CHENNAI: A spiritual seeker constantly strives to develop unalloyed devotion to God that becomes an all-consuming love of God for His sake without any expectation. This is the acme of devotion which becomes an end in itself and such a devotee is dear to God. According to Srivaishnava theology, the Lord Himself becomes the means to liberation in Self-surrender (Prapatti, Saranagati). The Ashtakshara Mantra incorporating the divine name Narayana connotes the relationship of the souls with God as that between the servant and his master. Hence, the soul finds meaning in its existence in performing eternal service to God. After Prapatti, devotion to Him reiterates one’s relationship with God — that He is his master. All his actions are done to please the Almighty and never for self-edification. Such a Prapanna is a true Bhagavata (devotee).

In his discourse, Sri K.B.Devarajan said in the Tiruppavai Andal had highlighted the greatness of the Lord’s devotees. When the maidens set forth to perform the Margazhi nonbu for the welfare of the world, the rain-god rushed to do service to them (by giving copious rain so that there will be plenty in their land) because they were great devotees. The reason why devotees are exalted is because the Lord Himself is beholden to His devotees. This insight can be gained from the manner Lord Krishna graced the cowherd maidens (Gopis), who were exceptional devotees.

Hagiological tradition documents exchanges between the Azhwars and the Lord whom they glorified in their hymns. It is related that Tirumangai Azhwar once told the deity of Tirukannapuram that he was not His serf. The commentator while describing this was grief-stricken imagining how the Lord must have felt after hearing this. The Azhwar further stated, “Learning your eight-syllable Mantra constantly, of all the meanings interpreted, the only one I chose to take is service to Your devotees.” The moment Tirumangai Azhwar said that he preferred to be a servant of His Bhagavatas, the Lord’s lotus-like eyes widened with joy. Nammazhwar also similarly exults, “… other than serving His devotees, can there be a greater wealth in the three worlds?”