[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-32)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 12 23:39:09 CDT 2003

Recall the Note about the organization of the ‘Digest’, 
from DPDS – 26 or the earlier ones.
V. Krishnamurthy
A Digest of Paramacharya’s Discourses on Soundaryalahari - 
(Digest of pp.921-924 of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th

	In the next shloka (#17) the talk is  about the unique
‘sArasvata-siddhi’ (the siddhi of all Speech and Learning)
obtained  by the dhyAna of LalitA-Tripurasundari surrounded
by the vAg-devatAs (the Gods of speech). The name
‘vAg-devatA’, if used in the singular,  denotes Sarasvati
Herself. When it is used in the plural, it denotes eight
divinities. They are assigned as follows to the various
aksharas (letters of the alphabet):
One for the sixteen vowels;
One for the five letters starting with ka;
Similarly one for each set of five letters starting
respectively with cha, Ta, ta, and pa;
One for ya, ra, la and va;
One for sha, shha, sa, ha, La, kshha.
Thus there are eight vAg-devatAs for the 51 letters of the
Sanskrit alphabet.The first of these is called ‘vashinI’.
Therefore all the eight are called ‘vashinI, etc. devatAs’
(vashinyAdi devatAH) or simply, ‘vashinI devatAs’. These
are the ones who sang the Lalita-sahasranAma at the behest
of ambaal Herself. In the seventh AvaraNa (always you count
from outside) of the  ShrI Chakra, there are eight
triangles; that is where these eight devatAs are seated,
surrounding ambaaL. 

(Unfortunately for us the Paramacharya does not quote 
the shloka #17 and give his word-by-word meanings, 
though he explains most of it
  For the sake of completeness I give below 
the shloka and supply a word-by-word meaning 
from what I understand from His Holiness’s discourse 
and from other sources. VK)

savithrIbhir-vAcAM shashi-maNi-shilA-bhanga-rucibhiH
vashinyAdyAbhis-tvAM saha janani samcintayati yaH /
sa kartA kAvyAnAm bhavati mahatAM bhangi-rucibhiH
vacobhir-vAg-devI-vadana-kamalA-moda-madhuraiH // 17 //

yaH samcintayati : He who reflects on 
tvAM : You
janani : Oh Mother,
vashinyAdyAbhiH saha : along with the vashinI-devatAs
vAcAM savithrIbhiH : who are the Generators of Speech
shashi-maNi-shilA-bhanga-rucibhiH : who have the colour of
the broken moonstone gem,
saH : he
mahatAm kAvyAnAM kartA bhavati : becomes the author of
great poetic compositions
vacobhiH ; through words 
bhangi-rucibhiH : (which have) the taste of art and wit
vAgdevI-vadana-kamalA-moda-madhuraiH : (and which have) the
sweet fragrance of the lotus face of vAg-devI (Sarasvati).

(I now continue the Paramacharya’s comments – VK)

These eight vAg-devatAs constitute the Mothers of speech.
That is why the shloka No.17 which prays for excellence in
speech begins with ‘savithrIbhir vAcAM’ . In traditional
literature there is a gem  known as ‘chandrakAnta gem’
which is crystal-like  and which will melt in moonlight.
The vAg-devatAs have that kind of crystal colour in which
moon reflects in a dazzling manner. In one shloka ambaal
was depicted as pure white like the moonlight
(sharat-jyotsnA shuddhAm - #15). In another She is aruNA,
red (#16). In this shloka (#17) the aruNa, that is ambaal,
is sitting surrounded by the vAg-devatAs, majestically like
a Queen with all Her attendants. Whoever can meditate on
this scene (sancintayati yah) gets the literary capacity
and competence  to compose great epic poems. In fact he
gets the fluency and the power of speech which only great
writers have.
 And the shloka uses a specific word here: ‘mahatAm bhangi
rucibhiH’ . The word ‘ruci’ means ‘taste’, or ‘flavour’.
‘Taste’ certainly has an association with the tongue and
the food which it ‘tastes’.  But the shloka adds on to this
the ‘flavour’ by the nose also. The food ‘taste’ was
indicated  by the last line of shloka (#15) where it was
said that the speech prompted by ambAL has the taste of
‘honey, milk and grapes’. Now in this shloka that speech is
likened to a profound flavour, not of any ordinary one, but
of that which emanates from the  lotus face of Her who is
the single vAgdevI integrating all the eight vAgdevIs!  Not
only that. We can infer from this that it is not simply the
speech that emanates through the poetry of the devotee  has
the divine flavour; the people who read and recite that
poetry would also get that divine flavour.!! 
The fact that ambaaL graces and bestows the faculty of
speech is mentioned in the latter part of Soundaryalahari
several times. Shloka #75 says that, fed by Her breast milk
one is endowed  with magnificient poetic capabilities.
Shloka 99 says that the SArasvata-Grace that She endows
makes even Brahma, the pati of Sarasvati, envious. The holy
water that washes Her feet can make even the dumb to sing
poems (Shloka 98). Obviously our Acharya takes pleasure in
talking about this aspect of ambaaL’s Grace. Maybe he wants
us all to read and recite his stotras, thereby get the
Grace of the Mother and also get the vAk-siddhi (speech
excellence) that She will certainly grant. That is why, it
appears,  he is never tired of repeating this. 
The word ‘shashi-maNi-shilA’  means ‘moon-gem-stone’
literally. Because of the fact that the dark patch on the
moon appears like a rabbit (‘shasha’ in Sanskrit), the moon
is known by the word ‘shashi’. The word ‘hima-kara’ also
denotes the moon, meaning thereby that there flows icy
water from the moon. So ‘hima-kara-shilA’ also represents
the same moonstone gem , known as ‘chandrakAnta stone’ in
Tamil. ‘sudhA’ is nectar and ‘sudhAkara’ is also the name
of the moon, because it is also said that there flows
nectar from it. Just as it was said that the attendants of
ambaal have the colour of the moonstone (#17:
shashi-maNi-shilA), it is said in  shloka #20, that he who
can meditate on ambaal Herself in the form made up of the
moonstone (hima-kara-shilA), She who is the daughter of
hima-giri (Himalayas)  and is therefore ‘hima-giri-sutA’,
will pour ‘sudhA’ on him, ‘sudhA’ meaning nectar and ‘sutA’
meaning daughter. In fact it says more.
(To be Continued)
Thus spake the Paramacharya.
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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