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Saundaryalahari - Verse 3

 

"The dust of Thy feet is the Island City, wherefrom takes place the luminous sunrise of spiritual illumination, driving away the over-casting darkness of ignorance in the hearts of devotees. The same speck of dust forms the cluster of flower buds, from which gushes forth the nectar of consciousness, enlightening the dull-witted. To those in the grip of chill penury, these dust particles form a veritable necklace of wish-yielding (Chintamani) gems. And for those drowned in the ocean of earthly, limited existence of births and deaths (Samsara), it forms the tusk of Lord Varaha" – 3

The present verse is a continuation of the adoration of the dust of Sridevi's lotus-feet, described in the previous verse. The importance of the dust to the cosmic functioning of the universe has been brought out in the previous Shloka. In the present one, how the dust impels ignorance (Avidya), dullness, poverty and attachment to worldly life in the case of mortals, is described.

When the sun does not shine, the world is shrouded in darkness. Light is essential for making things around us perceivable. So also ignorance (Avidya i.e. lack of knowledge of the supreme Paramatman) envelops the soul and makes man incapable of knowing the reality of the soul (Jiva) and its identity with the supreme Brahman. At dawn, to a person standing on the seashore, the sun seems to rise from an island in the middle of the sea. As the sun rises, darkness is dispelled and the entire world becomes active. The dust on Amba's feet is here seen as the spiritual sun that dispels ignorance and promotes true knowledge.

In the second line of the Shloka, Chaitanya, which is the power that kindles the mind to know and understand the reality of Jiva, is spoken of as a cluster of flowers of Kalpaka tree. The tree here actually means Atma Jnana. In the next line, reference is made to the celestial gem Chintamani, which is capable of granting all desires of its possessor. The speck of dust of Amba's feet grants man's earthly desires and spiritual aspirations too. It may be noted that the abode of Devi is Chintamani Griharaja and her Maya Bija is also called Chaitanya mantra. The last line draws a comparison between the particle of dust of Amba's feet and the tusk of `Muraripu'. Mura, a demon, was killed by Krishna and consequently Bhagavan Vishnu got the epithet `Muraripu'. In this context, it refers to the incarnation of Vishnu as Varaha, the wild boar. A demon named Hiranyaksha stole Bhudevi (earth personified as a goddess) and disappeared with her into the nether world (Patala). At that time, Lord Vishnu incarnated as a huge wild boar, reached Patala, killed the demon and redeemed the earth from him and rose above the sea with the earth in his tusk. Even so, the dust of Amba's feet can salvage human beings from the cycle of births and deaths and lead them to eternal bliss. This verse connotes the importance of the worship of Amba's holy feet, for those who desire worldly happiness and also for those who desire to shed off the inner darkness of Avidya to obtain the knowledge of the Self and the consequent attainment of liberation or Moksha – the supreme goal of mankind. Thus it is rightly said: "Where there is enjoyment, there is no liberation. The vice versa is also true.

But for the worshippers of Tripurasundari, both enjoyment and liberation become easily available". Thus, to those who lack the knowledge of the atman, Amba dispels ignorance; to the dull-witted, she grants discriminatory powers and to the needy she bestows much more than what they desire for. Eventually, she is the resurrector from worldly bondages.

This verse is indicative of the Kamaraja mantra that is to be meditated upon by the votaries of Srividya. The verse also encodes the Shatkoota Vaishnavi Vidya (the form of Srividya worshipped by Mahavishnu) and the Nandikeshwara Vidya (the form of Srividya propagated by Nandikeshwara). The Kamaraja Matrika should be meditated upon as effulgent with the radiance of myriads of morning suns, holding in her four hands the rosary of crystal beads, the sugarcane bow, Cupid's five arrows and the Holy Writ, as having three eyes and wearing the crescent moon as her crest-jewel. The Dhyana of Sridevi in the form of Kamaraja Matrika is as follows:

bAlArkakoTiruchirAM sphaTikAkShamAlAm
kodaNDamikShujanitaM smarapa~nchabANAn |
vidyAM cha hastakamalairdadhatiiM trinetrAm
dhyAyetsamastajananIM navachandrachUDAm ||

This Shloka is also indicative of the great Vagbhava Maha Bija. This Bija is composed of `a', the first letter of the Rig Veda, `a', that of Sama Veda and `i', that of Yajur Veda, constructed as Aim with the nasal Ardhamatra of the Upanishads. This Trayimayi Maha Vidya has the virtues of dispelling Avidya or ignorance with the first `a', of removing Jadatva or non-sentience with the second `a', and of bestowing one's heart's desires with `i' and Kaivalya with the Ardha Matra, representing the essence of the Upanishads.

As the internal darkness, accumulated during numberless births, is so intense as to occupy every nook and corner of the mind of the person harboring it. Hence, the word `Mihira' (meaning `Sun') in the first verse may actually refer to the twelve Adityas rising simultaneously with all their effulgence from their island abode, so as to drive away even the smallest vestige of such darkness. The twelve Adityas are: Dhatr, Mitra, Aryaman, Rudra, Varuna, Surya, Bhaga, Vivaswat, Pushan, Savitr, Tvastr and Vishnu. The `ignorant' that the Shloka refers to are those who are not possessed of Vidya. It refers to those who simply indulge in the observance of Jyotishtoma and other rituals according to the rules prescribed in the Karma Kanda without any effort to acquire the liberating knowledge. The ignorant are also those who are under the delusion that the world entirely depends on Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra or the three Gunas Satva, rajas and Tamas, while in reality, it hangs on the mercy of Amba, whose dependents these three Gods are.

The first line of the stanza implies that the Devi dispels the darkness of those covered in Avidya by imparting the true knowledge of Ishwara. The second line indicates the dispelling of the ignorance of the Sankhyas who believe that the Jada, non-sentient Moola Prakriti is the cause of the worlds, by adoption of similar means. The third line warns the Paramanu Vadins, who hold the primary atoms to be the cause of the world, to be more circumspect, should they be disposed to arrive at the correct theory. The last line implies the questionable ways adopted by the least evolved persons immersed in their everyday life, and suggests the remedial measure of the precepts in Dharma Shastras like Mahabharata and others bearing on right conduct, as the means of saving them.

Would it not be sufficient to say that the dust on the feet of Sridevi is itself the sun dispelling the darkness of Ajnana? Why should mention be made of an island city over which the sun rises? To answer this question, there is another from of this stanza, which reads: "timiramihiroddIpanagarI". `UddIpana' is to make something brighter. If this text is followed, the meaning would be: "The sun that dispels the inner darkness of Ajnana and makes the light of Jnana brighter". The Saguna Brahman that is associated with cosmic matters is `Saprapancha'. Nirguna Brahman, the Ultimate Reality is without Maya, which is the cause of this phenomenal universe. In the previous stanza, Amba was shown as the Saguna Brahman; the dust on her meet, it was mentioned, was the cause of creation, sustenance and destruction. In this stanza, Amba is depicted as the Nirguna Brahman, the radiant light of the Sun that dispels the darkness of Maya. Avidya grips all except the great who have awareness of the atman. Even people of high intelligence are not free form it. After stating that the dust from the feet of Amba takes one to great heights by banishing nescience and bestowing the light of Atman awareness, the Acharya says, as a next step, it gives the dull-witted, Jnana of a high order that illuminates their intelligence. `Jada' means `those who are so dull-witted as to resemble inert objects', people with their knowledge or awareness completely dried up. In this state of theirs, the dust on Amba's feet creates a fountain of nectarine honey that splashes inside them and makes them green as opposed to their former dryness. Honey is found in a flower. What is the flower here? "Chaitanya Stabakam", the bouquet of living knowledge. Chaitanya is nothing but the supreme Jnana called `Chit'.

In the Rahasya Sahasranama of Mahatripurasundari, we have two names: "Chaitanyaarghyasamaaraadhyaa" and `ChaitanyakusumapriyA". Together with them occur the names, `SadoditA' and `taruNadityapaaTalaa'. These two names respectively mean: `She who is always bright like the daybreak' and `She who is red like the light of the morning Sun'. So, the description of the rising sun from the island city and the nectar from Kalpaka actually follows the same scheme as Rahasya Sahasranama. The three wish-fulfilling objects mentioned in our Shastras are: Kalpaka, Kamadhenu and Chintamani. Chintamani is earthly, belonging to the category of insentient objects. Kalpaka has elements of both categories: sentient and insentient and belongs to flora. Flora takes in water and grows roots and branches. Since they propagated themselves, they belong to the category of Chetana. But, all the same, they are rooted to a place and since they do not express their urges and feelings like the humans and the animals, they also belong to the category of Jada. Kamadhenu is all sentient and is the personification of Chetana. In physical form, she is a cow but in wisdom she is superior even to human beings since she exists in the divine plane. A single Chintamani is sufficient to grant everything one desires. Since what Amba gives is many times more than what we ask for, the rosary is said to have been made of Chintamani beads strung together.

As per the agama view, here the reference is also to the Moola Vidya of Sri Mahatripurasundari, which is Bala, Panchadashi or Shodashi. It is this Brahma Vidya that dispels the ignorance in the minds of the Sadhakas. It is this supreme Vidya that is like the Kalpaka tree. For Upasakas of Srividya, nectar of consciousness, which is actually Amba's grace, gushes forth, filling them with Atma or Brahma Chaitanya.

Chintamani Mala refers to the Aksha Mala method of worship followed by traditionalists to perform the Japa of Srividya. As a result of this powerful form of Japa, Amba grants them the greatest wealth, "Moksha Lakshmi', destroying their deadly poverty of Samsara. Finally, her fifteen or sixteen lettered Maha Vidya is the Brahman consciousness that lifts the atman from the depths of the ocean of Samsara or Maya to grant liberation to the Upasakas of the Vidya.