SABARI, Ramayana Story in English – A woman forester


The story of Sabari is famous because of her innocent love of Sri Rama. However, this love story is embedded in a rebirth story.
(Sabari was Malini in her previous life. She was the daughter of a gandharva king, although she was called an apsara (celestial damsel) by some versions of the story. Malini was married to an old brahmin who neglected her in all of his aus­terities. So she took a woodcutter as her lover. When the sage Vitihotra learned what was happening, he cursed Malini to be reborn as a hunter-woman. After much pleading, Malini was able to get Vitihotra to reduce the curse: Rama would be able to absolve her, and she could regain her previous birth as an apsara.
Malini was instantly reborn as Sabari, the hunter-woman. (sabari discovered an ascetic (muni) named Matanga, whom she served and from whom she gained knowledge (brahmanjha). One day Rama and Lakshmana came, and she showed them great respect. She even tasted each fruit that she served to them to make sure that they were good enough for her guests. Then Sabari told Rama and Lakshmana where to find Sugriva, son of the sun and monkey ally who would help them free Sita. She was instantly transformed into a gandharva maiden (or apsara in some versions). A gandharva prince appeared in a chariot on the divine plane. It was Vitihotra—now a gandharva. They saluted Rama and went to the abode of the gandharvas.

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