patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it."
I was able to listen to this sloka in a repeat telecast on 18th June 2009. A brief recapitulation of the same:
The lecture was from Thiruvayalali [திரு வயலாலி], where the Lord is Sri Manavalan. We had seen earlier that sage Poorna was bringing up Sri Thayar as his daughter. He got Her married to the Lord, and that is why the Lord is called here as Sri Vayalali Manavalan. After marriage, when the Divine couple were returning, Tirumangai Alwar planned to rob them. Till then Alwar was known as Neelan. He became Kaliyan and later Tirumangai Alwar. Hence, the Lord here is responsible for making him an Alwar. He was administered Ashtakshara mantra by the Lord; but it is from the Lord Sri Sowriraja of Tirukkannapuram, that the Alwar learnt fully the import of Ashtaksharam! Alwar in a pasuram says that when he saw different flowers like Tulasi, thorny Mulari, Aambal, etc., mind was after offering those to the Lord. If there was a person without such a thought, then the Alwar says that is never a mind! Ears should be to listen to His names, eyes should be to see Him; likewise, mind should be after offering flowers, etc., to Him. This is similar to the sloka we are to see. In sloka 26, the Lord tells Arjuna that it is very easy and simple to worship Him. In the worship, we try to offer something to the Lord. In our lives, we offer to someone what he needed. so that we can get favours from him. Here, the Lord is not in need of anything. In fact, He is the owner of all. So even if we offer, we are only presenting His own property. In such a case where is the need for offering with very costly materials? He is not waiting for us to worship Him with golden flowers. We find today many religious ceremonies like, say, Sudarsana Homam, etc., are unaffordable to many. Then, how are they to worship the Lord with such actions prescribed in Vedas? The Lord answers in this sloka. A leaf [patram] or any flower [pushpam] or any fruit [palam] or mere water [thoyam], is enough. Are we to offer water in golden or silver vessels? No. A mud pot or if nothing s available, offer clean water in the hands! The Lord sees bhakti alone and not what we offer! That is how the garland-man and hunchback woman offered to Sri Krishna, in Srimad Bhagavatam. Vidura offered with real bhakti peels of fruit, which the Lord took eagerly! That is why Alwar also says offer any flower to the Lord, or at least think to offer.