[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-21)
profvk at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 15 08:50:05 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 Paramacharyas 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 Sankaracharya.
A Digest of Paramacharyas Discourses on Soundaryalahari - 21
(Digest of pp. 856-860 of Deivathin Kural Vol.6, 4th imprn)
parikshhINA madhye pariNata-sharac-candra-vadanA /
dhanur-bANAn pAshaM sRNimapi dadhAnA karatalaiH
purastAd-AstAM naH puramathitu-rAho-purushhikA // 7 //
kAnchI-dAmA: (She who is) wearing the girdle with jewelled bells
kvaNat: tinkling and jingling (of jewels)
kari-kalabha-kumbha-stana-natA: (She who is made to) lean forward by the breasts that resemble the forehead of an young elephant
parikshhINA madhye : (She who is) slender in the middle (of the body)
pariNata-sharac-candra-vadanA: (She whose) face is like the autumnal full moon
dadhAnA karatalaiH : (She who is) wearing in Her hands
dhanur-bANAn: the bow and arrows
pAsham: the noose
sRNim-api : (and) also the spear
Aho-purushhikA : (She who is) the Iness ( =Ego, in the positive sense)
pura-mathithuH: of the destyroyer of (the demon named) pura i.e. of Lord Shiva
AstAM : may She appear
purastAt : before
naH : us.
(Please see DPDS 10
for an explanation of Aho-purushhikA - VK)
A girdle is called mekhalA. If there are tingling bells in it it is called kAnchI. The name raNat-kiNkiNi-mekhalA that occurs in the LalitA-sahasranAma is just this kvaNat-kAnchI-dhAmA, namely, the jingling girdle with bells. The string of bells is also called maNi. So kAnchI is also known as mani-mekhalA.
In Tamil literature Mani-mekhalai is one of the five great epics. The heroine of that epic is Manimekhalai. At the end of the story she finally comes to the town of Kanchi where she feeds the poor from her inexhaustible vessel (akshaya-pAtram). This work Manimekhalai is slanted towards Buddhistic religion. Accordingly the heroine reaches salvation after getting the initiation from a Buddhistic Guru. But the incident of feeding the poor from an akshaya-pAtram is a traditional story of the Goddess Kamakshi of Kanchi from age-old times. Even in the Sangam Age (of Tamil) there was a woman by name KAmak-kaNNi which is nothing but the Sanskrit KamAkshi. Well, all this is a digression from my thought that Mani-mekhalai finally comes to the town (Kanchi) which has the same name as hers!
By the mention of KanchI the author has hinted at the deity of his devotion. There are scores of feminine deities in this country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. KshIra-bhavAni (in Kashmir), Bhagavati (in Kerala), ChamunDeshvari and ShAradAmbA (in Karnataka), JnAnAmbA, BhramarAmbA and Kanaka-durgA (in Andhra), TulajA BhavAni (in Maharashtra), ambAji (in gujarat), Vindhya-vAsinI and anna-pUrNeshvarI (in Uttarpradesh), KALi (in Bengal), KamAkhyA (in Assam), VaishNavI (in Jammu) and finally, MeenAkshI, akhilANDeshvarI, dharma-samvarddhanI, KamalambAL, BalAmbAL, and Shiva-kAma-sundarI (in Tamilnadu).
(Note: The Paramacharya does not seem to have
mentioned the names of the regions in the above list.
These names have been supplied
by Ra. Ganapathi in a footnote.
The Paramacharya seems to have
just reeled off the names of the deities only. VK)
Thus there are several several deity-forms of ambAL. But, there is only one deity which conforms to the form of LalitA-tripura-sundari as delineated in the ShrI-vidyA tantra with certain characteristic physical features and arms and weapons and that is the deity KamAkshi of Kanchipuram. The author of Soundaryalahari who does not mention the name of the deity of his devotion throughout the text, has perhaps hinted it here, by using the word KanchI-dAmA !
The word dAmaM means twisted rope or string. It was because YashodA bound child Krishna with a dAmaM around his waist, He is called dAmodara (udara means stomach). KanchI-dAma is so named because the jewel-belled girdle is made up of twisted golden strings. When ambaaL gracefully walks over, not only the ornaments round her ankles but the jewels of the girdle also jingle !
The whole earth is personified as BhUmA-devI. When one visualises that form, the geographical location of the navel for that form on the earth is said to be Kanchipuram. When the girdle with bells is also imagined at its location on the waist, the facade of that girdle comes at the position of that navel; and that is why the kshetra (place) also gets the name of Kanchi !
A girdle which circles the globe must be really big. When that is supposed to be the ornament around the waist of ambaaL, then that waist also should be big. But that is not so, says the description: parikShINA madhye. kShINa means lean . The preposition pari indicates that the leanness is extra-ordinary. Thus parikShINA madhye means She is really very slender in Her middle. The miracle is that this slender waist covers the whole universe. The macro within the micro !
Let it be. But what about the face? The face is the mukhya (= important, significant) part. It is from the word mukhya the word mukha (face) arose. How is ambaaLs face? She is pariNata sharat chandra-vadaNA. Her face is like the moon, with all the coolness and the whiteness of the autumnal full moon. Later, (in the 63rd sloka), the Acharya puts this thought in more poetic terms: smita-jyotsnA-jAlaM tava vadana-chandrasya which, in effect, means your moon-like face radiates miraculous moonlight through its smile.
Another point. The second line of the sloka has two words both beginning with pari : parikShINA and pariNata. When you read the whole line the sound of the alliteration creates a pleasant feeling. Such beauties are the specialities of great poets.
Note by VK: At this point I checked all the slokas of Soundarya-lahari. Almost all of them have in their second and fourth lines
such alliterations or similar-sounding words which create the lilting effect
which the Paramacharya mentioned even earlier.
Just a few examples:
Sloka 1: Na cedevam devam devo; praNantum stotum;
Sloka 7: parikShINA
Sloka 17: saha janani sanchintayati;
Sloka 97: patnIm, padmAm; hareH, hara-sahacarIm;
(To be Continued)
PraNAms to all advaitins ands Dev otees 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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