Spiritual experience

CHENNAI: : It is often reiterated in the spiritual tradition that he who turns to God has already been chosen by Him. The descent of divine grace in the spiritual evolution of a bonded soul is a turning point when devotion takes root and all worldly interests diminish. The ardour for spiritual experience increases and with it starts the slow process of cleansing of the impurities that are responsible for its ignorance and bondage. The Saiva saint, Manikkavasagar, portrays the process of purification of the soul in the Anubhogasuddhi section of the Tiruvasagam. One may wonder why such a great saint whose soul is already pure speaks of purification.

In his discourse, Sri T.V.Venkataraman said, such humility was a mark of the total annihilation of ego but even a mystic who has experienced God desired further refinement for experiencing the bliss of spiritual union. The instruments of knowledge — the senses and the mind— which are products of Maya, cannot understand that which is beyond Maya (God). God is omniscient and the soul's knowledge is limited and so to the soul, which is ready to experience Him, He extends His helping hand in the form of His feet. The soul must then take refuge in God.

The devotee understands his limitations and materiality when the divine grace intercedes to help him and he surrenders to His omniscience. Duality is then transcended and the finite merges into the incandescent expanse of the infinite. As the soul is by nature consciousness it is able to dissolve in the infinite consciousness. The life of Manikkavasagar reveals that after the incident at Tiruperundurai when God revealed Himself and made him His own, the saint started craving for more and more spiritual experience; yet, there were moments of self- reproof and doubt.

In a verse he bursts out, "I am a low cur and know not what I should do; I but deserve to secure the very deserts of the liars who cannot behold Your golden flower-feet; having witnessed and heard about the true ones who remained unflawed by falsity and thus gained Your fragrant flower-feet, I, the false one, abide here feeding and clothing me." Saints, like Manikkavasagar, denounce themselves due to their humility though they have realised God.

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