[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-58)
profvk at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 10 00:07:43 CST 2004
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.1115 -1119 of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume,
[Note by VK: The delightful commentary in Tamil
of the Paramacharya on this shloka, #44,
has been really a difficult one for me
to present in English (in DPDS 57, 58 and 59).
The superb majesty of his discourse
should be enjoyed in the original]
In the Assembly of ambaa, on both sides of Her, Lakshmi and
Saraswati are said to be fanning Her. This is what the name
sa-cAmara-ramA-vANI-savya-dakshhiNa-sevitA says in the
Lalita-sahasranAma. Instead of having them as Her
assistants, She has them both as Her very eyes this is
what the name kAmAkshhi means. kA means Saraswati and
mA means Lakshmi. And akshha means eye. So
kAmAkshhi is the One who has kA and mA as Her eyes!
Later, shloka 64 says that Saraswati dwells in Her tongue.
In fact, the grace of ambaa in bestowing power of
expression to devotees is well known. That is why Saraswati
is spoken of as dwelling in Her own tongue. And the poet in
the Acharya plays gymnastics with the word japa in that
shloka, where it says: Your tongue defies the japa
(hibiscus) flowers in its redness because it is constantly
engaged in the Japa (mantra-repetition) that gives
expression to the glories of Lord Shiva; the redness of Her
tongue is so intense that the Goddess of Speech, Saraswati,
who dwells therein, gets Her crystal-like white complexion
changed into the colour of a ruby (noted for its
reddishness). We already saw in Shloka 16 that poets have
spoken of Her as shRngAra-laharI in Her form as the red
Thus, of the two fanning divines, one of them, Saraswati,
is elevated to the position of residing in the divine
tongue of ambaa. So, the other of them, namely Lakshmi, is
now elevated in this shloka (#44), to even a higher
position, namely, the top of the divine head itself.
Lakshmi resides in the sImanta of ambaa; and it is that
Lakshmi who is decorated with the kumkuma-ornamentation of
So the parting of the hair goes like a white streak amidst
the jet black forest of hair (cikura-nikurumbaM of
shloka 43) which looks like waves of blue-black on either
side of it. It is the whiteness of the sImanta (parting
line) that is usual; but here ambaas sImanta has been made
reddish by the sindhUraM. So the blackness of the locks of
hair on either side and the redness of the parting line
make the imagination of the poet run riot. Many of us do
not appreciate such poetic licence, because of our
preoccupation with the utilitarian value of everything we
see or experience. But a poet does not just see beauty; he
invents original analogies and that is what makes us enjoy
both the poetry and the devotional sentiment built into it.
iva navInArka-kiraNaM -- these are the words.
arka is the Sun. arka-kiraNaM means the Suns ray.
navIna is new. So navIna-arka-kiraNaM means the rays
of the rising Sun. Certainly it is reddish. Only when the
Sun comes up higher and higher it loses its redness of
appearance and becomes pure white. But at the point of
rising it is red. The Acharya sees the sImanta-sindhUram on
the divine head as one of the red rays of the rising Sun.
At the beginning of the parting, namely at the top of the
forehead, the sindhUra is a big dot (red) and so is the Sun
itself (rising) and the saraNi, namely the line of parting,
is the red ray emanating from that Sun.
Does this not sound like a cluttering chatter of teeth? Why
this hard construction ? The very words speak of a
thunderous noise of battle. Who is battling with whom? The
talk is about the sImanta-saraNi. Then who is warring with
kabarI-bhAra-timiraM means the darkness shown by the jet
black dense hair. The adjective prabala prefixed to it,
indicates a further strength to that darkness. When
something is strong it can be expected to be aggressive
also, in the worldly ways of thinking. So whom will this
darkness challenge or contest? Only Light. What is opposed
to darkness is light. It is the sun which dispels the
darkness of the night and brings the day. It is not even
just the sun; it is the morning sun that night considers as
the harbinger of its doom. Because darkness never sees
the full Sun. As soon as the first ray of the morning sun
appears, darkness has to wind up and run.
And here, while darkness is in the form of ambaas hair,
the morning sun has appeared in the form of the sindhUram
on the top of the forehead. It is the crimson ray of the
morning sun that is represented by the sindhUram-coloured
parting of the hair. And it is this parting that prevents
the darkness on either side to become one large mass of
darkness. Further, it is the darkness of the hair that has
been pampered by oil, shampoo, and flowers as has been
indicated by the words ghana-snigdha-shlakshhNaM
(luxuriant, soft and oily) in shloka #43. Because it has
been pampered it has become prabala (exceedingly
strong) now. And that gives it the courage to dare
challenge the redness of the sImantaM!
(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 :
More information about the Advaita-l mailing list