(Digest of pp.1141 - 1151  of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)

(Shloka #47 continued)


The Acharya does not see the two eyebrows of ambaa as two bows.  He conceives of both of them as one bow – not as one arc from bottom to top, but as two arcs of the same bow. It appears as if a skilful archer is at the point of stringing his arrow through the bow, everything is in  tension, and one can see even the little vibration as a wave of the two arcs. Thus the two eyebrows together constitute a single bow. But mark it! At the centre, there is a gap. Between the eyebrows, just above where the nose begins, there is a gap in what appears as the bow. Not only there is this gap in the bow, but the bow string also has a gap; for in the same shloka the Acharya is saying in the second line  that the two honey-beetle-like black eyes of ambaaL and their brilliance  constitute the bowstring. And this bowstring has a gap in the middle because there is the nose-ridge that is dividing it.  If both the bow and the bowstring have gaps right in the middle, then where is the bow, where is the string? Then the whole analogy will crumble.


So we have to probe a little more deeply. The bow is Manmatha’s bow – “ratipateH dhanuH”.  What is the authority or rationale for thinking of it as  Manmatha’s bow?  The rationale is:


tvaDIye netrAbhyAM madhukara-rucibhyAM dRta-guNaM”.


dRta-guNaM:  with the bow-string held

tvadIye netrAbhyAM: by Your eyes

madhukara-rucibhyAM : that  shine and move about like honey bees


The two black honey-bee-like eyes of ambaaL are radiating a brilliance, which is not static, but is superlatively dynamic; they are moving this side and that side fast enough to cover all the beings in the world so that the dRshhTi of ambaaL may shower grace and compassion on them. This fast movement of the honey-bees (eyes) gives the visual illusion of an infinite line of black sparkling dots and that is what makes the  bowstring! And remember, only Manmatha has such a  bow-string made up of honey-bees. And that is why ‘ratipateH dhanuH’ is not unreasonable in this context. And whom is he (manmatha) aiming at by this bow and arrow? Obviously Lord Shiva. Any time He is prone to go away and sit in isolation as Dakshinamurti. Then who will be there with Mother Goddess to look after the world? It was She who put Him in this seat of ‘One of the Triad’, with a specific duty and also as Ishvara and Sadashiva with duties of anugraha and tirodhana.


We are still to untangle the problem of the bow and bowstring not falling apart in the middle since they appear to have gaps in the middle. The solution of the riddle is found in the words (fourth line and part of the third line):

savyetara-kara-gRhItaM prakoshhTe mushhTau ca sthagayati nigUDhAntaraM ume

prakoshhTa’ is wrist. ‘mushhTi  is clenched fist. ‘sthagayathi’ means ‘hides’. ‘nigUDHa’ : ‘not visible’. ‘antara’ : interspace. So far we have arrived at the following meaning: “By the wrist and clenched fist is hidden an interspace, that is (therefore) not visible.


Let us now visualize the imagery which the poet is bringing before us. An archer (here, it is Manmatha) is holding the bow.  The hand holding the bow will have its clenched fist  in the middle of the bow and thus it is the fist  that is hiding the middle of the bow. Similarly the other hand will have its wrist in front of the middle of the bowstring and thus will hide that middle. Thus if we do not further think about it, both the bow and the bowstring will have a vacant space in  their middle. And a little more observation will tell us that it is the wrist and the fist that are filling up the corresponding hidden space and so neither the bow nor the bowstring is in two pieces. This is how the pair of eyebrows of ambaaL with the vacant (browless) middle and the two eyes with the nasal ridge in the middle  exhibit a bow and bowstring with their middle hidden by the fist and the wrist respectively.


Now we have to further enquire  which hand is doing what. The words “savya-itara-gRhItaM” (meaning, held by the other-than-right hand) tell that story. Even in the very next shloka  which talks about the right and left eyes of ambaa as the Sun and Moon respectively, “savya” is used for ‘right’ , though “savya” also means ‘left’ in most other places.


Incidentally, there are some Sanskrit words which have valid contradictory meanings for the same word. “chhAyA” stands for both shadow and light. “nyAsa” means  ‘abandonment’ as well as ‘seizure’. “shiti” means both ‘black’ and ‘white’.


In this shloka it is important to understand which hand is holding the bow and which hand is ready to shoot off the arrow. Recall also that Manmatha is also capable of shooting arrows with left hand just as Arjuna is. But if he is shooting the arrow with the left hand the bow will be in his right hand. We are watching this, standing before ambaaL.


First understand that Manmatha has to be in a horizontal lying posture a little below the level of the eyebrows of ambaal to shoot the arrow upward; because the line of eyes (bowstring) is below and the central stem of the bow (line of eyebrows) is above. Now if Manmatha is holding the bow (of eyebrows)  in his right hand  and we are looking at it from his left ( because on his right is ambaal’s face, so we cannot be looking from that side), the two things that are in our view at the middle portion of the whole system are: one,  his right fist closing in on the middle of the bow and two,  his right forearm on the farther side from us. What we see of the fist is only the fingers closing in on the middle of the bow, but they cannot completely hide the bow as much as they would if we were seeing from the other side. From the other side we would have seen only the back portion of the palm and that would have completely hidden what he is holding. Again, coming to the right forearm hiding the middle of the bowstring, there is no chance at all for such hiding, for the forearm is on the farther side.


On the other hand, if he were holding the bow by his left hand the back portion of the clenched fist would be completely, really completely hiding the middle of the bow; not only that, the forearm (the prakoshhTa) being between us (the viewer) and the bowstring, would be completely hiding the middle of the bowstring. And this is exactly what is happening. The  interspace between the eyebrows of ambaal is hidden – in the poet’s imagery, by manmatha’s prakoshhTa (forearm and wrist) - and the nasal ridge causing the discontinuity in the line of the moving eyes – in the poet’s imagery, this is hidden by the mushhTi (clenched fist).


This, I think, is what the shloka depicts in the last two lines of this four-line verse!  But don’t think that it is all only poetical gymnastics only. There is a great significance for this shloka beyond the gymnastics of its imagery.



-  62

(Digest of pp.1152 - 1158   of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)


Among the several great achievements of ambaaL is the fact that She gave life to Manmatha who was earlier burnt to ashes by the Lord Himself. She did it so that the play of Creation could go on. But then She also was concerned about the welfare of the created world. The waywardness and indiscipline of people of the world, did bother Her. As the Mother of the Universe She wanted the Father also should join Her in the activity of redeeming the millions of the world. Instead of helping Her in this direction He, the Lord, had the propensity to retire into seclusion for penance. She knitted her eyebrows at the thought of this.


That very frown of Hers became an encouraging factor for Manmatha who was now alive by Her Grace. Making Her own knitted eyebrows his bow, He came to Her help. He assured Her that he (Manmatha) will keep the bow (of Her eyebrows)  in readiness so that the very moment Lord Shiva shows any propensity to retire into aloofness, he can release his arrow and change His mind. During that earlier occurrence when he tried this he was burnt to ashes by the Lord; this happened because He was at that time trying it on his own, with a great air of confidence built by his own ego. But now, in all humility, he says that he will take refuge in Her own face and use Her own   eyebrows and eyes for his equipment of bow and bowstring. By the very fact that it is now Her own divine act, it won’t result in failure as in the earlier case!


Thus it is the frown of the eyebrows that causes everything. It is at the control of that frown that the entire Universe and its divine functionaries are all functioning. No doubt therefore, that if we take refuge in the same eyebrows by meditating on  them, the bad influence of manmatha will not be on us!


Now the Acharya  comes, in the description of ambaaL from head to foot, to Her eyes. In the previous shloka (#47) itself, there was a casual mention of the black honey-bee-like eyes. But in that shloka the dominant factor was the eyebrows. Now we come to the eyes proper. This shloka #48 talks about the three eyes of ambaal and the importance of the third eye.


ahas-sUte savyaM tava nayanaM arkAtmakatayA

triyAmAM vAmaM te sRjati rajanI-nAyakatayA /

tRtIyA te dRshhTiH dara-dalita-hemAmbuja-ruciH

samAdhatte sandhyAM divasa-nicayor-antaracarIM //48 //


tava: Your

savyaM nayanaM: right eye

sUte: causes

ahaH: the day

arkAtmakatayA: it being of the form of the Sun, (or) possessing the definitive characteristic of the Sun

rajanI-nAyakatayA: Being of the form of the Moon (the Lord of night)

te vAmaM (nayanaM): Your left eye

sRjati: creates

triyAmaM: the night.

te: Your

tRtIyA dRshhTiH: third eye

dara-dalita-hemAmbuja-ruciH: (which resembles) the red golden lotus slightly in bloom

samAdhatte: beautifully generates

sandhyAM: the two sandhyAs, i.e. the two twilights

antaracarIM: which come in between

divasa-nishayoH: day and night.


 The eye-balls of the right and left eyes of ambaaL are like black honey-bees. The third eye however is different; it is crimson-red like melted gold. This is the agni-netra of the Mother. The first two eyes are, according to all shAstras and purANas – except of course the Purushha-sUkta – the Sun and the Moon. The central eye, usually referred to as ‘lalATa-netra’ is agni, Fire.


The first line says: Because your right eye is of the form of the Sun, it generates the day-time. Note that the word ‘savyaM’ is used here for ‘right’ as opposed to ‘vAmaM’ for left (see the second line).


hemAmbuja’ is golden lotus. The Meenakshi temple in Madurai has the sacred tank called the tank of the golden lotus. It is ambaal’s third eye that is the golden lotus there.


It is interesting to note that while the two eyes denote the progenitors of ‘day’ and ‘night’, the third eye – which is between the two eyes –must generate the intervening time (sandhyA) between day and night. And, incidentally, this shloka therefore establishes that ambaaL is Time itself; ‘kAla-svarUpiNi’.


The Mother does not stop by just creating ‘day’, ‘night’ and the two sandhyAs. The three Cosmic Functionaries who take care of the triple acts of creation, protection and dissolution, are created by Her (shloka #53). Without distinguishing between the colours of the three eyes, the lines of red, white and black are depicted as rajas, satva and tamas and these originate the three functionaries, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who, at Her bidding, do the acts of creation, protection and dissolution.


But Shloka 55 presents the Compassionate aspect of the Mother and compensates for the possible impression of Her as the ultimate progenitor of Destruction at the Dissolution time. “If You close Your eyes, the world gets destroyed. And when You open them, the world is created again. The presently created world should not be destroyed – that is what Your Mother instinct feels. That is why perhaps, Oh Mother, You are not winking Your eyes” says the Acharya in the 55th shloka – thus echoing the general understanding in the Hindu world that the divines don’t wink their eyes at all.


In another shloka #54, the three colours white, red and black which stand for satva, rajas and tamas are presented from a different perspective. The river Ganga is white. It comes from  Shiva’s matted hair. Yamuna river is black, because it has an inseparable relationship with Krishna. The third one is Saraswati which is invisible but flows under Ganga and Yamuna as an underground current. In stead of Saraswati, the Acharya takes the Sone river, which is red. The meaning of SoNa is red. If Ganga is taken as Shiva and Yamuna is taken as Vishnu, then the SoNa river is to be taken as ambaaL. It is ambaal’s favourite son Vighneshvara who presents Himself as the red Sona-bhadra stones that are available in plenty in the Sone river-bed. The three lines, white, black and red, in ambaal’s eyes represent the Triveni of Ganga, Yamuna and SoNa. Therefore it is ‘anaghA’ that is, sinless. The dRshhTi, glance that emanates from that ‘sinless’ confluence of the three great rivers will eradicate all our sins. “Let it sanctify us”, winds up the Acharya, as a prayer that benefits, in his usual style,  not only the one who says this but all of us!



(Digest of pp.1159 - 1163   of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)


Here is a shloka which combines, by a poetic artifice of metaphorical  meanings,  the divine glance of ambaaL with several (actually, eight) meritorious locations (kshetras) in the land of Bharat.


vishAlA kalyANI spuTa-rucir-ayodhyA kuvalayaiH

kRpAdhArA’dhArA kimapi madhurA’’bhogavatikA /

avantI dRshhTis-te bahu-nagara-vistAra-vijayA

dhruvaM tat-tan-nAma-vyavaharaNa-yogyA vijayate // 49 //


te dRshhTiH : Your eye-glance

vijayate : excels in glory (with qualities of being ---)

vishAlA:  broad, 

kalyANI : auspicious,

ayodhyA kuvalayaiH : invincible (even) by the blue lilies

spuTa-ruciH : (in) brilliant clarity,

AdhArA kRpAdhArA :the basis for the flood of compassion,

kimapi madhurA: indescribably sweet,

bhogavatikA: pleasurable,

avantI : protective, and

bahunagara-vistAra-vijayA : with victories spread over several cities,

tat-tan-nAma-vyavaharaNa-yogyA : well befitting the names of cities indicated by those qualities,

dhruvaM : certainly.


Of these, the four names ‘ayodhyA’, ‘dhArA’ (Bhoja’s capital), ‘madhurA’, ‘avantI’ (Ujjain) are well known as the names of cities.

VishAlA  (coming at the beginning of the verse) is also one such; it is the other name of Badrinath. Recall the slogan-cry of devotees: ‘Jai bhadri-vishAl’!  In the Valmiki Ramayana when Rama and Lakshmana are taken by Vishvamitra to Mithila, on the way they pass through the city of ‘VishAlA’.

In the Kannada region, there is a ‘KalyANiin  the district of Bidar. In the days of the Acharya that region was called ‘Kuntala’, with its capital at Kalyani. In later days when the Chalukya dynasty of Vatapi came to an end, but again emerged as a powerful influence, it came to be known as the ‘Kalyani Chalukya dynasty’.


BhogavatI is another city. This is known as ‘kambath’ in Gujarat. The Englishmen called it Cambay. That is why the name of ‘Gulf of Cambay’ came up.

VijayA is another city. It is not the Vijayanagar of Hampi in Bellary District of Karnataka. Nor is it the Vijayanagaram of Srikakulam District of Andhra, where the famous Gajapati kings ruled.  In order to distinguish these two Vijayanagara’s, the Hampi Vijayanagara was called ‘Vijaya’ and the Andhra Vijayanagara was called ‘Viziya’ by later English Historians. It was the Hampi Vijayanagara that became the seat of the famous Vijayanagara Empire in later days; because the city was named ‘VidyA-nagara’ by Bhukkaraya. But that was in the 14th century. Neither this nor the Andhra Viziya was there at the time of the Acharya. So the ‘Vijaya’ that he has immortalised in this verse must be something else, probably the Kurukshetra of the Mahabharata. The last shloka of the Gita says: “Where there are Krishna and Arjuna, there rules Vijaya also”!. It may be this Vijaya is referring to Kurukshetra. It is interesting to note that Arjuna was himself also known as ‘Vijaya’.


These eight cities are not ordinary places. The relationship of ambaaL to them all is because of the fact that Her  eye-glance  (dRshhTi) while falling on  the entire universe  fell in addition with an extra force on these eight places. And, to boot, the meanings embedded in the names of these eight cities, also fit as a characteristic of the dRshhTi of ambaaL. This is shown by the extra meaning imbedded in these words in addition to them being simple proper names of cities.


The Commentators wax eloquent on  the precise meanings of ‘vishAlA dRshhTi’, kalyANI dRshhTi’ and so on for all the eight epithets for the glance of ambaaL. I do not remember them all. But let me now tell you generally what all this means.


At this point,  Ra. Ganapathy, the writer of these records,

supplies the following footnote.

“Lakshmidhara’s bhashya on Soundaryalahari

describes these eight kinds of eye-glances thus.

vishAlA dRshhTi’ shows an inner satisfaction.

kalyANI’ shows the miraculous nature of the dRshhTi.

ayodhyA’ is the smile shown by the very eyeballs.

dhArA’ is that enchanting glance of the lover.

madhurA’ is what is shown by contracted eyes.

bhogavatI’ is the glance shown by friendly affection.

avantI is the innocent look.

vijayA’ is the side glance emanating from the position of

the eyeball moving to the extreme corner of the eye”.



The breadth of coverage of the glance of ambaal is vast and so it is vishAlA. It also generates auspiciousness for the whole world; so it is kalyANI.

Now let us come to ‘ayodhyA’. This name could have come to the capital of the state ruled by the Ikshvaku kings by one of two reasons. Their headquarters must have been so well protected by moats and fortresses that they were invincible. Or perhaps, they were considered so invulnerable that nobody came to fight with them. On both contacts their place is ‘ayodhyA’! But the point here is, in what way  the name fits ambaal’s eye-glance?  First of all,  dRshhTi itself is a word for ‘eyes’. Poetic liberty with ‘eyes’ compares it with blue lilies.  Going one step higher, poetic licence even  plays havoc with the roles of ‘upamAna’ (example) and ‘upameya’ (that which is exemplified); thus they interchange the roles of ‘upamAna’ and ‘upameya’.  In the current context, it is not uncommon to say ‘the eyes which belittle the blue lilies’. And then one gets to be more aggressive and says ‘ in the war of comparison, the eyes are the winners over the blue lilies’. It is in this strain the Acharya says ‘eyes which are invincible by the blue lilies’. And this invincibility is what is built into the word ‘ayodhyA’!


It is ambaal’s eye-glance that bestows the rain of compassion, that is, it is the basis (‘AdhAra’) for the rain  (dhArA’) of compassion (‘kRpA’). Therefore it is ‘kRpA-dhArA AdhArA’, thereby doubling the use of the sound ‘dhArA’ which is the name of the famous capital of Bhoja. And does it not indicate also the generosity of King Bhoja whose awards  always  excelled in their profusion because they were always given with both hands rather than a single hand, thus doubling the size of the benefaction?


(Digest of pp.1164 -1174    of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)


Sweetness is the innate characteristic of ambaal’s form. So how sweet would be her dRshhTi, in particular! Therefore it is ‘madhurA’.  The corresponding city in North India is Mathura. But here it is the ‘Madhura’ of  the Tamil region.


Bhogavati’ is said to be  a place in Prayag (modern Allahabad). But the shloka talks about ‘nagaras’ only. So a part  of Prayag cannot be what he is referring to. Also Bhogavati is also the name of a city in the nether-world and also the name of Ganga which flows in the three worlds. But the Acharya is talking here only about cities on Earth, none of these would be the Bhogavati that he is referring to. So it must refer to only  Cumbath in Gujarat, which has however lost its good old name of Bhogavati!


Well, how does that name fit as a description of ambaal’s eye-glance? The word means ‘deserving of experience’. If only ambaal’s glance can fall on us, what greater experience can we think of, other than the bliss such a glance will bestow on us?


avantI’ means that which protects. It is ambaal’s eye-glance that is a great force of protection for us. The city named Ujjain also has the name ‘avantI’. In fact the name once belonged to both the city as well as the kingdom of which it was the capitol. Later, in order to avoid confusion, the kingdom continued to be called ‘avantI’ while the capitol was named ‘Ujjain’. Later it appears that the capitol was also called ‘VishAlA’. 


A final observation. Ambaal’s dRshhTi certainly falls on the whole universe and therefore on all the cities of the world. But these eight have been highlighted because the divine glance has all the qualities indicated by the names of these cities; and that is what makes the poet in the Acharya express his  delight  through this shloka.


The next shloka (#50) makes a direct connection between poetic talent and ambaal’s eyes, by bringing in a comparison between Her third eye and the other two eyes:


kavInAM sandarbha-stabaka-makarandaika-rasikaM

kaTAkshha-vyAkshhepa-bhramara-kalabhau karNa-yugalaM /

amuncantau dRshhTvA tava nava-rasAsvAda-taralau

asUyA samsargAd-alika-nayanaM kimcid-aruNaM // 50 //


dRshhTvA:   Having seen

tava:  Your

kaTAkshha-vyAkshhepa-bhramara-kalabhau : (side-glance – pretext – honeybees – young)  two eyes  resembling the young of honey-bees,on the pretext of (casting) side-glances

amuncantau:   not leaving

karNa-yugalaM : the two ears

sandarbha-stabaka-makrand-aika-rasikaM : (poetry – bouquet – honey – exclusive – tasting)  which enjoy the exclusive taste of honey dripping from the bouquet of poetic sentiments

kavInAM : of the poets

nava-rasa-AsvAda-taralau : and eager in tasting the nine rasas

alika-nayanaM : the third eye (on the forehead)

asUyA-samsargAt:  out of jealous hostility

kimcid-aruNaM :  (has become) slightly reddish.


The key word here is ‘asUyA-samsargAt’ . Where came this hostility? Why? To whom? These are the interesting subtleties of the Acharya’s composition in this shloka.  The redness of the third eye is usually attributed by poets to the traditional association of agni (fire) with the third eye, just as the other two eyes are associated with the Sun  and the Moon. But the eye that goes with the Sun should then be associated with heat and the other eye with the coolness of the Moon. That way there will be a distinction between the two eyes. The Acharya naturally wanted to deviate from this stereotyped analogy of the three eyes to the Sun, the Moon  and agni.  He assumes therefore that all three eyes were naturally of the same colour originally, but now because of the feeling of jealousy on the part of the third eye towards the other two eyes, it became red!


And, he gives a legitimate reason for this jealousy. The word ‘sandarbha’ means ‘opportunity’ or ‘circumstance’. In the context of this shloka it means that kind of exquisite poetry which coordinates  characters, events, circumstances, words,  flight of imagination, metre, and everything connected with poetry. When  poets make a bouquet out of such excellent poetry, all the nine sentiments – rasas – flow out like honey. This is the honey that is exclusively enjoyed by the ears of ambaaL. Her eyes are themselves long and when the side glances are there, the ends of the eyes reach the ears! And that is how the eyes partake of the poetic honey that has already been poured into those ears by poets. Enjoying this taste of honey the eyes would not leave the ears (‘amuncantau’). Since the eyeballs are so fascinated by that enjoyment, they do not come off from the ears; they are compared to the young ones of honey-bees which get stuck in the depths of the honey-full stems of flowers!


But here, in the poet’s imagination, ambaaL is playing a trick with Her devotees.  She has a duty of pouring out compassion and grace on the people of the world. If She is only enjoying the flattering stotras poured into Her ears to such an extent that even Her eyes get stuck in extending their side-glances up to the ears, then She will be failing in Her duty of compassion to the rest of the world. Hence the use of the words ‘kaTAkshha-vyAkshhepa’. On the pretext of a side-glance She is allowing Her eyeballs to move sideways up to the ears. This side-glance pretext is for the world to be blessed with Her infinite compassion. In other words She is achieving both by Her side-glance – one is pouring out Her Grace on the world and two, the eyes themselves are sharing with the ears the honey-taste of the poetic fancies that reach the ears.


What are these poetic fancies? They are all about the Lord. But this idea is not there in this particular shloka. By sheer habit I just used the words ‘about the Lord’. But it is not all mine. In shlokas 60 and 66, where Saraswati Herself is singing praises and Mother Lalita is listening with enjoyment, it is said ‘vividham-apadAnaM pashupateH’, meaning ‘the varied leelas of Lord Shiva’.


Another shloka which talks about the fact that Mother Lalita is enjoyhing the music of Sarasvati is shloka #60. There are two “lahari’s” in this shloka. “sarasvatyAs-sUktIH amRta-laharI kaushalaharIH” are the beginning words. We have already seen various “lahari’s”:  Ananda-lahari; Soundarya-lahari; cidAnanda-lahari; shRngAra-lahari.  In this shloka (#60) though it looks like there are two “lahari’s”, in actual fact there is only one, namely, “amRta-lahari”. The other one, “kaushala-hari” is not a “lahari”. It means that which captivates the “kaushala” (talent). The content of the first line of shloka #60 is to say that the words (actually, prayers – sUktis) of Sarasvati capture even the flooding flow of nectar (amRta-lahari). Earlier in shloka #50, it was said that the ears store up the honey of praises from poets. Here the same ears are said to be the small receptacles (chuLuka-pAtraM) of those prayers given out by no less than the Goddess of Learning Herself. When the ears are so personified, the clang of the ear ornaments (kuNDala-gaNaH) when Mother Lalita nods Her head in appreciation,  is said to be the  cries of ‘hear hear’ of those ears in appreciation of Sarasvati’s praises.



(Digest of pp.1174 -1179   of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)


After having described how the eyes enjoy the nine rasas poured out by poets into the ears of the Mother, now the Acharya tells us how the eyes themselves show the dance of the nine rasas:


Shive shRngArArdrA tad-itara-jane kutsana-parA

saroshhA gangAyAM girisha-carite vismayavatI /

harAhibhyo bhItA sarasiruha-soubhAgya-jananI

sakhIshhu smerA te mayi janani dRshhTis-sakaruNA // 51 //


It is the eyes that can show all the different rasas that reflect the status of the mind. The ears are simply of no use for this task. The lips of course can reflect anger (by twitching in a certain way)  and sorrow (by twitching in a different way). Sometimes they also show happiness by showing a slight movement peculiar to a smile. But the one organ in the body which shows out all the attitudes that exist internally is the eye. Whether it is love, disgust, anger, wonder, fear, courage, comic mirth, compassion, or serenity,  for all these the eye is the indicator. In dramatics the rasa of compassion is also shown by the sorrowful eye, but the rasa of divine compassion (karuNA)  is recognised  in dance forms only by the eye. The artist when bringing to life his picture or painting, takes the greatest care on his depiction of the eyes for it is through them that he brings out the state of mind of his subject. A slight alteration in the presentation of the eyeballs will change the entire bhAva of the painting. Equal care has to be taken of the eyes by the actor or actress in a play. All this world is a play of the Mother. And She showers all the rasas through  Her eyes. And that is what is taken up in this shloka.


In what context  is the shRngAra rasa (the sentiment of Love) dominant? Naturally in Her relationship with the Lord.Shive shRngArAdrA’: The eyes are wet by the rasa of Love towards Shiva. His crystal whiteness is flooded by Her redness and thus draws Him into the shRngAra rasa – as is talked about in shloka 92.


The expression of Love is something that attracts. The opposite of this is not the fear or terror (raudra rasa) that is generated by anger. Anger has always a reason.  Love is blind. So Love has no reason or rhyme. The opposite of it is the bhIbatsa rasa (the sentiment of disgust) that also has no reason.  We have many things in us that are disgusting – both physically and mentally. But ambaa the Universal Mother takes all of us in Her arms. How can She have any rasa of disgust? Yes, She has – when some male  other than Her Lord, comes to Her not as Her child, but as an adult. Even Lord Shiva came to Her in disguise once, with tales of blame on Shiva and that is the time when She exhibits the bhIbatsa rasa as exquisitely described by Kalidasa. By just closing the eyes also, She may exhibit the disgust.


tad-itara-jane kutsana-parA”:  tad-itara” means ‘other than He (Shiva)’. ‘kutsana-parA’ means ‘full of disgust’. ‘jane’: in the people. ‘kutsana’ is the same as ‘bhIbatsa’.


When does She show Her ‘raudrarasa – the rasa of extreme anger? “saroshhA gangAyAM”.  rosha’ and ‘roudra’ are the same. When the Lord is keeping another woman right on the top of His head – that is what Shiva is doing with GangA – She is naturally angry. He gave Her only half His body; whereas the other woman is sitting on his head! She is not angry with Him; She is a pati-vratA. But She shows Her anger on GangA! By a  poetic ruse the Acharya here  gives  Her  the feeling of an ordinary human female!


adbhuta’ is another rasa. It is the wonder expressed at something extra-ordinary. “girisha-carite vismaya-vatI”:  vismaya’ is wonder. ‘GirIsha’ and ‘Girisha’ are both names of Lord Shiva. ‘GirIsha’ is ‘Giri-Isha’, that is, the Lord of the Kailas mountain. ‘Girisha’ means the One who resides in Kailas mountain. His history is full of wonders and miracles. The destruction of Tripura, the burning of Manmatha, the vanquishing of GajAsura, the silencing of Kala, the killing of  the asura ‘andhaka’, the consumption of the HalAhala poison, the roaming about as a mendicant (BikshhATanaM), the tANDava dance of Nataraja, and the 64 leelas in the kshhetra of HalAsya (Madurai) – all these and many more! That the Actionless (‘nishh-kriyaH’) Ultimate got involved in all these numerous actions was itself due to ambaa  -- that is why the Soundaryalahari started. She wonders at the Leela-actions of the Lord and we wonder at Her miraculous prompting that made Him do all the actions!


The next is ‘bhayAnakaM’, the rasa that expresses fear. She as the Universal Mother is ‘abhaya-vara-pradA’, the dispenser of abhaya,  fearlessness and vara, boon. How can She have fear? Yes, She has. The poet in the Acharya says She is ‘harAhibhyo bhItA’ – afraid of the snakes on the person of the Lord! Actually the very snake depicted around a Shiva-linga is Herself – in  the form of the KunDalini in every jIva. And still She is ‘afraid’ of Shiva’s snakes! This is another divine play!


The rasa of ‘vIra’, that is, courage, is certainly visible in Her great leelas of the destruction of MahishhAsura and BaNDAsura, where She could be seen as the very personification of ‘vIraM’. But the Acharya could not possibly bring himself to link Her vIraM with such destructive episodes. Instead he says ‘sarasIruha-soubhAgya-jananI’ – the One who generates the brilliance of the lotus.  Lotus-brilliance is red. Redness indicates the rasa of ‘vIraM’.  In fact he could have said that She excels the brilliance of the lotus. For he does not want even that slight hint of a competition or battle implied in the word ‘excels’. So he says She ‘generates’  (jananI’) the brilliant redness of the lotus.


One more observation about the word ‘jananI’.  There is also an alternate reading as ‘jayinI’. This means ‘the One who wins’. Her eye  certainly wins the brilliance of the lotus. In this reading, the concept of ‘winning’ is explicitly stated. Whether it is winning or generating, what is significant here is that it is the very eyes of the Mother that do these actions directly. So far the ‘rasas’ that we have seen earlier – like anger, fear, wonder, etc. – are all only shown as a reaction to something else by the eyes. Whereas, this ‘vIra rasa’ is not a reaction by the eyes, it is an action performed by the very eyes!


sakhIshhu smerA  -- humorous among Her friends. The mischievous look that She would exhibit in Her humorous conversations with friends is what is enjoyed by the Acharya here.


The remaining of the nine rasas are: ‘shoka’ that is sorrow which is also exhibited as ‘karuNA’ (divine compassion)  andshAnta’ that is serenity.


Thus spake the Paramacharya


Previous         Next         Back to Contents of DPDS

Back to Top of the Page

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


Mar.17, 2004



Homepage         Contents