Saturday, April 17, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 213 (Vol #3) Dated 17 April 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 213 (Vol #3) Dated 17 April 2010.

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by Periyaval of Kanchi Kamakoti 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 proceeding from page 1004 of Vol 3 of the Tamil original. The readers are reminded that herein 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too, mostly. These e-mails are all available at constantly updated.)
11. In Tamil, there is a traditional name for AmbaaL as, ‘Ankayark-kaNNi’, which is ‘am (beautiful) + kayal (fish) + kaNNi (eyed)’ = with beautiful eyes like that of a fish. That is the Tamil name for Meenakshi! That is why all the young girls in Madurai are addressed as ‘ankachchi, ankachchi!’
12. There is another anecdote that occurred during the reign of this king Thirumalai Nayakar. There was one Neelakanta Deekshidar functioning as the Prime Minister who has written a sloka on Meenakshi by the name of ‘Ananda Sagara Sthavam’. He was the grandson of the younger brother of Appayya Deekshidar, considered to be an ‘amsa avatara’ of Siva. He was a man of erudite scholarship and devotion. There is a story of how he happened to write this.
13. Pandya kings have traditionally done much for the Meenakshi Koil over the years in terms of social service, repair and maintenance of the temple premises and contribution of a variety of ornaments to the temple and such. Under Neelakanta Deekshidar’s supervision a new building (mandapa) was being added. Sumandira Murthy Achari was the chief architect or Sthapati or Shilpi. He was getting some statues made of the king with his consorts, to be displayed in the new construction. While making the statue of the Queen, there was a small minute aberration on her right leg just above the knee that happened accidentally. In what was otherwise a beautiful statue, it became well neigh impossible to hide it! The Sthapati went to Neelakanta Deekshidar and cried about the mishap. After some deep deliberation he told the Sthapati, “It is alright, do not you worry. To make the statue absolutely real, AmbaaL Herself has made this happen. We will install it in the new Mandapa as it is. Let it be!”
14. At that specific point in her body the Queen had a mole. As per Samudrika Lakshanam (classical definitions of human physiology), uttama stree (a woman of sterling character) is supposed to have a mark at that spot, which she had! This occurred as a flash of revelation in the mind to Neelakanta Deekshidar, when the Sthapati came complaining to him, about the unintended occurrence of a blemish while sculpting. Achari obeyed as instructed.
15. Now in the new hall under construction, there were these statues depicting the King Thirumalai Nayakar and his seven queens. The King came inspecting the preparations. He observed the blemish and asked the Sthapati as to why he is not correcting the blemish, easily noticeable in the leg of the Patta Mahishi (the Queen Number One). Sthapati replied, “Sir! Ayya Dikshidar told me to leave it as it is because he said that the blemish is in the right place.” (This ‘Ayya’ was a respectable prefix for the Prime Minister.)
16. The King was shocked as to how could the Prime Minister know that the queen had a mole at that particular spot in her anatomy? He got annoyed and sent his soldiers to the Prime Minister’s residence. At that time Dikshidar was involved in his daily routine of doing Pooja, Japa and Tapa. When the soldiers’ arrival was out of the ordinary, Dikshidar could discern the reason why. He put the burning camphor of the Deepa Aaraadhana (waving of burning camphor before the Gods!), against his eyes and told the soldiers, “Go and tell the King that I have inflicted on myself, the punishment that he wanted to impart”.
17. Like the way that Appar felt cool inside the boiling cauldron of a lime kiln, by the grace of Meenakshi AmbaaL, Deekshidar’s eyes were not hurting, but he became blind! The King got the reply and was told about what Dikshidar had done to his eyes. He regretted his immature reaction in wrongly suspecting his Minister and Queen; as compared to the evident greatness of Dikshidar! He felt as bad as Ari Mardana Pandyan did one day in the past, when he punished Maanikka Vaachagar wrongly.
18. He came running to Deekshidar’s residence and apologised for his blunder. Dikshidar told him that there was no great mistake on his part and that his doubt was in the rightness of things and that he does not have any grudges against him the King. The King beseeched Dikshidar, “It is alright that you have pardoned me. But till you remain blind, I can never be at peace. Please do something to get your eye sight back!” It is then that Dikshidar started singing this ‘Ananda Sagara Sthavam’!
19. Though the occasion was very sad and he was representing the complaints of people at large, his inner self was happily floating in the ocean of AmbaaL’s Grace. The end destination of all approaches of Karma, Bhakti and Gnaana is to completely resign to whatever happens in one’s life, accepting it as Mother’s Will. Surrender of one’s will to the divine dispensation as the right attitude of the devotee, as it happens in Islam, Vaishnavism of Visishtadwaitam and some of the sects of Christianity, is the reiterated idea in this work by Neelakanta Deekshidar. It will sound as though he is directly conversing with Mother, throughout the series of sloka-s. In sloka number 32 he says, “saraNam prapadye Meenakshi viswa jananeem; jananeem mameiva”, meaning, ‘surrender to you the Mother of the whole universe; my Mother too’!
20. This Sthuti Ananda Sagara Sthavam containing more than 100 sloka-s has a similar format as that of Soundarya Lahari. In Soundarya Lahari the first 41 sloka-s are about the principles of Sakta worship (Ananda Lahari), followed by a description of AmbaaL from head to foot (Soundarya Lahari). Similarly, here too the first half is about the principles of surrender, known as ‘Prapatti Dharma’ and the second half is a ‘Kesaadi Paada’ Varnana!
21. It is here, that having started AmbaaL’s description from head to foot, he inserts a question as to, though she may show her feet, with which eyes could he see them? “drashtaasmi kena tadaham tu vilochanena?” This is the Sloka number 61, which is also the internal evidence of the story, I told you earlier! As he sang this, Meenakshi granted him eye sight again. With that, Neelakanta Deekshidar decided that he should put a full stop to his service to the royalty. He took Sannyaasa and went to a place by the name of Palamadai (or is it Balamadai) on the banks of TamrabharaNi river. So, that place came to be known as ‘Neelakanta Samudram’. The Samudram experienced by Neelakanta Deekshidar was the Sagara, Ananda Sagara of Meenakshi’s Grace.
22. That was the fame of this AmbaaL Meenakshi, who gave Her Grace abundantly to not only Kumara Guruparar and Neelakanta Deekshidar; but also to a white district collector Mr Rose Peter, who questioned the local devotees impudently, “What is the power of your Mother? What can she do to me?” That night he went to sleep in a nearby bungalow. That night there was thunder and lightning. AmbaaL appeared in his sleep and asked him to get out of the building. As he rushed out, the lightning fell on that bungalow and flattened it against the ground! Mr. Peter Rose became an ardent devotee of AmbaaL and presented a golden stirrup to the temple, as part of the jewels for Her decoration!
23. It is a bit of a disappointment for the devotees that, Meenakshi who is famous for beauty and grace, well known especially for the beauty of Her eyes, is not referred in the two Stotra-s, Lalita Sahasranama and Soundarya Lahari, which are like the two eyes in the body of devotional literature. But on a careful study we notice that, though not directly mentioned, she is being alluded to in a subtle way! As we know the subtle reference enhances the importance more than a direct mention. How is that?
24. If you have a very valuable gem, where do you keep it? Not in a place where all and sundry can see it, but in a safe and secure place, do we not? So also Meenakshi is secretly mentioned in both Lalita Sahasranama and Soundarya Lahari, thereby enhancing Her value!

(We will see as to how Her name occurs in Lalita Sahasranama and Soundarya Lahari, in the next e-mail. To be continued.)



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