[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari(DPDS-78)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 22 08:18:42 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.1265-1283 of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume, 4th

The shloka # 91 also is in the same trend of praise of
Devi’s feet.  Usually poets describe the gait of their
heroic women as ‘hamsa-gati’,  the gait of swans. But in
#91, the Acharya reverses this analogy. He says that it is
the swans that learn their gait from the beauty of ambaal’s
gait!  In compassion with the swans Her divine feet
actually ‘demonstrate’ how to produce that graceful gait,
but in the act of this demonstration they (the feet) indeed
‘teach’ the swans the theory of this gait!  “teshhAM
shikshhAM AcakshhANaM”, says the shloka. 

And how is this ‘teaching’ done? She is having anklets on
Her feet, studded with precious gems.
“subhaga-maNi-manjIrac-chalAt” – the auspicious jingling of
the gem-studded anklet, is the pretext of teaching! The
jingling of the gems is poetically extolled as the words of
the teaching. Earlier in Shloka #60, it was said that  the
clang of her ear ornaments, as She shakes Her head in
appreciation of Sarasvati’s speech, seem to be appreciative
words spoken by Her. Thus the jingling of the ear ornaments
of ambaa was the appreciation of Sarasvati in #60 and here
in #91, the jingling of the gems of Her anklet turns out to
be the teaching of the swans, which are the vAhanas of

Having described and praised in his inimitable poetry all
the different parts of the divine body and thus having
immersed us in the waves (lahari) of beauty (soundarya) of
ambaaL, the Acharya finally comes to the seat on which that
Fullness of Form is seated. This is shloka #92. Therein he
also mentions the crimson glory  (“rAga-aruNatayA”)  which
the entire body emanates. In Lalita sahasranama, the
description of the devi begins with
“udyat-bhAnu-sahasrAbhA” – the effulgence of thousand
rising suns –and then goes on to describe the form from
head to foot. Here for a change, the Acharya first
describes the form from head to foot and finally ends up
with the composite Glory of the whole Form. The crimson
redness of ambaal makes even the assumed whiteness of Lord
Shiva appear as the ‘red’ Kameshvara. The redness indicates
creation just as  the rising sun is the harbinger of
activity. The Mother-Father role for the whole universe has
to be taken up and that is why Kameshvara becomes
overpowered by ‘redness’ and becomes, as it were,  the
embodiment of  erotic sentiment. (“sharIrI shRngAro rasa

But once the world is created it needs all the infinite
compassion of the Mother. In fact the very purpose of
creation seems to be to manifest  that Compassion. The
brahman, without a second, cannot show any compassion or
love because there is no second. When it manifested as
Shiva-shakti, as partners in a sati-pati relationship, the
love that arose is called ‘shRngAra’. When the same love
directs itself to the created world, it is called ‘karuNA’
(Compassion). So the shRngAra rasa of shloka 92 becomes the
karuNA-rasa of shloka 93. And this is proclaimed with a
poetic gymnastics of words:
“jagat trAtuM shambhor-jayati- kAcid-aruNA”

jagat trAtuM : For the purpose of protecting the universe,
karuNA : the Compassion
shambhoH: of Shivam, the Immutably white
kAcid-aruNA : as  the indescribable redness, that is,
jayati : shines gloriously.

Thus the Shiva-Shakti advaitam is established.
The Acharya has a motherly affection towards all humanity
in the sense that they should never succumb to the lower
instincts of man. Having talked about the shRngAra (Love)
of the divine couple, the Acharya wants to issue a warning
to posterity, lest mankind may slip into an error. This
error could be of two kinds. One might take liberties with
the worship of the divine through yantras and mantras,
emphasized in the Ananda-lahari part; and, because, the
divine has been said to be the Mother and Father of the
universe, one might construe it as a licence to take
liberties with that Universal Parent-couple. 

Yes, you can treat them as your Mother and Father and
worship them as you like, pouring forth all  your love. But
in  that case there should be no yantras, nor should you
bring in any mantras for invoking them. Mantras and Yantras
have to be used only with the proper ritualistic sanction
and discipline. When these latter are  absent, just go
about your worship by doing Soundaryalahari as a devotional
recitation and no more. In fact I know many of you do only
that. There is nothing wrong in it. And I am constrained to
 say ‘many of you’ and not  ‘All of you’. For there are
people who get into such spiritually advanced scriptures
for curiosity, for academic research, or for enjoyment of
literature, without  observing  the need to control their
sensual distractions. Such  failure to follow ethical and
religious discipline  is the second potential error, of the
two errors that I talked about. 

Obviously the Acharya does not want  his beautiful poem on
the beauty of the divine to end with the whimper of a
mundane rude warning to the public not to be swept into the
profane. He issues the warning, however,  in  the subtlest
terms. Instead of saying: “Whatever you do with this
stotra, do it with great discipline of mind and control of
the senses”, he indicates, in shloka #95, what awaits those
who approach Her without the necessary self-discipline and
regulatory mind.  In modern times I see some people write
without any sense of shame at the fact that they are only
fanning the fumes of basal instincts of man. Not only that,
 they seem to justify such writing and use alibis like
‘Realism’. When one provokes another to fall down in
ethical and moral standards, the provocateur accrues more
sinful discredit to himself than the one who has been
provoked into sin. And that is why, as an author, the
Acharya takes great care to see that his readers do not
fall into any trap of sin. So in shloka #95 he paints what
happens if you fail to follow discipline.

purArAter-antaHpuram-asi tatas-tvac-caraNayoH
saparyA-maryAdA tarala-karaNAnAm-asulabhA / 
tathA hyete nItAH shata-makha-mukhAH siddhim-atulAM 
tava dvAropaAnta-sthitibhir-aNimAdyAbhir-amarAH // 95 //

asi:  You are
antaHpuraM :  in the inner apartments, (as Consort) 
pura-arAteH : of the Destroyer of the cities (that is, of
Lord Shiva)
tataH : and therefore 
saparyA-maryAdA : the proper regimen  and privilege of 
tava caraNayoH : of Your feet 
asulabhA :  (is) difficult to attain 
tarala-karaNAnAM :  for those with fickle senses, or of
unregenerate mind.
tathA : Thereby
ete shata-makha-mukhAH  amarAH : these deities headed by
nItAH  hi: are led, indeed,   (only up to) 
atulAM siddhiM : an unparalleled achievement 
aNimAdyAbhiH : by the psychic powers like aNimA, etc.
dvAropAnta-sthitibhiH :  who are stationed in proximity to
the gates (which are only peripheral to Your mansion ). 

This shloka employs  a negative compliment to those of
fickle senses, who are said to reach ‘atulAm siddhiM’
(matchless siddhi). But Who is giving them this
achievement? Only those who stand at the Gates of the Royal
mansion, far removed from the sanctum sanctorum of ambaa’s 
inner apartments. These are the attendants of ambaal
stationed in the outermost rounds (AvaraNas) of Her
navAvaraNa mansion  (the nine – round Shrichakra).  In fact
they stand even outside the outermost round. They are the
ten devatas, eight of them representing the eight siddhis
(the psychic powers) aNimA, mahimA, etc. So the deities who
propitiate them have to stand only at the same outer rounds
of the Devi’s mansion and naturally get only what these
attendant devatas can give them. And the Acharya
satirically calls, almost in contempt,  what they bestow to
the seeker,  as ‘atulAm siddhiM’ (matchless psychic power).
Thus indirectly the Acharya is saying that we should aspire
to reach  not  these siddhis, which are given by the
‘dvAropAnta-sthitAH’ – those who guard the gates --  but we
should aim far beyond. 

Shiva-Shakti couple, in their inner apartments,  have to be
understood in the esoteric sense. The right understanding
will not come to those who are still imprisoned by  their
minds. Even  the poetic descriptions  in  the stotra should
not draw us to the state in which the very celestials like
Indra find themselves only just at the gates of the mansion
and not inside! Only those who honour and welcome the
mental discipline and the strict regimen required for a
valid entry into the Royal Mansion, beyond what the
fickle-minded celestials can reach, should ever  attempt to
do the Shri Chakra worship. Once that welcoming desire is
planted in the mind,  naturally ambaal will lead us  to the
understanding and following of   all the rules of the
rituals that constitute the Shri Chakra Puja. This is the
message of this shloka. What a beauty that the Acharya has
driven it all so nicely and softly into us, without a
single harsh word about  the consequences of unregulated
and indisciplined worship!  

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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