[Advaita-l] A Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS - 06)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 12 16:26:19 CDT 2003

Recall:  About the organization of the ‘Digest’: THE ENTIRE
WHEREVER IT OCCURS, IS HIS. The ‘I’ of advaita-vedanta is always
 Additional explanations given by Ra. Ganapathi are so
acknowledged. Parenthetical remarks by him, like ‘with a smile’,
‘after a small pause’  etc. that all refer to the speaker, the
Paramacharya, are repeated, if at all, as they are in the
original, within parentheses.  My own remarks, if any, shall be
properly demarcated. And note that the Paramacharya most often
refers to Adi Sankaracharya as ‘Our Acharya’.
V. Krishnamurthy

A Digest of Paramacharya’s Discourses on Soundaryalahari -  6

(This part, which ‘digests’ pp.675 to 686 of the original, is
entitled: “The title: ‘Ananda-lahari’ – advaitam and ShAktam”.
The matter was rather terse to me. But the Paramacharya himself
concludes by saying:  “What is finally to be understood as the 
essence is the following: ….” I use this summary of his own and
mostly translate it as closely as I can.      VK)

The shAkta philosophy (ShAktam) talks of ‘Shivam’ in  place of
the actionless substratum ‘Brahman’. Even if it is actionless,
it is Cit, knowledge, says advaita. In  place of this Cit,
ShAktam talks of Cit-Shakti or simply,  Shakti. The Brahman of
advaita peacefully rests in itself. In ShAktam, on the other
hand, the peaceful Shivam has the Shakti, power or energy, that
manifests as  knowledge potential (Cit-Shakti) and this
manifestation is its  play as the multiplicity of the universe.
In advaita there is no second.  What appears as the universe is
only an appearance created by mAyA.  MAyA has no relationship
with Brahman. What it is, and how it came – all this is
inexplainable. That research is not necessary. What is needed is
how to get out of it and obtain the  personal realisation of the
basic Brahman behind. And hence the path of jnAna.  In ShAktam,
it is claimed that the play of duality starts by the Will of
Shivam coupled with Shakti. Even here there is a role of
mAyA-Shakti. But we shall dwell on it later.

It is Brahman that appears as jIva, through the effect of mAyA.
If one follows the path of jnAna and transcends mAyA, then jIva
realises itself as Brahman, says advaita. In ShAktam also it
says that the jIva and Shivam are basically the same and
actually become the same in the state of moksha; particularly in
the Shri-vidyA scriptures it is specifically accepted so.
Dvaitam, VishishhTAdvaitam, SiddhAnta-shaivam
(Shaiva-siddhantam), ShrIkaNTa-shaivam (ShivAdvaitam), Kashmiri
Saivism – in this order, the philosophies start from a concept
totally distinct from advaita, gradually nearing and ultimately
becoming very near to advaita.

 And in ShrIvidyA the identity of jiva with Brahman is clearly
stipulated. The two philosophies differ only in the concept of
creation. In advaita, duality is said to be only an imagination
and so is to be totally negated. In shAkta philosophies, duality
is said to be created by parA-Shakti, the energy of Brahman. It
is also the parA-Shakti that grants the moksha, which is the
identity of Brahman and jIva in eternal peaceful bliss. This
bliss is called shivAnandam and/or shAntAnandam  in the shaivite
schools,  and cidAnandam in the shAkta schools. 

There is no difference in the concept  of moksha as the
realisation of the one-ness of jIva and Brahman, between advaita
schools and the Shri-vidyA tantra of the shAkta schools. The
philosophy of advaita takes creation as a ‘vivarta’ (a false
appearance, manifestation,  of reality) whereas the Shri-vidyA
school takes it as ‘AbhAsa’ (an effulgence of a ‘reflection’).
That the sun appears as a reflection in water is ‘AbhAsa’. In
the same way the universal Cit-Shakti reflects itself with a
limitation and becomes the jIva as well as the universe  -- this
is the shAkta concept of creation. But without the original
object called the Sun there could be no reflection. So in basics
it comes back to the  advaita concept. But the shAkta holds that
to the extent there is an object with its reflection, there is a
phenomenal reality for jIva and the universe. It does not hold
that it is ‘mithyA’ which is the advaitin’s contention.

It is the latter part of Soundaryalahari that dwells on  the
beauty (saundaryam) of ambaal’s form.The former part dwells on
Her Shakti. It is called Ananda-lahari. The identity between
Shakti and Cit is referred to in the word ‘cidAnandalaharI’ in
verse no.8 of Anandalahari. “bhajanti tvAm dhanyAH katicana
cidAnanda-laharIm”, meaning, ‘Only the most fortunate few
(recognize you and) worship you  as the flood of knowledge-bliss
(cidAnanda)’. Note here that while for  every  reader of the
Soundaryalahari portion the whole beauty of Mother Goddess is
fully experiential, in  the Anandalahari portion the people who
can experience the bliss of the Shakti-lahari, that is, the
cidAnanda-lahari, are only the few fortunate (katicana dhanyAH)
The close correlation between advaita and the various shAkta
schools, particularly the Shri-vidyA tantra school,  has been
used by our Acharya who is aware that many cannot follow the
abstract path of jnAna. And that is why perhaps he  chalks out a
path whereby one starts from the ‘leela’ of creation of duality
and goes forward along the path of Shri-vidyA and finally ends
up in advaita itself. In accordance with this, even when he
composed many stotras on Shiva and VishNu, he never goes deep
into the shivAgama or vaishNava-Agama nuances but dwells mainly
on the bhakti and  consequent emotions only.  On the other hand
when he worked on Soundarya-lahari, the first part,
Anandalahari, – even though it is said that he only ‘brought’ it
(from Kailas) and not composed it – is totally a shAkta
scripture. The sum and substance of the twin work of
Ananda-lahari and Soundarya-lahari seems to be: “advaita is The
path; if not, the next (alternative) is Shri-vidyA” !

In fact, Shri-vidyA is the connecting cord between advaita and
all that is dvaita. It unifies the shAntam-Shivam-advaitam with
Shakti, the creator of duality, and therefore, of the universe. 
In LalitA-sahasranAma also, the last name is lalitAmbikA and the
last but one is shiva-shakty-aikya-rUpiNI. And this takes us to
the very beginning sloka of Soundarya-lahari !
(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.

Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free, easy-to-use web site design software

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list