Manickavachagar’s verses are so expressive of his bhakti that even a hard-hearted person will be moved to tears when he reads them, said K. Sambandan, in a discourse.
It is common for devotees, whether of Siva or Vishnu, to run themselves down. Their humility is such, and their aching for their favourite deity is so much, that their love pours forth through verses, in which they berate themselves as being unfit to receive God’s blessings.
Manickavachagar describes himself as the embodiment of falsehood. He gives an example to describe the kind of person he is. Usually farmers keep some grain aside for sowing. This will never be used for any other purpose.
Manickavachagar asks Lord Siva if He has kept him (Manickavachagar) on this earth because the Lord is anxious to protect lies in this world, even as a farmer preserves grain for sowing.
He gives yet another example to highlight his plight. Cows, which have just given birth to calves, and whose udders are heavy with milk, call out to their calves to feed them. But aged cows, which do not have any young ones to feed, also call out in imitation of the young cows. I am like those aged cows, says Manickavachagar, meaning to say he calls out to the Lord, not even knowing what he is doing. Those who worship Siva are cured of the disease of worldly life. “But what about me,” asks Manickavachagar. “I am like an unbending bamboo,” he says. A young bamboo will bend, but an old one is stiff and unbending.
In another verse, he says a child knows not the value of gold, and he is like a child in this respect. If a mother gives her child milk, the child drinks it, but throws away the golden cup in which it was served. It is the mother’s duty to make sure that the child does not lose a valuable golden cup.
Likewise, Manickavachagar is like a child who knows not the value of God’s mercy. He further says he is a traitor. He says there is no limit to the Lord’s mercy, and so He must show him mercy, regardless of whether he deserves it or not. “Save me, although I am like a poisonous tree,” he cries. “This body is the residence of germs. Get rid of it,” he prays.