CHENNAI: Bhakti is the state of mind of an individual who stays connected to God at all times. There is no question of being self-centered in the true Bhakta. The lives of Saivite saints contain instances of their staunch Bhakti to Siva and of the many ways (sometimes severe) that the Lord chooses to establish the intensity and unalloyed nature of their devotion. The unique and personal bond that grows between the Lord and His devotees has always provided an excellent source of inspiration to many who are in search of salvation, said Tiruchi Sri Kalyanaraman in a lecture.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says that spiritual quest is a long and arduous path and could involve many births and every successive birth for the Jivatma is a chance to continue the quest.

It is believed that Arjuna was born as Kannappa Nayanar to make up for his failure to recognise Siva who came to bless him disguised as a hunter when he had undertaken severe penance to seek the powerful Pasupatha Astra from Him. Kannappar was born in a family of hunters and in his early life spent his time hunting in the forests and hills. When the time for his salvation drew near, he was led to the presence of a Sivalinga atop a hill.

He believed the Lord to be present in it. With extraordinary love and devotion he worshipped the Lord in his own way. He carried water in his mouth for ablutions and offered cooked meat, tested for taste and perfection by his own tasting.

The Lord chose to establish the sincerity of Kannappar, and directed the priest who was outraged by this non-traditional kind of worship, to observe Kannappar from a distance. There was blood from one of the eyes in the linga and Kannappar applied herbs, etc. When he found all this useless, he plucked one of his eyes and placed it in the linga. He found the other eye also bleeding and decided to replace it with his own. He put his foot at the place where the eye had to be placed and when he was about to pluck his other eye, Siva appeared and blessed him.

The message behind Kannappar's bhakti is that sincerity easily overrides ritual.