[Advaita-l] A Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS - 08)
profvk at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 16 06:34:46 CDT 2003
Recall the Note about the organization of the Digest, from
DPDS 6 or the earlier ones.
A Digest of Paramacharyas Discourses on Soundaryalahari - 8
But, though the work begins with the name of Shiva, the ShAkta
school will still find in the very name of Shiva itself, the
dominance of the feminine Shakti ! In the very word Shiva
there is the vowel i along with the consonant sh. The vowels
I (as in feel) and i (as in fit) are themselves names
of ambaal. All consonants are letters pertaining to Shiva and
all vowels pertain to Shakti. This is a general rule. In
addition the letters I and i are supposed to be the very
forms of ambaal. Just as the actionless immutable brahman has a
symbolic praNava or Om, so also the brahman coupled with
Shakti, the kArya-brahman, has a symbolic seed letter called the
praNava of Shiva-Shakti. And in that praNava, the letter
corresponding to Shakti is I.
There is Vedic authority for this. Also in the ShrI sUkta the
form of ambaal as Lakshmi who resides in the heart-lotus is
mentioned as manifesting in the vowel I and the surrender is
made to that manifestation. Note that one of the many
sanctities of the word ShrI is derived from this.
Thus the first word of of the first sloka, though it begins
with Shiva is actually a propitiation to the feminine Shakti.
For, from the word Shiva if we remove the vowel i and bring
the consonant sh to its first position sha, the word becomes
shava meaning a dead body ! Thus the word shiva gets its
life from the vowel i , which is the seed letter for Shakti.
Also note that the popular word for saguNa-brahman in Vedanta
is Ishwara, which begins with the sound I. This is quite in
accordance with its role as the dynamic active Lord who takes
care of the creation and propels the entire universe.
(For those who know the Tamil language
here are two more interesting observations: VK)
In Tamil the consonants and vowels are known as body-letters
(mey-ezhuttu) and life-letters (uyir-ezhuttu) respectively .
So in the praNava of Shiva-Shakti, the Lord corresponds to the
body-letter and the Goddess corresponds to the life-letter.
And this coordinates with the thought that Shiva is the body and
Shakti is the soul.
Secondly, in Tamil parlance it is common to say: If you have
the power (shakti) to do this, do it; otherwise stay quiet as
shiva (shivane-enRu iru) ! This again coordinates with the
thought that Shiva is the actionless substratum and Shakti is
the switch that switches everything into action!
Throughout his bhAshyas and all his minor works, our Acharya is
never tired of repeating: All worldly activities are mAyA; one
should aspire to realise and become the changeless and
actionless nirguNa brahman. Thus the immutable Shivam is the
object of all his writing and advice. What produces movement out
of that brahman was called mAyA by him and he spared no pains to
paint that mAyA in uncomplimentary colors and warn us strongly
against getting into her clutches.
But the very same Acharya, now, in the first sloka of
Soundaryalahari, exclaims with great admiration of Shakti (that
very same mAyA): Oh, Goddess, without you even Shiva cannot
How can the same person talk in two contradictory ways like
this? Which is true? If one of them is not true, can the Acharya
tarnish his name by speaking an untruth?
If you look at these things only by logic, you will not get
anywhere. The definition of Truth does not come by logic.
WHATEVER WILL DO GOOD TO WHOMSOEVER IT IS INTENDED, THAT SHOULD
BE STATED LOVINGLY; THAT IS TRUTH (SATYAM). For those who can
tread the path of jnAna, he recommended retirement from the
world. For those who have yet to evolve to that stage of
spiritual maturity, he recommended the path of Bhakti and Karma;
this will make them reach the kArya-brahman through worldly
actions of work and worship. When one does not have an evolved
attitude to a certain path, it is counterproductive to advise
him go that path. So it is not a question of being logical; it
is a question of seeing the psycho-logical (!) perspective. The
ancients called it adhikAri-bheda, that is, difference in
Secondly, it is not just that he understood the psychology of
different types of seekers of spirituality and preached
accordingly. It is more. Both the advices he gave, though
seemingly opposite, are true, each at a particular stage of
evolution. In the phenomenal world, creation and the universe
and the activator of all of them, namely, Ishwara, are all
real certainly. But when we enquire into the root cause of all
this, we find that the more basic Reality is the Existent
Self-in-itself that is actionless but through a miraculous magic
wand of mAya brings about all this moving world.
Thus, when an Acharya or the scripture compares two paths or two
objects of worship and speaks of one as the better or greater of
the two, it does not always mean that the other thing, that had
a lower estimate, is worthless. That which our Acharya talked
about as the thing to be discarded, namely, perception of
duality, in all his works that very same thing he now praises
to the sky, saying that this is what you have to hold
steadfastly in the bhakti-mArga. In one case it is duality, in
the other case it is sva-svarUpa-anu-sandhAnaM (remaining
steadfast in ones own Self).
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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