[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari(DPDS-77)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 20 08:53:03 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.1252-1259   of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume,
4th imprn.)

Shloka #75 says further about the breast milk of ambaa.  It
generates, says the shloka, everything superlatively noble
– like wisdom, compassion, beauty, knowledge, and the arts.
“sArasvatam iva”, meaning, everything for which Sarasvati
is the source. They all flow like a flood from the heart –
“hRdayataH payaH pArAvAraH”.  It was  that milk of wisdom,
Oh Mother, that you fed  to that child of the Dramila
country. And that child became a noted poet among great
composers – “kavInAM prouDhAnAM ajani kamanIyaH kavayitA”. 

“prouDha-kavi” means a poet rich with poetic talent.  The
feminine word “prouDhA” denotes a girl who has attained
puberty.  Just as the physical tejas attains maturity, a
person whose poetic talent has attained perfection and
maturity is called a “prouDha-kavi”. Ironically, a
“prouDha-kavi” is also prone to be proud!  And in the
poetry that flows from such a one  there is likely to be a
mischievous air  of superiority. It may not appeal to the
heart. But the milk of wisdom, which flows like a flood
from this ocean of ‘SArasvata’, generates  poetic
inspiration that captivates the heart. By using the words
“payaH pArAvAraH parivahati” – the milk ocean flows like a
flood – the Acharya has added one more ‘lahari’, namely,
the lahari of breast milk that represents all that is great
in the Mother,  to the various lahari’s mentioned in 
Soundaryalahari --  cidAnanda-lahari, shRngAra-lahari, etc.
When this ‘kshhIra-lahari’ (the flood of milk) is tasted by
the dramila-shishu (Tamil child), the latter becomes a poet
who composes captivating songs that make him distinguished
among even ‘prouDha’  composers!

Now who was this ‘dramila-shishu’? The immediate feeling is
that it should be the well-known Sambandar, also known as
‘JnAna-sambandar’  of the Tamil region, who flourished in
the seventh century A.D.  But the Acharya’s time was in the
sixth-fifth century B.C., approximately.

[ Here the Paramacharya takes for granted 
his own  elaborate thesis-like discussion 
on the date of Shankara, 
that  runs to hundreds of  pages, 
in his earlier discourses. These have been recorded 
by Ra. Ganapati in the 5th volume of his book 
‘Deivathin Kural’. So I am not able to enter into that
topic here.    VK] 

The story about the child JnAna-sambandar is that the
Mother Goddess fed her breast milk to the three-year old
child and the child burst into ecstatic singing glorifying
Lord Shiva and Parvati.   Commentators on Soundaryalahari
opine that a similar incident did happen in the case of the
Acharya himself when he was a child and therefore conclude
that the ‘dramila-shishu’ refers to the Acharya himself!
Instead of saying ‘I have that experience’ he is saying it
in third person, in all modesty. But even here one can ask:
How come the Acharya talks about his own poetic talent in
such superlative terms? Is this in keeping with his
well-known modesty? Well, the point to note here is that
the matter is not about poetic talent. The significant
point is the glory of the milk of wisdom that flows from
ambaal.  Actually the Acharya has talked about himself as
‘the farthest of the lowly’ (daviyAmsaM dInaM) in shloka
#66. And the significance now is that even such a ‘lowly’
person has reached poetic heights of excellence by the
divine milk of wisdom.

On the correct interpretation of ‘dramila-shishu’ there
have been controversies from very early times. Several
commentators have debated this issue. No definite
conclusion has been accepted by all.  But let us not stay
on that issue. What we need is not the correct meaning of
‘dramila-shishu’    but the truth that we should seek that
wisdom that flows incessantly like milk from ambaal’s

shrutInAM mUrdhAno dadhati tava yau shekharatayA
mamApy-etau mAtaH shirasi dayayA dhehi caraNau /
yayoH pAdyaM pAthaH pashu-pati-jaTA-jUTa-taTinI 
yayor-lAkshhA-lakshhmIH aruNa-hari-cUDAmaNi ruciH // 84 //

mAtaH : Oh Mother,
yau tava caraNau : Those feet of Yours (which)
shrutInAM mUrdhAnaH : the crests of the vedas (namely, the
dadhati : bear
shekharatayA : as (their) head ornament, 
yayoH : for which (feet) 
pashu-pati-jaTA-JUTa-taTinI : the river (Ganga) in  the
matted locks of hair  of Lord Shiva
pAdyaM pAthaH : (become) the water-offerings at the feet,
yayoH : for which (feet)
aruNa-hari-cUDAmaNi-ruciH : the red brilliance of the
diadem of Vishnu
lAkshhA-lakshhmIH : (becomes the brilliance  of  red lac,
dhehi : please condescend to keep
etau : such  feet 
mama shirasi api : on my head, too
dayayA :  out of  compassion.

The description of Mother Goddess from head to foot 
finally comes to the divine feet.  The divine feet are
requested to be placed on this devotees’s (The Acharya’s)
head. This is a kind of ‘Guru DikshhA’ , that is, spiritual
initiation by the Guru. But it is not openly said to be so.
Because, such initiations always have to be guarded as
secret. Kenopanishad details how the Mother Goddess
appeared to the devas and gave spiritual initiation to
Indra, their King. The words ‘umA’ ‘haimavatI’, ‘strI’
‘bahu-shobhamAnA’ used in that narrative are the only
instances where the Absolute is specifically mentioned as
manifesting as Guru in the vedas. The deities ‘Shiva’ or
‘Vishnu’ are never mentioned in the Vedas in the capacity
of  Guru. The two times Shivam and Vishnu are mentioned are
in Mandukyopanishad and Kathopanishad; but in both cases it
is a state that is described and not a Person. It is
therefore in the fitness of the wisdom of the vedas that
the Acharya here describes the divine feet of ambaa as the
head ornament of the Upanishads!

The praise of the divine feet goes on for several shlokas.
In shloka 88, the Acharya asks: Mother, How did thy
Consort, Lord Shiva, with all His softness  (“dayamAnena
manasA”)  towards You, have the heart to place them with
his hand on a hard granite grinding stone at the marriage
rite?  -- “upayamana-kAle, bAhubhyAm AdAya dRshhadi
nyastaM”. The word “ upayamana” stands for a marriage
ceremony. Just as ‘upanayana’ stands for the rite that
initiates a boy into the spiritual path, by initiating him
into the Gayatri, so also the ‘upayamana’ stands for the
rite that initiates a girl into married life. In this rite
the bridegroom places the feet of the bride on a granite
pasting stone as a part of the rite. The Mother Goddess
Herself is considered here by the Acharya as an ordinary
bride going through the same marriage rite. 

The act of placing the feet on a granite stone attains a
spiritual significance in the context of ambaal. For this
we have to go to Shivaananda-lahari shloka #80 where the
Acharya asks: “Oh Lord! Why are You dancing on this hard
granite? On the auspicious day of Pradosha why can’t You
dance on a softer surface, in fact made up of flower
offerings? Is it because you have anticipated that I will
be born with a hard heart on this earth and You have to
dwell and dance in that hard rock-like heart?” Taking cue
from this we can now interpret this shloka #88 of
Soundaryalahari as saying: “Oh Mother, the Lord is having
compassion towards You and wants to train You  to dance
along with Him in the hard hearts of people of this earth.
That is why He is placing Your soft feet on the hard
granite as a preview for Your feet”!

It is those divine feet of ambaaL that have to be meditated
on by us  for melting our hearts. There is no other way!
Particularly it is our ego that stands solidly like a rock
between us and mokshha.  And that is why, for our sake, the
Acharya has put in the words “mama api” in shloka #84. 

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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