514. Para is the first, original extremely subtle principle of sound that can only be thought of and not be mimicked or copied or reproduced by any means. That 'ati Sookshma shabdam' when it becomes slightly gross by being focussed it is known as 'pasyanti' – 'पश्यन्ति'. This word 'pasyanti' literally means 'seeing'. Till it is only Para, nobody can handle it or focus it or be seeing it. It was just an idea without being formed or focussed and without any direction. But when there is a purpose or 'நோக்கம்' as it is said in Tamil, it has become 'pasyanti' – 'पश्यन्ति'as if to say that it has started observing and is now observable. In the next level when it by itself is about to assume the form of a sound, it is known as 'Madhyama' – 'मध्यमा' – that means the 'middle', as it is still just an idea not given a shape or form, but is becoming a sound or shabdam without any physical or gross form as yet. So परा / Para which is a sound not yet formed and is without a purpose; becomes पश्यन्ति /pasyanti when a purpose or நோக்கம் has been alluded there by becoming observable or audible. As yet, it is in the 'in-between stage' of being subtle – not yet gross, is the Madhyama – 'मध्यमा', when the sound is created not by human or animal or birds throat or by beating, but is 'anãhatam' – 'अनाहतं'! Thus the sound that happens naturally on its own is known as 'Anãhata Shabdam'.
515. If you say so, does it mean that 'all our speech and singing' are sounds made by beating anything against anything else? The answer is 'Yes'. Our speech and singing, sounds made by birds and animals and musical instruments; that is, any audible sounds are due to vibrations created by something beating against something else including the heart-beat. The audible human sounds of our speech, music etcetera are all due to air being modulated by our throat and tonsils, or the tongue beating against the lips or teeth. The sound in Harmonium, fiddle, flute, Nadaswaram and Clarinet, are all due to either air being forced against surfaces which start vibrating or due to air being made to pass through different holes in the instrument further modulated by increase or decrease of air-pressure by movement of the fingers over the air-vents varyingly. Even the opening and closing of the air-vents are beating only, may be you can call it light tapping instead of beating. The bow in the fiddle rubs against the strings causing them to vibrate producing the sounds. Some drums are beaten by fingers while some are 'soundly' beaten by sticks with force, causing the surface of the drums to vibrate as required. In Jalra the two opposite parts beat against each other creating the sounds. These are all 'ãhatam' – that is, sounds produced by beating. Instead sound that arises by itself is 'anãhatam' and that is Madhyama.
516. After Para, Pasyanti and Madhyama, the gross sound that is created with human effort with the mouth is known as 'Vaikhari' aka 'वैखरी'. Within Vaikhari there are some random sounds known as 'dhwani' or 'ध्वनि' (for example a child's blabberings and adult's interjections) and some methodical specific sounds like that of spoken speech. The latter being subject to grammar and rules of syntax is known as 'VarNa' or 'वर्ण' in Sanskrit, which are 'अ' to 'क्ष' constituting the 'Akshara' or 'अक्षर' which has a meaning as 'imperishable'. So, now you have five 'Sound Principles' such as, 'Para', 'Pasyanti', 'Madhyama', and 'Vaikhari' which has 'VarNa' / 'Akshara'. Parallel to each of the five Tattva-s or Principles of Artha Prapancham thus, the Shabda Prapancham has five corresponding principles. More than the Artha Prapancham, this world of Sounds is important since all creations are all from the vibrations of sound only.
517. Finally take careful note of how we give the names for all the things / matter sentient and insentient; living and non-living; and even feelings and sensations; in the material world, that is, (Artha Prapancham)! We give every item in the world a name with a sound and a meaning. That is 'pada'/'पद' + 'artham'/'अर्थं' = 'padartham'/'पदार्थं'; understood as such in most of the Indian Languages as 'word + meaning'. Not only that, but also the word 'padartham' or 'पदार्थं' is a generic word representing all the materials in the world, understood as such by even the unread in the colloquial! So the word 'Artham' means 'meaning' and hence 'Artha Prapancham' is the meaning of the world of Sounds! So, Artham means meaning as well as money in transactions or the means of trade in barter!
518. In doing many diversified, wonderful and surprising acts of hers, to what she does as the five Maha Bhootas in the KuNdalini Chakras; in the five dimensions of sound as Para, Pasyanti, Madhyama, Vaikhari and VarNa; she is quite the contrary. In the Moolãdhãrã Chakra she is the very gross Earth Principle / Prithvi Tattva. As she goes up the ladder to higher Chakras she becomes progressively subtle as water, fire, air and then in the Vishuddhi she is the Ãkãsa as the most subtle. Opposite to this, she is the most subtle Para in Moolãdhãrãand in the throat she is the gross Vaikhari!
519. Just because she has become openly audible, this grossness is no insult to her. The 51 sounds of the Aksharãs are known as 'Mãtruka' in plural as the Mothers. With greater position, status and power she becomes the Queen Empress, she is Sri Maha Rãgni and Sri Mata. When she comes as a baby Amma, as an equal to mix with us and play, she is 'Mãtruka'. Lalitha Sahasranãma points out to us as to how the Empress is also, 'Mãtruka VarNa RoopiNi', whom Kãlidãsa in Shyamala Dandakam addresses as, 'sarva varNãtmike'. In Sãkta Tantra this Shabda Prapancham – the world of sounds – has much importance and so in her depiction, she is shown with having the book and Aksha Mala of 51 beads to indicate the 51 Aksharãs.
520. Instead of using words as names, all the Sri Vidya Mantras are in the form of Bhija Aksharãs – meaning the seed letters. That is, verily the Para Devata herself has taken the Sound form of these Bhija Aksharãs. With that, in the practice of Mantra Japa, to the aspirant who is chanting these Bhija Aksharãs, she reveals her pleasure in the Shabda Roopa and showers her Anugraha on him. The biggest such boon is what happens by the sound effect of the Mantras in our Nãdis – the Sãkshãtkãrã that could be obtained by KuNdalini Yoga with whatever are our wishes – all of them are obtained by the Mantra Yoga itself! With this Japa of her Shabda Roopa itself, we can also have the 'Keshãdi-Pãda Darsan' as well as whatever is worthy of being achieved in the Iham and Param. It is all her Leela concerning only the letters of the Alphabet – Aksharãs – in the Shabda Prapancham!
521. Those Aksharãs are joined in various ways to form words, phrases and sentences by which we speak, read, converse, write poems, Stotras, Slokas, literature and all the Vedas, Itihãsãs, and PurãNãs. They have all come into being like that only. The book in her hand is symbolically representing all that. In Sri Vidya Mantras there are three portions or 'kootam' or 'कूटं'. Amongst them the first one is known as 'Vaak Bhava Kootam'. The whole Mantra is AmbãL's whole figure. What comes out of the mouth is 'Vaak Bhava Kootam', and that has been given so much of importance. It has been repeatedly said there that she will grant her devotees special power of spoken and written words. So it has been said in the Soundarya Lahari too in many places.
522. If you wonder as to why this power of expression has been so glorified, we have to take note of the fact that this 'Vaak' Shakti or Power of Speech is a speciality of the human beings, more than any other living being. It is a 'special gift' of hers, isn't it? If we have that power, it is not meant for any other purpose than to fetch us to the highest glory of existence and so should be used for that purpose and not misused. The power she has given us should enable us to reach her or realise her being with us, in us always and every time! The special value of expression is in sharing with others what is ours, our experiences, wealth, pleasures and bliss. In one of his songs titled,'காகம் உறவு', Thãyum Ãnavar describes how a child is calling other children and telling them to share with her, divine experiences, beauties and thoughts. In exactly a similar vein AmbãL is granting us the power of speech, music and expression. What else can be a greater bonanza than this power of expression? That is why it is considered as a special gift!
523, When a Guru outlines a path as Sãdhana Marga to us as aspirants in the spiritual path, there may be many difficult restrictions, Do's and Don'ts. But a poet can make that very aim of Sãdhana easily accessible to many a common man while making it interesting. So such a gift instead of being one man's property, AmbãL makes it a social property by endowing the power of speech to all, for which reason she is praised. Lalitha Ambikai does this in the form of Vaak Devi,as he has said in this sloka. This Vaak Devi who has Vara, Abhaya Mudras and is holding the book in the form of 'Palm-Leaf' manuscript and Japa Mala; endows this power to all good people 'satãm' (meaning saintly persons), on just doing one Namaskãra to her! To whom she grants this power? Not to all who may do Namaskãra once. Only those who have excellent habits, morally upright and ever interested in doing good to others, to only such people! For them doing one Namaskãra is enough. For them she grants in one stroke, " मधु क्षीर द्राक्षा मधुरिम धुरीणा: फणितय:" – says the poet. Here he is listing three of the sweetest things namely, honey, milk and grapes. Not only are they sweet, but also easy to consume and very nourishing indeed! What can be easily swallowed, digested and directly taken to indwelling Ãtma, for such a Vaak he has given as examples this honey, milk and grapes. Such will be the power of your speech and the command over the language, when you do Namaskãra to her even once; by the power of her Grace!
524. Instead of saying for such people such a power accrues, with poetic nuance he has asked a question, "Why won't it happen" – "कथमिव न संनिधत्ते"? Then he has played with the words also quite a bit. By saying" सकृन्नत्वा नत्वा", by repeating the word 'नत्वा' twice Shabda Alankãram has been done. In these two 'नत्वा', there are two meanings. The first 'नत्वा' means, 'by prostrating and expressing our respects to you'. The second time this 'नत्वा'is not just one word but a combination of two words 'न + त्वा = नत्वा'. In this the 'न' is not really a negative to be added to 'त्वा', which means 'You', but is meant to be added to 'सन्निधत्ते' as 'न + सन्निधत्ते' meaning, 'Why will they not be endowed with'? I hope I have not ended up confusing you now! But all confusion will vanish when we read the next sloka!
(To be continued.)