[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DSPS-23)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 19 08:09:04 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 Sankaracharya’.

V. Krishnamurthy


A Digest of Paramacharya’s Discourses on Soundaryalahari -  23

(Digest of pp.866-869 of Deivathin Kural Vol.6, 4th imprn)


Just a change of place of the weapons changes their purpose and effects! The same bow and arrows, that, in the hands of  the God of Love, were the cause of man’s downfall into the sensual world, become, in the hands of the Mother Divine, the switches for turning our mind and senses towards the Eternal Bliss of Her Presence. It is something like the knife in the hands of the thief; if the same knife were in our hands, he runs away! When we submit to that magical switch of Hers, we overflow with bhakti; and this together with the outpouring of Her Grace drenches us in the flood of that spiritual Bliss, and we forget ourselves as separate entities. When we delude ourselves as separate it is mAyA ; this is the worst state of existence. When  we forget ourselves as separate it is Knowledge; it is the best state.


Thus when we see that a change of place transforms the worst into the best, we may learn a lesson. Why not transfer all the beautifications  and dressing-up that we do for ourselves into ornamentations and dresses for ambaal, thereby transforming their effect? When we decorate ourselves it brings in the Ego. When we decorate Her, it brings down our Ego. Decoration in Sanskrit is ‘alankAram’; and ego is ‘ahamkAram’. If we do the ‘alankAram’ to Her, our ‘ahamkAram’ is gone !


In short, the flower-arrows  in ambaal’s hands grace us with the needed  sense-control and the sugar-cane bow in Her hands bestows on us  control of our mind. Nothing else is needed for Enlightenment ! As Muka-kavi says in Pancha-shati, ‘Mother! Whereas You sparked desire in Shiva Himself who had burnt the Lord of Desire to ashes,  the same You, in our case, eradicate desires in the desire-filled Jivas’.


Mind and the five senses are together counted as six instruments for the human being. Instruments are called ‘karaNas’ in Sanskrit. The six ‘karaNas’ of man are like the ‘caraNas’ (feet) of a bee. So the jIva itself is nothing but a six-footed bee with six instruments of action. The analogy becomes apt when we think of the bee merging into the depths of a flower with all its (six) feet stuck in that depth. For, the jIva has to work its way to stick its six instruments out into the lotus of the divine feet of the Mother. This is the idea which our Acharya himself later builds into Sloka 90 of Soundaryalahari: ‘nimajjan majjIvaH karaNa-caraNaH shhaT-caraNatAm’, meaning, ‘plunging (into Your lotus feet), may this jIva of mine with its six instruments as the feet (become) the six-legged bee’ .


The important thing to note here is what has not been said. It is not said that the mind and the five senses should submit themselves to the bow and arrows of ambaal. It is only said that they should dissolve themselves into the divine feet. Recall from sloka 4 that ‘She need not give abhaya and vara by Her hands; Her feet themselves are capapble of doing that’. In this sloka 7, instead of the vara and abhaya mudras in the two hands, the bow and arrows are mentioned. They have been said to give the mind-control and the sense-control.  But one may question: Why can’t these controls be also a Grace from Her feet? That is why it has been said that the mind and the five senses should merge in the lotus of Her feet as a bee gets lost inside the flower. The noose and the spear in the other two hands would then be not necessary at all to quell the Desire and Anger in the human mind.


But then, the question arises: Why four hands, instead of just two? 

(These things are not amenable to logic, said the Paramacharya earlier. But here he does not repeat himself.  VK)


That the four hands add to the beauty of this beauty Queen is to say it naively. But remember She is the Queen of the Universe. The majesty of that status is shown by the bow and arrow in the two forehands. But She is also the Benefactor of the bliss of Moksha; therefore She is the Queen of the Empire of Enlightenment (jnAna-sAmrAjyam). Raga (Attachment) and dvesha (hatred, enmity) are  two arch-villains that constitute the obstacle to moksha. These two are killed by the noose and the spear in Her other two hands, thus establishing that She is the Queen of ‘jnAna-sAmrAjyam’. 


The bow and the arrows in the forehands has also another significance.  What we have to surrender to Her feet, namely our mind and the senses, She draws by Her own initiative to Herself; the bow draws the mind and the arrows the senses, to Herself. It is as if a loving mother says to her child: ‘Dear child, why do you have to fall at my feet; I will take you onto my lap’!


This whole sloka is a fit sloka for meditation. It reminds us that the  bow and arrows  that turned the Ishwara Himself – the Supreme who is nothing but a bundle of Knowledge, cit – into a creation-mode through the artifice of making Him  fall in love with Ishwari, who thereby became Shiva-kAma-sundari; that same bow and arrows now draw the medley of minds and senses of the jIvas and keep them under its control, thus protecting them (spiritually). In fact the bottom line is that even this action of ‘drawing’ and ‘protecting’ is not done by the bow and arrows but by just Her feet. 


Indeed weapons in the hands of Gods and Goddesses are powerful not because they are weapons but because they are given that Power by the supreme shakti, that is, ambaaL. What She is said to do by Her weapons and other instruments is all just Her Will. She wills it and it is done. What a mysterious play! Just catch hold of Her feet. That is enough.  She wills to shower Her Grace and there is a downpour of abhaya (fearlessness), vara (boon),  control of the five senses,  control of the mind, and what-have-you!. As a cosmic play, She may use Her weapons, or She may not;  She may show mudrAs or She may not. 

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.

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