ONE DAY RAM DID PASS BY
Eruch, Mehera, Mani, Meheru
Eruch: A green turban.
Mani: Yes, they wore these simply because Baba told them to. They were doing what Baba wanted. It would have made no difference if Baba had told them to wear a crown, they would have done so. But they were not mendicants in the traditional sense they were simply doing whatever Baba told them to do. It was so cold at this time that they put on everything. They had an old sweater, a quilt coat that somebody had given in bhiksha on the way, and on top of it all the robe. Neither Kaka or Nilu was slim to begin with. They were nice and healthy looking, robust, rotund, almost fat you might say, and after they had completed their dress they looked really round and fat. When they went to ask for food in the town, a man came out, gave one angry look at them and said, 'You! You look like wrestlers and you certainly don't look underfed, and yet you're begging for your food. What's the matter with you? Why don't you go and get jobs?'
Eruch: 'Have a wrestling bout and earn money,' he said.
Mani: 'You'd make good wrestlers, but you certainly make bad mendicants! You should be ashamed of yourselves,' and so on and so on. Of course, they came away empty-handed. Kaka took it very lightly, but Nilu! For a Brahmin to go out and beg is hard enough, especially when he thought of his family tree and traditions and so on. Now he was grumbling, 'What insults we get!'
Don: But they would have to clear that attitude up by the time they got to Baba, wouldn't they, or they would be disobeying Baba's strict rule?
Eruch: In the presence of Baba they couldn't have moods.
Don: No grumbles, no being disappointed.
Mani: Absolutely nothing. It didn't matter personally to Nilu, but here was another Hindu who would say that to him, a Brahmin, and all because he was begging for Baba's sake.
Don: What an injustice!
Mani: But you know, Don, in the Hindu tradition they're enjoined in scriptures, writings and traditions always to give food to a person who comes to their door, never to refuse, for who knows, one day that someone might be Ram himself in the form of a man God in the form of man. So even though hundreds of years pass between the Avatar's comings, you give alms without worrying whether the mendicant or sadhu is real or false. No matter what, never refuse, because you never know who may be at your door one day.
Don: Of course, Mani, if they were clever and knew what Baba has taught us, they wouldn't give anything for six hundred years, and then for the next hundred or two they'd get busy giving to everyone.
Eruch: This should include the story of Shibri. It is a most touching story from the time of Ram, about seven thousand years ago, when Baba came in the form of Ram.
Don: Seven thousand years, you calculate?
Eruch: Almost, yes. There was a devotee of Ram named Shibri, a Bhilni, who expected Ram to pass by her hut. 'Bhilni' is a woman of a certain caste who live almost naked in the forests, a sort of aborigine you might say. Shibri was a lover of Ram and a highly evolved soul, although born in that simple community. Day after day she waited, expecting Ram to pass by her hut. Being of that downtrodden caste and having nothing to offer to the God-Man, she would go about in the forests and wherever there were fruit trees she would pluck the best, taste them, discard anything that was sour and keep the rest ready to offer to Ram.
Now tasting fruit to be offered to the God-Man is absolutely blasphemous. You cannot do such a thing. First of all, it is considered by the Brahminical class that the God-Man should be offered food only by the Brahmins. And for a low caste woman to taste the fruit not even using a knife, but biting into the fruit and tasting it this is something unimaginable.
Mani: If you take flowers from the garden for a gift, you never sample the fragrance yourself.
Eruch: Otherwise you are taking the fragrance for yourself. What's the use of giving as an offering a second-hand thing? You shouldn't even have a sniff at the flowers you offer. They must be in their most original state.
Likewise with a food offering. It is to be done only with the right hand after you have a bath, when your body is clean. With your mind clean and your heart clean, the food is then prepared in a particular fashion, with nothing but repetition of the God-Man's name. These are the traditions to be observed.
But all these forms we discard in this story and come to the person who offers the food. This particular woman was not one who traditionally would be allowed to do it, yet in spite of it all she was still expecting Ram to go through that forest area in his exile and to pass by her hut. She kept waiting for him day in and day out, ready to offer him something when he passed by.
One day it happened that Ram did pass by, and she saw him and invited him to her hut! And Ram sat there and ate the fruits that she had already tasted, and since then she has been immortalized in every drama or pageant which portrays the life story of Ram. For the sake of his love for mankind Ram stooped so low as to eat the fruits that had been tasted by one of low caste like Shibri. So it's very important that anybody who passes by your door never be allowed to pass by empty-handed, especially when he comes begging for food.
TALES FROM THE NEW LIFE WITH MEHER BABA, pp. 34-36, ed Don E. Stevens
1973 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust