Rama left the kingdom of Ayodhya for 14 years of exile along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. In the forest, they had to cross the river Ganges at one place. They requested a boatman, Kevat, to drive them across the river. Kevat replied “With great respects to you, I cannot take you on the boat. I came to know that from the dust of your feet, a stone has turned into a woman. My boat is made of several pieces of wood. If the dusts of your feet touch my boat, they can turn into several beautiful women. If that happens, I will not be able to support a large family. Please allow me to wash your feet to take the dust of your feet.”
Rama smiled at him and appreciated his innocent faith and agreed. Kevat washed his feet and asked Rama to step over his hand filled with Ganga water before stepping into the sandals prepared for Rama. On reaching the other bank, Sita gave one of her rings as gift to Kevat.
Kevat refused to accept the gift and said, “How can I accept anything as a payment from you? Two people from the same profession do not exchange tokens. A barber never takes a payment, when he gives a hair cut to another barber. A washer man never charges a fellow washer man”. Rama was a little curious and asked him how both of them are in same profession. Kevat said, “We both do the same work. I ferry people from one bank to another and you ferry people from this materialistic world to moksha (eternal bliss). I have helped you cross the river today and I request you to help me cross this material existence.”
Rama was so overwhelmed at his devotional request, he held out his arms and embraced kevat and blessed him.