[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari(DPDS-11)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 22 07:38:29 CDT 2003

Recall the Note about the organization of the ‘Digest’,  from
DPDS – 6 or the earlier ones.
V. Krishnamurthy

A Digest of Paramacharya’s Discourses on Soundaryalahari -  11

The mutuality of Shiva and Shakti should be in our minds all the
time. When hard core ideas from philosophy are made into poetic
extravaganzas, both for the poetic excellence and for the
liberties taken with a view to making the devotees revel in
their devotion, it is natural to exaggerate or make
out-of-the-way comparisons. Thus at one time it may be said that
Shiva is greater than Shakti and at another time quite the
opposite. In every one of these presentations one should not
forget the equality, nay, the identity of the two. Keeping this
clearly in his mind, our Acharya, though he built into the first
sloka the idea that it was Sakthi who made Shiva move, he takes
care to see that the prodding for the ‘movement’ does not come
from outside. She is inside Him and therefore the word

In Kashmir Saivism this internal spandanam is emphasized very
well. Though we call it Kashmir Shaivism, the propagators of
that philosophy did not give it that name. ‘Trika-shaivam’ is
its name. For it focusses on three principles; pashu, pati and
pAsham.  ‘pratyabijnA-shAstra’ is also another name for the
same. To know the fact that Shiva principle is Atman is
pratyabijnA. The literal meaning of ‘pratyabijnA’ is ‘to know a
thing truly as it is’. Another name for this school of
philosophy is ‘spanda-shAstra’ !

According to that shAstra, Shiva and Shakti together form the
parabrahman. All the universe is a reflection of that
parabrahman. By saying this it does not mean that the reflection
is outside of brahman. Nor does it think of a ‘kevala-shivam’ (
shivam and shivam alone) that has no connection with the
universe. Since the parabrahman, according to this school, is
shiva as well as shakti, the reflection (AbhAsa) is due to the
presence of shakti. And even then, it is not like light and its
reflection, wherein we think of the reflection outside of the
light. No. There can be nothing outside of shakti. Siva-shakti
is one. Within that one there comes an internal spandanam and
the duality is presented. Again the presentation is not outside
of  brahman. Just as a reflection shows itself in the mirror, 
there is nothing outside of the mirror. The word ‘spanda’ is
exploited in Kashmir Shaivism to establish two things. One is
that the universe is not outside of brahman and two, Shakti
itself is not an external action on brahman. Shakti is abhinnam
– non-separate – from shivam. 

Among the various shaiva darshanas, what comes nearest to our
Acharya’s advaita is this spanda-shAstra.  On moksha both say
the same thing. But instead of saying that the universe is 
mithyA, created by mAyA, this school includes not only mAyA as
well as the Ishvara of advaita vedanta in their shakti.
According to them there are 36 fundamentals.  Of these shivam is
the first and shakti is the next. But immediately they say that
the shivam which is ‘sat’ (Existence) has always the
‘cit-shakti’ within it. Therefore shivam is sat-cit. The Ananda
appears when the play of reflection, producing the universe, 
starts as a sport.

In order to accommodate those who cannot take the strenuous
jnAna-mArga of advaita, our Acharya has adopted in this work of
bhakti, the concepts of spandanam and those  of pashu, pati and
pAsham  from the shaiva shAstras. In sloka No.99  he says: He
who worships ambaal, throws off the attachment (pAsham) to the
animal self (pashu) and enjoys the nectar of the bliss of
param-Ananda. Obviously when composing the SoundaryalaharI. he
must have had in mind several objectives, such as:  This hymn to
Ambal should  raise Her  to the skies so that in the devotees it
should generate bhakti towards Her exclusively (ananya-bhakti);
it should reach the pinnacle of poetical excellences and respect
all poetic traditions; it should also be concordant with the
religious traditions of ShrI-vidyA-tantra; even though it may
not stress the advaita point of view exclusively, since anyway
shRI-vidyA and advaita are not discordant, it should be able to
touch upon advaita though tangentially. Instead of saying that
the Acharya had these objectives we might say that ambaal had
already predetermined his objectives for him. 

Even though these are the basic purposes which we see have all
been fulfilled in the hymn, it should be said to the credit of
our Acharya that, because of his steadfast holding to advaita,
and of his great respect for ShrI-vidyA, and of his natural
poetic talent, he did not regiment himself  as to be
circumscribed by preconceived limitations. It is our good
fortune that  he allowed his talent and imagination to express
itself freely and soar as high as it liked.  Such a freedom has
resulted in one of the most excellent hymns which excels in
poetry, in mysticism, in devotion, in spirituality and in
religious tradition. And in this process, the flood of ideas
that gushed forth from him includes without bias some of the
philosophical concepts and thoughts that came to the forefront,
long after his time, like those of Saiva-siddhanta, Kashmir
Shaivism, visishTAdvaita, and dvaita. 

The schools that I just mentioned of course took their present
form only after the time of our Acharya. But the original ideas
from which these schools sprang were there from earliest times.
In fact advaita also had its origin long before our Acharya. But
it was he who streamlined it and presented it as a siddhAnta. In
the same way the Acharyas of the other schools who came only
later to  our Acharya,  pulled out the ideas which were already
there and established their siddhantas. It is the greatness of
Adi Sankara that he  was able to see by his erudition and
farsight the other points of view also even before they had been
established as a popular school. 
(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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