Imagine a mother bird which passes the food from its beak to the beak of the baby bird; what you see is the height of altruism! When the mother bird transfers the food within its mouth to another mouth without even tasting it, is it not a gesture greater than sainthood!?
While searching for the roots and fruits in the woods, Vibhandaka had only the picture of his son in his heart! While picking every root he told himself, this is for my son! While plucking each fruit he would brood with motherly affection, wishing for the happiness and comfort of the jewel called his son – the ultimate fruit of his life! ‘Taste of Rama is my taste! Satisfaction of Rama is my satisfaction!’ there was a reflection of this spirit of Shabari while chosing fruits for Rama reflected in Vibhandaka’s search!
While returning to hermitage carrying sufficient quantity of best of the fruits and roots which he diligently selected for his son just like the mother bird which returns to its nest carrying food for its little one, void welcomed the wise-man! Completeness is welcomed by complete void! Eagerness was welcomed by lack of it! Expectation was welcomed by unexpected shock! Like a shrine without an idol, carcass without life in it, like a forehead without tilak, like a clear blue sky without the moon in it.. the hermitage was like a hell! Situation of the sage resembled that of Lord SriRama when he did not find his dear princess in the hermitage!
Like a madman he moved in and out of the hermitage; he searched without result all the places which no are usually frequented by his son around the hermitage.. everything looked normal; but no signs of the son anywhere! There is no limit to the pains which a life undergoes when something which means everything to it is suddenly missing one fine day! Agony of absence of his son which Vibhandaka went through by missing his only son, the source of his sanity, the spring of his satisfaction!
Slowly, the extreme agony caused by the absence of his son made way to the big question, ‘who caused his absence?’. Continued contemplation of the question could convert the confusion to a conjecture that the culprit was none other than the King of Angarajya. As the contemplation on the cause-effect disclosed that the culprit was the King, the mood of melancholy was metamorphosed into extreme annoyance! He was tempted to burn the King, who caused the absence of his son without provocation and subjected him to untold miseries, to ashes! Like a forest fire which gets flared by the friction between two offshoots finally engulfs the whole forest, the fire of fury which was increasing by the minute in the sage soon became an inferno!
Vibhandaka walked towards Champanagari which caused vibrations on earth. No one on planet earth had the strength to stop the sage who was intent on wiping Angarajya off! Vibhandaka resembled God Rudra who had embarked on dousing the fire sacrifice performed byDaksha Prjapati! Angarajya was set to fall from the frying pan of famine to the fire of Vibhandaka’s fury.
It was King Roamapada’s good fortune that Vibhandaka decided to visit Angarajya though he had the power to burn the country down from where he stood!
It was a long haul. While the fire of separation burned in his bosom and fire of hunger burned his stomach relentless walk took its toll on his enraged body! Did Angarajya which was ardently asking for a drop of water appear on the sage’s anatomy? Who will appear to appease the hunger and thirst of Vibhandaka just the way Rushyashrunga appeared to appease the thirst of Angarajya?
There appeared before Vibhandaka’s eyes countless cows – lines and lines, hordes and hordes. Behind them were the army cowherds. Scene around was wet vast expanse of fertile land which was fresh from the recent rainfall. Farmers were busy in tilling and sowing. As though waiting for the arrival of the sage cowherds approached him, prostrated before him and took him inside their homes. The sage was served with spotless devotion with sweet milk, courteous discourse with compelling collection of cuisine. The fulfilling discourse with multi –course meal cooled both the mind of the sage to some extent with the body.
The Seer was pleasantly surprised when he asked: “Who are you, noble souls?” The reply he got was “we are your own!” “Yes Sacred Seer, we are servants of Rushyashrunga. The cows you see here all belong to him. The lands which you can see from here are owned by Rushyashrunga” – how can the seer be not happy when the cowherds said this with all humility and innocence?
As he progressed on his path towards the palace, the same experience got repeated time and again. Cows all along the route, families of happy cowherds, both sides of the road was spreading the pleasant aroma of a recent rain, mother earth was getting ready to wear the green from farming. Extensive welcome ceremonies, honors and pleasant interactions were held at every step. On top of all this, golden words were uttered assuring the sage that everything belonged to his son.
All these were arranged by King Romapada to placate the anger of Sage Vibhandaka, father of Sage Rushyashrunga – the ascetic who brought complete turnaround in the fortunes of his kingdom.
Sage Vibhandaka who was fuming fire while leaving hermitage was cool as cucumber when he reached the palace. How could he not become calm after seeing what he saw there? Standing with the King, who was a hallmark of humility himself were Idol of his affection, Rushyashrunga standing like an idol of elation and next to him was the object of joy of King himself, his daughter Princess Shanta!
It is indeed true, the King had displayed exemplary charity in him by surrendering his entire kingdom to Sage Rushyashrunga along with his daughter as sacred offering! It is not a trivial matter when the King marries his loving daughter off to a forest dweller sage!
Feeling of bliss in Vibhandaka’s knew no boundaries having seen the great offering that was made to his son, the great good that that blessed the kingdom through his son and above all, the character of the King who sacrificed everything for the welfare of his nation!
It is the story of an exalted message from Angarajya, which received an extraordinary blessing in the form return of well being to the kingdom owing to an exemplary relinquishment – after a small slip from the sovereign turned out to be a significant sin to summon the scourge of scarcity! If Romapada – who once committed to give something and retracted his words, suffered severely due to the sin, sacrificed everything subsequently to salvage the state – shines in our subconscious mind, our life can forfeit painful sufferings to shine with surfeit of joy.
Translated blog of Sri Samsthana SriSri RaghaveshwaraBharati MahaSwamiji