Not everyone is sensitive to the presence of the Lord in the archa form, designed to be the means of solace to the many seeking His compassion. The hymns of Azhwars, acharyas and saints facilitate the perception of the deity in the mind of the distant devotees, observed Akkarakani Sri Srinidhi Swami in a discourse.
He added that these hymns not only project graphic descriptions of the divine forms but also enable one to share the overwhelming individual experience as felt and enjoyed by these composers.
Pillai Perumal, a great devotee and poet, is disappointed at his own effort to depict the exquisiteness of Lord Namperumal, the abiding deity at Srirangam. He describes his inadequacy to capture the Lord’s beauty and the futility of his effort in a verse. In his portrayal, the face, the ornaments, garlands, and alankaras of the Lord are all minutely represented. People marvel at the brilliant depiction which is all the more realistic and accurate.
Yet, Pillai Perumal is not at all happy and is unable to accept the appreciation of others as he feels the portrait is a far cry from the deity he has in his heart. Should he not get the experience of the Lord from the picture? The Tulsi garland is placed right on the chest, but where is the fragrance? Where is the brilliance in the jewels adorning the idol? Where are the entire hordes of jivatmas that are held in His Nabhi kamala? Where is the Ganga at His feet? Where is Siva? Has he not failed to reveal the Lord who can relieve one and all from the misery of rebirth? Faced with myriads of such questions, he realises that the basic flaw is to be traced to his presumption that he could draw the Lord when the truth is that He cannot be drawn at all.
This is the essential voice of scriptures — the Lord is beyond all attempts to be known or described or experienced fully in His splendorous magnificence. The images of the Lord and the shared experiences conveyed through hymns by the Azhwars and acharyas such as Pillai Perumal are just glimpses of the tip of the iceberg of His glory, nevertheless valuable, indicating that the true essence is ever-evasive.