Devotion is very important in our life. We draw examples from our scriptures, from our teachings and from our parents.
Hereunder is one drawn from the Ramayana. Read and absorb…
This story takes place when Lord Vishnu in his avatar as Rama is exiled to the forest for 14 years. As Rama, his wife Sita, and brother Lakshmana travelled into the forest, they reached the banks of the river Ganga. They required the services of a boatman to take them across the river.
Kevat, a humble boatman who lived along the banks of the river, saw Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana approaching in the distance. He shouted out in glee, folded his hands, and ran as fast as he could to welcome them to his humble abode. He lovingly washed Rama’s feet, even as his eyes welled up with tears at the good fortune of being in the presence of Lord Vishnu himself.
When they were seated in Kevat’s boat, Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana admired the scenic beauty all around. Kevat’s eyes, however, were fixated on Lord Rama and his hands trembled as he rowed; he could not believe that he was in such close proximity to the one he considered to be an embodiment of Vishnu himself.
After they reached the shore on the other side of the river, all of them disembarked from the boat. Rama began to offer Kevat a fee for the boat ride. However, Kevat firmly refused. He told Rama, “We are both in the same profession. I cannot take a fee from another boatman. People of the same profession don’t charge each other for their services.”
Rama hesitated at this statement and asked, “Kevat, how do you say that we are in the same profession? You are a boatman and I a hermit.”
Kevat smiled and continued to look into the eyes of Rama. Kevat’s eyes were still moist with tears of joy. He folded his hands and said, “O Lord, I am a simple boatman who ferries people across this river. Today, you came to the shore where I live and asked me to take you across. I have had the great fortune of seating you in my boat and ferrying you across the Ganga. In return, I ask that you ferry me across the ocean of life, to eternal liberation. You are the celestial boatman who liberates us from the cycle of birth and death. How can you say, then, that we are not in the same profession?”
With this, Kevat fell at Rama’s feet. Rama, touched by Kevat’s heartfelt expression of devotion, embraced Kevat and granted him his most sincere wish.
This story speaks volumes about the heart-to-heart relationship between God and the devotee. There is an indestructible connection between the two, one of unconditional love, expressed beautifully as heartfelt devotion in the case of Kevat.
* Published in print edition on 27 December 2013