[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-19)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 10 08:47:36 CDT 2003

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). 
Let us recall that  the entire contents of the Digest are from
the Paramacharya’s ideas and words, including the first person
reference to himself,  except for my English rendering. Wherever
he uses specific English words himself, I have drawn the
attention of the reader to that fact. Recall particularly that
‘our Acharya’ or ‘The Acharya’ in the discourses, means ‘Adi
V. Krishnamurthy

A Digest of Paramacharya’s Discourses on Soundaryalahari -  19
(Digest of pp.824-831 of Deivathin Kural Vol.6, 4th imprn)
The Goddess LalitA-Tripurasundari,  as affirmed in this sloka. 
does not have the ‘vara-abhaya’ hands, (vara = boon; abhaya =
fearlessness). She has the sugarcane-bow and the arrow of
flowers in those two hands.  Note however, the Acharya himself
says in Sloka 70 that She has all Her four hands indicative of
abhaya and vara.
Let us not make the mistake of thinking that this sloka means
that  all other deity-forms have the ‘vara-abhaya’ hands.  There
are several without these hands. Think of Vighneshvara (Lord
Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity) whom we see at every nook
and corner (in India). What about the figure of the dancing
Nataraja? He has only the ‘abhaya’ hand but no boon-giving hand.
Minakshi of Madurai does not have these two hands.  

The Vishnu deity (of almost all temples) Himself, though He has
four hands – with conch, disc, mace and lotus --, has no
‘vara-abhaya’ hands. Varada-rAja – the name meaning ‘the king of
boon-giving deities’ --  in Kanchipuram, inspite of His name,
does not have the ‘vara’ hand; He has the mace in that hand !
Maha-lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, almost invariably, has the
vara-abhaya hands.  But the Goddess of Learning, Sarasvati, does
not have either. 

Durga, most of the times, has an ‘abhaya’ by the right hand,
while the corresponding left hand is on the thigh – this
situation being  called ‘Uru-hastam’ . Some of the Subrahmanya
deity-forms have the same configuration.  Balaji of Tirupati has
the vara-mudrA in the right hand, while His left hand is an
‘Uru-hastam’. Thus the statement of this sloka “Other than You,
all other deities show the ‘vara-abhaya’ mudrA by their hands”
is to be considered a poetic exaggeration only.

(At this point the Paramacharya begins
 an elaborate introduction to slokas 5 and 6, 
thereby dwelling on the topic: 
“Is it legitimate for God to bless one ‘to desire’ ?´ -VK)

So far in the first three slokas the stotra does not say
specifically which deity is being praised. Even in the fourth
sloka there is just a clue that the deity is without the
‘vara-abhaya’ hands. How many hands there are, or what are in
those hands? – these questions are left open. In the next two
slokas, the clue is given (sloka 5) that it is that deity that
prodded a desire in mahA-vishNu to take the form of ‘mohini’ and
create sensual impulses even in Lord Shiva and it is also the
same deity (sloka 6) which gave even to the God of Love
(manmatha) the power to disturb even the minds of great sages
and saints. And thus we get the idea that the deity of this
stotra could be the Kameshvari that we spoke of, in the
beginning when we discussed the original ‘Desire’ that sprouted
out in brahman itself ‘to express Itself’.
(See DPDS -9 and 10.  VK)

The major purpose of bhakti is to quell all desires and get
attracted to that Infinite source of Bliss. While that is so,
how is it legitimate for a bhakti-stotra to praise that very
deity as One who encouraged and manouvred the powers that be, to
fall in Love? In spite of our reverence to the Acharya, we have
to  raise this question sometimes. The world-view has to
disappear in order for Divine Enlightenment to appear; but here
the deity is praised for having engineered the creation of that
world ! Knowledge arises only after all ‘kAma’ (Desire) has been
eradicated; but here She is glorified as having been that very
Power who gave  the power to the God of ‘Desire’ for generating
Desire. Does it  mean, then,  that ‘Desire’ itself is Divine
It all means that opposite forces have to exist. We have to
contend with both. If there were no enemy, internally, to
struggle against, life could be totally without any challenges
and therefore uninteresting. If everything was going smoothly,
then we would not even recognize ‘good’ as ‘good’. The
cross-currents of conflicting powers exist for the purpose of
proving to us that ‘good’ will survive and surface at the end.
The ‘desire’ in brahman resulted in the creation of the
universe. The ‘desire’ in the living results in the world of the
living growing up. 

Note another interesting marvel. What we consider as ‘good’ has
something ‘bad’ in it and vice versa. To understand this
subtlety of Creation and carry on our struggle in this drama of
the world is the art of living in fullness. Desire (kAma)  and
Anger (krodha) are wrong; but this is only a generalised
statement.  Looked into deeply, even they have ‘good’ in them.
There should be a ‘desire’ for ‘good’  and ‘anger’ against
‘bad’. In fact it is not only not wrong, but essential. In the
same way, what appears to be ‘good’ will have ‘bad’ hidden in

 On top of this all there are two important things to note. One
is the Lord’s shower of Grace; and the other is our surrender to
Him. Both are products of Creation; without the existence of
evil and the necessity to fight it, Grace and Surrender have no
meaning. On His side, the highest He does is ‘Grace’ or
Anugraha. On our side, the highest we can do is ‘Surrender’. TO
THE APEX OF ALL  THAT WE CAN DO ! You will know it when you do
it !
(Note: Emphasis mine – VK)

(To be  continued)  

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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