[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-46)
profvk at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 30 23:48:02 CST 2003
Recall the Note about the organization of the Digest,
from DPDS 26 or the earlier ones.
A Digest of Paramacharyas Discourses on Soundaryalahari -
(Digest of pp.1015 -1027 of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume,
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
It is the left side of the Lords 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 Mothers 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
Shivas 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)
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 Lords 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
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 Lords
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 Lords
form is totally in Her and Her form is totally in His.
LalitA Herself is Siva-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!
(To be Continued).
Thus spake the Paramacharya
PraNAms to all advaitins and Devotees of Mother Goddess
Prof. V. Krishnamurthy
My website on Science and Spirituality is http://www.geocities.com/profvk/
You can access my book on Gems from the Ocean of Hindu Thought Vision and Practice, and my father R. Visvanatha Sastri's manuscripts from the site.
Also see the webpages on Paramacharya's Soundaryalahari :
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