The body is not the atma, and we should be clear about this. When someone abuses us, we lose our temper. But why should we? What they are abusing is the body, not the atma. So there is no need for us to react the way we do.

In any case, if a person abuses us, our sins become his. So in fact, by abusing us, he is doing himself harm. He is not harming us in any way. We must learn to ignore harsh words. Instead of wasting our time worrying about what is not important, we would do well to let our thoughts dwell on God.

The Vaishnavite Acharya Kooratazhvar prayed that he should be a particle of sand on the banks of the Yamuna, for that is where Krishna played as a child.

Kulasekhara Azhvar prayed that he should be in Tirumala. He did not mind what he was there — a fish, a bird, a flower or a step in the temple. So long as he could be in the sacred hill of Tirumala, it did not matter to him what form he took. That is the kind of devotion we must aim for, Valayapet Ramachariar said in a discourse. Just as a loyal wife is attached to her husband, so must we be towards the Lord.

Just as a child is attached to its mother and is comfortable only when the mother is around, so must we be towards the Lord. Vedanta Desika says his words of poesy are as fragrant as the lotus in the Lord’s navel. Using such poetic words, will he ever ask for something trivial? He will ask for nothing but the blessing of serving the Lord, in a way that is pleasing to Him. He prays that all his possessions — animate and inanimate must be suitable to serve Him.

Mantras help us realise God. Imagine a wife who is decorating herself, while she waits for her husband. She is looking at herself in the mirror, and at that time her husband enters the room silently. She sees his reflection in the mirror and is delighted. She likes the pleasant surprise she gets upon seeing her husband’s reflection, more than the fact that he is actually there.

That is the kind of pleasure one gets when one recites the prescribed Vaishnava mantras, for the mantras reflect the Supreme One’s glory.

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