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Nine modes of devotion

CHENNAI, MAY 10 . The Supreme Being is described in the scriptures as the eternal Reality who is not limited by space, time and form. He is all-pervasive and the ultimate cause of the entire creation who controls everything. It is not possible to fathom His divine nature and even the Vedas have failed to exhaust His glory. But this is not a deterrent to the ardent spiritual aspirant as He is accessible to His devotee. There have been devotees, like the Azhwars, who experienced His glory and expressed their mystical experiences in hymns.

The child devotee Prahlada for whose sake the Lord incarnated as Narasimha had also merited the appellation "Azhwar" in the Srivaishnava tradition for his devotion was phenomenal, said Sri T. A. Varadachariar in his discourse. And like Andal and Meera he was born a devotee blessed to have listened to the exposition of the Lord's glory from Sage Narada when his mother Kayatu was expecting him though his father Hiranyakasipu detested the Almighty. He did not have to be taught the spiritual lore by anyone. His preceptor Sukracharya under the instruction of Hiranyakasipu tried his best to indoctrinate him that his father was supreme. But Prahlada was not convinced and he repudiated all that was taught to him with his inborn knowledge.

Frightened his preceptor asked him who had taught him such blasphemy and he replied that it was the Supreme One who was responsible for illumining his mind and outlook. With conviction he made bold to enlighten his father also when he asked him what he had learnt, "To hear the names, praises and stories of Lord Vishnu and chant them, to remember Him, to wait upon Him, to offer worship and salutation to Him, to dedicate one's actions to Him, to cultivate friendship with Him and to offer one's own body as well as one's dependents and belongings to Him— if devotion marked by these nine features is practised by a man as something already offered direct to Lord Vishnu, I reckon such devotion to be the highest form of learning."

It was after the demon king tried to kill his son enraged that he should glorify devotion to Narayana, who was his sworn enemy, that the Lord manifested in the unique form of a man-lion (Narasimha). This incarnation caught the imagination of the Azhwars for many reasons like the Lord's compassion, easy accessibility and Prahlada's singular devotion that elicited such overwhelming divine grace.

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