Faith

Songs of devotion

The Thevaram hymns are songs of devotion that are the outcome of divine inspiration and hence remain relevant to sincere devotees who wish to seek God. Among these, it is held that Siva graced and granted that the songs of the saint devotee Karaikal Ammaiyar would spread the cause of Saivism and foster Siva devotion among people, pointed out Selvi Lemuria Manickam in a discourse. From Sekkizhar’s account of her story, she emerges as a woman devotee with extraordinary viveka that makes her fully aware of the hurdles to true devotion. So she seeks a rare boon from Siva, to be granted to live as a mere skeleton without the physical frame. In this wish is subsumed the jnana that transcends the sense of pride in one’s physical appearance and inherent achievements and to aim for the ultimate goal, to be filled with the everlasting longing to be with the Lord. No wonder Sekkizhar records that the terrestrial and celestial worlds celebrate when Siva grants her wish.

Living in a skeletal frame, she decides to visit the Lord in Kailasa. Not willing to climb the mountain with the feet, she walks on her head and hands all the way up. Parvati asks Siva about this strange display of love. Siva says, “She is the mother who worships us. She is going to spread the tenets of Saivism to the world.” He addresses her as ‘Ammaiye’ meaning mother. Ammaiyar is the title given exclusively to her by Siva. She falls at His feet and the boons she asks are pointers to mankind. She desires to cherish the undying bliss of devotion to Siva. She also wishes not to have any further births. In case she has to be born owing to karma she wants to never forget the love for Siva. Finally she wishes to remain at His feet and be an eternal witness to His renowned cosmic dance.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 8:23:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/songs-of-devotion/article34338373.ece

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