CHENNAI: The lives of realised souls reveal that God determines the right time to mellow every person. The truly devout are fully aware of God's compassion that has been responsible for the blossoming of Bhakti in them. In all honesty they acclaim their indebtedness to the Lord who chose to enlighten them.

There is no trace of ego in their perception of God, and in their perception of their relationship with Him. They are also aware that God tests their faith and they wish to reveal their steadfast devotion to Him at all times.

The practice of honouring all devotees on a par with the Lord Himself nurtures the quality of absolute humility that is the very essence of true devotion, said Sri T. V. Venkataraman in a lecture on Thiruvachagam. This magnum opus of Saint Manikkavasakar embodies all the facets of fervent devotion wherein the spiritual experience triumphs amidst trials and doubts. The hymns are a blend of the essence of the tenets of Saiva Siddhanta with the efficacious path of devotion, and are a sure pointer to those longing for salvation.

The saint repeatedly proclaims that total commitment to God is the prime requisite of true devotion. He is critical of his own propensity to yield to his ego. It is then that he finds himself distanced from God. He claims that unless God chooses to remove ego that casts a veil on his perception of God, he is not in a position to reach Him. The plea to the Lord to enable him to experience Him to his heart's content and constantly as well typifies the essence of Bhakti Yoga. Devotion seeks to love God more and more.

He longs to seek the holy community of devotees who gather to offer worship to the Lord. Worship, penance and austerities are recommended to cultivate Bhakti on the one hand and wear out any sense of selfish pride in one's attainments. This is the end value of loving service to God.

Humility is the essence of true devotion. Jnana and Bhakti coexist and accelerate the desire for liberation. Spiritual experience is rooted in belief, faith and commitment to the Lord.