[Advaita-l] Rudra and ambica

jaldhar at braincells.com jaldhar at braincells.com
Sat Oct 24 03:17:12 EDT 2020

On Fri, 9 Oct 2020, Kaushik Chevendra via Advaita-l wrote:

> एष ते रुद्र भाग: सह *स्वस्त्राम्बिकया* तं जुषस्व स्वाहैष ते रुद्र भाग S
> आखुस्ते पशु:।।57।।
> Rudra, this is thine allotted portion. With *Ambika thy sister* kindly take
> it. This, Rudra, is thy share, the rat thy victim. (Shukla Yajurveda 3.57)
> Why is ambika devi being called rudras sister?
> _______________________________________________

Some time back we discussed a related mantra, the famous mahamrtyunjaya. 


In footnote 2 of that translation I briefly mention this mantra (which is 
also part of the Tryambakeshti) but I did not go into detail.

Briefly these three Devis are the sisters of Rudra.  They are not the same 
as Jagadamba who is the wife of Shiva Bhagavan (except insofar as all 
Devis are swarupas of Mahadevi.)

Amba ("mother"), Ambika ("little mother") and Ambalika ("littlest mother") 
are not their proper names but terms of respect.  Even now in Indian 
languages do we not respectfully address a woman as "Ma", "Ba", "Amma" 
etc.?  Even the use of the diminutive has parallels today.  For instance 
recently I heard my son being told off by his mother for some infraction 
and I was amused to hear him reply in exasparation "Oh Madi I didn't do 
it"  In Gujarati, Madi is a diminutive form of Ma or mother.  It is not a 
comment on my wifes height neither is it a term of disrepect, on the 
contrary it was being used in an affectionate sense.

On Sun, 11 Oct 2020, Raghav Kumar Dwivedula via Advaita-l wrote:

> I am glad to know you looked up Sayana bhAShya. That's really nice.

FYI Sayanacharya did not comment on the Vajasaneyi Samhita.  The 
authoritative commentators are Uvatacharya and Mahidharacharya who I have 
consulted in writing this.

> There is also another meaning.
> The word ambikA is one of the three aspects (sisters?) viz., ambA, 
ambikA,> ambAlikA.

Yes these are the ones who are meant.

> It is also the name of a herb and the words ambA, ambikA, ambAlikA are
> three "sister" herbs (tri-ambaka-s) often used together for Vedic Homam 
> Rudra for conferring good health or freedom from disease, mentioned in
> yajurveda. One of the three sister herbs is called ambikA.

> Panini reference
> उक्त तीनो एक हि स्थान पर कह दिये गये
> प्रमाण पाणिनि का त्रियम्बकम पद सूत्र देखे अष्टाध्य
> ये औषधीय काम्पील मे होती
> यानि ये जिस जगह होति है उसे काम्पील कहते है | | काम्पील एक औषधि
> साथ अम्बिका अदि औषधिया होती है
> अब देखिये की वैद्धक में उक्त औषधियों की चर्चा

Who are you quoting?  I don't see any reference to the matter at hand in 
that sutra or its commentaries. 
See https://ashtadhyayi.com/sutraani/5/1/58

> While the above only shows two other possibilities that the word ambikA is
> not suster of shiva. Rather ambikA is one of the well-known sisters
> (mentioned in yajur veda - no connexion with Mahabharata, please note),

In my opinion there is a faint connection.  In the Mahabharata, Amba, 
Ambika, and Ambalika are the three daughters of Kashiraja who are taken by 
Bhishma to be wed to his half-brother, Vichitravirya whom he has placed on 
the Kuru throne.  Amba escapes but Ambika and Ambalika are wed to 
Vichitravirya.  But he dies so it falls upon Veda Vyas - another 
half-brother to father children with them.  Ambikas son Dhrtarashtra is 
born blind and Ambalikas son Pandu has leprosy.

As I noted in the earlier posting, the "victory over death" (mrtyunjaya) 
is through progeny to continue the family line. A rite of the 
Tryambakeshti also involves girls praying for good husbands.  And you 
mentioned the connection to disease.

> even one of three vedic homa herbs.

Atleast in the shuklayajurvedic tradition, I see no reference to herbs. 
The pashu sacrificed in this ishti is a rat (mUshika).

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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