Bhakti Song 33 – What can I offer?

I think this one is written at Sat-tal ashram when I was thinking about paying back the Lord for what he has done for me. Particularly doing seva for the Lord is considered as the most important thing among the evangelical circle. But for me we are in an eternal debt to the Lord and we cannot pay for what He has done for us through any means in our life.

















English Translation

What can I, this poor one, offer

For the un-changing redeeming love

Which sought after me?

Can I offer material things as a vow?

For the love of the Lord?

How far the sevas which I do

Will be comparable to the Love which is beyond speech

The very life that I live is an alm from God

Therefore I have nothing to offer to measure up to His love.



The word alms here in Tamil is ‘pichai’ which is offered to a beggar. So ‘pichai’ shows the condition in which the beggar is. In the Indian bhakti tradition, many songs are there which tell about the bhakta standing at the door of the Lord and begging for His grace and mercy. I am not sure whether such thought are there in other countries. I don’t remember reading such thoughts in Muktiveda. Though we read about beggars like Lazarus, yet the concept of a bhakta begging to the Lord is more an Indian bhakti concept. At Parangippetai in Tamilnadu, I saw one Muslim wrote like this on the front side of his house as the name of his building, ‘Idu Allah tanda Pichai’ = this is a pichai given by Allah. I don’t know much about the Quran. But being a Muslim he too was influenced by the bhakti tradition in his faith. This begging goes even beyond the dasa bhava (attitude as a servant) and pada sevana1 (serving at the feet of the Lord).

Thus bhakti includes all kinds of human experience and emotions.

  1. …[In] Bhaagavatapuraana (Pandit Pustakalaya, Kasi, 1969),… we come across as many as nineteen different classification of bhakti, ranging from a threefold devotion to a thirty-six fold devotion, although a ninefold devotion [Bhaagavatapuraana, VII.5.23; XI.6.9] comprising sravanam (hearing) (XI.6.9), kiirtanam (changing) (XII.3.52), smarnam (remembering) (XII.12.54), Paadasevanam (service at Bhagavaan’s feet), arcanam (offering worship), vandanam (praising) (XI.27.9), Daasyam (servitude and humility), sakhyam (friendship), (p.173) aatmanivedaman (self-surrendered) (XI.29.34), is more frequently recognised and recommended….— Vijay Nath, Puraanas and Acculturation: A Historico-Anthropological Perspective, New Delhi, Munshirma Manoharlal, 2001, pp.173-4.[ In all the Primary Texts and Secondary Works, the name of the Publisher is not given—DB]