[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari(DPDS-17)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 6 08:35:38 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 -  17
(Digest of pp.802 - 820 of Deivathin Kural Vol.6, 4th imprn)

I was saying: It is Shiva Himslf who gets reflected in the
mirror of mAyA and becomes ambaal. If you ask the advaitin,
“What is this mAyA”, he will reply: ‘It is not possible to say
what it is. You know it is called mAyA, magical ! So it will not
allow us to understand it’. The ShAkta school will say: ‘Even
mAyA is only a part of ambaal.’. I already told you that mAyA
occurs only at the stage where Shivam becomes the jIva,
according to ShAktam. That the jIva does not know that it is
itself Shivam, is mAyA. It is the work of mAyAShakti that makes
it incomprehensible for jIva to know the Permanent Eternal One
and mistake the ephemeral things as permanently existing. 

It is at this point that the object and its reflected image 
analogy leads to the positive and negative. What we said earlier
pertained to electricity. But now we shall take the
positive-negative phenomenon of photography. In the positive,
light is light and dark is dark. In the negative on the other
hand, light is dark and dark is light.  That is the Ignorance
which shows what exists as not existing and non-existence as
existence. This is the handiwork of mAyA ! We are all submerged
in this mAyA and since ambaal is responsible for this, we call
Her, mAyA. 
But to top it all, we should not forget that, the very ambaal
who does all this play of mAyA, is Herself the Most
Compassionate One, and those of us who can surrender to Her as
the Only Refuge, will be graced by Her and made to cross the
mAyA-curtain !

Now we can make the meaning of the first sloka more
meaningful.The very fact that the Acharya says that it was
ambaal who activated the first movement in Shivam gives a clear
hint to us, that the reverse movement of the universe going back
to that immutable Shivam has again to be triggered only by Her

All the movements which resulted in the jIvas and the universe
coming up are together called  (cosmic) evolution. This is not
Darwin’s evolution. In his case it is something where lower
level beings transform in due time to higher levels. In Vedanta,
the brahman at the apex expands into the universe and living
beings. This outward expansion of subtle principles into gross
matter is called evolution. The principles are taken to be 36 by
some and 24 by some.  Having become the jIvas, our goal should
now be to go back to the source. That going back is moksha.

 All the things in the expanded mode have to get back into the
internal mode and merge in brahman. That is ascent (ArohaNam). 
The descent of jIvas and the universe from brahman is
avarohaNam.  The terms ‘expansion’ and ‘merging’ seem to be
better. Expansion of brahman is Evolution and the merging into
brahman is ‘Involution’.  All of us have evolved from brahman;
not by ourselves but by the Will and Action of ambaal. We cannot
involve into brahman except by Her Will and Grace. Even though,
in her cosmic Play, She seems to have given us a role for
ourselves, we can never  complete the ‘Involution’ without Her
Grace. The electrical switch makes the fan rotate. Only the same
switch can stop it from rotating. Thus the same Cause which made
us evolve has to work again to make us involute into brahman. 
So we have to pray to Her. This is where bhakti, jnAna and yoga
come in.  

What is incomprehensibly divine would be made comprehensible by
the divine itself if we cultivate intense love for that divine.
This intense love is bhakti. If we have that, the divinity then
would descend to make itself comprehensible to us. It is this
bhakti-rasa coupled with the poetic rasa that our Acharya gives
us in the form of Soundaryalahari. 

So with all this introduction based on Sloka 1, we may now go
forward.   Sloka 2 elaborates the words
‘hari-hara-virincAdhibhir-api ArAdhyAM’ (you who are worshipped
even by Vishnu, Siva and BrahmA and others) of Sloka 1. Here it
says that only by Her Grace these three great divinities
discharge their functions of Creation, Sustenance and
Dissolution.  And this they do just by the power of the dust of
the holy feet of the Mother Goddess! This praise of the divine
dust is carried over into Sloka 3 also. It (the divine dust) is
the ‘rising sun for the darkness of the Ignorant, the
flower-bunch giving out the honey of wisdom for the Dull-witted,
and the wish-fulfilling godly gem for the Poor’. 

Sloka 4 continues to dwell on the glory of the Divine Feet but
does it very subtly.

tvad-anyaH pANibhyAM abhaya-varado daivata-gaNaH 
tvam-ekA naivAsi prakaTita-varAbhIty-abhinayA /
bhayAt trAtuM dAtuM phalam-api ca vAnchhA-samadhikaM
sharaNye lokAnAM tava hi sharaNAveva nipuNau // 4 //

daivata-gaNaH: The multitude of gods
tvad-anyaH :  other than You
abhaya-varado: grant abhaya (=fearlessness) and boons
pANibhyAM: by the hands
tvam-ekA asi: You are the only one
na-eva:  not at all
prakaTita-vara-abhIti-abhinayA: exhibiting – boon (giver) – 
fearlessness (giver) – by your ‘mudras’.
sharaNye: Oh Refuge
lokAnAM : for all the worlds
hi: indeed
tava: Your
charaNau-eva: feet alone
nipuNau: (are) expertly efficient
trAtuM : to protect
bhayAt : from fear 
dAtuM api ca: and also to give
phalam: the fruit, the result
vAnchhA-samadhikaM: more than what one wishes.

(As in sloka 1, to get the total meaning, please read the
English portions above in the order in which they are presented
above. The Paramacharya does the same thing, but presents it in
the order in which it will make sense in the Tamil language. He
usually does not give the total meaning, initially, in one go.
We shall follow the same arrangement in the succeeding slokas
also. VK)
 (To be continued)
PraNAms to alladvaitins 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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