[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari (DPDS-80)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 27 08:04:06 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.1295 -1306  of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume,
4th imprn.)

sarasvatyA lakshhmyA vidhi-hari-sapatno viharate 
rateH pAtivratyaM shithilayati ramyeNa vapushhA/
ciraM jIvan-neva kshhapita-pashu-pAsha-vyatikaraH 
parAnandAbhikhyaM rasayati rasaM tvad-bhajanavAn // 99//

The modesty of our Acharya is well-known. It is going to
exhibit itself  again in the next shloka #100 where he
says, in winding up the stotra,   that nothing is his,  it
is all ambaal’s work. So he does not give any phala-shruti
(a list of what one achieves by reading this stotra;
‘phala’ means fruit, consequence, reward) as is usual with
all devotional compositions.  Instead, he gives, in this
shloka #99, a different form of phala-shruti, wherein he
says what an upAsana of ambaal would give a devotee
(tvad-bhajanaVAn, meaning, one who propitiates You), and
thus indirectly hinting to us something like a
phala-shruti. The first part of this stotra is the form of
Her in mantra and tantra. The second part is the form of
Her physical beauty.  Thereby  the whole stotra becomes 
Her very Self. So the recitation of this stotra is itself
an upAsanA. The reciter is the ‘bhajanavAn’. 

What does the ‘bhajanavAn’ get?  The only answer could be:
What will he not get? Whether it is of this world (‘iha’)
or of the other world (‘para’), he will get everything. One
might say, from a Vedantic point of view,  that ‘iha-phala’
 is no ‘phala’ at all. But who has that kind of maturity
that does not want mundane rewards of this world?  One has
to start from the tastes of this world and move on to
discard them only gradually. The movement from the ‘iha’ 
(meaning ‘here’, ‘now’) to the ‘para’  (meaning ‘distant’,
‘subsequent’) has to go from stage to stage in the natural
course of one’s evolution. It is in this context that this
shloka details both the ‘iha-phala’ and the ‘para-phala’ as
 rewards for the upAsaka. Both the kinds of rewards may be
put together under four heads: Knowledge, Wealth, Beauty,
Life. Of these the first one goes along with both ‘iha’ and

Knowledge is obtained by Learning. The Goddess of Learning
is Sarasvati.  But ambaal Herself gives all that is given
by Sarasvati – to such an extent that even Brahma, the
Creator, is envious of such a devotee who has got all the
learning that Sarasvati can bestow. Brahma the Creator, the
consort of Sarasvati, was all along thinking that he was
the sole beneficiary of Sarasvati’s favours. Remember that
Brahma with his four  faces always chanting the four vedas
is the repository of all knowledge. Still he feels that the
devotee who is favoured by ambaal with all that Sarasvati
has ever given Him, is a kind of competitor to Him   
vis-a-vis Sarasvati. ‘How come, this human devotee of
ambaaL has more favours of the Sarasvati-type than what I
myself have!’ is the Creator’s feeling. This is part of the
first line of the shloka. “SarasvatyA vidhi-sapatno

The other part of the first line – “lakshhmyA hari-sapatno
viharate” says the same thing of Vishnu, whose consort is
Lakshmi. Again , ambaal’s Grace gives Her upAsaka, all
favours of the Lakshmi type – meaning, wealth and
prosperity -- that Vishnu Himself is envious!

The Acharya mentions Sarasvati before Lakshmi. In other
words, he talks of Knowledge before Wealth.  If the choice
is given to us we might want to put Wealth before
Knowledge.  I am sure that if God were to suddenly appear
before us and ask us what we want, most of us – nay, almost
all of us – would ask for wealth, as our first priority. 
Wealth is the one thing that never satiates the human mind.

Certainly, Knowledge, Wealth, and Beauty are all desired by
every one.  But it is Wealth that gets the first seat in
this. There is an interesting irony here. As far as wisdom
and knowledge are concerned, none of us would call oneself
unwise or unknowing. Even if we do not know we usually like
to pose as one who knows! We don’t take extraordinary
efforts to make an improvement to our real knowledge. The
same story with Beauty. None of us would like to be told
that there is no beauty in us. And we would not like others
also to think of us otherwise. In the case of Knowledge we
may be slack in making efforts to improve.  But in the case
of Beauty every one of us takes elaborate pains to improve
our presentation and appearance.  This is the story with
Knowledge  and Beauty.

On the other hand, in the case of wealth, we all  behave
differently, almost contrarily. We may have wealth but we
would not like other people to know about it. Always we
make a plea for our need to have more and we go about
taking that posture.  In the case of Knowledge and Beauty,
we pose as if we have them even if we do not have them. In
the case of Wealth it is the opposite! This is the irony,
which clearly establishes that, among the three, Wealth is
our first preference. 

But our Acharya mentions Knowledge first and then only
Wealth. This only shows his infinite concern for us.
However much he may know our minds and their predeliction
for wealth in preference to knowledge, he wants to do good
to us by influencing us in favour of the one thing that he
knows will only do good to us. Because if wealth is accrued
before the wisdom to use that wealth properly, there is
every chance that such wealth will be lost in no time.  His
thinking goes along with Taittiriyopanishad where, the
prayer is for ‘medhA’ (Right knowledge) (1.4.1) and then it
says ‘Thereafter (‘tataH’) give me wealth’ (1.4.2). His own
Bhaja Govindam also emphasizes this in “artham-anartham
bhAvaya nityaM”.

In an earlier shloka (#97) he said “You are Sarasvati, You
are Lakshmi, Parvati also; and You are the source of them
all, because You are the Queen-Consort of the Absolute
Brahman” He did not call Sarasvati or Lakshmi as the
Goddess of Learning or the Goddess of Wealth. Instead He
made them the Shaktis corresponding to the ‘sRshhTi’ 
function and the ‘sthiti’ function. In apposition to the
fact that they were the Shaktis corresponding to Cosmic
functions, ambaal was placed as the Universal Shakti
integrated into the parabrahman itself. And thereby She
becomes the source of all other Shaktis. So the Learning
and Wealth which are the domains of Sarasvati and Lakshmi,
have their original source in ambaal. Naturally, by
propitiating ambaal, the other two also are obtained.

And thirdly, ambaal is the original source of Power for the
God of Love, namely ‘Kama’. In fact Her own name is
Kameshvari, KamAkshi and KamakoTi. It is that Kama who was
reinstated by her by being given  a new life. It is he who
reigns over  the third fundamental desire of man, namely,
Beauty. That is why when somebody possesses all the beauty
that we can think of, we say the person is a Manmatha in
physical form. The stotra that talks predominantly of the
‘soundarya’ (beauty) of ambaal, is now said to give the
beauty that man desires. In the case of Sarasvati and
Lakshmi, they were feminine; so it was said (in the first
line) that a devotee of ambaal gets knowledge (Sarasvati’s
gift) and wealth (Lakshmi’s gift) in such abundance that
their own husbands were envious of the recipient. Now
Manmatha is male and so when his bounty of beauty is
bestowed on the devotee due to ambaal’s Grace, his own wife
Rati, becomes suspicious of the identity of the recipient
–whether he is Manmatha himself! This is the content of the
second line of the shloka. 

Well, Knowledge, Wealth and Beauty – all three have been
obtained. Are these enough? What if the recipient does not
live long? Then that itself will negate everything else! 
That is why all our scriptures include in their
benedictions, ‘dIrghAyuH’ as the first blessing. Without
long life and the implied good health, everything else is
of no value.  

And this is what is promised in the third line of the
shloka. This is the most (materially) significant benefit
to the upAsaka. ‘ciraM jIvanneva’ says the shloka.  But as
one goes on in one’s life, living long, in due time he gets
into the thought process: “All these days I have obtained
everything of value in this world (‘iha’) in terms of
knoledge, wealth and beauty,  - all by ambaal’s Grace. Let
me hereafter work through the same upAsanA of ambaal, for
betterment of my after-life”. And then, what happens, is
said in the third and fourth line of the shloka:

“ciraM jIvanneva kshhapita-pashu-pAsha-vyatikaraH
parAnandA-bhikhyaM rasayati rasaM tvad-bhajanavAn” 

He who propitiates You, namely Your upAsaka, lives long, is
able to discard the pashu-pAsha knot and enjoys the
infinite bliss of BrahmAnanada. 

So long as a Jiva revolves in the quagmire of the senses
and their natural attractions, the Jiva is nothing but an
animal (pashu). That is when the bond of ‘karma’ anchors
him to the concept of ‘janma’ (birth and death). It is that
bond that is called ‘pAshaM’. It makes him revolve again
and again in the samsAra cycle. It is the sword of jnAna
that cuts it asunder. And then he is no more a pashu. He
becomes Shiva, the pashu-pati (the Lord of the pashu). The
parAnandaM – supreme bliss of advaita – is then the essence
(rasa)  of his experience. Note that the Acharya uses his
words very carefully.  He does not say he ‘experiences’
that ‘rasa’. If he wanted to say so he would have used the
words ‘pibati’ (drinks, consumes) or ‘AsvAdayati’ (tastes).
But he has put in the word ‘rasayati’ meaning, he becomes
the rasa (essence) himself and it is that becoming that is
termed as ‘rasayati’. In other words there is no duality of
the experiencer and the experienced. There is only one
‘rasa’.  It is advaitam!

The great teacher of advaita uses two concepts of what is
going to develop in future as the great Shaiva siddhanta.
This shows his universality of outlook. Also, all along he
has been propagating Soundaryalahari according to the
ShAkta schools of thought. Accordingly Shakti was placed in
the dominant position. But when he ends the stotra he
raises Shiva to  dominance  and effortlessly  throws in two
important concepts  -- namely ‘pashu’ and ‘pAsha’ -- of the
Shaiva canon. 

The flood of beauty of Mother Goddess is now terminating.
All floods have to terminate in a sea or ocean. This flood
(lahari) of words has now to merge in the ocean of
shabda-brahman.  The Acharya uses the word ‘salila-nidhi’
which is the same as ‘jala-nidhi’ that means ‘ocean’. 

sudhA-sUtesh-candropala-jala-lavair-arghya-racanA /
svakIyair-ambhobhiH salila-nidhi-sauhitya-karaNaM
tvadIyAbhir-vAgbhis-tava janani vAcAM stutir-iyaM // 100 //

vAcAM janani:  Oh Mother who generated Speech,
divasakara-nIrAjana-vidhiH : (just as one does) the
light-waving ritual to the Sun-God
pradIpa-jvAlAbhiH : by the flames of a lamp,
arghya-racanA : (just as) the offering of the arghya ritual
sudhA-sUteH : to the moon
candropala-jala-lavaiH : by the water drops that ooze out
of the moonstone in contact with moonlight,
salila-nidhi-sauhitya-karaNaM : (just as) offering ritual
bathing to the ocean
svakIyaiH ambhobhiH : by its own water,
tava iyaM stutiH : (so also is) this stotra on You
tvadIyAbhiH vAgbhiH : composed of Thine own words.

An elaborate explanation is needed for this final shloka.

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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