[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-18)
profvk at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 8 06:25:39 CDT 2003
FOR NEW READERS of this series, it may be worthwhile to go back
to the Introduction about the objective of this Digest and the
Note on the Organization (both at advaitin Message No.18425;
ambaa-L message no.5273; advaita-L message No.14046;
Sadhana_shakti message no.334).
Let us recall that the entire contents of the Digest are from
the Paramacharyas ideas and words, including the first person
reference to himself, except for my English rendering. Wherever
he uses specific English words himself, I have drawn the
attention of the reader to that fact. Recall particularly that
our Acharya or The Acharya in the discourses, means Adi
A Digest of Paramacharyas Discourses on Soundaryalahari - 18
(Digest of pp.820-824 of Deivathin Kural Vol.6, 4th imprn)
We are in sloka No.4.
(Note by VK: In the text of the sloka given in DPDS-17,
there was a typo. The fourth line ends with
It should be charaNAveva nipuNau.
I thank DVN Sharmaji for pointing this out. )
Other than You, all divines are seen with their mudras of
abhaya (fearlessness) and vara (Boon). In other words they show
by their hands that they give abhaya and vara. This is the
meaning of the first half of the sloka. But it does not mean
that ambaaL would not grant abhaya and vara. In fact in the
Mayavaram temple She is known as abhaya-ambikA. One of Her
other names is vara-pradAyini, the benefactor of boons.
In fact the Acharya only means that She doesnt have to give
abhaya and vara by Her hands. Her divine feet alone are
capable of granting what other deities do by their hands. The
very word kAryaM in Sanskrit (which means, the act or
action) goes back to the word kara meaning hand. So the
other divines have to take effort to do the action of giving
vara and abhaya. You, Oh Goddess, can do anything by the
very sankalpa (determination). Even the fivefold cosmic
actions beginning with creation are done by You just by
wiggling the eyebrows (kshaNa-calitayoH brU-latikayoH sloka
24 meaning: by the movement, for a moment, of the eyebrows).
Whether it is to protect devotees from fear, or it is to give
them more than what they want through their wishes, She does it
by just being there. By taking refuge at Her feet, the devotee
achieves his wishes. She is the refuge of the entire universe.
Note the expert use of the words sharaNye and charaNau. The
first comes from the word sharaNa meaning refuge. She is the
Ultimate Refuge for the whole world. The second word comes from
charaNa meaning foot. Her feet are the Refuge; because the
feet themselves are capable of granting our wishes, by just
being there. Just as flowers, without doing any action,
When one asks for the removal of fear, that is, fearlessness
(abhaya), the positive response from the deity could only be the
removal of fear; there is nothing more to be given. On the other
hand, whatever other wish one asks for fulfillment, there can
always be something more than that wish and thus She nay, just
the grace of Her divine feet - gives the devotee more than
what he wants.
A question may arise. Why is fearlessness sought separately?
Can it not be given as one of the many wishes, by the Goddess?
Why is it separated from the general category of boons?
(The following paragraphs are so exquisite in the original
that I chose to translate them literally word by word ! VK)
Fearlessness (abhaya) is not a commodity that is given and
taken. It is actually another name for advaita. Only when there
is duality there is fear says the Brihad-AraNyakopanishad
(1.4.2). If there is only one thing there is, from what can fear
arise? Only when there is a second entity fear arises in
relation to it. If one thinks even of the tiniest distinction
in brahman, then fear arises. Even wise men, if they think of
brahman as another distinct object, are ceased of fear, so says
Taittiriya-upanishad (II 7).
The moment we think of brahman as different from us and as a
God with qualities, we get into the mood of bhakti out of
fear. Even the westerners talk about the God-fearing nature
as mans noblest quality. When will that fear go? It will go
only when the non-duality conviction arises that there is no
jIvAtman distinct from Ishvara. In that state of the Existence
of One without a second, where is the scope for a boon-giver and
a boon-receiver two entities? The symbolic exhibition of the
abhaya-mudrA in the deitys hand is in fact a formless
(esoteric) principle only. There is no giving, no taking, there.
It is a supreme state and the mudrA is only a symbol for it. The
Lord may be eradicating fears from the smallest fears, through
those of birth and death, to the largest fear, namely that of
duality, that of separation from Him; but the actual state of
fearlessness is only the non-dual state. And that is why, it
does not form part of the category of boons.
To the same question the scholars of the other (dvaita) schools
cite the bhava-bhIti that is, the fear of the cycle of births
and deaths, as the major fear to be removed by Divine Grace and
that is why, they say, abhaya is kept separate from the other
boons; and they stop there.
The abhaya mudrA is shown by the upward extended palm of the
right hand. Other schools of philosophy say that this right hand
points to the Divine worlds like Vaikunta and Kailasa in the
upper worlds. But we advaitins say that it indicates the
non-dual state which is vast and boundless like the wide space
(AkAsha) up above.
(The translation-mode ends here. VK)
The hand which shows the boon-giving status is the left hand
but with the palm facing us and extending downwards. I want
this and I want that is itself indicative of a lower state.
Just as the actionless advaita state of abhaya belongs to the
Shiva side, namely the right side, the hand which shows the
boon-giving Grace legitimately belongs to the action-packed
Shakti side of the divine form. The left palm is extending
downwards; what does it point to? It points to the divine feet,
which is the last Refuge. Hold on to My Feet, says the Goddess,
That is the greatest boon for you.
The show of mudrA is technically called abhinaya. To exhibit
whatever mood there is internally, by the expression in the
face, or by a symbolic gesture of the hands or feet is called
abhinaya. Particularly, that shown by the fingers of the hands
is called a mudrA. It is the science of tantra that prescribes
the mudrAs. The science and art of dancing has adapted only
The bottomline of this sloka is to say that all this business
of hand mudras belongs only to the other deities. Ambaal does
not show any of these mudras. Obviously one is thinking here of
the Goddess Lalita-tripura-sundari only.
(To be continued)
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.
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