Wednesday, April 24, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 161 (Vol # 6) Dated 24 Apr 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 161 (Vol # 6) Dated 24 Apr 2013

(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 1106 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)

808.                The next sloka, No 44 is very beautiful and something special as the origin of the title as 'Soundarya Lahari', in which also there is a description of the 'केश भारं'.  If he talked about removal of darkness – 'धुनोतु ध्वान्तं' in the 43rd sloka, here he is talking about     that hair is equated to darkness when he says, 'कबरीभार तिमिर' – and what is 'ध्वान्तं' there is 'तिमिरम' here: -
तनोतु क्षेमं नस्तव वदन सौन्दर्यलहरी-
tanotu kshemam nastava vadana soundarya lahari
परीवाहस्रोत: सरणिरिव सीमन्तसरणि: |
parivãha srota: saraNiriva seamanta saraNi:
वहन्ती सिन्दूरं प्रबल कबरीभारतिमिर-
vahanti sindooram prabala kabareebhãratimira
द्विषां बृन्दैर्बन्दीकृतमिव नवीनार्ककिरणम् ||
dvishãm brundair bandeekrutamiva naveenãrka kiraNam ||

809.                The sloka commences with a very positive prayer, 'Let it be beneficial to all of us' – 'न: क्षेमं तनोतु' – 'na: kshemam tanotu'What should do that – 'सीमन्तसरणि:' this line or path formed between the parting of hair   on top of the head.  This word 'saraNi' is a synonym for line, path, flow, Lahari and Rekha.  Let this line formed by the parting of hair in AmbãL's head do all the good things for us all! When the mother is carrying, as an act of good-will towards the yet to be born child we carry out a function known as 'seamanta unnayanam'.  The word 'unnayanam' is an upward stroke.  This is done with a porcupine needle, a slight scratch, done as I said as an 'upward stroke' with the chanting of the required Mantras.

810.                'VaLai-Kãppu and Seamantham are both rituals done during the period when the girl is carrying.  The wearing of VaLaiyal or bangles is not only as an act of adding to the beauty, but also as a matter of protection.  The fact that the woman is wearing bangles is a 'Raksha', like the black or red thread worn, called 'KangaNa DhãraNam'.  Not only does it protect from outer agencies, but is also an internal resolution, as we say when someone launches himself on a major endeavour to somehow get it done, that 'so and so has started after tying a KangaNam'!  Not only a black or red thread, the VaLaiyal or bangle itself is such a Kãppu only. Nowadays this word 'Kãppu' has come to mean only a bangle without any designs on it.  Thus this word 'VaLai-Kãppu', by which name this ritual has come to be known, is a repetition of the word like so many other such double words, such as 'Trunk-Petti' and 'Gate-Vãsal'.  In these days when we have forgotten the meaning and logic of our various rituals and their names, and also forgotten that bangles themselves have a protective power, at least when we say, 'VaLai-Kãppu', we are reminded of the purpose!  Let this matter rest aside.

811.            Seemantham means a Vakidu or end of a Seema, a border or an imaginary line between states.  In Tamil we say, 'Telungu seemai' or 'Malayala seemai' to indicate a state within certain borders.  For the Britishers whose land is thousands of miles away in Europe, we simply gave it a name as 'seemai'. The word 'antam' means end.  Seema + antam = seamantam, that is, the end of the border.  As ThirukkuraL says, 'அந்தணர் என்போர் அறவோர் மற் றெவ்வுயிர்க்கும் செந்தண்மை பூண்டோழுகலான்', (meaning that 'The virtuous are truly called AnthaNar or Brahmins; because in their conduct towards all creatures they are the very embodiments of kindness'), there was one great man Viswãmitra, who lived up to that definition somehow got a name as Viswa + Mitra = Viswãmitra instead of 'Viswamitra'!  He got a name which was the exact opposite of what it should have been, due to rules of grammar, as though he was the enemy of all people, instead of being known as the friend of all people as he really was!  There, what should have been 'kuril' – 'குறில்' became 'nedil' – 'நெடில்' and in 'Seamantham' the 'நெடில்' became the 'குறில்'!  Some examples of the confusion created by the rules of grammar, where word ending in 'm' added to a word starting with 'a' gets shortened as in 'Seamantham' and word ending in 'a' added to a word starting with 'm' gets elongated as in 'Viswãmitra'!  Have you understood?

812.                     Seamantham is the end of which border?  It is the end of a woman's figure and form.  For the past century or so, it is becoming the limit of the border of the form and figure of males also!  Till menfolk were wearing Sikai or Kudumi, there was no parting of hair for menfolk at all, isn't it?  Having long hair, nicely oiled and combed, people used to roll it up and put a knot on it, which was called Sikai or Kudumi!  Only children, both boys and girls, used to have their hair parted on either side and combed.  (Of course things have changed further since PeriyavãL spoke about this!  Nowadays, all over the world, the style, especially for women is to simply let the hair down in a free fall, without any thing to hold them in any shape or form whatsoever!  So, there is no question of there being a Vagidu, or parting line between hair set on either side!)

813.            For the human body, the two ends are the feet and the head.  In it, in the end known as the head, in the centre top of the skull there is a soft spot known as, 'Brhma Randra', in which this word 'Randra' means an aperture or hole!  The Seamantham parts the hair on the right and left and takes you to the centre of this point Brhma Randra.  So this word Seamantham can be taken as the dividing line between the right and left sides of the head and a path leading to the Brhma Randra.  Maha Lakshmi is said to be in five different places, where she is naturally residing.  In the statues or idols where she is invoked, we have to use the 'PraNa Pratishta' Mantra to invite her. But these places are, the Lotus Flower, Elephants Head known as Mastakam, the back side of a Cow and the Bilwa Leaf and the Seamantham of Sumangali Ladies.  (Married ladies whose husband is alive only are known as Sumangali and not widows.)  Only the back-side of the Cow and the Bilwa Leaf are known to be Maha Lakshmi's position. Though we may decorate a cow by applying the red ochre Kumkum and Turmeric, while doing 'Go Pooja' we are to do it to the rear of the Cow only, as Maha Lakshmi is said to be residing there.  The fruit of Bilwa is said to be 'Sri Phalam'.  Though Maha Vishnu is very fond of the Tulasi leaf it is not said to be the residing place of Lakshmi.  In fact there are stories of fight between Lakshmi and Tulasi as can only happen between two wives who are both married to the same man.  Though the Bilwa leaf is said to be the favourite of Siva, Sri Maha Lakshmi is more closely related to the Bilwa leaf only.  In Sri Suktam for example it is said that the fruit of the Bilwa tree has come about as a result of Maha Lakshmi's Tapasya and that it may offset all the negative influences of A-Lakshmi, that is, whatever is contrary to the principles for which Lakshmi is famous for!  Sumangali women's Vagidu – the Seamantham is like that, the residence of Lakshmi Devi. 

814.  So, Seamantham, the place of residence of Maha Lakshmi is indicative of all glories and salubrious attainments for all people for all purposes.  So also, our ÃchãryãL has given greater importance to that sign of wellbeing of married women, than any other part of the body of women.  Moreover he has related this title 'Soundarya Lahari' to that Seamantham.  Whether he has done that or whosoever has done that, it must have been done relating to the meaning of the phrase 'Soundarya Lahari' as it occurs in this sloka, its meaning and appropriateness with reference to the context!  'Soundarya Lahari' means a flow of beauty, a formless power when it assumes a form with figure and shape; it is like so many waves in that graceful flood, closely related to the salubriousness of that Seamantham!

815.            If it is so, does it convey the meaning that, AmbãL's flow of beauty is as an effect of that Seamantham?  No.  He does not make such a statement in those words.  He does say however that the flow of beauty is from her face – 'tava vadana soundarya lahari' – 'तव वदन सौन्दर्य लहरी'!  That is apt, since though the whole form is a flood of beauty, the face is the true indicator of the outer as well as the inner beauty.  There are two proverbs in Tamil very closely impinging on the matter being discussed.  One says that, 'எண் ஜாண் உடம்புக்கு சிரசே பிரதானம்', pronounced as 'eN jaaN udambukku sirase pradaanam', meaning that 'for the eight cubits body the head is the main' and the second proverb says, 'அகத்தின் அழகு முகத்தினிலே', pronounced as 'agathin azhagu mugathinile', meaning that, 'the beauty of the inner being is seen on the face'!  It is the face that truly identifies a person.  The eyes that see, the mouth that speaks and sound of the voice; the ears that hear and the brains are all located there in the head of a person with the face being a powerful tool of expression.  So all the beauty or the lack of it, are all there in the face, which is mostly a true indicator.  The beauty of the hands, legs and the rest of the body come much later.  The most powerful expression of approval, sanction, grace and Anugraha has to come from the eyes, smile and speech from the face and so the poet correctly says – 'तव वदन सौन्दर्य लहरी'!

816.            This is the form as kind and compassionate Mother, taken by the ultimate divinity to sanction all the benefits to us, as a flow of beauty and blessings, as the poet says, 'tanotu kshemam na: tava vadana Soundarya lahari' – 'तनोतु क्षेमं न: तव वदन सोउन्दर्य लहरी'That is all right.  But, what is connection to the Seamantham?  How is it?  Let us look at the Seamantham!  The poet says that it is wearing the 'Sindooram' – 'वहन्ती सिन्दूरं'This word 'Sindooram' may remind some people of a red powder given as medicine in 'Siddha Vaidhyam'.  It has such a name for being red in colour.  Ganapathy has many names and one of them is 'Sindoora Ganapathy', absolutely red, rarely in South India and mostly seen in the north smeared in Sindooram.  Like the Ganapathy who comes always first and every time in all religious celebrations, Ãnjaneya who comes last always and every time, is also normally seen to be smeared with Sindooram!  Normally, they do not do it for other statues or Murthys!  I suppose, they are keeping the Sindooram for the 'aadi – start' and 'anth – end' especially. 

817.            Kumkum itself in the old books has been mentioned as Sindooram only.  Veda Mata (all the Vedas visualised as a Mother), does namaskãr to AmbãL by placing her head in her feet.  At that time the Kumkum in her Seamantham gets adhered to the feet of AmbãL.  There, the Kumkum in the Vagidu / Seamantham in her head, that is mentioned as 'Seamantha Sindoori' – 'sruti seamantha sindoori kruta padãbja dhoolikã' – 'श्रुति सीमन्थ सिन्दूरी कृत पादाब्ज धूलिका' in Lalitha Sahasranãma.   So this Kumkum is applied mainly to this Vagidu / parting line in the centre of the head.  When it comes to the centre spot decoration as a Tilakam in the fore head just above the 'Agna Chakra' is the Kasturi Tilakam – as the Lalitha Sahasranãma says, 'mukha chandra kalangãbha mruga nãbhi viseshaka' – 'मुख चन्द्र कलङाभ मृग नाभि विसेषका'.  That means, 'For the face that is beautiful like the moon, a smudge like the spot in the moon, is by the fragrant Kasturi taken from the naval of musk deer that is applied on the forehead as a round Tilakam. 

(To be continued.)




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