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All are equal before God

CHENNAI, JULY 14. For a person in deep sleep, the sequences in his dream can have no significance. The vision of a king or a soldier appearing in this state of mind will have no meaning. He cannot identify whether a man he sees is from the so-called upper caste or from lower strata. Can he distinguish between a night and a day while dreaming or whether the object is poor or rich? Likewise, a person walking on Mother Earth's surface may be holy or an evil one but no discrimination is made by Her. Before God all are same as He resides in everyone's heart. Where then can the question of discrimination arise? God is approached by a saint and sinner and He welcomes the former and reforms the latter. These sentiments are contained in the outpourings of a Telugu saint-composer whose personal deity was Lord Srinivasa of Thirumala. On one occasion, some who were then (centuries ago) termed untouchables and who wanted to worship the deity, were denied entry and were driven away. At this juncture, this Vaishnavite saint rendered a song echoing the sentiments as above. While some appreciated his progressive views, a few who were angered, burnt all his compositions. Immediately God restored them and the compositions were etched on copper plates for permanent preservation. Praising God, the saint, a contemporary of Purandara Dasa, sang that a person born here should on some day die and during his stay in this life-drama, of which God is the Director, he should play the role assigned to him properly. The saint-composer was Annamacharya.

Joining a group of bards, young Annamacharya reached Thirumala, obtained guidance from a holy man in Vaishnava traditions and adored Srinivasa. In the company of pious men, the outlook of an untrained individual will be changed and he too was such a beneficiary. He was commanded by the Lord to render a song a day and in the first, he refers to the Holy Feet of the Lord which brought back Ahalya to life and quelled the arrogance of the giant snake, Kaaliya. The song also is symbolic of God's incarnations and of the process of evolution.

Unfortunately, these spiritual episodes are given a twist and are branded as merely mythological, said Swami Mitrananda in a lecture on Annamacharya's life, contribution to religion and his devotional exuberance. The king, who patronised the composer of Tallapaka, wanted him to sing just one song praising him but the divine messenger declined, for which he was imprisoned. One of the miracles in his life mentions about his prayers to Anjaneya when invaders who looted temples were attacked by monkeys. The theme of his songs is ``surrender.''

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