Devotion confers knowledge

 This is a work which extols the glories of the various incarnations of the Lord from the beginning of creation, interwoven with beautiful similies drawn from everyday life as well as the world around to drive home profound philosophical verities which remain the same everywhere for all time, past, present and future. 

In canto ninety four, Bhattathiri expounds on the knowledge that is conferred by true devotion. When actions are performed without any desire for the fruits, the mind gets purified. Such a mental state is receptive to the instructions from a competent teacher regarding the all pervasiveness of the Supreme power in various forms and manifestations. All these various manifestations are essentially the same, just as it is the same fire that burns brightly or dimly in various shapes depending on the fuel it feeds on.
Just as a spark is produced when two hard objects strike or rub against each other, the fire of true knowledge is generated when the right student meets the right teacher.

This union kindles the spark of inquiry in the seeker and gradually builds up into a controlled conflagration that consumes the forest of ignorance in the pupil. This ignorance consists mainly in believing that the body is the soul itself, whereas in truth, the soul is unattached and all pervading, without beginning or end. Just as the fire subsides when there is no more fuel left, when all ignorance is removed, true knowledge and realisation dawns.

This is the final goal of all great seekers, irrespective of their faiths. This must be the goal of all men too. Devotion is the first step in this process of realisation. All other means like rituals pale into insignificance before the power of devotion. Only selfless devotion devoid of pride and arrogance confers purity of mind, the prime requisite for attaining to spiritual bliss. Such of those who perform righteous deeds have nothing to fear.

Bhattathiri next asks the rhetorical question, ‘of what use is all this talk of liberation and knowledge if the mind itself is impure”? He explains that other than devotion, there is no other way of attaining purity of mind.

He asks the Lord to bestow such devotion characterised by absolute surrender of all actions at his feet and with the guidance of a preceptor, to be granted true realisation. Mere knowledge, without inner devotion is like a sterile cow, which can never calve.
This devout scholar concludes this canto with a fervent prayer to be granted such devotion and the knowledge that it confers.

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