Service to preceptor

CHENNAI: The spiritual tradition accords the pride of place to the Guru (preceptor) and states that he must be revered as God for he is the manifestation of divine grace, and enables the spiritual seeker to realise God. The Guru is the one who can guide his disciple through all the stages of his spiritual evolution and by removing his ignorance make him realise his true spiritual nature. The preceptor has the utmost consideration for the welfare of his disciple and the seeker on his part must repose total faith in his preceptor and serve him selflessly as the wisdom that he imparts to him can never be repaid.

In his discourse, Sengalipuram Sri B. Kesava Dikshitar said the manner in which Sabari attained liberation was a testament to the efficacy of service to the Guru. Sabari belonged to the tribal community and hence she had no inkling about the pursuit of liberation from rebirth through scriptural study. But her greatest asset was her unalloyed service to Sage Matanga and his disciples who were engaged in austerities and performance of Vedic sacrifices. She took upon herself to keep their hermitage and its environs spotlessly clean. She grew old in this selfless service and when the sage cast off his body, she was unable to think of a life without serving them and beseeched him and his pupils to take her along. It was then that Matanga assured her that she must stay on in the hermitage, and that she should await the arrival of Rama who would grace her.

With total trust in the sage’s word Sabari continued to tend the hermitage with great care and gathered fresh fruits and flowers every day to offer them to the Lord awaiting His arrival with great expectation. And her faith was answered when Rama and Lakshmana arrived at her abode directed by Kabandha. With great joy she extended her hospitality and showed them around. Sabari’s reply when Rama questioned her whether her attendance on her preceptor had been rewarded is a pointer to her spiritual maturity: “Today my birth has borne fruit… My asceticism too has become fruitful today and heaven too will definitely fall to my lot, now that You, the foremost of Gods, have been worshipped by me.” So blessed was she that she attained beatitude in the Lord’s presence.

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