- 46 -


(Digest of pp.1015 -1027   of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)


The very beginning of the shloka “tvayA hRtvA” brands ambaa as a ‘thief’! You have already appropriated half of His body. And you were not satisfied. Now You have appropriated the other half also.


The gymnastics of words is delightful. In ‘aparitRptena’ there is an ‘apari’. This is is in the first line. In the second line there is ‘aparam’.  This latter means ‘other’. But ‘apari’ is the opposite of ‘pari’. ‘pari-tRptena’ means: by one who is fully satisfied. The ‘pari’ stands for ‘fully’.  So ‘apari-tRptena’ means: by one who is not satisfied fully. Having taken only half the body how can She have a ‘full’ satisfaction? She had only a partial satisfaction ! That is what is indicated by the ‘apari-tRptena’.


It is the left side of the Lord’s body that belongs to ambaa. This is the age-old tradition. That is how the Acharya expected to see ambaa when he sought Her darshan. But what did he see? He expected to have a darshan of Father and Mother in the ardha-nArishvara form. But what he saw was the Mother’s form, including the right side. Father is crystal-white and Mother is crimson-red. But what he saw was “sakalam aruNAbham” – fully crimson-red. He expected to see a masculine form on the right side, but what he saw was “kuchAbhyAm-Anamram”.  So the Acharya concludes  -- in poetic fancy, of course – that the other (right) half of Shiva’s masculine body also has been taken over by ambaa. Note that Shiva Himself is described in the vedas as “taskarANAm patiH” – the head of all the thiefs!  But ambaa has executed a theft on Himself, by stealing the other remaining half of His body – though She had been, with great condescension, given half of His body (the left side) already!


And it is delightfully interesting to note that the poet in the Acharya does not say that “the other half of the body has also been captured”.  He dares not, even in poetic fancy, make that charge assertively against ambaa. He only says “shangke” – ‘I suspect’ !


Let us analyse it still further.  When one says ‘I suspect’, one should give reasons. He has already given two reasons: ‘Wholly crimson-red’ is one; ‘the features of the chest’ is another. But this is not enough.  To support his charge further, he gives two more, which clinch the issue. These are the two features: “trinayanam” (three eyes) and “kuTila-shashi-chUDAla-makuTaM” (crown that includes the half moon in it). These two are exclusively the features of Lord Shiva. His name, even according to the vedas is ‘tryambaka’. In the preliminary mantras to the rudra-prashna, the dhyAna-shloka beginning with “ApAtALa-nabhasthalAntha ...  the second line describes Him as “jyoti-sphATika-linga-mouli-vilasat-pUrnendu ..” which means that as the shiva-linga, He has the full moon on His top.  When the same devatA is figured anthropomorphically as a Person, He would have on  His head, only a half moon . Thus the three eyes and the crescent moon  ‘belong’ to the Lord. But when the Acharya had the darshan he saw both these in ambaa Herself!


In fact the darshan he had was of Kameshvari, the devatA of Soundaryalahari.  Kameshvari  has a third eye in Her forehead. In the meditating shloka of LalitA-sahasranAma, the shloka begins with ‘sindhUra-aruNa-vigrahAM’. The sindhUra colour ascribed to the form here is the crimson-red colour, indicated by ‘sakalaM aruNAbhaM’ in our current shloka.  Following that,  the dhyAna-shloka goes on  next to “trinayanam” (three eyed).  Thus the red colour and the three eyes are natural to the form of Kameshvari.  But in the present shloka (#23) the Acharya takes the stance, in his poetry, that the former (namely, the red colour) is naturally Hers, whereas the latter (namely, the three eyes) has been appropriated from the Lord’s form!


Continuing the dhyAna-shloka, we have the expression “tArA-nAyaka-shekharAm  meaning, ‘who has the Moon on Her head’.  This the Acharya has used in his shloka as ‘kuTila-shashi-chUDAla-makuTAM’.


Thus the Acharya has made a nindA-stuti (Praise by pointing out faults) of ambaa by using the same four characteristics which ambaa has, according to the dhyAna-shloka, namely, red colour, three eyes, crescent moon on the head and the feminine form. But two of them he says ambaa has appropriated from the Lord. In fact it is the Acharya who has appropriated two of the four all of which rightfully belong to Her, by accusing Her of appropriating those two from Her Lord.


It is not that the Acharya did not know. He certainly would know that all four are natural characteristics of LalitAmbA. “trinayanA” (‘The three-eyed’) is one of Her names occurring in the LalitA-sahasranAma. “chAru-chandra-kalAdharA” is also another. In ShymALA-danDaka of Kalidasa, we have him addressing Her as “chandra-kalAvatamse” (She who has ornamented Her head with the Crescent Moon). Thus ambaa does have these two characteristics as Her own. In pictures of olden times I have myself seen Her being depicted thus.  But the ordinary commonfolk still think that the concepts of ‘three eyes’ and ‘crescent moon on the head’ are exclusively those of Lord Shiva. And, the Acharya, in his poetic excitement,  joins the commonfolk and creates a ‘nindA-stuti’!


There is still another angle! The shloka under discussion revels in the idea of ambaa having appropriated the Lord’s characteristics and also his right half. But the poetic world knows that it is the other way round. It is the Lord who has appropriated Her characteristics and legitimately what is due to Her!


In the ardha-nArishvara form the third eye is common to both the masculine and the feminine forms. It is by the third eye He consumed Manmatha, the God of Love, to ashes. So the credit of that consumption should go half and half to both the Lord and ambaa. But who is known as Kama-dahana-mUrti?  It is He. Similarly when KAla, the God  of Death, was attempting to get the Shiva-devotee MarkanDeya into his death-noose, he was vanquished by the left leg of the Lord, and thus He has earned the name ‘Kala-samhAra-mUrti’ and known as such as the world over. But the left leg  in the ardha-nArIshvara form actually belongs to ambaa and so the credit for vanquishing Kala should go wholly to ambaa. Thus on both counts it is He that should be faulted for appropriation and not She!


Well, we could go on like this. But the final essence of all this discussion is that there is no appropriation on either side. It is all One form and One Supreme. The Lord’s form is totally in Her and Her form is totally in His. LalitA Herself is ‘Shiva-shakty-aikya-rUpiNI’; this advaita is the bottomline of the whole thing.


[At this point the Paramacharya becomes silent

and starts talking in a measured low voice]


Alright, the form is totally red; it is ambaa. But if one begins to look at the form in its various parts, amidst the redness, there is visible only the third eye and the crescent moon at the top. That reminds us of the Lord. But if you look for Him He is not there. Nothing except those two characteristics of His are visible. It is probably this experience that prompted the Acharya to say:

[Now the Paramacharya raises his voice]


“ Oh! You got half the body as your own; and now you have taken over the whole body”!


None can partition the Shiva-experience. You cannot have it piecemeal; you have to have the whole of it. This is what ambaa has done!


-         47 –

(Digest of pp.1028 -1032   of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)


japo jalpaH shilpaM sakalam-api mudrA-virachanA

gatiH prAdakshhiNya-kramaNam ashanAdy-Ahuti vidhiH /

praNAmaH samveshaH sukhaM akhilaM AtmArpaNa-dRshA

saparyA paryAyaH tava bhavatu yan-me vilasitaM // 27 //


(The word-by-word meaning comes out in the Paramacharya’s explanation itself; so it is not given separately)


Whatever actions we do everything must be in dedication to ambaa – this is the sum and substance of this shloka. Worship, japam, showing mudrAs by the fingers of the hand, circumambulation, prostration, offering in the fire with the chanting of mantras in propitiation of ambaa – all these are usually done in honour of ambaa by Her devotees.  Yes, all these have to be done. But the matter should not end there. Doing all this for a portion of the time, and then for the rest of the time getting fully immersed in material matters of the world, is exactly what should be avoided. It is not like ‘A few hours for ambaa; and the rest of the time for me and my worldly activities’. All the time everything should become a worship, everything should be a japam, a homam and an offering. That is how we should change our life style. Not only the devotees, but all should be able to do this.


But how is this possible? Is this feasible? Don’t I have to bathe? Don’t I have to eat, sleep, mix with people, do my work in the world?  I hear you are all raising these questions immediately. You may say that even the great so-called jnAnis (enlightened ones) are certainly doing all these routine activities of worldly life. So what is wrong?


Let it be. She as the Divine Mother has to perform Her leelA. That is alright. But how is it that  the jnAnis,  who know it is all Her leelA, are still working in the mundane world? You should also be like those jnAnis. Be in the world, not of the world. Maybe it is not  possible just immediately. But gradually, you can train yourself to be so. Effort and constant practice are needed. For the present, start convincing yourself that your bathing, eating, talking, sleeping, walking, and all these ordinary activities are all happening because of Her Shakti – without which by yourself you cannot do a single thing. Constantly tell yourself  that this is so. Slowly keep widening this belief for evcery action of yours.


When you recognize that you are eating because of the power She has given you to eat, you would not have the heart to send rubbish stuff into your stomach. When the belief settles in that it is ambaa that makes you walk, you will hesitate twice before wasting it on going to the races or the movies. When you know that it is by Her Grace you are talking, you would not waste it on gossiping or scolding another or discussing disgusting material. When we are aware of the fact that hands and feet are working because of Her, we would stop using them for doing wrong things.

Gradually, in due time, this conviction has to spread to your mental activities also. In other words, the egoistic thought of ‘I am planning this or that’ will give way to the thought ‘Let Her get this done, if She wishes’. This change in the thought processes is important because it is through the mind all the mAyic changes and troubles of the world emerge. And they prevent the nullifying of the mind and the entry into jnAna mArga. Once we transfer the responsibilities to the Divine Mother, the impact of the mind will slowly disappear. Thereafter, whether She keeps us talking, walking or eating or She keeps us without any of these, in any case, we would be peaceful at the bottom of our heart.  It is to reach that state, to pray for that state to be possible, that this shloka has been given to us by the Acharya.


japo jalpaH”:  jalpa’ means  talk, whether it is meaningful or not. So all this talk should be a japam. In other words, it is the state of whatever we talk  becoming an offering of japam for Her.

There are several mantras like ‘BalA’, ‘ShhoDashI,  andpanchadashI’. All these mantras are done in a japa form. We are not saying that they should not be done.  But ultimately, the japa as a separate activity has to disappear and the conviction should occur that whatever we talk is a japa offering to Her.

sakalaM shilpam-api mudrA-virachanA”:  Whatever I do by my hand, let it be a mudrA that one does in Your pUjA. Here ‘shilpam’ must be taken to mean any kind of work. Unfortunately the tamil word ‘shilpam’ means only sculpture. Maybe because Man produces forms just as the Creator creates human beings.

gatiH prAdakshhiNya-kramaNaM” :  Whatever movement I do let it be a circumambulation of You. Wherever I go let me have the feeling that I am doing a pradakshhiNA of You.

ashanAdi” : food, etc. Since the ‘etc.’ is there it means not only food that is eaten, but food that is consumed by the other senses like eyes and ears. So all sensual experiences are covered.

Ahuti vidhiH” : Let them be the offerings given to the sacred fire lit for You.

In fact all eating is done only after giving the first five morsels to the five prANas. In the Gita also, the Lord says that He it is who digests the food by being VaishvAnara as ‘JATharAgni’ in the stomach. Once we have the conviction that it is He that is sitting inside and consuming what we send through the mouth, then we would not be sending in wine and meat for His consumption.  The same logic applies to the sensual consumption by eyes, ears, skin, and nose.  Everything is experienced by Him and so let us dare not send in undesirable things.


praNAmas-samveshaH” : Let my very sleeping be a namaskara done to You. Once we realise that our lying down for rest is nothing but a namaskaram at the feet of ambaa, that would itself give us total peace and relaxation.


Why carry on this list in detail. It is not necessary to do special japa, homa, namakara and such rituals. Whatever we naturally do , let it be our pUja to You – this is the meaning of “sukham akhilam AtmArpaNa-dRshA saparyA paryAyaH tava bhavatu yan me vilasitaM”.  Here “saparyA” means pUjA. “paryAya” has many meanings, one of which is ‘substitute’. So this gives the meaning: Let whatever I do be a ‘substitute’ for the pUjA to be done to You. 


-         48 –


(Digest of pp.1033 - 1037   of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)


Note the words “sukham-akhilaM-AtmArpaNa-dRshA” in the third line of shloka 27.


sukham” means ‘without strain’, ‘naturally’. The word is very significant here. Since our mind is not in our control, it becomes a great strain to make it subscribe to a moralistic routine. But if we train our mind to think that everything is the work of ambaaL, the attempt to become moralistic slips into a natural frame wherein the goal is attained effortlessly. Because, when we have surrendered everything to Her, the mind starts doing what is natural to it, namely, it behaves like a pure mind. And that is the road to eternal happiness.


The words “AtmArpaNa-dRshA” is the life-line of this shloka; not only of this shloka, but of all Hindu scriptures. This is the Atma-nivedanaM, the last of the nine-fold bhakti methodologies enunciated in the Bhagavatam. It is also the complete Surrender described in all Bhakti literature and particularly in the Bhagavad-Gita. The expression literally means: “By the attitude which is ready to lay one’s life at Her feet”. Only when that attitude is present, all talk becomes a japa, all action becomes a mudrA, and so on for the rest. Let things become like this through the attitude of “Atma-samarpaNaM” (laying one’s life at the feet). The word “bhavatu” in the last line stands for this plea. A person who can do this surrender, would have his whole life sanctified as a pUjA to Her Almighty.


An exactly analogous thought almost in the same words has been given in “Shiva-mAnasa-pUjA” by the Acharya himself.


AtmA tvaM girijA matiH sahacarAH prANAH sharIraM gRhaM

pUjA te vishhayopa-bhoga-racanA nidrA samAdhi sthitiH /

sancAraH padayoH pradakshhiNa-vidhiH stotrANi sarvA giro

yad-yat karma karomi tat-tad-akhilaM shambho tavA-rAdhanaM //


You Lord Shiva are my AtmA; my mind is ambikA, the daughter of the Mountain; my five prANas are the GaNas that serve you; my body is your temple; all my involvement in sensual experience is  your pUjA; my sleep is the samAdhi state; my wanderings on my feet constitute Your pradakshhiNa; whatever I talk shall be  your praises; whatever I do O shambho, all that shall be  a propitiation of You.


Such a dedication of everything at the feet of the Lord is what is prescribed by the Lord in the Gita:


Yat-karoshhi yad-ashnAsi yaj-juhoshhi dadAsi yat /

Yat-tapasyasi kaunteya tat-kurushhva mad-arpaNaM // IX -27


Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in the homa-fire, whatever you give away, whatever intense concentration  you do – all that should be offered to Me.


“There is nothing that I do”  “Good or bad, Am I the doer?” – Such expressions of total surrender are everywhere in the works of Nayanmars, Alvars and also the saints of other religions. It is this kind of total surrender that gives the destination of one’s birth, namely, jIvan-mukti.


What is talked of as ‘the cessation of mind’ in the path of jnAna becomes the ‘total surrender’ in the path of bhakti. Both are “AtmArpaNaM” only. Both have the same result, namely, jIvan-mukti – Release (even) while alive!


To sum up, the body does what it does because it is being made to do so by the jIva within it; so also what all this jIva does is because it is being made to do so by a Supreme jIva-Shakti behind it and that is the Mother Goddess. For that Shakti,  not only this Jiva is the body but all  the jIvas – nay, in fact the entire Universe is the body. So whatever happens in the Universe is because of Her. Once this idea settles deeply in our minds then there will be no problem of ‘laying our lives at Her feet’ (Atma-samarpaNaM).


The concept that ambaaL is pervading the whole universe immanently is elaborated in two shlokas (#34, 35) by the Acharya.


sharIraM tvaM shambhoH shashi-mihira-vakshhoruha-yugaM

tavAtmAnaM manye bhagavati navAtmAnaM anaghaM /

atah sheshhas-sheshhI-ity-ayam-ubhaya-sAdhAraNatayA

sthitas-sambandho vAM sama-rasa-para-nanda-parayoH //34//


Bhagavati : Oh Goddess,

Manye : I think

tvaM : You

shashi-mihira-vakshhoruha-yugaM: (who) have the Sun and the Moon as your breasts,

shambhoH sharIraM : (are) the body of Shiva,

anaghaM : (and) the spotless

navAtmAnaM : (Ananda-bhairava, i.e. Shiva) who has nine facets (of presentation)

tava AtmAnaM : (as) your AtmA.

ataH : Therefore

ayam sambandhaH : this relationship

sheshhaH sheshhI iti :  of ‘the accessory’ and ‘the principal’

vAM : between You two

sama-rasa-parAnanda-parayoH : who are ParAnanda and ParA, the enjoyers of the same Infinite Bliss

sthitaH : is  poised

ubhaya-sAdhAraNatayA : as a mutual common factor.


“You are the body of Lord Shiva, O Goddess” – thus begins the verse. Earlier it was said that the whole body of  the Lord has been appropriated by Her. But now  are we talking  of the ‘crimson-coloured body with a crescent moon and a third eye’? No. We are talking of this vast cosmos of million universes which together constitute His virAt-svarUpa (cosmic form). That cosmic body is ambaaL,  says the verse. The life-giving force for that entire cosmos is the Absolute Reality, the para-Brahman.


Mark it! What is being said here seems to be contrary to what was declared in the very first shloka “shivaH shaktyA yuktah ...”.Without Shakti, Shiva cannot even move – that was the statement there. So it appeared as if Shiva is an inert body and ambaaL is the life-giving force. Here it is being said that She is the body and  ...” !


No contradiction is intended or implied. There are two viewpoints.


49 –

(Digest of pp.1038 -1044  of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)


The first shloka says that She is the soul and He is inert without Her presence. This shloka (#34) says that He is the soul and She is His body. There are two viewpoints here.


I must have myself said – in interpreting the first shloka – that He is inert without Her.  To be precise, it is not “He is inert without Her”, but “He is inert-like without Her”. The Shiva that we spoke of in Shloka #1, is the actionless, attributeless, nameless Brahman. That Brahman can never be called something that is inert, devoid of ‘cit’ or Consciousness. But it is something to which we cannot attribute the act of cognizing itself. In that sense there is no ‘awareness’ of being ‘complete-in-itself’. It is in this sense, the word ‘inertness’ is used when talking of Brahman. So it is ‘as good as inert’. The ‘as if’ part here is the punchline. The Brahman, that ‘does not know(!) itself’  -- this to become the Brahman that ‘knows’ itself is due to the jnAna-shakti and that is ambaa.  It is this jnAna-shakti, that now brings its own ichhA-shakti and kriyA shakti, and the process of Evolution starts. So the nirguNa-Brahman, until it ‘knows’ itself, is inert and the shakti that makes it, as it were, know itself, is its soul – it is in this sense the first shloka talks of ‘He is inert without Her’!


Shloka 34 is talking about ‘kArya brahman.  Ishvara is SaguNa-brahman. When Shakti as Kameshvari prompts Him, He creates  the entire Universe and is involved in the cosmic functions. It is in this context the entire Universe is His body and the soul within is the kArya-shakti that is Ishvara. The icchA shakti that is Kameshvari prompts the Fundamental Reality that is Brahman.


The contention of advaita however is: It is Brahman that, through MayA,  becomes saguNa Brahman which transacts its cosmic functions. There is no separate chaitanyaM (life, consciousness) for mAyA. It is inert. It gets a chaitanyaM from Brahman, hides Brahman and projects the universe instead, in Brahman. The administration of this universe takes place by the same Brahman but now as Ishvara coupled with mAyA.


Brahman is shivaM and ambaa is mAyA – I have already told you so. It is because of mAyA that the Universe exists. So one can speak of the Universe itself as mAyA and therefore the form of ambaa. That mAyA is inert; it shines because of brahma-chaitanyaM. Therefore ambaa is spoken of as the body and the shiva who is in the place of Brahman can be spoken of as its soul.  This is why “sharIraM tvaM shambhoH” – You, Mother, are the body of Shiva!.


In Sankhya school of philosophy, it is almost the same. Purushha  is the basic Truth behind all jIvas. ‘PrakRti’ is the basic cause for the Universe. The two are like body and soul, according to Sankhya.  Scholarly opinion holds that the contention of shloka 34, namely,  that ambaa is the body of the Lord and the universe itself is ambaa (through the words ‘shashi-mihira-vakshhoruha-yugaM’)  is more akin to Sankhya than to advaita. The reasoning goes like this:


Brahman is hidden by mAyA. Brahman appears as the universe and this is the projection of mAyA. Of these two things, it is the ‘hiding’ part that is dominant whenever we talk of mAyA. Even in ordinary parlance, we say ‘the thing disappeared like mAyA!’.  On the other hand ‘prakRti’, instead of being associated with the ‘hiding’ part, is usually emphasized in the case of what appears as Nature. PrakRti gets the dominant emphasis whenever we talk of the universe appearing in the place of Absolute Reality. In Sankhya, the 24 tattvas like the five elemental fundamentals, pancha tanmAtras, and then the senses, etc.  all are focussed on the Universe and its constitution (=make-up). Even advaita shAstras have accepted the 24 fundamental tattvas more because of the importance given to it by traditional scholars.  In advaita sAdhanA, these have no recognized place. In the practical sAdhanA of an advaitin, knowing about the 24 fundamentals is neither advantageous nor disadvantageous.  The transformation of prakRti into the Universe and its living beings is important only in Sankhya.


Though the beginning of this shloka (34) takes us back to Sankhya and advaita, the later ideas take us to the two traditions in ShAkta school, namely, the Kaula and the Samaya. In fact even the idea that ambaa is the body of the Lord and the Universe itself is ambaa -- has also a basis in the ShAkta scriptures.  Kaulam is the tradition wherein one does external worship with yantram, deity and all. Samayam is that which does the pUjA esoterically in the heart-space (hRdayAkAsha). 


Irrespective of any of these philosophies, what is important to note in this shloka is the Acharya’s refusal to forget the motherly love inherent in  the Mother Goddess. Though ambaa is depicted as the cosmic Form of the Lord, the Acharya does not have the mind to leave it as an inert ‘form’ or ‘body’. He keeps thinking about the Mother as the Mother of the Universe and its beings and therefore Her breast-feeding of Her children is hinted at by the mention of ‘shashi-mihira-vakshhoruha-yugam’! That the Sun and the Moon are the life-givers of everything in the universe is a scientifically accepted fact. Therefore the Mother who protects us as anna-poorNeshvari also feeds our lives through the Sun and the Moon. Poetically, in the language of Bhakti, they are the ones who feed us with life-sustaining breast-feed and that is why they are the two breasts of the Cosmic Form that is ambaa.


It is customary to talk of the Sun and the Moon as the two eyes of the Lord. In Soundaryalahari  itself, shloka 48 says that “Your right eye is the Sun that brings out the day; and your left eye is the Moon that creates the night”. In Lalita Sahasranama ambaa’s ear-ornaments are said to be the Sun and the Moon.  But over and above all this, it is this shloka that touches us most, because it makes us the Mother’s children who are breast-fed by the Sun and the Moon as Her breasts.


-         50 –


(Digest of pp.1045 -1050   of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)


We have not yet done with Shloka 34. The Sheshha-SheshhI-bhAva (The Principal and the Accessory concept) that comes in the third line of the verse has tremendous conceptual significance.


sharIraM tvaM shambhoH” indicates that ambaa is the body and Shiva is the soul. Since the body is usually taken as ‘containing’ the soul one should not think that soul is a property of the body. It is not like ‘the purse is in my pocket; so the purse is my property’. By thinking like that one commits the foolishness  -- as the Acharya himself mentions in his ShaTpadI-stotra – of thinking that the Ocean is the property of the Waves; the Wave is not the property of the Ocean!  The fact that the waves are the only thing visible from the outside and the calm water beneath is not visible, does not mean that the waves ‘possess’ the ocean beneath them! So also with ‘body and soul’. If the soul (life) leaves the body, the body becomes rotten and decays.  The soul goes and takes another body.  Therefore it is the body that is ‘possessed’ by the soul. The soul is the possessee and the body is the property of the possessee.  In Sanskrit the word ‘svaM’ indicates the possessed property. It is from this word ‘svaM’ the word ‘svat’ and the Tamil word ‘sottu’ (meaning ‘property’ or ‘possession’) are derived.


When ‘svam’ is the possessed property, the possessee is ‘svAmi’. It is the Lord who is the ‘svAmi’ for the whole universe, because everything is His, in His possession, His property. The possessor-Lord is  calledSheshhI’. ‘Sheshha’ is the one ‘owned’ by the SheshI.  Soul is the sheshhI and body is sheshha.


This concept of jIvas and Universe as the body and the Lord as the soul and on the same basis  as sheshha and sheshhI is an important tenet of the vishishhTAdvaita school of Ramanujacharya.


If the Lord is taken to be the nirguNa Brahman as per advaita, then ambaa was first said  to be the I-consciousness of the Lord, by the Acharya. The first half of the very first shloka meant only that. Then in shloka #7, explicitly ambaa was said to be ‘Aho-purushhikA’. In this kind of thing, there is no distinction between sheshha and sheshhI; the shiva and shakti are in indivisible unison. But looking at the phenomenal world of duality, the talk arises about the divine Triad, and the divinities in charge of the five cosmic functions.  And in this state they are able to function only with the help of  a fragment of Her Shakti. Just by the dust of Her feet they are able to do what they have to do (shloka 2). Or by just the winking of Her eyes (shloka 24). These shlokas point to the fact that She is the Mistress of the whole show; in other words, She is the SheshhI; and these divinities are the sheshhas who do Her bidding. Even the alternates of Shiva, namely, Rudra, Maheshvara and SadAshiva who belong to the same category, are also sheshhas and She is the SheshhI for them too.


Over and above all this, from the minutest earthworm all the way up to the Cosmic Divinities of the five functions, all of them  have  been created and  given life by the  presence of Her Shakti within. So She is the SeshI to all of them . In other words all of us are Sheshas, accessories,  for that SheshI, the principal.


This shloka also tells us in its second line how She is the SheshhI and He is the Sheshha. Ishvara is nine-faceted – these nine facets starting with Time and ending with jIva.

[Note by VK: The nine facets referred to here are:

KAla, Kula, nAma, jnAna,citta,

nAda, bindu, KalA and jIva]

That is the navAtmA that is mentioned in the shloka.  For all of these the life giving shakti is ambaa. So She is the SharIrI or SheshhI. And Ishvara, who has the nine aspects, is Sheshha.


Now change the viewpoint. You will see that He is the SheshhI and She is the Sheshha. For, She being Shakti, Energy, Power, there must be someone who wields that Shakti, Power and Energy.  That is the Lord Shiva! Even when He is the saguna-Brahman or the kArya-Brahman, He is the Ishvara who is the soul of everything in the universe as the First Cause and the effects, namely, all that is animate and inanimate, His body, that is, ambaa. So She becomes the Sheshha.


The simple meaning of SheshhaM is ‘Remainder’.  So the original, which ought to be far more than the SheshhaM, is the SheshhI. That is the paramAtman. From that fullness of the paramAtman all this world has emerged, which appears to be infinite and full. After emerging from fullness, what has emerged seems to be full. This is what the upanishadic mantra  (pUrnamadaH pUrnamidaM) says. In other words it only tells us that the paramAtman is the SheshhI and we are all his Sheshha. Ambaa is manifesting as all the multitudinous universe and the life within is the Shambhu-Brahman. Therefore “sharIram tvam shambhoH”. Ambaa is the sheshha and He is the Sheshhi.


Thus the Acharya here does not make any distinction between the different viewpoints of ShAktaM, ShaivaM, VishishhTAdvaitam, Sankhyam and advaitam. The universe that is discardable as mAyA in advaita is here talked of as the body of the paramAtman. When you think of nirguNa-Brahman, the question of soul and body, sharirI and sharira, sheshhI and sheshha does not arise. But in the phenomenal world when we view things from our mundane angle, the universe is said to be the body and the indwelling paramAtman  the sharIrI – very much as in vishishhTAdvaita philosophy.


The Acharya says in  this shloka that this Sheshha-SheshhI bhAva is equally the characteristic of both.  Already the “samayaschool of ShAktaM talks of five equalities between Shiva and Shakti.

[VK :  See DPDS – 7]

And here the Acharya has added one more equality, namely the Sheshha-SheshhI bhava!


Just as the universe is visible so also the body is visible. So long as the mind is there both the body and the universe will certainly be visible. When the mind is inactive as in sleep, or in sedation or in samAdhi, there is no universe, body or activity of the senses. Where is the distinction in that state, between body and its life or soul, who is the sharIrI, what is the sharIra, who is the SheshhI, who is the Sheshha? In sleep and in sedation, there is no duality because nothing is cognized. For the jnAni who is in the samAdhi state, again there is no universe or phenomenal activity because of the absence of mind.  There is no jIvAtma being ‘monitored’ or ‘enlivened’ by the ParamAtman.  To comprehend the presence of these two, function of the mind is necessary. Is it the state like sleep or sedation where there is nothing? No. That is not a state of complete void; it is a state of One-ness, namely the presence of the One without a second! This is how advaita has been established by the Acharya.


But other than that jnAni, the experience of every one else has to see everything – starting from the mind and going all the way to the five fundamental elements – as pervaded by ambaa. And that is what the Acharya is training us to do. As a beginning for this perception he says Brahman (shivam) is the soul and the unvierse (ambaa) is the body.


And he goes on to say in this next shloka (#35), that mind itself, which is the cause for all duality, is ambaa.


Thus spake the Paramacharya


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Acknowledgement of Source Material:

Ra. Ganapthy’s ‘Deivathin Kural’ (Vol.6)  in Tamil published by Vanathi Publishers, 4th edn. 1998


Copyright of English Summary  © V. Krishnamurthy


Jan.21, 2004



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