The path to liberation is full of obstacles and many Jivatmas are not even aware of the goal of human birth -- to strive for salvation. This ignorance is more prominent in Kali Yuga. So liberation continues to be an unattainable goal like the fruit in the branches of a tall tree that remain out of reach. But out of His infinite mercy and compassion to the ignorant Jivatma, God has devised and continues to devise ways and means for those who wish to seek Him, said Sri Venkatesa Sarma in a lecture. Salvation thus becomes a reachable goal because God is willing to grant it to the Jivatma who sincerely desires it and seeks His help in this regard.
God provided the Vedas and the Sastras for humanity’s benefit; but since the Vedas are not easily understandable and the truths they express are in the form of cryptic statements, the Puranas and the Itihasas were written to convey the Vedic truths in such a way that even the common people can understand them easily.
Penance, austere Sadhanas, prayer, performance of yagas, etc, are some means to achieve certain goals in life, spiritual or secular. Even when engaged in the austere path with the aim of spiritual realisation, it is very easy to slip and get tempted towards the material world and its attractions and the story of Sage Kandu related in the Vishnu Purana illustrates this truth. It is said that Indra sent an Apsara to distract this sage and after spending nearly 9,000 years with her, when he awakens to his real self, he is unable to believe that he had fallen from austerity for such a long period.
Azhwars and Acharyas are representatives of God to show us the way to liberation. The path of total surrender to God, Saranagati, an important feature in the Vaishnavaite tradition, is a sure means to salvation for many in Kali Yuga, who are neither spiritually strong nor inclined towards spiritual effort. In this path, the spirit with which we surrender to God, the sincerity of our purpose, overrides other factors such as name, status, scholarship, etc. Vibhishana claimed that he sought the ultimate refuge, Lord Rama, when he stood as an applicant in the vicinity of Lord Rama’s camp, even before spelling out his identity.