Faith

Deep seated bhakti

The concept of Ishta devata in worship is indicative of the Supreme Lord’s many ways to reach out to the jivatmas and enable them to worship Him according to their individual level of realisation. In this context, it is interesting to note that Appayya Dikshitar exemplifies staunch Siva Bhakti, said Sri Mani Dravid Sastrigal in a discourse. From early childhood he had exceptional faith in Siva and in the Advaita system of philosophy, which he explained with great clarity in his many works. But he also had an open mind in his approach to Vedanta Sastra. So he was able to analyse other systems such as Dvaita or Visishtadvaita and pinpoint the salient features in each without any dvesha or prejudice.

Similarly, though he held Siva close to his heart, he had also sung hymns in praise of deities such as Varadaraja of Kanchi. In all, he has written 104 works in the form of sastras and stotras that establish his depth and versatility as a bhakta and a scholar. He has written commentaries to explain his own ideas that had motivated his compositions. To make sure that his Siva bhakti was genuine and ingrained in his nature, that is swabhavika, and not any kind of contrived bhakti bhava that arises on sudden impulse, he conducted an experiment on his own self.

He decided to drink the juice of the Unmatta flower that can cause one to get into a state of intoxication and asked his sishyas to write down whatever he spoke in that state. It was then that the lovely hymn Atmarpana Stuti, also known as Unmatta Panchasati, flowed revealing all that was really deep seated in his heart. Just as Adi Sankara spoke to Siva in a heartfelt vein in the Sivanandalahari, Appayya Dikshitar also presents an honest prayer that can be sung by each one to seek out Siva at a personal level.


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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 12:01:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/deep-seated-bhakti/article34530043.ece

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