[Advaita-l] [ambaa-L] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-76)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 18 09:26:58 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.1243-1251 of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th

Shloka 69 continued:
The Shiva-factor and the Shakti-factor that are
respectively manifest in the male and the female, are most
explicitly manifest in the bulge of Adam’s apple in man and
the three lines on the neck of woman.  These are the three
lines that are referred to as “gale rekhAs-tisraH” by the
Acharya. The verse also allows us to interpret it as
showing that She is expert in all the three facets ‘gati’,
‘gamakam’ and ‘gItam’ of music. In addition to this
implicit indication, he explicitly says in the fourth line
of the shloka: The boundaries between the different
‘grAmas’ based on the ‘shadja’, ‘gAndhAra’ and ‘madhyama’ 
in music are what is shown by the three lines on Thy neck –
“trayANAM grAmANAM sthiti-niyama-sImAna iva te (gale
rekhAs-tisro virAjante)”.

Recall “trayANAM devAnAM triguNa-janitAnAM” from Shloka 25.
[See DPDS-45].  The triad of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra were
said therein to have  originated from the three guNas. 
Here the ‘trayANAM grAmANAM” also mentions along with it
the three guNas in line 2. 

What is stated in line 2, namely, 
“vivAha-vyAnaddha-praguNa-guNa-sankhyA-pratibhuvaH”  that
is, “A reminder of the strands of the auspicious string
made by twisting several threads and well tied round the
neck at the wedding ceremony”. This refers to  the most
auspicious wedding of Goddess Parvati and the Lord.  The
direct meanings however are:

vivAha-vyAnaddha : wedding – tied well.
guNa-sankhyA: consisting of a certain number of guNas.
praguNa : noble guNas.
pratibhuvaH: that which authenticates, guarantees.

These direct meanings do not add up to an easily understood
 message. The “guNa-sankhyA” refers to the number three,
coming from the three guNas satva, rajas and tamas. But
when it comes to “praguNa” he is talking of ‘strands of
string’, because guNa also means ‘strand’. And ‘praguNa’
means ‘auspicious strands’.  And this is what brings in the
‘mangala-sUtra’  (auspicious marriage thread) that is tied
at the time of the wedding ceremony. In other words, it
means that three noble strands of string have been twisted
to make the mangala sUtra for the Goddess. And it is these
three strands that are recalled – ‘pratibhuvaH’ – by the
three lines on the neck of ambaa. Of course, in addition,
we can also interpret that the three lines implicitly stand
for the three guNas also.

There are those who say that the ‘pANi-grahaNaM’ (holding
of the hand)
is the deciding religious rite for the wedding. The tying
of the mangala-sUtra may  not be the tradition in many
areas.  But the very fact that the Acharya has mentioned it
here in connection with the wedding of God and Goddess,
gives it  a unique importance.  The ‘holding of hand’ is an
event that does not leave any trace of itself after the
event. On the other hand it is the mangala-sUtra that 
permanently stands out as a distinguishing mark of married 
status to  women and is also respected by all as such. At
the time when the solar months of Aquarius (mAshi, in
Tamil) and Pisces (panguni, in Tamil) coalesce, it is the
mangala-sUtra that is greatly and duly worshipped by women.
Even in the Lalita Sahasranama, we have
“kAmesha-baddha-mAngalya-sUtra-shobhita-kandarA” – She
whose neck is adorned with the mangala-sUtra fastened
thereon by Her consort Kameshvara. 

Another point. The Acharya says only ‘guNa’ meaning ‘strand
of thread’. In modern times, women replace the marriage
thread by a golden chain and a heavy tirumangalyam and
rolling balls (kuNDu, in Tamil) on either side of it.  It
is very inappropriate. The alleged plea is that the string
becomes dirty in due course of time. If you coat it with
turmeric every day it won’t become dirty.

There is a five-fold (pancakaM) mention of triads in this
shloka: The three lines on the divine neck, the three
musical nuances “gati, gamakaM and gItaM”, the three guNas,
the three ‘grAmas’ of music and finally,  the three strands
of mangala-sUtra.

A sound musical tradition aims at  the preservation of  its
age-old purity. The classification in terms of ‘grAmas’ is
not supposed to be mixed up. It is to show the distinctness
of the three ‘grAmas’ that the three lines on the divine
neck are so distinct, says the Acharya. All this emphasizes
the need for a certain discipline in following the music

When music is performed  as “nAdopAsanA” (a dedicated
worship of ‘nAda-brahman’) with bhakti, then that music
itself will lead to Self-Realisation. When one merges in
the disciplined musical confluence of shruti and laya, that
merger itself  becomes the merging in the Atman. ‘Entaro
mahAnubhAvulu’  -- sang Tyagaraja, the great ‘nAdopAsaka’
(the worshipper of ‘nAda-brahman’) and he was one such
great soul-experiencer (mahAnubhAva) of the musical
trinity. All three of the trinity were great souls who
attained this Self-Realisation through the path of
Devotional Music. Interestingly,  all these three 
flourished  in the same time frame within the past one and
a half centuries. 

Incidentally,  I have added a sixth triad to the five-fold
triads (of this shloka) that I spoke of earlier!

Though the three qualities of satva, rajas and tamas are
only three in number they give rise to an infinite number
of quality-combinations in the worldly characters that we
experience. So also, just from the seven svaras of music,
with various permutations and combinations according to the
three ‘grAmas’, the musical world has generated numerous
rAgas.  This is what is mentioned in the shloka as
“nAnAvidha-madhura-rAgAkara-bhuvAM” – meaning,  ‘those
which generate the mine of multifarious  melodious rAgas’ .
Here the word ‘those’ goes with ‘of the three grAmas’
(“trayANAm grAmANAM”) in the fourth line. 

The word ‘rAga-Akara’ is significant.  Just as a mine gives
out gold and gems as you dig deeper and deeper, so also the
subtleties of the seven svaras yield numerously different
rAgas as you delve deep. The word “Akara” means ‘mine’. The
ocean yields gems (ratnas) and that is why  it is called
‘ratnAkara’. The commonly used words “karuNakara” and
“dayAkara” should mean only ‘a mine of compassion and
grace’ rather than ‘one who shows compassion or grace’. 

Again the word ‘madhura’ in “nAnAvidha-madhura-rAga-bhuvAM”
is also significant. ‘madhura’ means sweet and melodious.
What is not sweet or melodious should not form part of
music. All this meticulous use of words in this verse show
how knowledgeable the Acharya is in the subtleties of music
and its understanding.  Obviously he was himself a
‘gati-gamaka-gIta-eka-nipuNaH’ – Master of the musical
technicalities of the procedure, undulations and song of

As the Acharya continues his description of ambaa from 
head to foot, he comes to the breasts and has a few shlokas
on them. In one of them (shloka #73), he says that ambaal’s
breast-milk is not just the heavenly nectar, it is more
than that. And he gives reasons! Those who have tasted the
heavenly nectar are the ‘devas’ (divines); and they are
always in their age of youth. They never grow to become
old. On the other hand, Ganapati and Subrahmanya, the two
children of Hers are always young boys – kumArau adyApi. 

What is the big idea? The Acharya explains it.
“avidita-vadhU-sanga-rasikau”, meaning ‘having never known
the pleasure of union with woman’. We can say this of the
Acharya himself.  The divines pass through the stage of
‘kaumaram’  (boyhood) and then reach the stage of
‘yauvanam’ (youth) but never go beyond that. So they are
always involved only in sensual pleasures.  But these two
children of ambaa are ever in the ‘kaumaram’ stage  and so
are not tainted by sensual distractions. That is the effect
of ambaal’s milk of beauty, in contrast with the nectar
that sprung forth from the ocean of milk!

Incidentally it should be noted here that the Acharya, the
model of celibacy that he was, combines here the celibate
deity Ganapti as conceived of in South India and the
celibate deity Subrahmanya as conceived of in the North.
For,  Ganapati of the North has two consorts Siddhi and
Buddhi and Subrahmanya of the South has two consorts Valli
and Deivayanai.
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 :

sudhaasuuteshcandropalajalalavairarghyaracanaa .
svakiiyairambhobhiH salilanidhisauhityakaraNaM
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