When you heat milk, at a certain stage it boils over. In the same way, the great love that bhaktas bore for God burst forth in the form of devotional verses, which showcase the depth of their love for God, their desire to constantly think of God, and also their indifference to material wealth. The verses of the Azhvars and Nayanmars are full of such love for Lord Narayana and Lord Siva, respectively, Sarala Rajagopalan said in a discourse.
When one sings of God, one’s heart must melt. That is the hallmark of true bhakti, and this is evident from the verses of the Azhvars and Nayanmars. Sekkizhar, who wrote the Peria Puranam, which describes the lives of the Saivite Nayanmars, says the devotees sang of Lord Siva, and sang of nothing else.
Their love for Lord Siva was not limited just to Him, but embraced His devotees too. Saivite devotees Appoodi Adigal, Ilayankudimara Nayanar and Karaikkal Ammaiyar gave generously to His devotees, and could not bear to see one of His devotees hungry. They provided food to His devotees, and even if such generosity meant inconvenience to themselves, they did not mind. Thus Appoodi Adigal ran charitable institutions in the name of Thirunavukkarasar, who was himself a devotee of Lord Siva. Appoodi Adigal did not allow even the death of his son to stand in the way of his serving food to Thirunavukkarasar. Karaikkal Ammaiyar incurred the displeasure of her husband, giving away a tasty fruit to a visiting Saivite.
Ilayankudimara Nayanar was a rich man, who spent all his wealth providing food to devotees of the Lord, and in course of time, he lost all his wealth. But he did not stop what he had been doing all along, namely, the serving of food to Lord Siva’s devotees. He borrowed to meet the expenses. One night, during the monsoon season, a devotee turned up on Nayanar’s doorstep. He had nothing at home with which food could be cooked. So he went to the fields, where grains had been sown that afternoon. Because of the rains, the grains were lying exposed, and he gathered these and took them home. His wife washed away the mud, cooked the grains and served the visitor. Bhaktas will do their utmost to serve God and His devotees.