[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-60)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 17 23:03:06 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.1130 -1140  of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume,
4th imprn.)

Here comes one shloka (#46) where the Acharya has done
delightful innovation with the simple idea of the
‘moon-like divine face’.

lalATaM lAvaNya-dyuti-vimalaM AbhAti tava yat 
dvitIyaM tan-manye makuTa-ghaTitaM candra-shakalaM /
viparyAsa-nyAsAd-ubhayam-api sambhUya ca mithaH 
sudhA-lepa-syUtiH pariNamati rAkA-himakaraH // 46 //

‘lalATaM’ is the forehead. ‘lAvaNya-dyuti’ is the beautiful
Light. ‘vimala’ means faultless. “AbhAti”, shines. So the
first two lines mean: The forehead that shines in the pure
brilliance of its divine  beauty may be thought of (‘manye’
– I think) as the second form of the crescent moon of your
crown. ‘makuTa-ghaTitam candra-shakalaM’ means the crescent
moon that ornaments the crown. In other words what is said
is that there is the cresecent moon on ambaa’s head.

Traditionally, we all know that both Ishvara and Ambaa have
only the third day moon on their head, not the half moon or
ashhTamI-candra.In all images of both these deities we
could have noticed that the third day moon  (the figure of
the moon on the third day of its appearance) embedded in
their head, would be showing the sharp corners of the
curves on both sides  as two dots. If it is the
ashhTamI-candra (the half moon ) that is depicted, we would
also see the diameter joining those end points.  In  a
crescent moon this diameter would not show nor would  the
remaining portions of the moon – though we can imagine the
full figure of the moon by mentally completing the crescent
into a full moon. It requires quite an imagination to
visualise this. But the key to this is the pair of sharp
corners in which the crescent ends. 

On the other hand the semi-circular forehead of Ambaa is
actually a half-moon. No portion of the half-moon is
missing here. In the sahasranAma also it is said of her
forehead (aLika-sthala) :

Thus we have a cresent moon above, and also below it in the
form of the forehead the half moon. Now comes the fun in
the third and fourth lines:
“ubhayam api” – these two. The half moon in the crown and
the half moon in the forehead.
“mithaH” – mutually, with respect to each other.
“viparyAsa-nyAsAt” – joined in the reverse order.
“viparyAsa” means ‘the opposite order’.
They have to be joined in the reverse order because, the
half moon in the crown is in the form of the lower half of
a full moon and the half moon of the forehead is of the
form of the upper half of a full moon. 

So we have to join them in the reverse order. “sambhUya”
means ‘attached’. What is the means of attaching them?  It
is the “sudhA-lepa-syUtiH” of the moon itself. “sudhA”
means ‘nectar’. “lepa” is ‘paste’ or ‘gum’. “syUtiH” means
stitching or sewing. In fact the English word ‘sew’ comes
from ‘syUtiH’ of Sanskrit. Thus if one attaches the half
moon on the head of ambaa and the half moon of her
forehead, with the former as the lower part and the latter
as the upper part, and use the nectar which oozes out of
the moon for pasting them then the full moon itself shines!
“rAkA himakaraH pariNamati”!

The next shloka (#47) is  more complicated.  But it is the
complication and the poetic inventiveness that make us stay
long  at the shloka and therefore longer in the thought of

Bhruvau bhugne kimcit bhuvana-bhaya-bhanga-vyasanini
tvadIye netrAbhyAM madhukara-rucibhyAM dhRta-guNaM /
dhanur-manye savyetara-kara-gRhItaM ratipateH 
prakoshhTe mushhTau ca sthagayati nigUDhAntaram-ume // 47

“bhruvau kimcit bhugne”  : ‘frowning a little’.  ‘bhruvau’ 
means the pair of eyebrows. When the eyebrows are
contracted either in anger or in thought, we are said to
frown.  Incidentally, the Sanskrit word ‘bhrU’  must have
originated the English word ‘brow’ and also the tamil word
‘puruvaM’, all meaning ‘eyebrow’! Here we are talking about
the eyebrows of ambaa. If the frowning is complete, the
natural bend in the eyebrows disappears and they align
themselves in a straight line. Here ambaaL’s eyebrows are
not contracted in anger, but they are more ‘bent’ than
normal; that is why, the word ‘kimcit’ is used. She is
frowning in the thought of encountering a fear for Her
children,  namely, us, the people of the world.

The words ‘bhuvana-bhaya-bhanga-vyasanini’  mean ‘sorrowed
(by compassion) with the worry of the need to destroy the
fear (of samsara) of all the world’. She is a flood of
bliss, certainly – Ananda-lahari. But She is constantly
thinking about how to redeem this world from its endless
misery of ignorance and consequent suffering in samsara. It
was Her snap-of-the-finger decision once  that  created the
five Cosmic functionaries for the good of the world; cf.
“kshhaNa-calitayoH bhrU-latikayoH”  - ‘by a movement of Thy
creeper-like brows’  - of shloka #24.

Of course it is not explicitly stated that Her frowning is
because of Her worry about the world. It could even be
because of  Her alertness at the onset of a ‘bhaya’, danger
to Her beloved children of the world. If She is intending
to eradicate the fear from people even before the danger
occurred, then ‘bhuvana-bhaya-bhanga-vyasanini’ does not
fit here. Only when the situation is confronted with a
danger, and a consequent fear in the people, only then the
‘bhanga’ (destroying) of that ‘bhaya’ makes sense. We can
go on analysing the verse-line in this manner endlessly.
That is the beauty of the poetry in this shloka!

But note, whether it is sorrow or anger that is the cause
of the frowning, it is not a thing for enjoyment; on the
other hand, the Acharya here seems to be enjoying the scene
with all his heart. So the contracting of the eyebrows is
not the usual kind. It is more profound than that. And that
is the content of the other three lines of the shloka. In 
short, the words ‘dhanur-manye’ of the third line are the
key to this puzzle. ‘I think it is the bow’, says he. That
is, the two eyebrows are thought of as one bow. But the
wonder here is that both the eyebrows are considered not as
two bows but one single bow. ‘dhanur-manye’ –in the
singular.  Then what about the gap between the two
eyebrows, where there is no growth of hair? Actually there
should not be; for, as a Tamil preoverb goes,  if the brows
meet, it harbingers destruction of everything – “kUDina
puruvam kuDiyaik-keDukkuM”.

So then how come, the two eyebrows are compared to a single
bow? Whose bow? Is it just a comparison? What is great
about all  this except some poetic gymnastics?  We shall

(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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