Monday, June 03, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 181 (Vol # 6) Dated 03 June 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 181 (Vol # 6) Dated 03 June 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 page No 1255 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)

கற்பில் கல் போலான முழங்கால்
Knees that are Strong like a Rock in Fidelity

1029.      In the process of describing AmbãL's body as per the literary tradition of 'Kesaadi Paadam', the poet goes on, after the breasts and her divine milk, down to the midriff, hips, knees down to the feet and finishes there in the subsequent slokas.  The subject of the literature is either known as 'नायक / नायकि' or 'தலைவன் / தலைவி' or as the Hero / Heroine in different languages.  Throughout Soundarya Lahari, AmbãL as the 'Kãvya Nãyaki' – 'काव्य नायकि', is always depicted at a step higher in position, power and prestige.  In the bargain Swami that is, Easwara has been painted at a subservient position mostly.  Manmata burnt to ashes by Easwara gets revived by AmbãL's introduction into the scene and then he goes on to defeat Easwara!  When one of his heads is plucked, Brhma runs to AmbãL, to protect him from Easwara!  Such depictions should be seen with a clean heart in the literary perspective, without making a prestige issue of who should dominate between male and female as husband and wife.  If we have humility and devotion, that is how we will take it, without making a big issue out of it.  That is the way, this Soundarya Lahari has been viewed and chanted and revered for more than 20 centuries, that I need not advice you on this, as to what should be your perspective.

1030.      If the poet had to thus depict the Heroine as the senior or superior, the other side of the coin was that she had to be shown also as spotlessly clean as a devoted wife who respected her husband whole-heartedly, uncompromising in her faithfulness and fidelity.  This, our ÃchãryãL has never forgotten and so while describing her knees and lower legs, says 'pathyu: praNati katinaabhyaam jaanubhyaam' – 'पथ्यु: प्रणति कटिनाभ्यां जानुभ्यां'.  Normally the thighs and lower legs are compared with the trunk of the elephant in terms of vibrant mobility and in terms of smoothness and shine to the trunk of a plantain tree that is golden!  But the knees are hard and strong.  So what?  So are the thighs and legs of all women are vibrant, smooth and shining and the knees are hard.  So, what is special here?  But the poet gives a solid reason for their hardness and solidity!

1031.      Here our ÃchãryãL becomes the Dharma Guru who teaches the right attitude and behaviour that women should have towards their husband.  She is a great devotee of her husband.  So, she keeps prostrating herself in all humility and respect before her husband repeatedly.  If men do 'Sãshtãnga Namaskãra', women do 'Panchãnga Namaskãra', in which they plant their two hands, head and bend their legs with two knees touching the ground.  All the weight of the body comes on the knees.  As she does this time and again, her knees have become hard, says the poet.  So, she has 'पथ्यु:' – to her husband, 'प्रणति' – by doing Panchãnga Namaskãra, 'जानुभ्यां' – the two knees, have been rendered 'कटिनाभ्यां' – hardened.

1032.      Here in addressing AmbãL the poet has made use of two words, one as 'girisute' – 'गिरिसुते' and another as 'vidigne' – 'विदिज्ञे'.  As 'girisute', she is the daughter of the Hill and so she is rock like or at least her knees are hardened like rocks, as indicated.  This he says as the poet and as Dharma ÃchãryãL, that she is doing namaskãr to her husband repeatedly as she is 'विदिज्ञे' – the one who knows the rules.  She not only knows the rules and the Vedas as the basis of all Sãstrãs, but the one whose very breath are the Vedas!  Relate this to one of her names in Lalitha Sahasranãma as, 'nija ãgnã roopa nigamã' – 'निज आज्ञा रूप निगमा', which means, "Her own orders in the form of the Vedas"! Hence she keeps doing namaskãr to her husband, as it is her duty as ordained by her!  All this, our ÃchãryãL conveys by putting that one word 'विदिज्ञे' there, in addressing her!

பகவத்பாதரும் பகவதி பாதமும்
Bhagawat Pãda & Bhagawati Pãdam

1033.      Thus he goes on describing and comes down to the 'CharaNa' – 'திருவடிகளுக்கு' – feet of AmbãL. That is the place where we have to reach, destination, refuge, asylum, security and protection.  That is what we should be catching hold of.  Nobody tells you to catch hold of the face or hands.  It is the feet that have to be caught hold of and they have to be caught, if we are to get rid of all our Karma of the past that has caught hold of us, if all the Karma is to be dropped off and we have to reach the final shelter!  Can it be done because we wish so?  She has to grant that.  That is why our ÃchãryãL is praying for exactly that – "Without my asking for it, you should grant so, since you are the very source of love and compassion – 'dayayã dehi charanou' – 'दयया देहि चरणौ'. 

1034.      This prayer is there in the sloka No 84, as follows: –
श्रुतीनां मूर्धानो दधति तव यौ शेखरतया
shruteenãm moordhãnodadhatitava yow shekharatayã
ममाप्येतौ मात: शिरसि दयया धेहि चरणौ |
mamãyetow mãta: shirasi dayayã dhehi charaNow
ययो: पाध्यं पाथ: पशुपतिजटाजूटतटिनी
yayo: paadhyam pãtha: pashupatijatãjootatatinee
ययोर्लाक्षालक्ष्मीररुणहरि चूडामणिरुचि: ||
Yayorlãkshãlakshmee: aruNaharichoodãmaNiruchi: ||

1035.      Word to word meaning is given hereafter: –
मात: = My dear mother; तव = your; चरणौ = feet; यौ = which are; श्रुतीनां मूर्धान: = the fore most among the Vedas (being the Upanishads); शेखरतया दधति = wear like crowns; ययो: = to whom; पशुपति: = Easwara's; जटाजूटतटिनी = the flow from his hair-locks (the Ganges River) is; पाध्यं पाथ: = (the ceremonial) water for washing the feet; ययो: = for whom; अरुणहरि चूडामणिरुचि: = Vishnu's crown's gem's lights become; लाक्षालक्ष्मी: = red dye's shine;  मम शिरसि  अपि = in my head too; एतौ चरणौ = these feet; दयया धेहि = please keep.

1036.      Where the poet said that Mother AmbãL's milk gives eminent poetical abilities, he said, 'dayãvadhyã datta'.  Here he says that her feet may also be allowed to be placed on his head 'dayayã' – out of her kindness.  As he said earlier that her milk is greater than Amrita, similarly her feet sanctions the Gnãna in the 'Sahasrãra' of the devotee's head as a flow of Amrita.  Placing of the feet by the Guru on the disciple's head is also for that purpose of letting Amrita of Gnãna flow, when he gives the 'Deeksha'!  Here too our ÃchãryãL has accepted AmbãL in the form of his ÃchãryãL only and requesting her to place her feet on his head, though he has not said openly that it is 'Guru Deeksha'.  Since this is to be kept a secret, he is indirectly pointing it out.  As Parãshakti came as GnãnãmbãL in Kenopanishad and gave Deeksha to Indra was indicated indirectly, our ÃchãryãL too is indicating that, all that we have to aspire for is AmbãL's Prasãda of Gnãna only.  The indication is in the statement – "श्रुतीनां मूर्धानो दधति तव चरणौ शेखरतया".  That sentence means 'the Upanishads that are considered as the essence of all Vedas have your feet as the ornament in their head'! 

1037.      There are at least 108 known Upanishads and out of them 10 known as 'Dasopanishad' are the top most.  In none of them is there any description of Siva or Vishnu who have come as the Guru and given Upadesa.  Let alone coming as the Guru, there is no mention of them anywhere.   While describing the 'Moksha Padam' as the end-state to be aspired for, in Katopanishad (1.3.9), it is said to be Vishnu as a state of being.  When the same state is described as 'Tureeyam' as the most salubrious, in MãNdookya Upanishad, it is said to be 'Sivam'.  In neither of the places is it mentioned as a Devata or person!  Only in Kenopanishad, is AmbãL referred as 'Uma', 'Haimavathy' and as a woman who is 'bahushobamãna' – as very bright and beautiful – who gives Gnãna Upadesa to Indra (III.12; IV.1).  When ÃchãryãL says that 'her feet are the crown worn by the Upanishads', there is no other match for that honour!

1038.      Instead of saying, "Mother, please place your feet on my head", when he says, 'on my head too – 'mama shirasi api' – 'मम शिरसि अपि', his unique humbleness is to be observed and enjoyed.  Earlier on also when he requested AmbãL, 'please bathe me also by your glance' – 'snapayã krupayã mãmapi', he makes a similar prayer of extreme humility.  Though flying high at the pinnacle of excellence in terms of knowledge, experience, efficiency, fame and power of expression, by this attitude he tops them all in his readiness for modesty!  "Your feet are like a crown on top of the Upanishads, which represent the head of Veda Mata.  Even Easwara and Maha Vishnu lay flat in your feet by bowing their heads to it.  The Ganges from the head of Parameswarã flows on your feet as 'pãdhyam pãtha:' – 'पाध्यं पाथ:' of the 'shodasa upachaãra' – sixteen ceremonial solicitations.  When the crown gems of Maha Vishnu and Easwara shine in your feet as though applying 'nalangu' decoration to your feet, what rights have I got, to ask for it to be placed on my head?  Still by your all-encompassing love, please sanction some as my Prasãda, though I may be unworthy otherwise!  He prays with utmost 'vinamrata' – endearing delicacy, "मात: एतौ चरणौ मम अपि शिरसि दयया धेहि!" When asking for her glance, he said 'krupayã' – kindly and now he is using the word 'dayayã', a synonym.

1039.      When he says that the 'pãdhya teertam' is the Ganges, it means that Easwara is making her 'competing SakkaLaththi' also to fall in AmbãL's feet!  'Saroshã Gangãyãm' we encountered earlier, as Ganges was the only person on whom AmbãL could show anger, had also been pacified.  Then as he was saying that the 'ChudamaNi' of Maha Vishnu's crown was shining in her feet, he has used the word 'Lakshmi' to mean 'Shobha' meaning brilliance.  So, this act of applying 'nalangu' to her feet has conveyed the meaning as though Maha Lakshmi is also falling in the feet of AmbãL.  Earlier in a sloka, the poet had said that the feet of Lakshmi seated in the lotus as – 'Padmãsani' had imparted some amount of redness to the flower (to fractionally match the redness of AmbãL's hands), by needling the flower with her feet.  So now, since some people might have taken offence for relating AmbãL's hands with Lakshmi's feet; the poet makes amends by saying that the 'nalangu' red dye in AmbãL's feet, the very shine is Lakshmi, thereby compensating for any offence, which was never meant anyhow!  It will be interesting to carry out a research and analysis of how (as given in sloka No 98) AmbãL's CharaNa Amrita of this red dye water from her feet is equivalent to Saraswathi Devi's Tãmboola rasa, in endowing poetical acumen and as to how the imagination of our ÃchãryãL goes on spreading in all directions, like the way the roots of banyan tree are as spread out underground as its branches are above ground!

1040.      When Parameswara is depicted as the one supreme God, Vishnu is said to have searched for his lower end and Brhma is supposed to have flown high up in the air searching for the top, as per the AruNãchala PurãNa.  There, AmbãL did not go for that search.  Here in Soundarya Lahari there is no episode of anybody searching.  But in her feet are the same Maha Vishnu who was searching and that Easwara whose nether end was being searched for, in that story.  Here, the use of the phrase 'Lãksha Lakshmi' can mean that Maha Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi are paying their respects together.  Since Brhma is the 'Lotus-born' – 'padma sambhava' son of Vishnu, we can construe that they were prostrating in AmbãL's feet as a family!  So all the members of the 'Holy Trinity' of Brhma, Vishnu and Maheshwara are together paying their obeisance to AmbãL, as described in the sloka No 25 already, the idea gets repeated in sloka No 89!

(To be continued.)




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