Crossing the Ocean of Birth and Death (Kevat and Lord Rama Story)
Lord Shree Krishna tells in Bhagavat Gita : daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāḿ taranti te (BG 7.14). This world which is made up of three modes viz. goodness, passion and ignorance is difficult to overcome . This world is named as Mrtyu samsara sagar in Bhagavad Gita. It means that this world is the ocean of death. Until and unless one surrenders to Lord Krishna , the controller of this sort of material energy, one can not cross the this unlimited ocean.
We can easily cross this vast ocean by taking shelter of lord Krishna. Just like Kevat one can cross this vast ocean of birth and death easily by taking shelter of lord.
When Lord Rama was in the forest , one day he had to cross river Ganga. Guha knew this and he approached to Kevata, a boatman and asked him to help Lord Rama in crossing the river. Kevat brought boat near Lord Rama and offered his obeisance with love and devotion to Lord Rama . Kevat asked Guha whether he could wash Lord’s feet before He stepped into the boat. Guha told him to wash His feet after seating Him in the boat.But Kevat insisted that he must wash lord Rama's feet before Lord Rama puts his feet in the boat. Guha was a little angry at his stubbornness .
Kevat explained the reason for his stubbornness. He told “Lord, I am poor. Daily income that he gets from boat is just enough to sustain my family. I am afraid that I cannot afford any more boats. So let me please wash the dust on your feet before you step into my boat.”
Lord Rama listened him silently and asked Kevat " what do you mean this? What is the connection of dust of my feet with your income?"
Kevat explained:”I have heard that dust from your lotus feet touched a stone in forest and that stone turned into a beautiful woman. Since dust from your feet turnd stone into a woman , it is also possible that it will also turn the several pieces of wood into women. Since I sincerely cannot take care of any more members in my household , I am requesting to wash the feet and make it dust free before you step into the boat.”
Lord Rama appreciated his pure and innocent faith.After washing their feet Kevat place his hands on earth and ask Lord to first step on his hand before stepping into the boat. This way he washed all his sins by having a touch of Lords feet.
After washing the Lord’s feet, Kevat ferried them across the river.As soon as they alighted from the boat, Ma Sita immediately withdrew a ring from her finger and handed it over to Lord Rama, signaling to him to pass it on to the boatman. Lord Rama: Here Brother, that is all we can pay you for your kind service. Please accept it! Kevat: (Shaking his head). No, My Lord! I can not possibly accept this from you.
Lord Rama: Why?
Kevat: Because people of the same profession do not charge each other for their services. A barber never takes payment, when he gives a haircut to another barber. Even a washer-man never charges a fellow washer-man. Lord Rama: Brother, how can you and I be of the same profession? You are a boatman and I am….Kevat: Lord, both of us do the same work. I ferry people from this shore of the Ganges to the other. You ferry people across the ocean of Samsaara (Bhav-sagar),through the ocean of material life.How can I accept payment from you? Prabhu! I don’t want anything. But please, as I have made you cross this river today, when my time comes, take me across sansaar saagar [the ocean of material existence!]. That would be your return to me.
The Lord was so overwhelmed at this devotional request from Kevat, that he held out his arms and embraced the boatman.Later, the expert ferryman was delivered from the cycle of birth and death just because of this little service done unto the Supreme Lord!He also asked Lord for endless devotion to lotus feet of Lord Rama.Lord Rama said that from today you not need to take another birth, and granted Kevat – Mukti from material world.