[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS - 66)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 10 18:32:03 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.1180 -1185   of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume,
4th imprn.)

The next rasa is karuNa-rasa, that is, the rasa of
pitiability and miserability.  This is also called
shoka-rasa, the rasa of sorrow and misery.  But the Acharya
does not want to depict ambaa in this rasa. Earlier in
shloka 47 also, when he used the words
“bhuvana-bhaya-bhanga-vyasanini”, though She was shown to
have had feelings of sorrow (“vyasanini”) for the people of
the world, it was more because of Her karuNA (divine
compassion) that She was sad, than because of the
‘bhuvana-bhaya’, the horror of samsAra of the people. She
wanted to help them rid of this ‘bhuvana-bhaya’ and so She
was intent on ‘bhuvana-bhaya-bhanga’, namely the
destruction of the fear of the world; and thus it was more
an expression of karuNA (compassion) than karuNa (=shoka,
sorrow).  In the same way here also it is the karuNA-rasa
that exhibits itself; thus the shoka-rasa is only shown by
implication from the rasa of divine compassion, that comes
out of the words “te mayi janani dRshhTis-sakruNA” –
meaning, Oh Mother, Your glances that show different rasas,
are full of compassion (karuNA) when falling on me. 

Note the use of the word “mayi”  (on me), here. All along
the Acharya was using the word “naH”  (to us, on us),
whenever he was asking for the Grace or blessing to descend
from the divine. But now the matter is so personal that he
makes himself the representative of the entire world, and
asks for the Grace to descend on him, and through him to
every reader of this shloka. All the other rasas can be
objectified as operating on a third person, but the
KaruNA-rasa has to be received as a divine blessing by each
and every one. 

The shloka is over. But we have covered only 8 rasas so
far. Where is the ninth rasa, shAntaM – that of peace and
serenity?  The rasa that is a unification of  all these
eight rasas into one is the shAnta rasa. It is the basic
rasa from which all others emerge! It is the Shiva rasa.
The first word “shive” in this shloka denotes that. In the
beginning of Soundaryalahari, in the very first shloka, we
were told that without Shakti, Shivam is nothing but
shAntaM. This shloka begins with “shive” and thereby
indicates that it is that shAnta state that became dynamic
and evolved into the other eight rasas. The whole stotra of
Soundaryalahari depicts ambaaL as the ‘kArya-brahman’; so
the shAnta state of Hers where there is no action has been
only subtly indicated  here. 

Another interesting observation!. The stotra itself begins
with ‘Shiva’. This shloka, which is exactly in the middle
of the whole stotra – it is the beginning of the 51st
shloka – begins with ‘shive’. Thus Shakti occurs in the
very centre of the whole stotra, just as the shiva mantra
occurs in the middle of the four vedas. 

There is another tradition in the science of ‘alankAra’
however on the concept of  shAnta-rasa. According to this
tradition, there are only eight rasas. ShAntaM is not a
rasa at all. Experience, experiencer, feeling, excitement –
all these and their original sources together constitute
what is called a rasa. But in the state of shAnta, all
these have no place; for they are all dormant therein. Then
how can we call it a rasa?  But there is quite an opposite
tradition in the same ‘alankAra’ school of experts. They
have detailed in their writings what originates the shAnta
rasa, what would be its background, what are the symptoms,
and what are the accessories for this rasa and so forth.
They call shAnta rasa the  ‘rasa of all rasas’!

But the argument about there being only eight rasas doesn’t
seem to be acceptable to the Acharya; for he has used the
words “nava-rasAsvAda-taralau” (shloka 50),
“nava-rasa-mahA-tANDava” (shloka 41). 

There is also a tradition where not only shAntam is the
ninth rasa but there is one more rasa added to the list,
namely ‘vAtsalya’. Acharya’s words “mayi janani
dRshhTis-sakaruNA” (May your glance, Oh Mother, be on me!)
remind us that She is the Mother Supreme and this manner of
the Acharya making himself a child of the Mother, is
exactly what brings the vAtsalya rasa also! Thus the
Acharya has explicitly mentioned eight rasas and implicitly
brought in the other two rasas – all in reference to that
single organ, the eyes of the divine!

There is a lot of beauty implicit in Soundaryalahari. One
of these is the mention of ‘Meenakshi’.  This also concerns
the ‘eye’. ‘Meenakshi’ itself means the ‘fish-eyed’.  Her
very fame from ancient times has always been centred upon
the beauty of her eyes. Of such a great Devi, apparently
neither of the two great works on Devi have spoken. These
two are Lalitasahasranama and Soundaryalahari.  But this is
only a first impression. If we carefully look into these
works, we would come to know there is no necessity to
default them for this. 

For, though there is no explicit mention, Meenakshi is
implicitly mentioned in Lalitasahasranama. In fact it is
this very implicitness that adds a a greater importance to
that. “vaktra-lakshmI-parIvAha-calan-mInAbha-locanA” is one
of the names in the sahasranama. ‘vaktra-lakshmI’ means the
brilliance of ambaal’s face. It is like a great flood
(parIvAha). When the dalliance of the face runs as a flood
of water, there ought to be fish in that flood! Where are
the fishes? The long long eyes of ambaa are the fishes.
‘locana’ means ‘eye’. (‘lokana’ means ‘sight’ or ‘glance’.
By the very fact that it is ‘seen’, the world is called
‘loka’). The ‘locana’ that resembles ‘a fish’ generates the
word ‘mInAbha-locanaM’. Instead of saying ‘MinAkshhi’
explicitly, it is mentioned as ‘MinAbha-locanA’.  Well,
that takes care of one ‘default’!

In Soundaryalahari, where the shloka 49 talked about the
relationship of Her eyes to various cities, ‘madhura’ 
occurs. So by giving the name of the city of Minakshi, we
may take it Minakshi has been mentioned.  In addition to
this there is shloka 56.
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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