The Ferryman’s Reward

In art

VirofLondon's photo collection on River Ganga, Benares, March 2016

In Rãmcharitmãnas of Tuslidas, Rama requests Kevat, the ferrymen, to help him cross the River Ganga on their route to the forest. The ferrymen, in full understanding of the divinity gladly accepts. On reaching the other shore, Rama feels abashed not to have rewarded him with a monetary gift. When he tries to gift him with his own ring, Kevat, the ferrymen respectfully refuses and states:

“phirati bãra mohi jo debã, so prasãdu mai sira dhari lebã” – Ayodhyã-Kãnd 101.4

While returning, whatever you bestow on me, I shall thankfully accept that reward

In this poetic composition, Kevat, the ferryman is suggesting to Rama that they share the same profession. Kevat earns his living by transporting passengers from one shore of the Ganga t’other. Rama is also a ferrymen – He transports passengers from one shore of life t’other. People that share the same profession often have a peculiar mutual understanding and ought not to pay one another for services. Keeping this in mind, he asks for nothing, but suggests in the above statement that when his own turn comes round (at the time of death), he will accept anything that is given to him by Rama, his fellow ferrymen.

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