TYAAGI AND GRAHASTHI: SHABARI
February 29, 2004
Des Plaines Mandir

In Swami Ni Vato 5/424, Gunatitanand Swami states, "Tyaagi (renunciants) are fortunate to have renounced the world, but grahasthi (householders) are fortunate to have 'kept' God (by understanding manifest God's form)." In Vachanamrut Vadtal 20, Swaminarayan Bhagwan states, "Being a renunciant or a householder is of no significance; rather, he whose understanding is greater should be known as being the greater devotee."

Referencing Vachanamrut Vadtal 10 and Vadtal 19, Dinkar Uncle explained that whoever recognizes God and His saints (whether he is a renunciant or a householder), wins a "spiritual lottery." In Vadtal 10, Swaminarayan Bhagwan explains, "One who aspires for liberation should recognize God through these characteristics and seek refuge of that God." (39 characteristics of God's avataras in the form of a king, such as Shri Krishna, are given in Shrimad Bhagavat canto 1 through the dialogue between Pruthvi and Dharma. 30 characteristics of God's avataras in the form of a saint, such as Dattatreya or Kapil, are given in Shrimad Bhagavat canto 11 through the dialogue between Shri Krishna Bhagwan and Uddhav.) In Vadtal 19, Swaminarayan Bhagwan explains, "Whenever a soul attains a human body in Bharatkhand (India), God's avataras or God's saints will certainly also be present on earth at that time. If that soul recognizes them, then he becomes a devotee of God."

Second, there is a tendency for a tyaagi to get the false ego that "I am better." With this thought, that which was supposed to be renounced (i.e. ego) is instead supported. Also, the renunciant's habit of "letting go" or saying "no" to everything is mistakenly applied towards God and His saints as well.

While extolling Jaga Swami, Gunatitanand Swami gives the example of Shabari in Swami Ni Vato 11/126. [Given in the Ramayan, Shabari was an old woman who had served Matang Rishi and who devotedly awaited Rama Bhagwan's arrival to her humble home. Rama Bhagwan and Lakshman visited her home on the bank of Lake Pampa on the way to Rushimukh mountain (where Sugreev resided). Out of ecstatic love, in order to give Rama Bhagwan the best berries, she tasted each berry, giving Rama Bhagwan the good, but half-eaten ones. Rama Bhagwan accepted her devotion in the form of the half-eaten berries!] Shabari regularly swept the rocks on the pathway to the river used by the rushis. However, out of ego of their own caste (and Shabari being of a lower caste), the rushis told Shabari to stay away from their aasharama. From the sin of insulting Shabari, the river became red with blood. When the rushis asked Rama Bhagwan why the river had become red with blood, Rama Bhagwan revealed it was due to their insulting God's devotee. Rama Bhagwan explained that the only way the river water would be restored is if they asked for Shabari's forgiveness and if Shabari dipped her foot in the river.

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