DEIVATHIN KURAL # 21 (Vol # 6) Dated 10 July 2012
DEIVATHIN KURAL # 21 (Vol # 6) Dated 10 July 2012
(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavaaL of Kanchi Kaamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are going ahead from the last para on page No 142 of Volume 6 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at http://Advaitham.blogspot.com updated constantly)
174. More than anything else beauty combined with gravity is the deliberate gait of the elephants, known as ‘gaja gati’ (गज गति). This gait combines in itself both the male and feminine elements of dignity and profundity. Some time back this was made famous in a popular tune in the western world as ‘Baby Elephant Walk’. While describing the stately walk of royalty it is compared with the stride of the elephant and the same when related to a woman with an allure in her walk is called ‘Gaja Gaamini’ (गजगामिनी). (The information contained in this para should have been immediately after the mention of ‘Ashta – Dig – Gaj’, as part of the paragraph 167, but was missed out. Anyhow since it does not make much of a difference to the flow of the narrative, it has been included here.)
175. Then as the peak of all these descriptions is the fact that the shape and form of Vigneshwara is a clear indication of the fact that God implied it to be representing the root source of all existence. It is not only the start or spring of creation or the number one as first in digits or numerals but also the initial capital (called the ‘mudal’ முதல்) with which you start any business or activity. What is the capital or the start point or முதல் for all existence? That is the form of Onkaara PraNava Roopa, the primordial sound of ‘Ohm’! That is the face of the elephant with the trunk with a right curve. That is why God is there as PiLLaiyar, in the form of Gajaanana with the face of an elephant, receiving the first pooja when we commence pooja for any Devata, that is God in any form!
176. Face and Mouth. In Gajaanana, the Aanana means the face or Muka for which the ‘Amaram’ gives many synonyms such as ‘vaktraasyam, vadanam, thuNdam, aananam, labanam and mukam’ (वक्त्रास्यं, वदनं, तुण्डं, आननं, लबनं, मुकं), all of them meaning the face / mouth! While saying this I feel that my earlier averment that, in Sanskrit there are no separate words for mouth and face and that the same word can mean either; is not so very correct. The spoken word is ‘vaak or vachanam or vaktavyam’ (वाक, वचनं, or वक्तव्यं); the word for the mouth can be vaktram and or vadanam (वक्त्रं or वदनं). When we tell someone to speak or reply, we say ‘vada वद’. Similarly ‘lab लब्’ is the root word for ‘aalaabam, sallaabam’ and such words, all about talking, saying and conversing. So it is not totally correct that ‘the words for face and mouth are the same’. But it is a fact that ‘man is the only talking animal’ other than the parrot and the sparrow as pets which can mimic humans to some limited extent. So, the mouth has a special place as the instrument of speech in the face, which being the location for the eyes capable of seeing, nose capable of smelling, ears capable of hearing the sounds and lips and cheeks, which are rather special for the sense of touch; is already the centre of communications as though! Still among them all the mouth being the instrument for speech and feeding seems to dominate in importance in the face that often, the word for one means the other also. It is worthwhile to note here, that in most of the Indian languages, the word for ‘importance’ is ‘mukhyam’, slightly varying. This word ‘mukhyam’ is derived from the word for face that is, ‘mukam’, which could mean both the face and mouth!
177. Then, the mouth other than being a ‘Karmendriya’ (a body part for action) which does the actions of speech and eating, it has a role as ‘Gnanendriya’ (a body part as a sensor) also as the important sense of taste is dependent on the taste buds in the tongue in the mouth. As important as the eyes which sees the world, olfactory nerves of the nose which recognizes fragrance and stink; the taste buds are very important indeed, as otherwise life can be very bland! Then the mouth also does or helps in the important job of biting, crushing, masticating, gulping, drinking and swallowing. After all that is said and done, the mouth is also important for playing on a variety of musical instruments such as the flute, mouth-organ, bagpipe, nadaswaram, clarinet, shehnai, trumpet, oboe and bugle, to name only a few! So, there is no gainsaying the fact that mouth is the most important part of the face that often in many languages the same word could mean the face as well as the mouth. That is why there is a proverb in Tamil which says அகத்தின் அழகு முகத்திலே, that the inner state of the person is seen on the face. Then so many expressions of the face are dependent on the position of the mouth. Just to prove my point, I will ask you a question, “Can you laugh or smile without moving your face? In that too, can you do it without moving your mouth?” For the eight cubits body the head is the main, says a Tamil proverb, ‘எண் ஜாண் உடம்புக்கு சிரசே ப்ரதானம்’. A man is beautiful or ugly as revealed by the face. We see that PiLLaiyar has the beautiful face of the elephant, with peaceful eyes, fan like ears and the trunk aka thumbikkai capable of multi-purpose abilities and actions. He is lovingly called Gaja Aanana with the face of the elephant!
“Om VakratuNdaaya Namaha”
178. In Amara Kosa, we noticed that amongst the synonyms for the word face, there was also a word ‘TuNdam’ (துண்டம்). Though normally it means the ‘face’, for the pigs or boar and elephant it means the nose. The specialty about the nose of the pig and boar is that normally in human beings as well as goat, cow and horse, it is broad at the top and narrow at the lower end; whereas for animals which depend upon their sense of smell for survival, in terms of threat perception as well as locating the next meal, the nose is rather broad. For a pig or boar it flares and for the elephant it is the ubiquitous and all-purpose trunk. For birds it is the long and pointed beak known as அலகு in Tamil and in Sanskrit it is the TuNdam that is तुण्डं. As per the earlier quoted Tamil proverb, if the head is the most important part of the body and in it if the mouth is critical and crucial in terms of function; in terms of form and shape the nose is the most decisive. The nose in the face can make or break its beauty quotient! In all that, the elephant has the most unique nose known as TuNdam!
179. The word ‘Vakram’ (वक्रं) means the bend or curve. If someone is highly convoluted, we say that he is ‘too vakram’. The complicated character is ‘vakra guNam’ said derogatively, while the honest and truthful is described as straight forward. If the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line, the curve goes around, sometimes may be in squiggles, covering more distance and taking more time and may never come to the point! Instead to proceed directly to the point, without losing direction or deviation or going astray; to proceed to the goal is straight-forwardness. This word ‘straight’ in Sanskrit is known as आर्जवं (‘aarjavam’) which is synonymous with honesty and integrity. What is not straight is vakram! A dishonest person is called a man with a twisted brain or mind. Then if that twist is complicated then it is ‘vakra buddhi’.
180. Here the word ‘Vakra TuNda’ has no bad meaning. It only means an arched trunk. He is just keeping it to a side. Normally his trunk is curved to the left (that is, இடம்புரி) or right (that is, வலம்புரி). So, one of his names is ‘Vakra tuNda’. The prayer that we make in front of him addressing him to be the one with the twisted trunk and massive body, (‘वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय’,) with power of effulgence of a billion Suns, is requesting him to, “please make my path devoid of all impediments in all my endeavors”. Deekshidar has sung a song in praise of that trunk of PiLLaiyar which is of the figure of the written Omkaara – “प्रणव स्वरूप वक्रतुण्डं” (‘PraNava Swaroopa Vakratundam’). If the trunk is twisted to the right as வலம்புரி it becomes the PraNava Swaroopa of the sound of ‘Ohm’, like this letter in Tamil ‘ஓம்’ or in Sanskrit ‘ओं’. Anyhow when the trunk is taken to the left slightly and then curved to the right, then it gets the shape of PraNava Omkaara and hence the name Vakratunda.
181. If we think with love about the playful pranks of stealing by Sri Krishna as a baby boy, we will be rid of our kleptomania. If we deliberate on his ‘Raasa Leela’, dancing with all the Gopika girls on the banks of River Yamuna, we will be rid of the baser aspects of crass and crude sensuality. Similarly thinking about the twist in the trunk of ‘Vakra TuNda’, the quirks in our character and attitude will vanish. In GaNapathy Gayatri, as the route to meditation, it is this name of PiLLaiyar as Vakratunda that has been made use of. || “ओम एकदन्ताय विद्महे वक्रतुण्डाय धीमहि तन्नो दन्तिप्रचोदयात्” || That is read as, || “Om ekadantaaya vidmahe vakratuNdaaya dheemahi tanno danti prachodayaat” || That Vakram mentioned in the Mantra will get rid of all our convoluted ideas and idiosyncrasies!
(To be continued.)
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