CHENNAI: Bhakti defies description and definition. The hallmark of devotion is true yearning for the Lord. In a discourse, Kadayanallur Sri Thukaram Ganapathi Maharaj drew attention to the fact that saints deemed as Avatara Purushas, who show by example the path of Bhakti and are able to transfer this unique experience to others are really great.

This is the best gift to mankind, and one that is far more precious than what education, wealth or status can confer. The life story of Saint Tukaram illustrates the force of resolute devotion and the intensity of the Bhakti strain that helped him to rise above the pulls of worldly life.

His devotional songs are an invaluable contribution to Marathi spiritual literature. His abhangs reveal the great inner struggle he had to undergo and also provide an insight into his devotion that led him through the different stages of God-realisation.

The unshakable faith in God's grace helped him face the challenges of life and attain inner purity. It was this faith that prompted complete self-surrender and enabled him to visualise God's presence everywhere and in everything.

He was convinced that one had to renounce the material world if one had to seek the spiritual life. This renunciation had to be an inner one, and did not need any outward display. The more he realised the grace of God, the more he understood the meaninglessness of the human ego. Such is his humility that he clearly sees his unworthiness pitted against God's greatness and grace. Since it is God who knows the true Bhakta, and since He alone can kindle true devotion, his fervent prayer to the Lord is to grant him an unhindered and unending flow of devotion to Him.

This saint was able to experience God's compassion and realising that God is ever ready to extend His compassion to one and all, he urges people to follow the path of devotion. Knowledge, wealth or other endowments are of no consequence in the practice of devotion.

In spite of all our faults, in spite of all the sins piled up over numerous births, in spite of our total unworthiness in every respect, he claims with utmost confidence that chanting the names of the Lord is sure to lead to salvation. Bhakti's virtue is its sincerity.