Lakshmi-Nrsimha-Pancharatnam - 1

Anand V. Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 28 15:33:04 CDT 1999

|| shrI-laxmI-narasiMhAya namaH ||

    On the occasion of shrI narasiMha-jayantI, I would like
    present a short but sweet composition of Shankara in honor
    of (his family-deity according to some) Lakshmi-Narasimha.
    This hymn consists of only five verses and, as its name
    indicates, is truly a collection of five gems of verses.

     These verses are addressed to the mind whose very nature is
    to wander from one matter to another seeking enjoyment just
    a bee wanders from one flower to another attempting to collect
    nectar. The hymn asks the mind to stop going after mundane
    matters and turn itself towards God. Then the mind-bee can taste
    the nectar of bhakti instead of roaming about in the desert of
    mundane matters without ever tasting real nectar.

   tvatprabhujIvapriyamichchhasi chennaraharipUjAM kuru satataM
    pratibimbAlaMkR^itikushalo biMbAlaMkR^itimAtanute |
   chetobhR^iN^ga bhramasi vR^ithA bhavamarubhUmau virasAyAM
    bhaja bhaja laxmInarasiMhAnaghapadasarasijamakarandam.h || 1 ||

    If you desire to please your lord, the jIva, then worship
    Shri Narasimha constantly. Decorating the reflected object
    causes the decoration of the reflection. O mind-bee!
    Why do you roam about without purpose in the desert of
    joyless mundane matters? Worship (taste) the pure nectar of
    the lotus feet of Lakshmi-Narasimha!


    This first verse of the laxmInarasiMha-paJNcharatnam.h asks the
    mind, whose tendency is to wander from one subject to another,
    to constantly dwell on God.

    The reflection theory of advaita holds that the jIvas or
    individual souls are reflections of Brahman. Just as the
    sun may be reflected in many bodies or water, or a face
    reflected in many mirrors, Brahman is reflected in many
    "subtle bodies" (liN^ga-sharIra's) to form jIva's.

    If a face is being reflected in a mirror, any decoration
    applied to the face itself would apply to the reflection.
    In other words, by pleasing God (Brahman), the jIva would
    be automatically pleased.

    Shankara deals with the reflection theory in his commentary
    on the third chapter of the Brahma-sUtras. An objection is
    sometimes raised as how the Brahman which is without form,
    color, or parts, is able to be reflected. As Shankara replies,
    and also as MadhusUdana SarasvatI replies in his siddhAnta-
    bindu, it is not necessary for a reflected object to be
    always with form, color, etc. It may be required for a visual
    image but not so for others, such as sound which may be
    reflected from a surface to produce an echo.

    AbhAsa eva cha ( an appearance or reflection only), and
    ata eva chopamA sUryakAdivat.h (therefore the analogy,
    "like a reflected sun, etc") of the Brahma sutras, and
    shruti statements such as rUpaM rUpam pratirUpo babhUva
    (He assumed the likeness of each form) (Br. Up. 2.5.19),
    lend the basis for the reflection theory.

    Some say that the reflection is real. For example, if
    a face is reflected in a mirror, the image itself is not
    the face, and therefore not the real face. But the features of
    the face which are seen in the reflection (after compensating
    for the effect of lateral-inversion) are also actually present
    in the face. To that extent, some authenticity or reality
    may be assigned to the reflection. This argument is called
    pratibimba-vAda and is put forth very early in Shankara's
    school by PadmapAda, the author of panchapAdikA.

    Others, such as the VArtikakAra Sureshvara, hold that the
    reflection is a mere appearance and is, therefore, unreal.
    This view is called AbhAsa-vAda. One may easily see that
    there is no dispute between the two views. When Brahman is
    reflected as many jIvas, pratibimba-vAda holds that the
    jIva, although a reflection of Brahman, is in essence
    the same as Brahman. Understanding of sentences, such as
    "tattvamasi" which leads to realization of Brahman,
    involves giving up the limiting factors of the jIva as
    not real, and accepting the essential nature of jIva as
    Brahman. As per the AbhAsavAda, the realization that the
    reflection is itself bondage and realizing that this reflection
    is unreal or getting rid of this reflection is liberation, as
    MadhusUdana SarasvatI sums up, "shuddha-chaitanyasyAbhAsa eva
    bandhaH tannivR^ittishcha moxa iti."

    Thus the two approaches, namely pratibimba-vAda and AbhAsavAda,
    have the same objective - establishing that Brahman/Consciousness
    is the only reality.


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