[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-72)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 7 09:23:31 CDT 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.1218 -1221  of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume,
4th imprn.)

Shloka #65:

raNe jitvA daityAn-apahRta-shirastraiH kavacibhiH 
nivRttaish-caNDAmsha-tripura-hara-nirmAlya-vimukhaiH /
vishAkh-endro-pendraiH shashi-vishada-karpUra-shakalA 
vilIyante mAtas-tava vadana-tAmbUla-kabalAH //65 //

caNDAmsha-tripura-hara-nirmAlya-vimukhaiH: (Chanda’s share
-  Shiva – leavings –looking away) : Rejecting the
offering-remnants  of  Shiva as the share of the devotee
vishAkh-endro-pendraiH :  the celestials KumAra, Indra and
jitvA : after having conquered
daityAn : the asuras
raNe : in battle,
nivRttaiH : return to you
mAtaH : Oh Mother,
apahRta-shirastraiH : with their head-dresses (helmets,
etc.) removed
kavacibhiH : but with their armour-jackets on,
tava vadana-tAmbUla-kabalAH : (eager to receive) as Your
gracious gift (Prasada) the betal rolls used by You
vilIyante : and chew them
shashi-vishada-karpUra-shakalAH : (until) they dissolve
along with the moon-white pieces of refined camphor
contained in  them. 

Just in the previous shloka (#64) the Acharya has said that
Goddess Saraswati who dwells on the tip of Her tongue, gets
Her crystal-like white complexion changed into the colour
of a red ruby because of the ruddiness of the tongue that
defies the japa (habiscus) flowers in its redness. I have
already told you about this.
(Note by VK: See DPDS – 58)

Here this shloka talks about the symphony of red and white
that the betal-chewing gives to ambaal’s tongue. You may
ask wherefrom  comes this whiteness. Betal-chewing only
produces a reddish tinge. 

I take resort to the words
“shashi-vishada-karpUra-shakalAH”. Maybe the Acharya
thought : “We only talked about the white Saraswati at the
tip of ambaal’s tongue becoming red. But while writing
bhashyas, and while composing stotras we have been
propitiating only ShAradA the white Goddess. Then why not
bring Her whiteness into ambaal’s tongue that dwells on the
betal rolls?”!

That the mouth is full of betal rolls is a characteristic
attribute that we use in all our descriptions of a
sumangali. Even the Sahasranama says of Her:
“tAmbUla-pUrita-mukhI”, meaning, “The One whose mouth is
full of chewing betal”. Ambaal, who is Auspiciousness
personified should always be visualised by us only this

There is nothing that can excel the leavings of her
“tAmbUla” (betal roll). It is called ‘tAmbUla-ucchishhTaM’
(betal-leavings). Only we humans have to consider another
human’s food-leavings as something demeaning. That of
ambaal is sacred. Our body is nothing but meat. But the
divine body is akshhara. It encompasses all from “a” to
“kshha”. That is why it is called ‘akshhara’, which also
means ‘immutable’. The divine body is nothing but all the
mantras personified; because no mantra goes outside of “a”
to “kshha”. Over and above all that, it is Love
personified. And hence it is that Her betal leavings are
most sacred.

And who is receiving it?  Not just a devotee, a poet or a
rishi. Her own son, KumAra; Her own  devotee, Indra, who
received Brahma-vidyA from Her (refer Kenopanishad); and
Her own masculine form in the form of Vishnu. The Acharya
has woven a really marvelous dramatic scene in which these
three receive Her betal leavings. 

“senAnInAM aham skandaH”, says Krishna in the Gita. “I am
KumAra among the warriors of the world”. His trident
(‘Vel’, in Tamil) is victorious, wherever it appears. Its
very name is shakti. It is nothing but parA-shakti Herself.
And it was this KumAra who went as the chief of all the
divine forces to wage war with the enmies of the divines.
Naturally the King of the divines, Indra, goes along with
Him. Vishnu has another name Upendra – because He was born
as a son (VAmana) to the same parents that bore Indra. 
Thus these three, VishAka (KumAra), Indra, and Upendra
(Vishnu) are returning to Mother Goddess after their
victory over the asuras. The first thing that they look for
is the gift of ambaal’s betal leavings.

Earlier to the birth of KumAra, once the divines did win
over all  the asuras. That was when they were all puffed up
with pride. They thought it was their own Power (shakti)
that brought them the victory. The parA-shakti made them
realise how incomplete their Power was, in each one of
them. She put before them a piece of straw which stood like
a rock before all their might. This  story of their
becoming just a speck of dust in the presence of the
supreme Shakti is told very graphically in Kenopanishad. It
was only after this that Indra, among them all, immediately
became very humble and he was taught the Brahma Vidya by

KumAra, Indra and Vishnu very modestly want to offer their
victory over the asuras, at the feet of ambaal and partake
as prasad, of Her betal leavings.  Ambaal usually revels in
feeding others rather than enjoying the food Herself.
Different varieties of sweet dishes are usually accepted by
Her as offerings, not for Her own sake, but for the sake of
Her devotees. For Herself She is content with the betal
rolls!. But then, who eats all that food in Her house? It
is the Lord!—so that He may not go ‘begging’ for food in
His style as a ‘BikshhATana’ (the roaming mendicant). When
the three divines return from their victorious war, it was
just the time when the Lord had finished His dinner. But
they (the celestials) did not care for the Prasad of Lord
Shiva – because they were heading towards ambaal for Her
betal leavings!

And the Acharya excels here, by ascribing a reason to this
action of the three celestials.  
(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 :

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list