[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-59)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 13 10:27:14 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.1122 -1128  of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume,
4th imprn.)

Darkness of night is the dominating factor all night. But
the moment the rising sun with its crimson rays shows up, 
darkness has to flee. It has always been the unfulfilled
ambition of ‘darkness’ to settle this  score with the young
sun. And here is ambaa having all the world’s darkness,  as
it were,  collected in her hair. But She has also brought
the young sun in the form of the sindhUra-spot right in the
midst of this dark forest of hair. It is a life-time
opportunity for darkness. With gusto it swallows all the
rays emanating from that sun, for once. But still there is
one single ray of crimson which goes straight across the
centre of all this dark hair. It is that crimson which
gives a decorating hue to the black hair. And it is the jet
black background which brings out the majesty of the
crimson parting of hair.

Thus we can see darkness having vanquished all but one ray
of the bright rising sun. Why did it not go all the way by
its challenge and overpower that one remaining ray also?
But for that single ray remaining in its place, how would
it be established that darkness had vanquished the bright
sun and its rays? It is the one remaining ray of the sun
that tells us that the other rays have been vanquished. 

[Note by VK: Though the Paramacharya did not say this, 
I can hear him saying: “Don’t you remember, 
in the  Sundara Kanda, every time Hanuman vanquishes
an entire army, he spares one person, 
so that he may go back to Ravana 
and say what happened in the battle”!] 

“dvishhAM bRndaiH” means ‘by the gangs of enemies’. It is
from  the root ‘dvishh’ that the word ‘dveshha’, meaning
‘hate’ is derived.  “bRndaM” means a crowd, a gang. The
crowd of hair on ambaa’s head flows wave after wave and so
looks like armies of black ready for fight.
“bandIkRtam-iva” means ‘as if imprisoned’. It is the rising
sun in the form of the sImanta-sindhUraM that is imprisoned
here by the armies of black hair.The word “bandIkRtaM” is
significant. Not only have all the crimson rays of the
rising sun  been vanquished, but even that one remaining
ray has been imprisoned by the dark army surrounding it on
either side so densely that it cannot move this way or that

Incidentally, if one wants divine presence, the parting of
the hair has to be straight in the centre – not this side
or that side – of the hair on the head. And the sindhUram
has to come from pure turmeric,  not from any other
artificial source.

Among the many meanings of “bandhaM” one is 
‘imprisonment’. The meaning of “bandIkRtaM” is  ‘be
imprisoned’.  The difference is between the active and the
passive. So here ‘bandIkRtaM iva’ means ‘as if imprisoned’.

Well, what has all this – fight between darkness and light
-- to do in  the devotional stotra “soundarya-laharI”? In
shloka 43, it was said that Her black braid of luxuriant
locks of hair itself will eradicate the  dense darkness of
ignorance in us. In the same way  he says in this shloka
that the sImantaM (parting of hair)  which in a sense has
been imprisoned by the black forest of hair on either side,
will grace us with all prosperity. In fact the sImantam is
the residence of Lakshmi the Goddess of Prosperity. Its
‘imprisonment’ is only an imagination; ‘bandIkRtam-iva’ –
as if imprisoned – is the word. Now we shall see the other
side of this sImantaM. We shall indeed see its greatness. 
I began with what appeared to be its negative side because
I wanted to end up this shloka with the positive side. The
Acharya of course begins this shloka only with the
	Now look at the first  two lines:
tanotu kshhemaM naH tava vadana-soundarya-laharI
parIvAha-srotaH saraNiH iva sImanta-saraNiH /

Great poets do not waste their words. So when our Acharya
uses ‘laharI’, ‘parIvAhaM’,  ‘srotas’ and ‘saraNI’, which
all convey more or less the same meaning ‘flood’, there
should be something deeper in it. Yes, there is a deeper
point. There are shades of differences in  the meaning.
‘laharI’ is the bubbling, wavy and noisy  water-flow.
‘parIvAhaM’ is the real flood of water which simply marches
forward. ‘srotas’ could even be a silent rivulet. ‘saraNI’
is a straight flow of water, like that in an artificial
canal. What starts as a ‘laharI’ , widens up into a
‘parIvAhaM’ and then flows like a controlled river ‘srotas’
between two banks and finally is channelised into a canal

This is how ambaaL’s beauty starts from Her face as a
laharI and spreads like a pravAha. When it touches the top
of the forehead it becomes a srotas. The banks on either
side of this srotas is the hair on either side of the
sImantaM. Actually the flood of beauty cannot be dammed by
the forest of hair. What is the greatness of ambaaL’s
beauty if one can dam it by holding it between two banks?
‘vaktra-lakshmI-parIvAhaM’  (the flood of beautiful
brilliance) says lalitA-sahasranAma. The brilliance starts
from the face and overflows as a flood into the locks of
hair on the head but is contained in the form of a ‘saraNi’
– sImanta-saraNi – between the dense forest of hair on
either side.  It is this brilliance  (lAvaNya) of the
Mother Goddess that bestows prosperity and happiness to all
Her devotees. And since it all starts from the face, he
calls it ‘vadana-soundarya-laharI’.  And legitimately, the
whole work has been named – we do not know by whom –

This shloka ‘tanotu kshhemaM naH’ properly meditated on,
will bring us divine help in controlling our mind and all
its evil tendencies – ‘dvishhAm bRndaiH’ – by  which we are
all  imprisoned – ‘bandIkRtaM’. 

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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