Kevat was the one who took Rama across the river Ganges. The fact that the stone Ahilya had been brought to life at the touch of the dust from Rama’s feet was something that Kevat had just heard about.
Although he was unlettered, he was clever. He knew the power of the dust off Rama’s feet. So he said, “I will not take you across the river Ganga unless I wash your feet. The touch of your feet turned a rock into a woman. My boat is made of wood. What if it too turns to a woman at your touch ? How will I earn my living and look after my family?”
Rama understood his sentiments and said, “Brother, we just want to go across to that shore. Do what you must to protect your boat.” Then the emotional boatman washed the feet of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita in a wooden vessel. He had enough dust for veneration for himself and his family. He then seated them in his boat and made them cross the river.
Sita prayed to Ganga that they might return hail and hearty after the period of fourteen years in the forest. When they came back on the Pushpak Vimana (aerial chariot), flying back from Lanka to Ayodhya, they stopped by the banks of Ganga so that Sita could pray to the river.
When Kevat made them cross the river, Rama realized he had no material object to give as payment to Kevata. Sita then gave her ring to Kevata after great persuasion. Kevata said, “Prabhu (lord), I have no desire for material object. I have taken you across the River Ganga. You take me across the river of life. That is my prayer.” With Rama’s blessing and the dust off his feet, Kevat would certainly be able to cross the earthly river and reach the heavens. He is thus a venerable part of the Ramayana.
Kevat – Ramayana Characters