Though salvation is the ultimate goal of human existence, the popularity of worldly goals continues to bind people to the cycle of birth.

This is because salvation has to be pursued on the promise of the Sastras, and this requires tremendous trust and faith in them. That is why association with the pious is recommended. Their faith in God and in the path of salvation can turn us away from the mundane and help us rise to higher levels of thought, prompting us to strive for salvation.

The life of Tirunavukkarasar exemplifies the saga of a soul in search of solace from the travails of worldly life and the challenges that ensue in this mission, pointed out Sri Damodhara Dikshitar in a discourse.

Born as Marulnikkiyar and orphaned at an early age, he grows up under the loving care of his sister Tilakavathiyar, a staunch Siva devotee. Sekkizhar speaks of his philanthropic bent of mind and of how the ephemeral nature of life stirred in him the desire to seek the everlasting truth. So he delves into the study of various religious streams that would show the path to God. While engaged in this search, Marulnikkiyar becomes very proficient in Jain theology.

But his sister’s faith in Saivism longs for her brother to return to this faith and be redeemed. It is said Siva intervenes in his life and chooses to draw him to His fold by making him suffer severe stomach pain that seems incurable. In pain and agony, he comes to his sister, and by Siva’s grace is cured. This is a turning point in his life when he gains an inner belief that is a hallmark of a true devotee.

God is present in a subtle form in all of us. It is for us to awaken ourselves to His presence within and turn our goals and aspirations towards recognising Him in us. Human life is evanescent, characterised by alternating joy and sorrow.

The essence of Krishna’s teaching in the Bhagavad Gita is His promise to guide mankind to salvation from endless sorrow if only we seek refuge in His feet. Sastras and the lives of the devout reaffirm the truth that none, except the Lord, can offer us solace.

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