True bhaktas

When Rama is banished to the forest by Dasaratha, Sita immediately prepares to leave with Him, though She has not been asked to leave. She cannot brook separation from Him. That is how true bhaktas of the Lord always feel.

The Lord is like a parent towards His bhaktas, and like all parents, He too likes to be in the company of His devotees, said R. Rangarajan, in a discourse. He is happy to see them well dressed.

The Vaishnavite Acharya, Parasara Bhattar, was well known for his analytical and meaningful discourses. Naturally, he spoke against attachment to material objects, and as all Acharyas, he too spoke of the need for attachment to the Lord in order to attain moksha. One day, his disciple observed Parasara Bhattar going to the Srirangam temple, dressed in fine clothes and wearing ornaments too. He wondered why Bhattar had given so much importance to his clothes. Bhattar pointed to the ornately carved pillars in the temple, and said he too was a pillar like one of them.

We think that we should dress in all our finery when we visit friends and relatives, or when we go to weddings. But when we visit temples, we do not take the same care to dress well. In fact, we should reserve our best clothes for our temple visits. Nothing can give greater pleasure to the Lord than to see us dressed well. But true bhaktas will, at the same time, not be interested in anything but pleasing the Lord.

One day, Bhattar brought home some guests. After a brief invocation to Lord Narayana, food was served to the guests, because Bhattar did not want to keep them waiting. One of them asked Bhattar why in his own family worship was so brief, when Bhattar advocated elaborate worship. When the food was served, Bhattar’s mother Andal ladled a spoon of neem oil, instead of ghee, on to the plates of the guests. Only the person who had criticised Bhattar for the brevity of his prayer complained about the bitter taste.

Andal said that even if the man worshipped the Lord the whole day, he would not get moksha, for his mind dwelt on pleasures like taste. A true bhakta’s mind is so full of the Lord that he does not attach importance to them.

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