[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS - 28)
profvk at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 1 09:20:42 CDT 2003
Recall the Note about the organization of the Digest,
from DPDS 26 or the earlier ones.
A Digest of Paramacharyas Discourses on Soundaryalahari -
(Digest of pp.898-903 of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th
Shloka 12 talks about the extraordinary beauty and charm of
the Devi. With a poetic excellence it says: Much has been
said in detail and with precision about Your yantra the
lines, the planes, the circles and the squares. But to
describe You and Your physical feature excellences, it
doesnt seem to be possible. No poet has ever succeeded in
BrahmA is the Adi-kavi, the most ancient poet. The
Bhagavatam refers to him in this fashion in the very first
Shloka. The Goddess of Learning, Sarasvati, is his Shakti.
Who can therefore be a greater poet? He has composed
stotras on every devatA you can imagine. All the divines
usually go to him for redress of their grievances. He takes
them to the concerned God, either Shiva, or Vishnu or Devi,
etc. Every time he sings praise of the particular God whom
they are approaching for help. His stotra on ambaal in the
work called sapta-shati is famous. But even he could not
describe the beauty of ambaal as it is. The first half of
Shloka 12 goes as follows:
tvadIyam soundaryam tuhina-giri-kanye tulayitum
kavIndrAH kalpante kathamapi virinchi-prabhRtayaH /
tuhina-giri-kanye: Oh Goddess, Daughter of the Himalayas
tulayitum: to weigh (or assess)
kavIndrAH: great poets
virinchi-prabhRtayaH: (like) Brahma and others
kalpante: (only) imagine
kathamapi: somehow (in feeble ways).
Virinchi means BrahmA. prabHRtayaH: and the others of the
kind. They tried to describe Your beauty tvadIyam
soundaryam. The word tulA stands for a pair of weighing
scales. In one pan of the scales we put the object to be
weighed and in the other pan we place the weight whose
weight we know. In other words when we dont know the
weight of something we calculate it by comparing it with
something whose weight we know. So when you dont know how
to describe the beauty of ambaal, what we do is to look for
something whose beauty we know. Such a weight we know is
known by the name of analogy or example. The face is
like the moon, the eyes are like lotuses, the hair on the
head is like a beehive all these are examples and
analogies, which help us to comprehend the weight of the
beauty of ambaal, in terms of known weights.
So what the poets do is to imagine newer and newer
examples with great effort. This effort of imagination by
the poet is denoted by the word kalpante in the Shloka.
kalpanA is imagination. They only imagine an example.
They are not able to arrive at the real thing, is what the
Shloka says. The fact they are not able to do it, is
gracefully hinted at by the Shloka in the words kathamapi
The yantra-form of the Goddess has been outlined with
precision. But Her physical form eludes imagination.
Attempts by even the great Brahma and others to find
suitable examples have only failed.
To describe the form, somebody should have seen it in full.
Has anybody seen it? No. Of course it is not right to say
that She has never been seen at all. Because we have
several poet-devotees who have had a flash of Her and in
the wake of that flash have composed wonderful devotional
poetry. Even in the case of the greatest of devotees, to
whom She might have given darshan, maybe one got to see Her
lotus feet, another the Graceful eyes, and another the
bewitching smile in the face. Like that some part of Her
may have caught the eyes of even these devotees; but never
the full form!
Then who has seen Her full beauty? Only the Lord, Her
husband, Lord Shiva. Indeed She took this very beautiful
form in order that He may be involved in the leelA of
Creation. And thus She became Tripura-sundari, the
beautiful. So Her physical form has been totally dedicated
to Him. Though Her full beauty is not visible for our
perception Her fullest Grace and Compassion are available
for every one of us.
That Her full beauty is perceptible only to Her Lord is not
said in so many blunt words. It is nicely couched in a
subtle poetic extravaganza which comes in the next two
lines of the same Shloka. (Shloka #12):
Yad-AlokautsukyAd-amara-lalanA yAnti manasA
tapobhir-dushhprApAm-api girisha-sAyujya-padavIm //12 //
yat : (of) which (beauty) (This goes with Your beauty in
the first half).
amara-lalanAH : the divine damsels
Aloka-autsukyAt : because of their curiosity to have a
yAnti : reach
manasA : mentally
girisha-sAyujya-padavIm : the unity status with Lord Shiva
dushhprApAm : that is inaccessible
tapobhir-api : even by great penances.
The divine damsels who are particularly thought of here are
the famous quadret: RambhA, Urvashi, tilottamA and MenakA.
They are supposed to be superlatively beautiful. Even they,
having seen a little of the beauty of ambaaL, have
considered themselves insignificant, in relation to
ambaals beauty. They are naturally curious to get a look
at the complete beauty of Mother Goddess. But they also
know they cannot have that complete picture, because the
Goddess is totally dedicated to the Lord and Her complete
beauty is not perceptible to any one else. So what do they
do? Only the Lord knows Her fullest beauty. So they want
to be one with Him, the Lord Shiva. This is the
Shiva-sAyujya-padavI. Then and only then, they can have an
idea of the complete beauty of ambaaL.
But that Shiva-sAyujya status is not so easy to obtain. And
what exactly is this sAyujya?
Thus spake the Paramacharya.
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.
More information about the Advaita-l mailing list