[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari(DPDS-77)
profvk at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 20 08:53:03 CDT 2004
Recall the Note about the organization of the Digest,
from DPDS 26 or the earlier ones.
A Digest of Paramacharyas Discourses on Soundaryalahari -
(Digest of pp.1252-1259 of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume,
Shloka #75 says further about the breast milk of ambaa. It
generates, says the shloka, everything superlatively noble
like wisdom, compassion, beauty, knowledge, and the arts.
sArasvatam iva, meaning, everything for which Sarasvati
is the source. They all flow like a flood from the heart
hRdayataH payaH pArAvAraH. It was that milk of wisdom,
Oh Mother, that you fed to that child of the Dramila
country. And that child became a noted poet among great
composers kavInAM prouDhAnAM ajani kamanIyaH kavayitA.
prouDha-kavi means a poet rich with poetic talent. The
feminine word prouDhA denotes a girl who has attained
puberty. Just as the physical tejas attains maturity, a
person whose poetic talent has attained perfection and
maturity is called a prouDha-kavi. Ironically, a
prouDha-kavi is also prone to be proud! And in the
poetry that flows from such a one there is likely to be a
mischievous air of superiority. It may not appeal to the
heart. But the milk of wisdom, which flows like a flood
from this ocean of SArasvata, generates poetic
inspiration that captivates the heart. By using the words
payaH pArAvAraH parivahati the milk ocean flows like a
flood the Acharya has added one more lahari, namely,
the lahari of breast milk that represents all that is great
in the Mother, to the various laharis mentioned in
Soundaryalahari -- cidAnanda-lahari, shRngAra-lahari, etc.
When this kshhIra-lahari (the flood of milk) is tasted by
the dramila-shishu (Tamil child), the latter becomes a poet
who composes captivating songs that make him distinguished
among even prouDha composers!
Now who was this dramila-shishu? The immediate feeling is
that it should be the well-known Sambandar, also known as
JnAna-sambandar of the Tamil region, who flourished in
the seventh century A.D. But the Acharyas time was in the
sixth-fifth century B.C., approximately.
[ Here the Paramacharya takes for granted
his own elaborate thesis-like discussion
on the date of Shankara,
that runs to hundreds of pages,
in his earlier discourses. These have been recorded
by Ra. Ganapati in the 5th volume of his book
Deivathin Kural. So I am not able to enter into that
topic here. VK]
The story about the child JnAna-sambandar is that the
Mother Goddess fed her breast milk to the three-year old
child and the child burst into ecstatic singing glorifying
Lord Shiva and Parvati. Commentators on Soundaryalahari
opine that a similar incident did happen in the case of the
Acharya himself when he was a child and therefore conclude
that the dramila-shishu refers to the Acharya himself!
Instead of saying I have that experience he is saying it
in third person, in all modesty. But even here one can ask:
How come the Acharya talks about his own poetic talent in
such superlative terms? Is this in keeping with his
well-known modesty? Well, the point to note here is that
the matter is not about poetic talent. The significant
point is the glory of the milk of wisdom that flows from
ambaal. Actually the Acharya has talked about himself as
the farthest of the lowly (daviyAmsaM dInaM) in shloka
#66. And the significance now is that even such a lowly
person has reached poetic heights of excellence by the
divine milk of wisdom.
On the correct interpretation of dramila-shishu there
have been controversies from very early times. Several
commentators have debated this issue. No definite
conclusion has been accepted by all. But let us not stay
on that issue. What we need is not the correct meaning of
dramila-shishu but the truth that we should seek that
wisdom that flows incessantly like milk from ambaals
shrutInAM mUrdhAno dadhati tava yau shekharatayA
mamApy-etau mAtaH shirasi dayayA dhehi caraNau /
yayoH pAdyaM pAthaH pashu-pati-jaTA-jUTa-taTinI
yayor-lAkshhA-lakshhmIH aruNa-hari-cUDAmaNi ruciH // 84 //
mAtaH : Oh Mother,
yau tava caraNau : Those feet of Yours (which)
shrutInAM mUrdhAnaH : the crests of the vedas (namely, the
dadhati : bear
shekharatayA : as (their) head ornament,
yayoH : for which (feet)
pashu-pati-jaTA-JUTa-taTinI : the river (Ganga) in the
matted locks of hair of Lord Shiva
pAdyaM pAthaH : (become) the water-offerings at the feet,
yayoH : for which (feet)
aruNa-hari-cUDAmaNi-ruciH : the red brilliance of the
diadem of Vishnu
lAkshhA-lakshhmIH : (becomes the brilliance of red lac,
dhehi : please condescend to keep
etau : such feet
mama shirasi api : on my head, too
dayayA : out of compassion.
The description of Mother Goddess from head to foot
finally comes to the divine feet. The divine feet are
requested to be placed on this devoteess (The Acharyas)
head. This is a kind of Guru DikshhA , that is, spiritual
initiation by the Guru. But it is not openly said to be so.
Because, such initiations always have to be guarded as
secret. Kenopanishad details how the Mother Goddess
appeared to the devas and gave spiritual initiation to
Indra, their King. The words umA haimavatI, strI
bahu-shobhamAnA used in that narrative are the only
instances where the Absolute is specifically mentioned as
manifesting as Guru in the vedas. The deities Shiva or
Vishnu are never mentioned in the Vedas in the capacity
of Guru. The two times Shivam and Vishnu are mentioned are
in Mandukyopanishad and Kathopanishad; but in both cases it
is a state that is described and not a Person. It is
therefore in the fitness of the wisdom of the vedas that
the Acharya here describes the divine feet of ambaa as the
head ornament of the Upanishads!
The praise of the divine feet goes on for several shlokas.
In shloka 88, the Acharya asks: Mother, How did thy
Consort, Lord Shiva, with all His softness (dayamAnena
manasA) towards You, have the heart to place them with
his hand on a hard granite grinding stone at the marriage
rite? -- upayamana-kAle, bAhubhyAm AdAya dRshhadi
nyastaM. The word upayamana stands for a marriage
ceremony. Just as upanayana stands for the rite that
initiates a boy into the spiritual path, by initiating him
into the Gayatri, so also the upayamana stands for the
rite that initiates a girl into married life. In this rite
the bridegroom places the feet of the bride on a granite
pasting stone as a part of the rite. The Mother Goddess
Herself is considered here by the Acharya as an ordinary
bride going through the same marriage rite.
The act of placing the feet on a granite stone attains a
spiritual significance in the context of ambaal. For this
we have to go to Shivaananda-lahari shloka #80 where the
Acharya asks: Oh Lord! Why are You dancing on this hard
granite? On the auspicious day of Pradosha why cant You
dance on a softer surface, in fact made up of flower
offerings? Is it because you have anticipated that I will
be born with a hard heart on this earth and You have to
dwell and dance in that hard rock-like heart? Taking cue
from this we can now interpret this shloka #88 of
Soundaryalahari as saying: Oh Mother, the Lord is having
compassion towards You and wants to train You to dance
along with Him in the hard hearts of people of this earth.
That is why He is placing Your soft feet on the hard
granite as a preview for Your feet!
It is those divine feet of ambaaL that have to be meditated
on by us for melting our hearts. There is no other way!
Particularly it is our ego that stands solidly like a rock
between us and mokshha. And that is why, for our sake, the
Acharya has put in the words mama api in shloka #84.
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.
Also see the webpages on Paramacharya's Soundaryalahari :
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