[Advaita-l] Digest of Paramacharya's Discourses on Soundaryalahari(DPDS-81)
profvk at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 29 08:36:19 CDT 2004
Recall the Note about the organization of the Digest,
from DPDS 26 or the earlier ones.
A Digest of Paramacharyas Discourses on Soundaryalahari -
(Digest of pp.1307 - 1321 of Deivathin Kural, 6th volume,
(Shloka 100 Continued).
The great Acharya always does something different from
other poets. Usually they all end their work with a
phala-shruti a listing of all the good things that will
accrue by the reading, recitation and repetition of the
stotra just finished. Here our author is himself a unique
combination of the deity of the stotra and Her own Lord.
So we would expect the last shloka of the stotra to be a
magnificent phala-shruti that soars far higher than the
ordinary. But what do we find?
Instead of trying to soar higher, he actually makes himself
the humblest of the humble. Why talk of phala-shruti for
such an apology of a stotra, that has just been done by Her
Grace? What accrues to whomsoever that worships Her has
already been told in shloka #99. Let me stop there.
Whatever happens in the world, whether highly commendable
or not, all that is founded on Her Will. If everything
turns out to be commendable then that may not contribute to
the variety that is the spice of Her leela. That is why
perhaps She encourages and prompts some low-level
achievements also, for the very purpose of highlighting
really higher ones! This stotra is one of such promptings
of Hers. She is the Source of everything and so this is
also Her child. And I am placing Her child at Her own
feet. This is the spirit of the final shloka #100. In
shloka #27 the Acharya laid himself at Her feet that was
his Atma-samarpaNaM. Now he is placing this child of Hers
at Her own divine feet.
Thus he does not show it off as something worthy of being
submitted to Her as an offering. He thinks that it is
absurd to make such a submission. This absurdity reminds
him of three other absurdities that are current in the
world. And this is what makes the final shloka.
The word divasa-kara means one who produces the day
(divasa), therefore, the Sun. When a deity in the form of
an idol of worship is located in the innermost sanctity of
a garbha-griha in a temple then a waving of camphor flame
makes sense because it really lights up the dark sanctum
sanctorum and brightens up the deity with all its
decorations. But what can a poor camphor flame do to
brilliant sunlight? In fact it is the other way. The
brilliance of sunlight actually dampens any light that may
be emanating from the camphor flame! The devi is the
fullest Effulgence of the Shakti that is Speech (Vak).
Before that Light, what can this poor stotra of mine do in
terms of lighting up anything? This is the attitude in
which the Acharya is submitting his work at Her feet and
compares his action to the absurd action of lighting up
camphor and showing it as an offering to the Sun-God!
Every time he talks of the hot Sun he immediately refers
to the cold moon! Here also the second example of
absurdity (2nd line of the shloka) is about the moon.
Worship is being done to the Moon-God. In any ritual
worship, there are usually three offerings by means of
water. One is pAdyaM (that which is offered for washing
the feet). The second is arghyaM (that which is offered
in the hands). The third is AcamanIyaM (that which is
offered to be taken in by the mouth). Technically,
arghyaM means that which is valued most. Therefore that
formality has a special value. Now in one such pUjA that
the Acharya might have witnessed, probably something like
the following took place.
There are two gem-stones talked about in ancient
literature. They are Moon-stone and Sun-stone. Probably
these were there in ancient times and are now extinct. The
sunstone draws into itself the rays of the Sun and radiates
heat. Almost like a concentration through a lens. The
moonstone is just the opposite. It absorbs moonlight into
itself and pours out cool water! Now what some one did in
the worship of the Moon was to take that water poured out
by the moonstone and offer it to the Moon-God as an
arghyaM! candra-upala is moonstone. upala is stone.
And the moon itself is called sudhAsUti because moon is
said to pour out nectar by its light. sudhA is nectar.
There is a gradation of absurdities in the two absurdities
cited. Camphor has an independent existence outside of the
Sun. The only dependence of camphor on the Sun may be that
camphor may not light up if it is continuously exposed to
an absence of any light or heat. On the other hand, the
case of the moonstone pouring out water is totally
dependent on the moon, because it is the moonlight that
makes it give out water. Thus the absurdity of using the
water from the moonstone to offer arghyaM to the Moon is a
greater absurdity than the camphor flame being shown to the
The third absurdity (from the third line of the shloka) is
still more absurd. And the Acharya must have witnessed it
many a time because he has travelled from coast to coast in
the entire country. For example he must have seen it in
Rameshvaram where people dip in the Ocean and offer worship
to the Ocean-God Varuna. Any ritual worship has, as one of
its sixteen formalities, a ritual bathing, called
abhishhekaM. How does one do abhishhekaM to the ocean?
Is it not funny? Abhishhekam to the Ocean! But they all
do it. The Acharya himself must have done it when he went
to Rameshvaram. What do they do? They take some drops of
water from the ocean itself and sprinkle it on the ocean
with the mantra beginning with : Apo-hishhTA mayo bhuvaH.
(Oh Water! You are conferring bliss) ..... If millions of
people over the centuries have done this kind of worship of
Varuna during their bath in the ocean, then why cant I,
says the Acharya, take a few words from that ocean of Vak
(Speech) and offer it to Herself, the Goddess of all
The word sauhityaM in the third line of the shloka, is
generally taken to mean the ritual act of tarpanam
(offering a little palmful of water) but the word actually
means that which is most beneficial or pleasant. In our
country which is generally hot, the most pleasant thing is
to give a bath. So I extended its meaning to abhishekam
or bath, in the pUjA to the Ocean. Anyway it increases the
intensity of the absurdity still further and so suits the
Look at the gradation among the three examples. The Sun and
Camphor are two distinct entities. The water oozing out of
the moonstone gem, though caused by moonlight, still is
different from the moon. But in the case of water being
taken out of the sea and being offered to that sea of water
itself, there is no medium involved; the water is the same.
So the third example brings you to the peak of absurdity.
And this quite naturally fits with the attitude of the
Acharya when he thinks that what he has composed is nothing
but the words of ambaal Herself. She is addressed as vAcAm
janani -- meaning, the origin, the source, of everything
that has anything to do with Speech -- in the fourth
line. What has been done is what You Yourself have
composed in Your own words. It is all Yours. There is
nothing of mine there. This is how the Acharya makes a
complete surrender. He does not even use the words
samarpaNaM or arpaNaM meaning dedication. But it is
clear that he has offered his entire self to the Goddess.
The jIvAtmA has totally negated itself and there is only
the paramAtmA thereafter. By means of the bhakti stotra of
Soundaryalahari the Acharya has shown us what it is to
reach the Self-Realisation of Oneness with the Ultimate.
And, most of all, he shows to us the peak of modesty.
vidyA-vinaya-sampanna say our ShAstras. Here is the
colossal example of vidyA (Learning) and vinaya (Modesty).
If nothing else, we should learn this from the Acharya. His
advaita lesson may not penetrate into our head. But this
lesson in modesty that he teaches us should. Any time we
feel heavy in our head, the thought must come: Whatever I
think I am is Her Grace. And that thought will help us
lighten the burden of I-ness in the head. Even the inhaling
breath is given by Her; it is Hers. If only it had been
ours we would never die!
If we thus start living as an instrument in the hands of
ambaal, it will lead us to an advaita state of merging in
Her. This lesson of being nothing but an instrument in Her
hands and negating oneself as the doer is what this shloka
tells us as the final teaching of all brahma-vidyA.
Because it is this lesson and the consequent living of it
(abhyAsa) that takes us on to an advaita-anubhava
(experience of non-duality). This is the phala-shruti that
is unsaid here by the Acharya. It is the phala (reward,
fruit) that asks for no phala! Only when there is a doer
there is a phala for the doer. When the doer himself
has been negated, there is no question of phala.
How does one negate and dissolve oneself and be only Her
instrument ? Only by thinking of Her. We do not even know
what the Universal parAshakti is like? So thinking of that
parA-shakti is an impossibility. But here in this
Soundaryalahari our Acharya has brought Her to us in a
beautiful form from head to foot. Her form itself is
nothing but Beauty and he has added beauty to it by his
beautiful play of words. Looking at, and thinking about,
that beauty from head to foot, in all the details that the
Acharya has brought to us, is the only antidote for the ego
in which we are all steeped in. She has blessed us all with
our intellects and with the facility to use our speech
and mind. Use all this in Her favour as a decoration. What
She gave us, give it back to Her. That will kill our ego.
Not only speech, but any art or science that we are capable
of -- make it as an ornament for Her. In that attitude of
humility every activity of ours will take us up the
spiritual ladder. Whatever we then do will become a sAdhanA
to reach Her.
When one thus merges in the flood of Her beauty through
these delightful stanzas of Soundaryalahari, maybe he will
himself accrue all those qualities of beauty. Maybe not.
But one thing is certain. In the eyes of the world he will
appear to have become so endowed with all the beauties of
the Mother Herself. For he has taken the nectar of Wisdom
and the Milk of Love that flows from Her and so he should
naturally be bubbling with that divine bliss that She has
He might have a bald head. But the world will be attracted
to him as if he has the kirITaM te haimaM (cf. #42)
quality! His face may have all kinds of distortions. But
others would gather round him to see his
vadana-soundarya-lahari (cf. #44). Maybe he has squint
eyes; but it would be dara-dalita-nIlotpalaM (cf. #57)
for the others. His uncouth mouth will appear to surpass
the beauty of vidruma-latA or bimba (# 62). Even when
his body is disproportionate and unattractive, because of
the bhakti and Divine Love with which he is full he would
shine so well as to be said: jayati karuNA kAcid-aruNA
(cf. #93). Every movement of his would benefit the rest of
the world as to say there is nothing better than this
lakshmI-caraNa-tala-lAkshhA-rasaM or nava-nalina-rAgaM
(cf. #71). Every step that he takes would make us melt in
respect; and that is the karaNa-caraNa-shhaT-caraNaM-type
(cf. #90) of jIva which merges in that lotus feet of Hers.
Thus one who dips into the stotra that is Soundaryalahari,
would become ultimately a veritable Soundarya-lahari (flood
of beauty)! There is no doubt that, with the blessings of
our Acharya, The Mother of the Universe to whom we bow in
prostration, by means of these Soundaryalahri shlokas,
will gradually, but steadily, lead our Atman to become,
ultimately, one with that Ocean of Bliss.!
Thus spake the Paramacharya
Aum Shri Matre namaH / tvadIyAbhir-Angila-vAgbhiH janani
idam guror-bhAshhaNAkhyaM gadya-vyAkhyanam gurvanugrahAt
samkshhiptaM samAptam ca / lokAs-samastAs-sukhino bhavantu
// Aum tat sat //
Salutations to The Auspicious Mother. Oh Mother! By the
Grace of the Guru (The Paramacharya), this prose commentary
named Discourses of the Guru has now been summarised
and also completed, in words of English which are Your
own. May all the Universes turn out to be happy. Aum tat
PraNAms and Thanks to all advaitins and Devotees of Mother
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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