[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-57)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 5 21:40:18 CST 2004

Recall the Note about the organization of the ‘Digest’, 
from DPDS – 26 or the earlier ones.
V. Krishnamurthy
A Digest of Paramacharya’s Discourses on Soundaryalahari - 
(Digest of pp.1107- 1114   of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume,
4th imprn.)

tanotu kshhemaM naH tava vadana-soundarya-laharI
parIvAha-srotaH saraNiriva sImanta-saraNiH /
vahantI sindUraM prabala-kabarI-bhAra-timira-
dvishhAM bRndaiH bandhIkRtam-iva navInArka-kiraNaM //44//

[Since the word-by-word meaning is 
automatically coming out of 
the Paramcharya’s explanations, 
it is not given here separately. VK]
This shloka has an added significance since it has
contributed to the title of the stotra ‘soundarya-laharI’.
“naH kshhemaM tanotu” : Let there devolve auspiciousness on
all of us. Thus begins the shloka auspiciously. What is
supposed to devolve the auspiciousness? 
“sImanta-saraNiH” :  The line of the parting of hair (on
the head). ‘SImanta’ is the parting of hair. ‘saraNiH’
means path, route, line, wave, flow. The particular meaning
will depend on the context. Here it is ‘line’. The word
‘SImanta-unnayanaM’ denotes a special ritual that is done 
for pregnant women for the benefit of the foetus. The
ritual consists of drawing a line along the sImanta of the
woman with the chanting of certain mantras. This is good
for the foetus. The word sImantaM is a union of ‘sImA’ and
‘antaM’.  SimA means boundary, here, the boundary that
parts the two sides of the hair. Its ‘antam’ is the end of
that boundary. Technically it should have been ‘sImAntaM’
but the middle long ‘a’ has been shortened. This is
actually an exception to the usual grammatical rule. A
similar exception, but in the opposite direction, takes
place in the name ‘VishvAmitra’ where it should have been
only ‘Vishvamitra’, thus meaning, friend of the world. On
the other hand as ‘VishvAmitra’ (‘Vishva’ + ‘amitra’) it
now means ‘the enemy of the world’.  Again this is an
unusual grammatical exception. 

So ‘SImantaM’ means ‘the end of the boundary or border’. Of
what is it the border or boundary?  For a human body there
are two boundaries. One is the foot and the other is the
head.  In the boundary that is the head, the line of
parting of the hair goes up to the position of
‘brahmarandra’ and ends there. So it is called ‘the end of
the boundary’ or ‘sImanta’.
Goddess Mahalakshmi permanently resides in five places. A
lotus, the frontal head portion of an elephant, the hind
part of a cow, the spine on the  back of a bilwa leaf, and
the sImanta of  a sumangali. 

It is interesting to note that the Acharya has used
“vadana-soundarya-laharI’ (waves of beauty of the face) in
this shloka and this has become the title of the whole
stotra. We do not know who made it the title, but what we
may conclude is that it is quite apt. What is further
interesting is the fact that this beauty-wave occurs in the
shloka where the sImanta of the Devi is talked about. It is
this flood of facial beauty that should bring us the
auspiciousness that we need. ‘tanotu kshhemaM naH tava

Now let us find out what is so special about the sImanta
here. “vahantI sindUraM” : It (the sImantaM : the parting
in the hair) bears the vermilion. The word ‘sindUraM’ also
means ‘red lead’ which is used for medicinal purposes in
Siddha medicine. In North India almost all Ganesha deities
would be totally soaked in this sindUraM. And in the same
way they would do it for the Anjaneya deity also. Maybe the
indication is that the beginning and the end are the same!

In traditional books, kumkumam is spoken of as sindhUram. 
The Veda-mAtA (Mother Goddess representing Shruti) bows
down in obeisance to ambaa. It is the kumkumam from the
sImantam of Veda-mAtA that has sprinkled itself on the feet
of ambaa. This idea occurs in LalitA-sahasranAma.
‘SImanta-sindhUri’ is the expression there. It is in the
parting of the hair that kumkumam is applied. On the
forehead however, that is, between the eyebrows where one
applies the ‘tilakam’  what is applied is ‘kastUri-tilakam’
 -- this is what one gathers from the sahasranAma.  Recall
the name:
“mukha-chandra-kaLankAbha-mRga-nAbhi-visheshhakA”. It says,
just as there is a spot (kaLanka) on the disc of the moon,
so also is the kastUri-dot on the face of ambaa. This name
occurs (in the sahasranAma) between the name that describes
the forehead  (aLika-sthala) and the name that describes
the eyebrows (cillikA). Therefore it is clear that the name
‘mukha-chandra- kaLankAbha- ...’  describes the centre of
the eyebrows.  So kumkumam at the parting of the hair
(SImanta-sindhUri) as well as the kumkumam at the centre of
the eyebrows – both are called ‘sindhUram’ by the Acharya.

According to the shAstras, the place where sumangalis
(women with living husbands) have to adorn the kumkumam is
the parting of the hair, at the place where it starts from
the forehead.  The practice of adorning the centre of the
eyebrows is only a cosmetic addition. It is at the centre
of the eyebrows where one concentrates  the Supreme.  It is
in that manner one wears the vibhUti or sandal-paste, etc.
at that spot; so also kumkumam is also applied there.
Whatever it be, the characteristic of a sumangali is only
the kumkumam at the parting of the hair. Women of  olden
days applied the kumkumam first at the parting of the hair
and then only on the forehead between the eyebrows. 

The location of the central parting of the hair is a kind
of residential address of the Goddess Bhagya-lakshmi of
Prosperity. Goddess ambaa has the kumkumam along the entire
parting of the hair. That is what this shloka says.
‘SImanta-saraNI’ means only that. In fact as the shloka
goes, it appears that there is a round spot of kumkumam at
the point where this ‘saraNI’ (the path) starts at the top
of the forehead and thereafter along the path of the
parting, it goes as a streak of red. There is no greater
bliss than the pleasure of visualising ambaa with this
SImanta-sindhuram. In other words the place of residence of
mahAlakshmi has been decorated with kumkumam. In fact there
 is much more in this. 

(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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