[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-73)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 12 09:48:59 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.1221 - 1226  of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume,
4th imprn.)

Shloka #65 continued.

The three celestials – KumAra, Indra and Vishnu – did not
care for Shiva’s prasAdam, because they were heading
towards Ambaal’s betal leavings. The Acharya excels here by
ascribing an enjoyable reason for this action of theirs.
“chaNDAmsha-tripura-hara-nirmAlya-vimukhaiH” –not having
their mind on Shiva’s prasAdam ‘because it is the share of
ChanDa’!. (‘tripura-hara’ is Shiva). The first prasAdam of
food left over   by Shiva belongs rightfully to ChanDa
(ChanDikeshvara). This is the rule. All the world considers
this offering of Shiva’s prasAdam first to Chandikeshvara
as our foremost obligation and privilege. It is remarkable
that ChanDa was born in this human world just like us all,
but rose later to become the fifth deity after the primal
four, namely, Shiva, Parvati, Vighneshvara and Subrahmanya.
In all Shiva temple festivals these five deities are the
ones that are taken out in procession. To receive Shiva’s
prasAdam after it has been offered first to this saintly
devotee, ChanDa, is truly a great blessing to all of us.

But to KumAra, the very offspring of Shiva Himself, to
Vishnu who shares half the form of Shiva in the
manifestation as Shankara-Narayana and to Indra the king of
all the divine world, it must be demeaning to receive
Shiva’s prasAdam after it has been offered to a human,
ChanDa, however saintly he may be. All this is built into
the expression
“chaNDAmsha-tripura-hara-nirmAlya-vimukhaiH”. Here
‘vimukha’ can also be interpreted to mean ‘turning their
faces away from’.

Next comes their dress while presenting themselves before
ambaal. The head dress worn on the field or when they are
on duty, by the soldiers in the army,  are usually taken
off when they want to show respect. Here the three
celestials take off their head dress before they enter the
presence of ambaal. 

But the question arises: Why did the Acharya say in shloka
#25 that the crowns of Brahma, Vishnu and Indra are doing
the neerajana ceremony to Her divine feet at which they
were prostrating.? Why again did he say in shloka #29 that
when She started in haste to walk over to welcome the
homecoming Lord, She ran the risk of tumbling over the
crowns of Brahma, Vishnu and Indra, who were then
prostrating at Her feet? The situation  in both cases is
clear that they were prostrating with the crowns still on
their heads. 

Well, the only explanation could be that in their intense
mood of devotion that overwhelmed them at those times, they
just forgot (!) the formality of the obligation to remove
their crowns from their heads in the august presence of

Let us  now come to the “tAmbUla-ucchishhTaM” – the betal
leavings. It has only been said that these three celestials
consumed or swallowed the betal prasAdam of ambaal. There
is no mention, however,  of the fruit of such an action, or
about what fruits will accrue to the chewing of the betal
leavings. Of course we can infer that, to these war-lords
who have come back victorious after a war with the asuras,
more victories are bound to accrue in the future by the
blessing of ambaal. 

On the other hand, that the fruit of taking the ‘tAmbUla
ucchishhTaM’ of ambaal gives extraordinary poetic talent,
is borne out by the fact that three great poets – Kalidasa,
Kalamegar, and Mukar  -- became great poets only by the
power of the ‘tAmbUla-prasAdam’ from ambaal.  It was the
mahAkAli of Ujjain, AkhilAnDeshvari of Jambukesvaram and
KamAkshhi of Kanchi, respectively,  who blessed these
three. Our Acharya himself has composed  a stotra called
‘ambAshhTakaM’ ,

[Note by VK:
 I am not able to  locate this stotra.]

wherein he says that ambal’s betal leavings will endow one
with poetic talent that will ride higher than the stately
gaits of a high-class race-horse. The very style of that
shloka, such as:

“kavitva-paripATI .... koTI-kulA-dadhika-tATImudhara-
mukhavITI-rasena tanutAM”

mimics the beat of the hoofs of the racing horse!

Whereas according to  Soundaryalahari, what bestows the
poetic talent is (in shloka #75) Her breast milk, or (in
shloka #98) the water that has washed Her feet. Nowhere is
it mentioned that the ‘tAmbUla-ucchishhTaM’ of ambaal would
bestow poetic talent. In shloka #98 it is said that the
poetic talent that is usually granted by the
‘tAmbUla-ucchishhTaM’ of Saraswati is already bestowed by
the ‘charana-tIrtha’, the water that has washed the  feet
of ambaal. In that sense the ‘charaNa-tIrtha’  is placed
higher in the ladder of spiritual benefaction. The red
paint on the feet makes the water that washes it reddish as
the betal juice. “kalita-alaktaka-rasam” : the water that
gets mixed up with the deep red of lac. ‘alaktaka’ is lac.
‘lAkshhaa’ is also lac. Both sanskrit words could very well
be the source of the English ‘lac’. And again ‘alaktaka’ is
what becomes ‘arakku’ in Tamil.

‘As a student when will I  have the opportunity to drink
that charaNa-tIrtha?’ , wails our Acharya in that shloka.
The words ‘prakRtyA mUkAnAm-api’ (meaning, even for those
who are dumb by nature) indicate that even the dumb (mUka)
ones can become great poets by that ‘charaNa-tIrtha’. The
Acharya here is perhaps seeing into the future, when one
day there would exactly be such a mUka-kavi!
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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