76

(Digest of pp.1243-1248 of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)

 

Shloka 69 continued:

 

The Shiva-factor and the Shakti-factor that are respectively manifest in the male and the female, are most explicitly manifest in the bulge of Adam’s apple in man and the three lines on the neck of woman.  These are the three lines that are referred to as “gale rekhAs-tisraH” by the Acharya. The verse also allows us to interpret it as showing that She is expert in all the three facets ‘gati’, ‘gamakam’ and ‘gItam’ of music. In addition to this implicit indication, he explicitly says in the fourth line of the shloka: The boundaries between the different ‘grAmas’ based on the ‘shadja’, ‘gAndhAra’ and ‘madhyama  in music are what is shown by the three lines on Thy neck – “trayANAM grAmANAM sthiti-niyama-sImAna iva te (gale rekhAs-tisro virAjante)”.

 

Recall “trayANAM devAnAM triguNa-janitAnAM” from Shloka 25. [See DPDS-45].  The triad of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra were said therein to have  originated from the three guNas.  Here the ‘trayANAM grAmANAM” also mentions along with it the three guNas in line 2.

 

What is stated in line 2, namely,  vivAha-vyAnaddha-praguNa-guNa-sankhyA-pratibhuvaH  that is, “A reminder of the strands of the auspicious string made by twisting several threads and well tied round the neck at the wedding ceremony”. This refers to  the most auspicious wedding of Goddess Parvati and the Lord.  The direct meanings however are:

 

vivAha-vyAnaddha : wedding – tied well.

guNa-sankhyA: consisting of a certain number of guNas.

praguNa : noble guNas.

pratibhuvaH: that which authenticates, guarantees.

 

These direct meanings do not add up to an easily understood  message. The “guNa-sankhyA” refers to the number three, coming from the three guNas satva, rajas and tamas. But when it comes to “praguNa” he is talking of ‘strands of string’, because guNa also means ‘strand’. And ‘praguNa’ means ‘auspicious strands’.  And this is what brings in the ‘mangala-sUtra  (auspicious marriage thread) that is tied at the time of the wedding ceremony. In other words, it means that three noble strands of string have been twisted to make the mangala sUtra for the Goddess. And it is these three strands that are recalled – ‘pratibhuvaH’ – by the three lines on the neck of ambaa. Of course, in addition, we can also interpret that the three lines implicitly stand for the three guNas also.

 

There are those who say that the ‘pANi-grahaNaM’ (holding of the hand) is the deciding religious rite for the wedding. The tying of the mangala-sUtra may  not be the tradition in many areas.  But the very fact that the Acharya has mentioned it here in connection with the wedding of God and Goddess, gives it  a unique importance.  The ‘holding of hand’ is an event that does not leave any trace of itself after the event. On the other hand it is the mangala-sUtra that  permanently stands out as a distinguishing mark of married  status to  women and is also respected by all as such. At the time when the solar months of Aquarius (mAshi, in Tamil) and Pisces (panguni, in Tamil) coalesce, it is the mangala-sUtra that is greatly and duly worshipped by women. Even in the Lalita Sahasranama, we have “kAmesha-baddha-mAngalya-sUtra-shobhita-kandarA” – She whose neck is adorned with the mangala-sUtra fastened thereon by Her consort Kameshvara.

 

Another point. The Acharya says only ‘guNa’ meaning ‘strand of thread’. In modern times, women replace the marriage thread by a golden chain and a heavy tirumangalyam and rolling balls (kuNDu, in Tamil) on either side of it.  It is very inappropriate. The alleged plea is that the string becomes dirty in due course of time. If you coat it with turmeric every day it won’t become dirty.

 

There is a five-fold (pancakaM) mention of triads in this shloka: The three lines on the divine neck, the three musical nuances “gati, gamakaM and gItaM”, the three guNas, the three ‘grAmas’ of music and finally,  the three strands of mangala-sUtra.

 

A sound musical tradition aims at  the preservation of  its age-old purity. The classification in terms of ‘grAmas’ is not supposed to be mixed up. It is to show the distinctness of the three ‘grAmas’ that the three lines on the divine neck are so distinct, says the Acharya. All this emphasizes the need for a certain discipline in following the music traditions.

 

When music is performed  as “nAdopAsanA” (a dedicated worship of ‘nAda-brahman’) with bhakti, then that music itself will lead to Self-Realisation. When one merges in the disciplined musical confluence of shruti and laya, that merger itself  becomes the merging in the Atman. ‘Entaro mahAnubhAvulu  -- sang Tyagaraja, the great ‘nAdopAsaka’ (the worshipper of ‘nAda-brahman’) and he was one such great soul-experiencer (mahAnubhAva) of the musical trinity. All three of the trinity were great souls who attained this Self-Realisation through the path of Devotional Music. Interestingly,  all these three  flourished  in the same time frame within the past one and a half centuries.

 

Incidentally,  I have added a sixth triad to the five-fold triads (of this shloka) that I spoke of earlier!

 

Though the three qualities of satva, rajas and tamas are only three in number they give rise to an infinite number of quality-combinations in the worldly characters that we experience. So also, just from the seven svaras of music, with various permutations and combinations according to the three ‘grAmas’, the musical world has generated numerous rAgas.  This is what is mentioned in the shloka as “nAnAvidha-madhura-rAgAkara-bhuvAM” – meaning,  ‘those which generate the mine of multifarious  melodious rAgas’ . Here the word ‘those’ goes with ‘of the three grAmas’ (“trayANAm grAmANAM”) in the fourth line.

 

The word ‘rAga-Akara’ is significant.  Just as a mine gives out gold and gems as you dig deeper and deeper, so also the subtleties of the seven svaras yield numerously different rAgas as you delve deep. The word “Akara” means ‘mine’. The ocean yields gems (ratnas) and that is why  it is called ‘ratnAkara’. The commonly used words “karuNakara” and “dayAkara” should mean only ‘a mine of compassion and grace’ rather than ‘one who shows compassion or grace’.

 

Again the word ‘madhura’ in “nAnAvidha-madhura-rAga-bhuvAM” is also significant. ‘madhura’ means sweet and melodious. What is not sweet or melodious should not form part of music. All this meticulous use of words in this verse show how knowledgeable the Acharya is in the subtleties of music and its understanding.  Obviously he was himself a ‘gati-gamaka-gIta-eka-nipuNaH’ – Master of the musical technicalities of the procedure, undulations and song of music!

77

(Digest of pp.1252-1265   of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)

 

Shloka #75 says further about the breast milk of ambaa.  It generates, says the shloka, everything superlatively noble – like wisdom, compassion, beauty, knowledge, and the arts. “sArasvatam iva”, meaning, everything for which Sarasvati is the source. They all flow like a flood from the heart – “hRdayataH payaH pArAvAraH”.  It was  that milk of wisdom, Oh Mother, that you fed  to that child of the Dramila country. And that child became a noted poet among great composers – “kavInAM prouDhAnAM ajani kamanIyaH kavayitA”. 

 

prouDha-kavi” means a poet rich with poetic talent.  The feminine word “prouDhA” denotes a girl who has attained puberty.  Just as the physical tejas attains maturity, a person whose poetic talent has attained perfection and maturity is called a “prouDha-kavi”. Ironically, a “prouDha-kavi” is also prone to be proud!  And in the poetry that flows from such a one  there is likely to be a mischievous air  of superiority. It may not appeal to the heart. But the milk of wisdom, which flows like a flood from this ocean of ‘SArasvata’, generates  poetic inspiration that captivates the heart. By using the words “payaH pArAvAraH parivahati” – the milk ocean flows like a flood – the Acharya has added one more ‘lahari’, namely, the lahari of breast milk that represents all that is great in the Mother,  to the various lahari’s mentioned in  Soundaryalahari --  cidAnanda-lahari, shRngAra-lahari, etc. When this ‘kshhIra-lahari’ (the flood of milk) is tasted by the dramila-shishu (Tamil child), the latter becomes a poet who composes captivating songs that make him distinguished among even ‘prouDha’  composers!

 

Now who was this ‘dramila-shishu’? The immediate feeling is that it should be the well-known Sambandar, also known as ‘JnAna-sambandar’  of the Tamil region, who flourished in the seventh century A.D.  But the Acharya’s time was in the sixth-fifth century B.C., approximately.

 

[ Here the Paramacharya takes for granted

his own  elaborate thesis-like discussion

on the date of Shankara,

that  runs to hundreds of  pages,

in his earlier discourses. These have been recorded

by Ra. Ganapati in the 5th volume of his book

‘Deivathin Kural’. So I am not able to enter into that topic here.    VK]

 

The story about the child JnAna-sambandar is that the Mother Goddess fed her breast milk to the three-year old child and the child burst into ecstatic singing glorifying Lord Shiva and Parvati.   Commentators on Soundaryalahari opine that a similar incident did happen in the case of the Acharya himself when he was a child and therefore conclude that the ‘dramila-shishu’ refers to the Acharya himself! Instead of saying ‘I have that experience’ he is saying it in third person, in all modesty. But even here one can ask: How come the Acharya talks about his own poetic talent in such superlative terms? Is this in keeping with his well-known modesty? Well, the point to note here is that the matter is not about poetic talent. The significant point is the glory of the milk of wisdom that flows from ambaal.  Actually the Acharya has talked about himself as ‘the farthest of the lowly’ (daviyAmsaM dInaM) in shloka #66. And the significance now is that even such a ‘lowly’ person has reached poetic heights of excellence by the divine milk of wisdom.

 

On the correct interpretation of ‘dramila-shishu’ there have been controversies from very early times. Several commentators have debated this issue. No definite conclusion has been accepted by all.  But let us not stay on that issue. What we need is not the correct meaning of ‘dramila-shishu    but the truth that we should seek that wisdom that flows incessantly like milk from ambaal’s grace!

 

shrutInAM mUrdhAno dadhati tava yau shekharatayA

mamApy-etau mAtaH shirasi dayayA dhehi caraNau /

yayoH pAdyaM pAthaH pashu-pati-jaTA-jUTa-taTinI

yayor-lAkshhA-lakshhmIH aruNa-hari-cUDAmaNi ruciH // 84 //

 

mAtaH : Oh Mother,

yau tava caraNau : Those feet of Yours (which)

shrutInAM mUrdhAnaH : the crests of the vedas (namely, the Upanishads)

dadhati : bear

shekharatayA : as (their) head ornament,

yayoH : for which (feet)

pashu-pati-jaTA-JUTa-taTinI : the river (Ganga) in  the matted locks of hair  of Lord Shiva

pAdyaM pAthaH : (become) the water-offerings at the feet,

yayoH : for which (feet)

aruNa-hari-cUDAmaNi-ruciH : the red brilliance of the diadem of Vishnu

lAkshhA-lakshhmIH : (becomes the brilliance  of  red lac,

dhehi : please condescend to keep

etau : such  feet

mama shirasi api : on my head, too

dayayA :  out of  compassion.

 

The description of Mother Goddess from head to foot  finally comes to the divine feet.  The divine feet are requested to be placed on this devotees’s (The Acharya’s) head. This is a kind of ‘Guru DikshhA’, that is, spiritual initiation by the Guru. But it is not openly said to be so. Because, such initiations always have to be guarded as secret. Kenopanishad details how the Mother Goddess appeared to the devas and gave spiritual initiation to Indra, their King. The words ‘umA’haimavatI’, ‘strI’ ‘bahu-shobhamAnA’ used in that narrative are the only instances where the Absolute is specifically mentioned as manifesting as Guru in the vedas. The deities ‘Shiva’ or ‘Vishnu’ are never mentioned in the Vedas in the capacity of  Guru. The two times Shivam and Vishnu are mentioned are in Mandukyopanishad and Kathopanishad; but in both cases it is a state that is described and not a Person. It is therefore in the fitness of the wisdom of the vedas that the Acharya here describes the divine feet of ambaa as the head ornament of the Upanishads!

 

The praise of the divine feet goes on for several shlokas. In shloka 88, the Acharya asks: Mother, How did thy Consort, Lord Shiva, with all His softness  (“dayamAnena manasA”)  towards You, have the heart to place them with his hand on a hard granite grinding stone at the marriage rite?  -- “upayamana-kAle, bAhubhyAm AdAya dRshhadi nyastaM”. The word “upayamana” stands for a marriage ceremony. Just as ‘upanayana’ stands for the rite that initiates a boy into the spiritual path, by initiating him into the Gayatri, so also the ‘upayamana’ stands for the rite that initiates a girl into married life. In this rite the bridegroom places the feet of the bride on a granite pasting stone as a part of the rite. The Mother Goddess Herself is considered here by the Acharya as an ordinary bride going through the same marriage rite.

 

The act of placing the feet on a granite stone attains a spiritual significance in the context of ambaal. For this we have to go to Shivaananda-lahari shloka #80 where the Acharya asks: “Oh Lord! Why are You dancing on this hard granite? On the auspicious day of Pradosha why can’t You dance on a softer surface, in fact made up of flower offerings? Is it because you have anticipated that I will be born with a hard heart on this earth and You have to dwell and dance in that hard rock-like heart?” Taking cue from this we can now interpret this shloka #88 of Soundaryalahari as saying: “Oh Mother, the Lord is having compassion towards You and wants to train You  to dance along with Him in the hard hearts of people of this earth. That is why He is placing Your soft feet on the hard granite as a preview for Your feet”!

 

It is those divine feet of ambaaL that have to be meditated on by us  for melting our hearts. There is no other way! Particularly it is our ego that stands solidly like a rock between us and mokshha.  And that is why, for our sake, the Acharya has put in the words “mama api” in shloka #84.

 

78

(Digest of pp.1265-1283 of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)

 

The shloka # 91 also is in the same trend of praise of Devi’s feet.  Usually poets describe the gait of their heroic women as ‘hamsa-gati’,  the gait of swans. But in #91, the Acharya reverses this analogy. He says that it is the swans that learn their gait from the beauty of ambaal’s gait!  In compassion with the swans Her divine feet actually ‘demonstrate’ how to produce that graceful gait, but in the act of this demonstration they (the feet) indeed ‘teach’ the swans the theory of this gait!  teshhAM shikshhAM AcakshhANaM”, says the shloka.

 

And how is this ‘teaching’ done? She is having anklets on Her feet, studded with precious gems. “subhaga-maNi-manjIrac-chalAt” – the auspicious jingling of the gem-studded anklet, is the pretext of teaching! The jingling of the gems is poetically extolled as the words of the teaching. Earlier in Shloka #60, it was said that  the clang of her ear ornaments, as She shakes Her head in appreciation of Sarasvati’s speech, seem to be appreciative words spoken by Her. Thus the jingling of the ear ornaments of ambaa was the appreciation of Sarasvati in #60 and here in #91, the jingling of the gems of Her anklet turns out to be the teaching of the swans, which are the vAhanas of Sarasvati!

 

Having described and praised in his inimitable poetry all the different parts of the divine body and thus having immersed us in the waves (lahari) of beauty (soundarya) of ambaaL, the Acharya finally comes to the seat on which that Fullness of Form is seated. This is shloka #92. Therein he also mentions the crimson glory  (“rAga-aruNatayA”)  which the entire body emanates. In Lalita sahasranama, the description of the devi begins with “udyat-bhAnu-sahasrAbhA” – the effulgence of thousand rising suns –and then goes on to describe the form from head to foot. Here for a change, the Acharya first describes the form from head to foot and finally ends up with the composite Glory of the whole Form. The crimson redness of ambaal makes even the assumed whiteness of Lord Shiva appear as the ‘red’ KAmeshvara. The redness indicates creation just as  the rising sun is the harbinger of activity. The Mother-Father role for the whole universe has to be taken up and that is why KAmeshvara becomes overpowered by ‘redness’ and becomes, as it were,  the embodiment of  erotic sentiment. (“sharIrI shRngAro rasa iva”).

 

But once the world is created it needs all the infinite compassion of the Mother. In fact the very purpose of creation seems to be to manifest  that Compassion. The brahman, without a second, cannot show any compassion or love because there is no second. When it manifested as Shiva-shakti, as partners in a sati-pati relationship, the love that arose is called ‘shRngAra’. When the same love directs itself to the created world, it is called ‘karuNA’ (Compassion). So the shRngAra rasa of shloka #92 becomes the karuNA-rasa of shloka #93. And this is proclaimed with a poetic gymnastics of words:

jagat trAtuM shambhor-jayati- kAcid-aruNA

 

jagat trAtuM : For the purpose of protecting the universe,

karuNA : the Compassion

shambhoH: of Shivam, the Immutably white

kAcid-aruNA : as  the indescribable redness, that is, ambaaL

jayati : shines gloriously.

 

Thus the Shiva-Shakti advaitam is established.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

The Acharya has a motherly affection towards all humanity in the sense that they should never succumb to the lower instincts of man. Having talked about the shRngAra (Love) of the divine couple, the Acharya wants to issue a warning to posterity, lest mankind may slip into an error. This error could be of two kinds. One might take liberties with the worship of the divine through yantras and mantras, emphasized in the Ananda-lahari part; and, because, the divine has been said to be the Mother and Father of the universe, one might construe it as a licence to take liberties with that Universal Parent-couple.

 

Yes, you can treat them as your Mother and Father and worship them as you like, pouring forth all  your love. But in  that case there should be no yantras, nor should you bring in any mantras for invoking them. Mantras and Yantras have to be used only with the proper ritualistic sanction and discipline. When these latter are  absent, just go about your worship by doing Soundaryalahari as a devotional recitation and no more. In fact I know many of you do only that. There is nothing wrong in it. And I am constrained to  say ‘many of you’ and not  ‘All of you’. For there are people who get into such spiritually advanced scriptures for curiosity, for academic research, or for enjoyment of literature, without  observing  the need to control their sensual distractions. Such  failure to follow ethical and religious discipline  is the second potential error, of the two errors that I talked about.

 

Obviously the Acharya does not want  his beautiful poem on the beauty of the divine to end with the whimper of a mundane rude warning to the public not to be swept into the profane. He issues the warning, however,  in  the subtlest terms. Instead of saying: “Whatever you do with this stotra, do it with great discipline of mind and control of the senses”, he indicates, in shloka #95, what awaits those who approach Her without the necessary self-discipline and regulatory mind.  In modern times I see some people write without any sense of shame at the fact that they are only fanning the fumes of basal instincts of man. Not only that,  they seem to justify such writing and use alibis like ‘Realism’. When one provokes another to fall down in ethical and moral standards, the provocateur accrues more sinful discredit to himself than the one who has been provoked into sin. And that is why, as an author, the Acharya takes great care to see that his readers do not fall into any trap of sin. So in shloka #95 he paints what happens if you fail to follow discipline.

 

purArAter-antaHpuram-asi tatas-tvac-caraNayoH

saparyA-maryAdA tarala-karaNAnAm-asulabhA /

tathA hyete nItAH shata-makha-mukhAH siddhim-atulAM

tava dvAropaAnta-sthitibhir-aNimAdyAbhir-amarAH // 95 //

 

asi:  You are

antaHpuraM :  in the inner apartments, (as Consort)

pura-arAteH : of the Destroyer of the cities (that is, of Lord Shiva)

tataH : and therefore

saparyA-maryAdA : the proper regimen  and privilege of  worship

tava caraNayoH : of Your feet

asulabhA :  (is) difficult to attain

tarala-karaNAnAM :  for those with fickle senses, or of unregenerate mind.

tathA : Thereby

ete shata-makha-mukhAH  amarAH : these deities headed by Indra

nItAH  hi: are led, indeed,   (only up to)

atulAM siddhiM : an unparalleled achievement

aNimAdyAbhiH : by the psychic powers like aNimA, etc.

dvAropAnta-sthitibhiH :  who are stationed in proximity to the gates (which are only peripheral to Your mansion ).

 

This shloka employs  a negative compliment to those of fickle senses, who are said to reach ‘atulAm siddhiM’ (matchless siddhi). But Who is giving them this achievement? Only those who stand at the Gates of the Royal mansion, far removed from the sanctum sanctorum of ambaa’s  inner apartments. These are the attendants of ambaal stationed in the outermost rounds (AvaraNas) of Her navAvaraNa mansion  (the nine – round Shrichakra).  In fact they stand even outside the outermost round. They are the ten devatas, eight of them representing the eight siddhis (the psychic powers) aNimA, mahimA, etc. So the deities who propitiate them have to stand only at the same outer rounds of the Devi’s mansion and naturally get only what these attendant devatas can give them. And the Acharya satirically calls, almost in contempt,  what they bestow to the seeker,  as ‘atulAm siddhiM’ (matchless psychic power). Thus indirectly the Acharya is saying that we should aspire to reach  not  these siddhis, which are given by the ‘dvAropAnta-sthitAH’ – those who guard the gates --  but we should aim far beyond.

 

Shiva-Shakti couple, in their inner apartments,  have to be understood in the esoteric sense. The right understanding will not come to those who are still imprisoned by  their minds. Even  the poetic descriptions  in  the stotra should not draw us to the state in which the very celestials like Indra find themselves only just at the gates of the mansion and not inside! Only those who honour and welcome the mental discipline and the strict regimen required for a valid entry into the Royal Mansion, beyond what the fickle-minded celestials can reach, should ever  attempt to do the Shri Chakra worship. Once that welcoming desire is planted in the mind,  naturally ambaal will lead us  to the understanding and following of   all the rules of the rituals that constitute the Shri Chakra Puja. This is the message of this shloka. What a beauty that the Acharya has driven it all so nicely and softly into us, without a single harsh word about  the consequences of unregulated and indisciplined worship! 

 

- 79 -

(Digest of pp.1287-1295  of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)

 

girAm Ahur-devIM druhiNa-gRhiNIM Agamavido

hareH patnIM padmAM hara-saha-carIM adri-tanayAM /

turIyA kApi tvaM duradhigama-nissIma-mahimA

mahAmAyA vishvaM bhramayasi para-brahma-mahishhI //97//

 

Agama-vidaH : Those who know the scriptures

AhuH : declare (You)

girAM devIM : as the Goddess of Speech,

druhiNa-gRhiNIM : the wife of Brahma the Creator

padmAM : (as well) as Lakshmi,

hareH patnIM : the wife of Lord Vishnu

adri-tanayAM : (and as well) as Parvati, the daughter of Mountain-King,

hara-saha-carIM :  the Consort of Lord Shiva.

tvaM : (But) You, (on the other hand),

turIyA : are the fourth (higher than the other three),

kA api : not to be delimited as This or That,

duradhigama-nissIma-mahimA: of unique glory that is both unfathomable and limitless,

para-brahma-mahishhI :  (in fact) the Queen-Consort of the Absolute brahman

mahA-mAyA : (being) the great Cosmic mAyA

bhramayasi  : revolving and  compering

vishvaM : the entire universe.

 

The distinctive keyword in this shloka (#97) is the unusual expression “para-brahma-mahishhI”. All along, the Soundaryalahari has been saying that the parA-shakti is the highest with sovereign power. In order to show to the world their Father and Mother, that Shakti brought in a KAmeshvara and gave him the status of a husband to Her. That was our understanding. Here the words “Queen-Consort of the Absolute brahman  have significant connotations. It means that the para-brahman is the sovereign and ambaal is next to him, as his wife.  The word “mahishhI” means Queen-Consort.  One who herself rules is not called a “mahishhI”; she would be called “mahA-rAjnI” or “cakra-vartinI”. ‘rAjA’ and ‘rAjnI’ have the same connotations, except one is male and the other is female. So also ‘chakravarti’ and ‘cakravartinI’.  But there is no pair of words ‘mahishha’ and ‘mahishhI’; the King is not called ‘mahishha’. Actually ‘mahishha’ is an asura who was in the form of a buffalo! ‘Mahishhi’ is a unique word used for the Queen-consort, the second in command, of a King. Corresponding to that meaning of ‘mahishhI’ there is no male word ‘mahishha’!

 

The stotra began with saying that it is She who makes Him move. And at several places we have been told that it is She who  is the Agent-Provocateur for every action in the world. She is the One who  takes care of Him  even at the time of dissolution.  After all this, when he comes to the end of the stotra the Acharya winds up with Her as the dutiful ‘patni’ of Him who is the all-in-all.  In fact She Herself would like it only this way. Is She not the One who is writing all this poetry through the pen of the Acharya?

 

Now let us go to the rest of the shloka. Though the last word is “para-brahma-mahishhI”, earlier he mentions Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati – the Consorts of the Trinity of Divines –and then only brings in the ParAshakti that is KAmeshvari, the  ‘consort’ of the turIyaM that is brahman.  Just in the previous shloka (#96), he had said: “There are those who have courted and attained Sarasvati though She is the wife of Brahma. There are all the rich who are called ‘ShrimAn’, because Shri, that is Lakshmi, resides with them, though She belongs to Lord Vishnu. But nobody can fault You  as having deserted your husband. Therefore You are the greatest in chastity!”  There is an implied let-down here of Sarasvati and Lakshmi. The Acharya clears himself of this let-down, in the present shloka #97. The Teacher of advaita that he is, he cannot afford to make distinctions between deities. He is the one who gave all importance to the name of Sarasvati, by creating ShAradA Pitham and Sringeri where all the worship is for ShAradambAl.  The dasha-nAmi classification of renunciates has two of the categories named as ‘Sarasvati’ and ‘BhArati’; note that no other deity gets into the names of the dashanAmi’s. In the same way, he was the one who composed the famous ‘kanaka-dhAra-stavaM’ on Lakshmi. In fact it was his first composition!

 

So the very first thought of the shloka is to clear any distinction between deities. It is to ambaa he says “You are the One who  is known as Sarasvati the Goddess of Speech, and You are the One who is also known as Mother Lakshmi”. This is not a casual statement from him, says he. The knowers of the Vedas themselves say so  (“AgamavidaH AhuH”), he adds humbly.  And then it is You who is also Parvati, the wife of Rudra. All are parAshakti. And this is nothing but advaita. And this advaita prompts him to mention the turIyam, the Fourth.

 

According to ShAkta philosophy and also according to Shaivam, there are  Divinities for the Five Cosmic Functions. The Absolute Truth is beyond. Not like this in advaita. Vedic authentication of advaita comes from Mandukya Upanishad. The dream state of every jIva is Creation, the waking state is Sthiti (Sustenation) and the sleeping state is Dissolution; and that which is still awake  even in  that sleep state is the Fourth, that is brahman.  In the same strain, in this shloka, the Acharya goes to the ‘turIyaM’ after mentioning the three shaktis of the Trinity; he does not go to the other two of the cosmic functions.

 

The ‘Shakti of brahman’ is not specially talked about by him in advaita.  Nor can we say it is never talked about.  Right in the commentary of the very first sUtra, in Brahma-sutra-bhAshhya, The Acharya, detailing the ‘lakshaNa’ of brahman in the words “nitya-shuddha-buddha-mukta-svabhAvaM” , he adds “sarvajnaM”; by this addition it is therefore accepted that this ‘One’ (ekaM) also admits of ‘sarvaM’ ( a multiplicity) and all that is ‘known’  by This. Later, more explicitly, he adds another lakshaNa: “sarva-shakti-samanvitaM” (possessing all powers). Further in the commentary on II-1-30, “sarvopetA ca tad-darshanAt”, the duality status is recognised and he says brahman has a varied shakti-yoga. Here ‘shakti-yoga’ means that which coeexists with shakti. This is what becomes the “para-brahma-mahishhI” in the language of ShAktaM, as in this shloka of Soundaryalahari.

 

One direct disciple of the Acharya was SarvajnAtman.  He was the last disciple.  He is one of the leading exponents of advaita. Listen to him in ‘Samkshhepa-ShArIrakaM’ III-228, 229. “In Shuddha-advaita there is nothing like Shakti, leelaa or creation. However, even for those with such faith, there is a place for karma and upAsanA. Seen from that vyavahAra perspective, the cit (Brahman, Consciousness) takes a role of shakti and with its inert mAya-avidyA power, creates the universe”. Yet, in the advaita works of the Acharya the aim is not to direct attention to this dance of Shakti.  Without giving any importance to Brahma-shakti, he always discards creation as the work of mAyA and calls on us to think of the turiya-brahman beyond. Mostly he does not even refer to the shakti or energy  that is beyond a gender specification. When that is so, what to talk of Her as the ‘patni’ of brahman!

 

But the same Acharya, the teacher of brahma-vidyA, now talks as the teacher of Shri Vidya and shows the way to those who have a taste in this direction. And the way is  KAmeshvari, the ‘para-brahma-mahishhI’. The Shri Vidya tantra also has the same aim as advaita-sAyujyaM. Thus he combines the turIya at the goal of the jnAna path of advaita and the Shiva-Shakti concept in the Bhakti path.

 

Incidentally when he says ‘turIyA’ in the feminine, not only does that mean the parAshakti beyond the three of Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati, it also means that ‘turIyA’ is the patni of the ‘turIyaM’ that is brahman.

 

Notice that there is a unification of advaita Vedanta with ShAktam here. The parAshakti of the ShAkta philosophy is identified with the mAyA of advaita Vedanta. When it is spoken of as ‘duradhigama-nissIma-mahimA’ (of unfathomable and boundless glory)  the language is of ShAktam. For in advaita mAyA is considered to be ‘tuchhaM’ and therefore to be discarded as an incomprehensible anirvacanIyaM. But here it is the glorious parAshakti!

 

Our Acharya is matchless when it comes to his role as a spiritual teacher. In Soundaryalahari he has talked both advaita and Shri Vidya and has made a beautiful symbiosis of the two philosophies so as to be palatable, enjoyable and adaptible to both the Vedantins and the Shri Vidya followers. And this has been possible because, as I have told you in the beginning, Shri Vidya is nearest to advaita, among all schools of thought.

 

In the beginning he talked about the capability of Shakti making the first prompting that makes Him move. And now at the end he makes the same Shakti as the prime mover of everything in the universe: “vishvam bhramayasi”. Naturally this compering and revolving includes all the motion of the universe. Krishna in the Gita talked only of the movement of the living when  He said: “bhrAmayan sarva-bhUtAni”.  By that He meant only the movement of the minds of living beings. But here the Acharya has included the movement of not only the living (cetana) but also of the non-living (acetana), by the use of the word “vishvaM”.

 

This mAyA or parAShakti that makes  both the living and the non-living dance to Her tunes, is the same one who as Mother Goddess  graces all of us not only with everything mundane  but finally the very Bliss of brahman  (“ parAnanda-rasaM”). This  is the content of Shloka 99.

 

80

(Digest of pp.1295 -1306  of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)

 

sarasvatyA lakshhmyA vidhi-hari-sapatno viharate

rateH pAtivratyaM shithilayati ramyeNa vapushhA/

ciraM jIvan-neva kshhapita-pashu-pAsha-vyatikaraH

parAnandAbhikhyaM rasayati rasaM tvad-bhajanavAn // 99//

 

The modesty of our Acharya is well-known. It is going to exhibit itself  again in the next shloka #100 where he says, in winding up the stotra,   that nothing is his,  it is all ambaal’s work. So he does not give any phala-shruti (a list of what one achieves by reading this stotra; ‘phala’ means fruit, consequence, reward) as is usual with all devotional compositions.  Instead, he gives, in this shloka #99, a different form of phala-shruti, wherein he says what an upAsana of ambaal would give a devotee (tvad-bhajanaVAn, meaning, one who propitiates You), and thus indirectly hinting to us something like a phala-shruti. The first part of this stotra is the form of Her in mantra and tantra. The second part is the form of Her physical beauty.  Thereby  the whole stotra becomes  Her very Self. So the recitation of this stotra is itself an upAsanA. The reciter is the ‘bhajanavAn’.

 

What does the ‘bhajanavAn’ get?  The only answer could be: What will he not get? Whether it is of this world (‘iha’) or of the other world (‘para’), he will get everything. One might say, from a Vedantic point of view,  that ‘iha-phala  is no ‘phala’ at all. But who has that kind of maturity that does not want mundane rewards of this world?  One has to start from the tastes of this world and move on to discard them only gradually. The movement from the ‘iha  (meaning ‘here’, ‘now’) to the ‘para  (meaning ‘distant’, ‘subsequent’) has to go from stage to stage in the natural course of one’s evolution. It is in this context that this shloka details both the ‘iha-phala’ and the ‘para-phala’ as  rewards for the upAsaka. Both the kinds of rewards may be put together under four heads: Knowledge, Wealth, Beauty, Life. Of these the first one goes along with both ‘iha’ and ‘para’.

 

Knowledge is obtained by Learning. The Goddess of Learning is Sarasvati.  But ambaal Herself gives all that is given by Sarasvati – to such an extent that even Brahma, the Creator, is envious of such a devotee who has got all the learning that Sarasvati can bestow. Brahma the Creator, the consort of Sarasvati, was all along thinking that he was the sole beneficiary of Sarasvati’s favours. Remember that Brahma with his four  faces always chanting the four vedas is the repository of all knowledge. Still he feels that the devotee who is favoured by ambaal with all that Sarasvati has ever given Him, is a kind of competitor to Him    vis-a-vis Sarasvati. ‘How come, this human devotee of ambaaL has more favours of the Sarasvati-type than what I myself have!’ is the Creator’s feeling. This is part of the first line of the shloka. “SarasvatyA vidhi-sapatno viharate”.

 

The other part of the first line – “lakshhmyA hari-sapatno viharate” says the same thing of Vishnu, whose consort is Lakshmi. Again , ambaal’s Grace gives Her upAsaka, all favours of the Lakshmi type – meaning, wealth and prosperity -- that Vishnu Himself is envious!

 

The Acharya mentions Sarasvati before Lakshmi. In other words, he talks of Knowledge before Wealth.  If the choice is given to us we might want to put Wealth before Knowledge.  I am sure that if God were to suddenly appear before us and ask us what we want, most of us – nay, almost all of us – would ask for wealth, as our first priority.  Wealth is the one thing that never satiates the human mind.

 

Certainly, Knowledge, Wealth, and Beauty are all desired by every one.  But it is Wealth that gets the first seat in this. There is an interesting irony here. As far as wisdom and knowledge are concerned, none of us would call oneself unwise or unknowing. Even if we do not know we usually like to pose as one who knows! We don’t take extraordinary efforts to make an improvement to our real knowledge. The same story with Beauty. None of us would like to be told that there is no beauty in us. And we would not like others also to think of us otherwise. In the case of Knowledge we may be slack in making efforts to improve.  But in the case of Beauty every one of us takes elaborate pains to improve our presentation and appearance.  This is the story with Knowledge  and Beauty.

 

On the other hand, in the case of wealth, we all  behave differently, almost contrarily. We may have wealth but we would not like other people to know about it. Always we make a plea for our need to have more and we go about taking that posture.  In the case of Knowledge and Beauty, we pose as if we have them even if we do not have them. In the case of Wealth it is the opposite! This is the irony, which clearly establishes that, among the three, Wealth is our first preference.

 

But our Acharya mentions Knowledge first and then only Wealth. This only shows his infinite concern for us. However much he may know our minds and their predeliction for wealth in preference to knowledge, he wants to do good to us by influencing us in favour of the one thing that he knows will only do good to us. Because if wealth is accrued before the wisdom to use that wealth properly, there is every chance that such wealth will be lost in no time.  His thinking goes along with Taittiriyopanishad where, the prayer is for ‘medhA’ (Right knowledge) (1.4.1) and then it says ‘Thereafter (‘tataH’) give me wealth’ (1.4.2). His own Bhaja Govindam also emphasizes this in “artham-anartham bhAvaya nityaM”.

 

In an earlier shloka (#97) he said “You are Sarasvati, You are Lakshmi, Parvati also; and You are the source of them all, because You are the Queen-Consort of the Absolute Brahman” He did not call Sarasvati or Lakshmi as the Goddess of Learning or the Goddess of Wealth. Instead He made them the Shaktis corresponding to the ‘sRshhTi  function and the ‘sthiti’ function. In apposition to the fact that they were the Shaktis corresponding to Cosmic functions, ambaal was placed as the Universal Shakti integrated into the parabrahman itself. And thereby She becomes the source of all other Shaktis. So the Learning and Wealth which are the domains of Sarasvati and Lakshmi, have their original source in ambaal. Naturally, by propitiating ambaal, the other two also are obtained.

 

And thirdly, ambaal is the original source of Power for the God of Love, namely ‘KAma’. In fact Her own name is KAmeshvari, KAmAkshhI and KAmakoTi. It is that KAma who was reinstated by her by being given  a new life. It is he who reigns over  the third fundamental desire of man, namely, Beauty. That is why when somebody possesses all the beauty that we can think of, we say the person is a Manmatha in physical form. The stotra that talks predominantly of the ‘soundarya’ (beauty) of ambaal, is now said to give the beauty that man desires. In the case of Sarasvati and Lakshmi, they were feminine; so it was said (in the first line) that a devotee of ambaal gets knowledge (Sarasvati’s gift) and wealth (Lakshmi’s gift) in such abundance that their own husbands were envious of the recipient. Now Manmatha is male and so when his bounty of beauty is bestowed on the devotee due to ambaal’s Grace, his own wife Rati, becomes suspicious of the identity of the recipient –whether he is Manmatha himself! This is the content of the second line of the shloka.

 

Well, Knowledge, Wealth and Beauty – all three have been obtained. Are these enough? What if the recipient does not live long? Then that itself will negate everything else!  That is why all our scriptures include in their benedictions, ‘dIrghAyuH’ as the first blessing. Without long life and the implied good health, everything else is of no value. 

 

And this is what is promised in the third line of the shloka. This is the most (materially) significant benefit to the upAsaka. ‘ciraM jIvanneva’ says the shloka.  But as one goes on in one’s life, living long, in due time he gets into the thought process: “All these days I have obtained everything of value in this world (‘iha’) in terms of knoledge, wealth and beauty,  - all by ambaal’s Grace. Let me hereafter work through the same upAsanA of ambaal, for betterment of my after-life”. And then, what happens, is said in the third and fourth line of the shloka:

 

ciraM jIvanneva kshhapita-pashu-pAsha-vyatikaraH

parAnandA-bhikhyaM rasayati rasaM tvad-bhajanavAn

 

He who propitiates You, namely Your upAsaka, lives long, is able to discard the pashu-pAsha knot and enjoys the infinite bliss of BrahmAnanada.

 

So long as a JIva revolves in the quagmire of the senses and their natural attractions, the JIva is nothing but an animal (pashu). That is when the bond of ‘karma’ anchors him to the concept of ‘janma’ (birth and death). It is that bond that is called ‘pAshaM’. It makes him revolve again and again in the samsAra cycle. It is the sword of jnAna that cuts it asunder. And then he is no more a pashu. He becomes Shiva, the pashu-pati (the Lord of the pashu). The parAnandaM – supreme bliss of advaita – is then the essence (rasa)  of his experience. Note that the Acharya uses his words very carefully.  He does not say he ‘experiences’ that ‘rasa’. If he wanted to say so he would have used the words ‘pibati’ (drinks, consumes) or ‘AsvAdayati’ (tastes). But he has put in the word ‘rasayati’ meaning, he becomes the rasa (essence) himself and it is that becoming that is termed as ‘rasayati’. In other words there is no duality of the experiencer and the experienced. There is only one ‘rasa’.  It is advaitam!

 

The great teacher of advaita uses two concepts of what is going to develop in future as the great Shaiva siddhanta. This shows his universality of outlook. Also, all along he has been propagating Soundaryalahari according to the ShAkta schools of thought. Accordingly Shakti was placed in the dominant position. But when he ends the stotra he raises Shiva to  dominance  and effortlessly  throws in two important concepts  -- namely ‘pashu’ and ‘pAsha’ -- of the Shaiva canon.

-------------------------------

 

The flood of beauty of Mother Goddess is now terminating. All floods have to terminate in a sea or ocean. This flood (lahari) of words has now to merge in the ocean of shabda-brahman.  The Acharya uses the word ‘salila-nidhi’ which is the same as ‘jala-nidhi’ that means ‘ocean’.

 

pradIpa-jvAlAbhir-divasakara-nIrAjana-vidhiH

sudhA-sUtesh-candropala-jala-lavair-arghya-racanA /

svakIyair-ambhobhiH salila-nidhi-sauhitya-karaNaM

tvadIyAbhir-vAgbhis-tava janani vAcAM stutir-iyaM // 100 //

 

vAcAM janani:  Oh Mother who generated Speech,

divasakara-nIrAjana-vidhiH : (just as one does) the light-waving ritual to the Sun-God

pradIpa-jvAlAbhiH : by the flames of a lamp,

arghya-racanA : (just as) the offering of the arghya ritual

sudhA-sUteH : to the moon

candropala-jala-lavaiH : by the water drops that ooze out of the moonstone in contact with moonlight,

salila-nidhi-sauhitya-karaNaM : (just as) offering ritual bathing to the ocean

svakIyaiH ambhobhiH : by its own water,

tava iyaM stutiH : (so also is) this stotra on You

tvadIyAbhiH vAgbhiH : composed of Thine own words.

 

An elaborate explanation is needed for this final shloka.

 

81

(Digest of pp.1307 - 1321  of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th imprn.)

 

(Shloka 100 Continued).

The great Acharya always does something different from other poets. Usually they all end their work with a phala-shruti – a listing of all the good things that will accrue by the reading, recitation and repetition of the stotra just finished. Here our author is himself a unique combination of the deity of the stotra and Her own  Lord. So we would expect the last shloka of the stotra to be a magnificent phala-shruti that soars far higher than the ordinary. But what do we find?

 

Instead of trying to soar higher, he actually makes himself the humblest of the humble. “Why talk of phala-shruti for such an apology of a stotra, that has just been done by Her Grace? What accrues to whomsoever that worships Her has already been told in shloka #99. Let me stop there. Whatever happens in the world, whether highly commendable or not, all that is founded on Her Will. If everything turns out to be commendable then that may not contribute to the variety that is the spice of Her leela. That is why perhaps She encourages and prompts some low-level achievements also, for the very purpose of highlighting really higher ones! This stotra is one of such promptings of Hers. She is the Source of everything and so this is also Her child. And I am placing Her child at Her own feet.” This is the spirit of the final shloka #100. In shloka #27 the Acharya laid himself at Her feet – that was his Atma-samarpaNaM. Now he is placing this child of Hers  at Her own  divine feet.

 

Thus he does not show it off as something worthy of being submitted to Her as an offering. He thinks that it is absurd to make such a submission. This absurdity reminds him of three other absurdities that are current in the world. And this is what makes the final shloka.

 

The word ‘divasa-kara  means  one who produces the day (‘divasa’), therefore, the Sun. When a deity in the form of an idol of worship is located in the innermost sanctity of a garbha-griha in a temple  then a waving of camphor flame makes sense because it really lights up the dark  sanctum sanctorum and brightens up the deity with all its decorations. But what can a poor camphor flame do to brilliant sunlight? In fact it is the other way. The brilliance of sunlight actually dampens any light that may be emanating from the camphor flame! “The devi is the fullest Effulgence of the Shakti that is Speech (‘Vak’). Before that Light, what can this poor stotra of mine do in terms of lighting up anything?” This is the attitude in which the Acharya is submitting his work at Her feet and compares his action to the absurd action of lighting up camphor and showing it as an offering to the Sun-God!

 

Every time he talks of the ‘hot’ Sun he immediately refers to the ‘cold’ moon! Here also the second example of absurdity (2nd line of the shloka) is about the moon. Worship is being done to the Moon-God. In any ritual worship, there are usually three offerings by means of water. One is ‘pAdyaM’ (that which is offered for washing the feet). The second is ‘arghyaM’ (that which is offered in the hands).  The third is ‘AcamanIyaM’ (that which is offered to be taken in by the mouth). Technically, ‘arghyaM’ means “that which is valued most”. Therefore that formality has a special value. Now in one such pUjA that the Acharya might have witnessed, probably something like the following took place.

 

There are two gem-stones talked about in ancient literature. They are Moon-stone and Sun-stone. Probably these were there in ancient times and are now extinct. The sunstone draws into itself the rays of the Sun and radiates heat. Almost like a concentration through a lens. The moonstone is just the opposite. It absorbs moonlight into itself and pours out cool water! Now what some one did in the worship of the Moon was to take that water poured out by the moonstone and offer it to the Moon-God as an ‘arghyaM’!  candra-upala’ is moonstone. ‘upala’ is stone. And the moon itself is called ‘sudhAsUti’ because moon is said to pour out nectar by its light. ‘sudhA’ is nectar.

 

There is a gradation of absurdities in the two absurdities cited. Camphor has an independent existence outside of the Sun. The only dependence of camphor on the Sun may be that camphor may not light up if it is continuously exposed to an absence of any light or heat. On the other hand, the case of the moonstone pouring out water is totally dependent on the moon, because it is the moonlight that makes it give out water.  Thus the absurdity of using the water from the moonstone to offer arghyaM to the Moon is a greater absurdity than the camphor flame being shown to the Sun!.

 

The third absurdity (from the third line of the shloka) is still more absurd. And the Acharya must have witnessed it many a time because he has travelled from coast to coast in the entire country. For example he must have seen it in Rameshvaram where people dip in the Ocean and offer worship to the Ocean-God Varuna. Any ritual worship has, as one of its sixteen formalities, a ritual bathing, called ‘abhishhekaM’.  How does one do ‘abhishhekaM’ to the ocean? Is it not funny?  Abhishhekam’ to the Ocean! But they all do it. The Acharya himself must have done it when he went to Rameshvaram. What do they do? They take some drops of water from the ocean itself and sprinkle it on the ocean with the mantra beginning with : “Apo-hishhTA mayo bhuvaH. (Oh Water! You are conferring bliss) ....”. ‘If millions of people over the centuries have done this kind of worship of Varuna during their bath in the ocean, then why can’t I’, says the Acharya,  ‘take a few words from that ocean of Vak (Speech)  and offer it to Herself, the Goddess of all Speech?’.

 

The word ‘sauhityaM  in the third line of the shloka,  is generally taken to mean the ritual act of ‘tarpanaM’ (offering a little palmful of water)  but the word actually means ‘that which is most beneficial or pleasant’. In our country which is generally hot, the most pleasant thing is to give a bath. So I extended its meaning to ‘abhishekam’ or bath, in the pUjA to the Ocean. Anyway it increases the intensity of the absurdity still further and so suits the context well!

 

Look at the gradation among the three examples. The Sun and Camphor are two distinct entities.  The water oozing out of the moonstone gem, though caused by moonlight, still is different from the moon.  But in the case of water being taken out of the sea and being offered to that sea of water itself, there is no medium involved; the water is the same. So the third example brings you to the peak of absurdity. And this quite naturally fits with the attitude of the Acharya when he thinks that what he has composed is nothing but the words of ambaal Herself. She is addressed as ‘vAcAm janani  -- meaning, the origin, the source, of everything that has anything to do with Speech  --   in the fourth line. “What has been done is what You Yourself have composed in Your own words. It is all Yours. There is nothing of mine there”.  This is how the Acharya makes a complete surrender. He does not even use the words ‘samarpaNaM’ or ‘arpaNaM’ meaning dedication. But it is clear that he has offered his entire self to the Goddess. The jIvAtmA has totally negated itself and there is only the paramAtmA thereafter. By means of the bhakti stotra of Soundaryalahari  the Acharya has shown us what it is to reach the Self-Realisation of Oneness with the Ultimate.

 

And, most of all, he shows to us the peak of modesty. “vidyA-vinaya-sampanna” say our ShAstras. Here is the colossal example of vidyA (Learning) and vinaya (Modesty). If nothing else, we should learn this from the Acharya. His advaita lesson may not penetrate into our head.  But this lesson in modesty that he teaches us should.  Any time we feel heavy in our head, the thought must come: ‘Whatever I think I am is Her Grace’.  And that thought will help us lighten the burden of I-ness in the head. Even the inhaling breath is given by Her; it is Hers. If only it had been ours we would never die!

 

If we thus start living as an instrument in  the hands of ambaal, it will lead us to an advaita state of merging in Her. This lesson of being nothing but an instrument in Her hands and negating oneself as the doer is what this shloka tells us as the final teaching of all brahma-vidyA.  Because it is this lesson and the consequent living of it (‘abhyAsa’) that takes us on to an advaita-anubhava (experience of non-duality). This is the phala-shruti that is unsaid here by the Acharya. It is the phala (reward, fruit) that asks for no phala! Only when there is a ‘doer’ there is a ‘phala for the doer’. When the ‘doer’ himself has been negated, there is no question of ‘phala’.

 

How does one  negate and dissolve  oneself and be only Her instrument ? Only by thinking of Her. We do not even know what the Universal parAshakti is like? So thinking of that parA-shakti is an impossibility. But here in this Soundaryalahari our Acharya has brought Her to us in a beautiful form from head to foot. Her form itself is nothing but Beauty and he has added beauty to it by his beautiful play of words.  Looking at, and thinking about,  that beauty from head to foot, in all the details that the Acharya has brought to us, is the only antidote for the ego in which we are all steeped in. She has blessed us all with our intellects   and with the  facility to use our speech and mind. Use all this in Her favour as a decoration. What She gave us, give it back to Her.  That will kill our ego.  Not only speech, but any art or science that we are capable of -- make it as an ornament for Her. In that attitude of humility every activity of ours will take us up the spiritual ladder. Whatever we then do will become a sAdhanA to reach Her.

 

When one  thus merges in the flood of Her beauty through these delightful stanzas of Soundaryalahari, maybe he will himself accrue all those qualities of beauty. Maybe not. But one thing is certain. In the eyes of the world he will appear to have become so endowed with all the beauties of the Mother Herself. For he has taken the nectar of Wisdom and the Milk of Love that flows from Her and so he should  naturally be  bubbling with that divine bliss that She has given him.

 

He might have a bald head. But the world will be attracted to him as if he has the “kirITaM te haimaM  (cf. #42) quality! His face may have all kinds of distortions. But others would gather round him to see his “vadana-soundarya-laharI” (cf. #44). Maybe he has squint eyes; but it would be “dara-dalita-nIlotpalaM” (cf. #57) for the others. His uncouth mouth will appear to surpass the beauty of “vidruma-latA” or “bimba” (# 62).  Even when his body is disproportionate and unattractive, because of the bhakti and Divine Love with which he is full he would shine so well as to be said: “jayati karuNA kAcid-aruNA” (cf. #93). Every movement of his would benefit the rest of the world as to say there is nothing better than this “lakshmI-caraNa-tala-lAkshhA-rasaM” or “nava-nalina-rAgaM” (cf. #71). Every step that he takes would make us melt in respect; and that is the “karaNa-caraNa-shhaT-caraNaM”-type  (cf. #90) of jIva which merges in that lotus feet of Hers. Thus one who dips into the stotra that is Soundaryalahari, would become ultimately a veritable Soundarya-lahari (flood of beauty)!  There is no doubt that, with the blessings of our Acharya, The Mother of the Universe to whom we bow in prostration,  by means of these Soundaryalahri shlokas,  will gradually, but steadily, lead   our Atman to become, ultimately,  one with that Ocean of Bliss.! 

Concluded.

 

Thus spake the Paramacharya

 

Aum Shri Matre namaH / tvadIyAbhir-Angila-vAgbhiH janani idam guror-bhAshhaNAkhyaM gadya-vyAkhyanam gurvanugrahAt samkshhiptaM samAptam ca / lokAs-samastAs-sukhino bhavantu // Aum tat sat //

Salutations to The Auspicious Mother. Oh Mother! By the Grace of the Guru (The Paramacharya), this prose commentary named ‘Discourses of the Guru’   has now been summarised and also completed,  in words of English which are Your own. May all the  Universes turn out to be  happy. Aum tat sat.

 

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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

 

Apr.29, 2004

 

 

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