MISCELLANEOUS

Devotional mystic

CHENNAI, JUNE 2 . The devotional hymns of the Saiva saints canonised in the Tirumurai afford insight into their spiritual experiences and thus form an invaluable guide and source of inspiration for the spiritual seeker. Among these hymns, the perusal of Manikkavachakar's Tiruvachakam is an exploration into the heart of a mystic; he did not pontificate as he was caught up in his relationship with God and sought profounder levels of experience thereby spontaneously expressing in verse form the various stages through which a seeker progresses till union is attained.

The mystic in him acknowledged that he was fortunately placed because even though he started his life as any other layperson did, God claimed him as His own— the culmination of the maturation of the soul over countless lifetimes. His life proves that the process of spiritual growth becomes accelerated when the bonded soul reaches a certain level of evolution. The devotee then directs his gaze inward and then there is no more stopping him as it becomes an all-consuming love of God. The mystic knows for certain that he has received divine grace and allows Him to take charge of his affairs. His surrender is total for he accepts all the experiences of life as that meted out by God to mould him with the intention of removing even the slightest taint of ego and Karma.

In his discourse, Sri T.V.Venkataraman said the heart of a mystic like Manikkavachakar was difficult to fathom for he experienced what others know only conceptually from spiritual literature. He exemplified by his life the pilgrim's progress towards God. In one of the verses of the Tiruvachakam he despairs why he was singled out for His grace, as he had not done anything to merit it, out of a sense of humility. In his case he experienced God and lost His vision and so the experience of this loss (the dark night of the soul according to mysticism) was very acute, which is highlighted in his outpourings.

But such a great mystic instead condemns himself that he did not suffer this pain as much as he should have, which is a lesson for the discerning devotee, "Who else is bound by Karma as I am? On the part of my Lord there is not the least inkling, matching the particle of even a grain of millet, to part from me; how is it that I, a servile cur, fail to dash and break my head when I stand distanced from the Lord? My attitude is despicable, my heart is a stone and I know not what my ears are!"