While Rama and Lakshmana agreed to the suggestion of Kabandha to go and meet Sugriva in the kingdom of Kishkindha, there was one more person eagerly waiting to meet the divine Rama. This was Shabari, who is considered the ultimate devotee of Rama.
Shabari was an ascetic who waited long to have a darshan of Rama. She was devoted to the idea of Dharma and wanted to find the meaning of life. Her quest for knowledge leads her to find a guru. She found Sage Matanga at the foot of mount Rishyamukha. She started living with the Guru and discovered what the true meaning of Dharma was. Sage Matanga was extremely pleased with her devotion and commitment towards him. As he realized that his time is coming to an end, he told Shabari that she would reach the adobe of peace by waiting for Rama. Then, the sage attained Mahasamadhi while sitting.
Every day, Shabari would go around the forest and pluck out the best berries for Rama. Rama did not appear for years and years and Shabari was now an old woman. The ascetics around her would consider her crazy and think she would never meet Rama with these efforts.
However, one day, Rama came to her hut out of the many ascetics in the vicinity. Shabari was overwhelmed and on cloud 9. As always, she had collected the best berries from the forest and kept a bowl ready for Rama. On seeing Rama, she told,
“O Divine Lord, you visited me from several ascetics around here. You neither see colour nor caste, neither age nor gender, you are the ultimate lord. Please allow me to serve you and be your host.“
Then she welcomed them to the hut and they sat. She offered her the best berries that she had plucked from the forest. However, the berries were tasted and eaten. Seeing this, Lakshmana said,
“O holy lady, don’t you know that you should not taste the berries when you offer them to the lord? This is disrespectful.”
“O Lakshmana, it is not at all disrespectful. What you fail to see is the devotion and commitment that this lady has. She has tasted so many berries that she has given us only the best of them. To think of it as a disrespect would be a grave insult to her devotion and love for me.”
Rama ate the berries and so did Lakshmana.
“O Shabari, I have never seen a person so much devoted and committed to the devotion of the lord. I am the luckiest person to have such a devotee of mine. I bless you with a divine vision.”
Shabari thanked him and could not be more grateful. Rama also noticed the bowls that were there. They were handmade with leaves. Rama also blessed her that the plants around her would always bear the leaves in the form of bowls so that she does not have to sew them by hand. A blessed Shabari asked if there was anything she could do. Rama asked her the path to meet Sugriva and Shabari guided them.