[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari(DPDS-13)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 27 08:23:19 CDT 2003

Recall that  the entire contents of the Digest are from the
Paramacharya’s ideas and words, except for my English rendering.
Wherever he uses specific English words himself, I have drawn
the attention of the reader to that fact. FOR NEW READERS of
this series, it may be worthwhile to go back to  the
Introduction  about the objective of this Digest and the Note on
the Organization (both at advaitin Message No.18425; ambaa-L
message no.5273; advaita-L message No.14046; Sadhana_shakti
message no.334).
V. Krishnamurthy

A Digest of Paramacharya’s Discourses on Soundaryalahari -  13
(Digest of pp.760 -766 of Deivathin Kural 6th vol. 4th imprn.)

(The Paramacharya devotes one more discourse now on mAyA; 
now dwelling on the status of mAyA in advaita, 
vis-à-vis, the path to Enlightenment  -- VK)

All the Shakta schools, adopt an interesting strategy with
respect to mAyA. Whatever bondage is created by mAyA, they make
it all related to the divine. Though jnAna and mAyA are at
opposite ends, the very world, mind and senses created by mAyA
are channelised into Love and the pure Beauty of the Mother
Goddess, so that one is blissfully involved in the worship and
prayers aimed at Her.  Once the mind is unified in this noble
direction,  it is then not difficult to get involved into
enquiry about the Self. 
Thus our Acharya also has adopted the same strategy of  going
towards jnAna by resorting to the very objects created by that
which is opposite to jnAna. In other words, the thought of God,
worship, listening to stories about His glory, temple worship,
getting emotionally enraptured in stotra recitation, raising the
tempo of spiritual involvement by continuous japa leading to the
correct mood for meditation – these constitute the means by
which one follows the bhakti path thus preparing oneself for the
path of jnAna  that  is the ultimate. And hence the

The mAyic effect cannot be easily discarded. A tremendous amount
of discretion (viveka) and dispassion (vairagya) might be
needed. In the absence of these the distractions of the sensory
world will be constantly pulling us away. And when such pulls
are very strong, one should not despair of the hopelessness in
making progress in  spirituality. It is for this reason that the
Acharya, without asking us to discard the mayic effects totally,
as he would do to a more spiritually mature seeker, asks us to
get involved in bhakti, puja, worship,  devotional recitation
and music. If everything of the world is made to relate to the
divine in this way, the mAyA-created world can be gradually won
over. It is like using a certain type of gloves when working
with high voltage electricity. The shock of the system will not
be there and at the same time one has a control over it.

Now what I am going to tell you may surprise you in that  it
comes from me. I was talking about the mayic creations. They
provide the background for the spiritual sAdhanA. There is a
sAdhanA, a sAdhaka, and the karma of sAdhanA. This triplet is
certainly all mAyA. So what we do is to use mAyA itself to fight
mAyA. This is indeed a strategy to reach advaita-bhAva. The very
fact of a guru teaching you is nothing but Duality. But that
itself can lead to advaita-siddhi. Like a lion roaring in the
dream and waking you up, so also the mayic dream in which we are
all in can be wiped off by a guru’s words doled out  in the
world of duality. 
Granting that the very act of ‘sAdhanA’ implies duality, the
Acharya, does not hesitate to bring in, into his stotras,  the
many sAdhanAs that have goals even contradictory to advaita.
When every propitiation of the divine is certainly a dvaita act,
why shy at the rituals of the non-advaita schools? So without
reservation he allows his imagination to go the path of  other
siddhAntas also. That is why, we hear in Soundaryalahari, ideas
from dvaita, visishTAdvaita, shaivam and  shAktam.

Another important point has to be mentioned. Since all creation
is mAyA, according to advaita, it is not to be thought that
advaita avoids all talk about Shakti.  In Chandogya Upanishad,
at one point, it says: The paramAtmA is full of all karmas, all
desires, all fragrance and all tastes. It desired – ‘akAmayata’
–and that is how the One became the Many as said in
Taittiriyopanishad. Not finding any satisfaction in being alone,
it wanted a partner and this desire resulted in it becoming two
as pati and patni – so says Brihad-Aranyakopanishad (I -4- 3 ).
Those two were the father and mother of the entire human race,
according to the same Upanishad. 
The Brahma-sUtra  (II-1-30) also says: ‘sarvopetA ca
tad-darshanAt’ – The Upanishads say that the paramAtman is thus
endowed with all shakti.

Our Acharya does not just gloss over such statements. Just
because they talk about mAyA he does not overlook their mention.
In his bhAshya he emphatically says: “shakti-yuktA parA devatA”.
Since he himself has defined  mAyA as anirvacanIya (that which
is inexpressible or unexplainable), he is not afraid of
questions like: ‘Where did the Shakti come from”. In the matter
of brahman one cannot ask questions like ‘How is it possible?’
in the same manner as one would ask when being presented with
material matter and worldly concepts. The profound and majestic
truths about brahman cannot be learnt by logical quibbling, but
only by what the Vedas have declared. (Brahma-sUtra-bhAshya:  II
– 1 – 31).

Therein he says: The talk of creation arises only when, instead
of being in that samAdhi state as brahman, we begin to think and
talk about brahman. When the nirguna brahman which is nothing
but pure cit, is talked about in relation to Creation which is
just avidya-kalpitam (imagined by ignorance), it is said to have
‘sarva-shakti-yogam’ says the Acharya. ‘Shivas-ShaktyA yuktah’
is just this !

Following this the Brahma sutra says: ‘lokavattu leelA
kaivalyam’ (II–1-33). The world creation is just leela. The
Acharya concludes his bhashya on this with the words: “When the
vedas talk about srishTi, it is not about the nirguNa absolute
brahman. It is only a view, name-and-form view,  of Duality
imagined by ignorance ; it is only a phenomenal reality”. But
though he goes in this strain, he also admires the leela of the
Lord. “It may appear as a great achievement from our angle –
this Creation – but for Him it is only just a play” ! 
(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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