MISCELLANEOUS

Service to God, end in itself

CHENNAI NOV.25 . Performance of eternal service to God is the finest expression of man's relationship with God. In the initial stage of spiritual development a person's ego will be strong and hence he may not understand the significance of performing service to God. Man rightly belongs to the Supreme Being and when knowledge of the relationship between them blossoms, the attitude of service evolves and passes through stages to its fruition till the ego gets totally effaced and he exists only to please the Lord.

The phases through which a devotee evolves can be appreciated from scriptural texts. Lakshmana's service to Rama and Sita is legion. When Rama went to the forest in exile He tried His best to dissuade Lakshmana from accompanying Him by pointing out that he should remain in Ayodhya to serve their parents. But he insisted on following Rama. Lakshmana is thus given as the best example of the phase in spiritual development when man discovers his relationship with God and revels in performing service to Him. The next phase is marked by maturity with the knowledge that service must be performed not for one's edification but to please the Almighty. Bharata best exemplifies this stage. He went in search of Rama to the forest only to persuade Him to return to Ayodhya and accept the throne but when Rama expressed His mind, he obeyed His wishes faithfully thus showing that he was only too willing to do whatever pleased the Lord, said Villivakkam Sri T.A.Varadachariar in his discourse.

The final stage is marked by total absence of ego wherein the devotee behaves like an insentient object. Satrughna is cited as example for this. The Ramayana states that when Bharata proceeded to his maternal uncle's house, Satrughna "was taken away" by him (as though he was an object and did not have a will of his own). Tiruppan Azhwar's redemption by Lord Ranganatha is a classic example of this pinnacle of service to God. When the Lord ordered the priest of the temple, Lokasaranga Mamuni, to bring Panan to His sanctum bearing him on his shoulders as expiation for slighting him, he who had never even set foot inside the temple because of his social standing and maintained a distance from the priestly class, without any reservation obeyed the instruction and came into the temple with all honours. Commentators observe that it was Tiruppan Azhwar's spiritual maturity, which made him surrender totally to the Lord by implicitly following whatever he was asked to do.