa as a lake . Today's Pampaa is a river 
where Aiyappa bhakthaas take a plunge before ascending the 
Sabari Malai to continue with their pilgrimage to have the darsanam
of Dharma Saasthaa . 

Sabari meets Rama and Lakshmana at her aasramam. She had  already 
attained perfection through Yoga saadhanaa . Rama asks  about her 
welfare and state of spiritual progress. Sabari replied ;" O Rama! 
the flower of humanity ! My asceticsm has become fruitful today 
and the highest heaven will defenitely fall to my lot , now that you 
have been worshipped by me  ( adhya praapthaa tapa: siddhi:
tava samdarsanAn maya , adhya mE sapalam janma guravasccha 
sapujithaa : II  adhya mE spalam taptham svargascchaiva bhavishyathi ) . 
She entered the agni kuntam after clasping Rama's lotus feet and
ascended to heaven with DivyaabharaNam , celestial garlands
and heavenly raiment.  Rama was a witness to this glorious
event on the banks of Pampaa .

Saint Thyagaraja celebrates Sabri's bhagyam in two 
of his krithis. In the MukhAri krithi " entani nE varNinthunu
Sabari Bhagyamu " , he wonders as to how he can adequately
describe the special blessings that Bhaktha Sabari received 
from Sri Rama . Sadguru states that there were many rishi patnis 
of high stature at Matanga Vanam as a result of their penance 
and yet  Sri Rama selected 
Sabari as his hostess and accepted her hospitality with great 
affection. Sadguru wonders loud : " That grest blessed soul 
saluted your lotus feet , got rid of her 
cycles of births and deaths  and attained moksham infront of You . 
What way can I describe Sabari's unique bhagyam ?". 

In  a second krithi set in ragam KiraNaavaLi ( Paraaku nee kelaraa
Ramaa ) , Sadguru Thygaraja swamigaL is angry at Rama for His 
indifference to him . Our Sadhguru is in a mood of Amarsha Rosha 
Roshokthi . He asks : " Why should You , who are immanent in 
the movable and the immovable , be indifferent where I am concerned ? 
Have I treated You with scant courtesy like Sabari who gave You 
the leavings of fruits after she had tasted them or have I , like 
Guha , given You a bed of leaves without realising Your status ? ".
Here Saint Thayagaraja refers to one version of Sabari's 
hospitality . According to this version , Sabari checked the ripeness
of the fruits that she collected for Sri Rama. She tasted them and gave 
only those fruits that she thought was ripe enough for Sri Rama's 
use. She  gave the Yecchil (left overs) out of her great desire to give
nothing but the best among her collection of fruits. Our Sadguru 
taunts Rama and asks Him how Rama ignored him , when he 
behaved much better than Sabari. With great DaakshiNyam , 
Sadguryu asks these questions . Saint Thyagaraja's regards
for the exceptional Bhagyam of Sabari is very clear in his 
Mukhari Krithi . Srimad RaamaayaNam has no support 
for the reference of Sabari tasting the fruits first and offering 
only those that  were fit for Sri Rama's consumption.One another
version of RamAyaNam is the  source of Saint Thyagaraja's
reference in his KiraNAvaLi krithi . 

We will move next to the salutations of Swami Desikan to
the incidents of Kishkindaa Khaandam.  

tridasa kumudha chandhrO dAnAvAmbhoja chandhrO 
duritha timira chandhrO yoginAm jnana chandhra: I
praNatha nayana chandhrO mythili netra chandhrO
dasamukha ripu chandhra: paathu maam Ramachandra : 

Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan