Thursday, November 29, 2012

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 91 (Vol # 6) Dated 30 Nov 2012

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 91 (Vol # 6) Dated 30 Nov 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 paragraph in page No 618 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 updated constantly)

61.    Through Soundarya Lahari, we get the AruL Lahari of our ÃchãryãL.  While saying this, another meaning also comes to my mind.  ÃchãryãL is himself the very embodiment of AruL and so an 'AruL Murthy', like it is said in the sloka for our ÃchãryãL,
"श्रुति स्मृति पुराणानां आलयं करुणालयं |
नमामि भगवत् पाद संकरं लोकसंकरं ||", meaning thereby that, "I pay my obeisance to that benefactor Sankara for the whole world, who is ever in the feet of God, as more of a repository of Grace than all the sacred Sruti, Smruti, PurãNãs (that is the heard, and remembered parts of the Vedas and recorded historical events) and temples!"  He is 'करुणालयं', a temple of compassion.  So to read his poetry is to have his darsan and Anugraha as well as AmbãL's darsan and Grace!  After all who is he and who is AmbãL, they are one and the same.  So, it means that though he was in human form only for 32 years, through his poems, in the body of Soundarya Lahari he continues to give us darsan and Anugraha, eternally.
62.    I must say a few more things about such poetry.  With devotion when we chant any of these slokas, God's Grace will be immediately available.  Why only that, even if we do not understand the meaning of the words properly and make mistakes in the pronunciation of the words, if our devotion is complete their power to provide benefits of Grace, is automatically assured.  The difficulty is more in our intensity of devotion.  Here is where such poems help us more dramatically.  The very poems feed us with the necessary frame of mind for such devotion.  If we chant Appar's Thevaaram songs, his intensity of feelings get transferred to us and cause us to melt in devotion completely.  Soundarya Lahari is not so moving in intensity of feelings of devotion but, by its literary refinement and beauty of expression attracts our mind, spoon-feeding us with devotion as we go along by riveting our imagination and attention solely on AmbãL. 
63.    I wish to talk about another aspect about such poems.  In Sanskrit the word 'Kavi' indicates the poet.  'Kãvyam' or 'Kavita' indicates the poetry, whereas in Tamil, 'Kavi' will indicate both the poet and poetry, as though the poet himself has taken the form of the poetry!  I was going to tell you about a type of 'Arut Kavi'.  That is, instead of responding to our level of devotion or by itself instilling devotion in us and then giving us the effect of the sloka, there are poems which by the very 'sound effect' of the mantras, give us the necessary fruits.  We may not be devoted enough and the words may not have much of literary merit or emotional appeal either; still the very sound of the words and letters known as 'Aksharas'; have the power to invoke the needed response from the cosmos.  Such words (aka'vãk') have the power of Mantras.  By their divine powers, (even if the one saying it does not understand the meaning), such slokas will give the one chanting it a variety of beneficial effects.  We could call it the 'mantra sabda visesha'.  So we note that among such poems, there are some which excel in their quality of word power in the literary sense and some others which excel because of their quality of sound power in the sense that they are as good as mantras!
64.    In our ÃchãryãL's writings there is no superfluous wasting of words at all, as they are like a mine of gems in terms of excellent meaningful appropriateness.  There is no glass pieces or imitation gems.  Though made of gold they are full of the fragrance of meaningfulness.  Elders have selected out of his writings, two of his works as being full of excellence in terms of 'Word-power' as well as 'Mantra-power', as I told you earlier – SubrahmaNya Bhujangam and Soundarya Lahari.  The first 41 slokas are anyhow of Mantra Sãstrãs, while all the balance 59 slokas describing the beauty of AmbãL's form, also have the power to receive and transmit the divine Grace of AmbãL, because of the excellence of the words.  Each sloka used in Japa has a special effect.  Many for generations have benefitted by doing that.  But a Mantra (including any of the slokas of Soundarya Lahari to be chanted as a Mantra), is to be obtained through a Guru in a formal manner.  If you happen to chant it simply as a devotional poetry too, you can reap enormous benefits.  However if it is to be considered as Mantra Sãstrã, then getting it formally through a Guru is essential, following the Do's and Don'ts as specified by him.
65.    All of us may not go by that route.  It is enough if your aim is to be devoted to AmbãL, and you chant a portion daily with that aim, all other benefits will also accrue automatically.  Even if it happens or not, you will not be noticing as devotion can be an end in itself!  Whatever devotional poems our ÃchãryãL has composed on Siva, Vishnu, AmbãL and many other deities; are all such that they have both word-power and mantra-power!  Other than the first part of 41 slokas of Soundarya Lahari being known as Ãnanda Lahari, he has also written a separate stotra of the same name as Ãnanda Lahari.  Further, there are big ones on AmbãL such as 'Devi Bhujangam', 'Tripura Sundari Mãnasa Pooja Stotram', 'Tripura Sundari Chatushshashty Upachãra Pooja Stotram' and 'Tripura Sundari Veda Pãda Stavam'. Then there are small ones on AmbãL namely, 'Annapoorna Ashtakam, 'Ambãshtakam' and 'Bhavani Bhujangam'.  Then there are slokas on Madurai Meenãkshi, Sringeri Sãradãmba, Sri Sailam Bramarãmba and other such famous AmbãL Murthy-s in such temple towns.  Like his 'Siva Aparãda Kshamãpana Stotram', he has composed one addressing AmbãL requesting Her to forgive him for his errors of omission and commission, known as 'KãLi Stuti'.  That poem is also famous as 'KãLyaparãda Kshamãpana Stotram'.  This is supposed to have been written by our ÃchãryãL and much in vogue for PãrãyaNam (being chanted regularly) in Bengal, that is famous for Sãktam, the Religion of devotees of Shakti.
66.    Though our ÃchãryãL has composed hundreds of devotional poems big and small on a variety of deities, amongst them all the top most is Soundarya Lahari as acclaimed by the discerning persons of erudition.  In the 'Ashtothram' eulogising our ÃchãryãL, it says, "सोउन्दर्य लहरि मुख्य बहु स्तोत्र विदयकाय नमह", meaning thereby, 'Prostrations to him who endowed the world with many slokas and stotras, foremost of which is Soundarya Lahari'. There is no mention of any other poems of his in that 'Ashtothram'.  Amongst his Bhashya Granthas it is 'Brhma Sutra Bhashyam', amongst his original works on philosophy and procedures known as PrakaraNa Granthas, it is the 'tiara' like 'Viveka ChudamaNi' and amongst his Bhakti Granthas, it is 'Soundarya Lahari'; which are foremost.
67.    Depending on individual experience, maturity, education, culture and status in life; a study of works like 'Soundarya Lahari' is sure to lead to a lot of inner meanings becoming revealed.  Many have discerned many inner meanings like that and such a process will continue in the future too. So, newer shades of meanings will continue to be discerned, like the spring that gives you more water as you keep digging.  It will not stop with my telling you about what occurs to my mind.  For people who are ready to dig or dive deep, many more gems or pearls are waiting to be revealed!  Some amongst you, may be one or two or many, if you do come and tell me different shades of meaning; that will be received by me as great 'Ratna Abhishekam / Mukta Abhishekam'!  (PeriyavãL is alluding to the custom in India to honour elders as they reach older ages with Abhishekam with water specially brought from Ganges River and other such sacred sources, petals of flowers, milk, gold coins, gems and or pearls!  Here Abhishekam is the action of pouring such things on their heads; Ratnam is a gem and Ratna is plural of that and Mukta means pearls similarly.  By saying this PeriyavãL is motivating the audience to dig / dive deep into Soundarya Lahari, evidently!)

"The Commentaries on Soundarya Lahari Known as
Bhashyams / Vyãkhyãnams"

68.    Poems with literary and spiritual values are read, enjoyed and savoured.  But then the readers wish to share what they have enjoyed with the discerning public by writing commentaries on the hidden treasures of value and beauty they found.  In the case of books containing Mantra Sãstrãs the aim is also to give explanatory notes to make the abstruse subject materials a little more clear and easy to comprehend.  Since Soundarya Lahari has both literary value and subtle materials of Mantra Sãstrãs, it is but natural that there should be many such commentaries / Vyãkhyãnams.  There are 36 different books of commentaries on Soundarya Lahari that we have / received or obtained in our matt. Amongst them the one by Lakshmidara is more famous.  Nowadays many of the available information in what is known as Sri Vidya Tantram aka Lalithopãsana are from Bhaskara Raya's Bhashyam for Lalitha Sahasranãma.  Lakshmidara for Soundarya Lahari holds similar place of eminence as the commentator par excellence like Bhaskara Raya for Lalitha Sahasranãma. 
69.    Then there is one by a gentleman known as Kaivalya Ãshrama, who has written a commentary called 'Sowbhagya Vardhini' and another by Kãmeswara Soori, called 'AruNãmodini', which are somewhat famous.  From the Nepal Governments Manuscript Library we have recently received a book known as 'Ãnandagiri Bhashyam.  The author Ãnanda Giri claims that he has written it on the orders of one 'Ãnandavãra Krutsna SankarachãryãL'.  Till date we have not been able to identify as to the time period of its being written or as to which was the Sankara Mata, that Swami was the head of.  There is a belief that he was possibly Thotaka Ãchãryãr, one of the direct Sishyas of Ãdi Sankara.  There is also a person with the name of Ãnanda Giri who is said to have written 'Teekas' for many of the writings of Ãdi Sankara.  We also know that one of the authors of biographical sketches of Ãdi Sankara Bhagawat PãdãL (called Sankara Vijayam), is known as Ãnanda Giri.  So evidently that gentleman has also written his commentary on Soundarya Lahari. 
70.    Amongst the many such Bhashyam for Soundarya Lahari, one is known as, 'Gopalasundari'.  The surprising thing in that work is that the slokas have been interpreted as about AmbãL as well as Vishnu!  That is, each sloka has been so explained in two ways that it can equally apply to either of them.  So, connecting LalithãmbãL and Sri Krishna Bhagawan, the book has been named aptly as 'Gopalasundari'.   It may be remembered here that one of the great Adwaita exponents by name Madusudana Saraswathi has similarly explained as to how 'Siva Mahimna Stotram' can equally be interpreted to be applicable to Maha Vishnu also!
71.    Here in Saraswathy Mahal Library in Tanjavur, Baroda Library, Bhandarkar Oriental Institute in Pune and many other such places all over the country; we continue to get copies of Soundarya Lahari and its Bhashyam.  From this we can make out its popularity was fairly wide spread, at least in some circles of the society.  People from Kashmir make much of their claim that Soundarya Lahari was written in their part of the country only!  Other than being written on palm-leaf-manuscripts, it is also inscribed on stone.  Trichy Malaikkottai Mathru Bhutheswar Temple, Suganda KuntaLãmbãL Sannidy is a case in example.

(To be continued.)




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