Down Ribbon: Celestial Truths Part-6
(S.G.V. Ramanan, Bengaluru)
 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Part 6– Contents of this part :

 

Chapter 44-Ishta Devatas - Ambal 1-The Great Mother

Chapter 45-Ishta Devatas - Ambal 2-Abode of Ambal- The Jnanambikai

Chapter 46-Ishta Devatas - Ambal 3-Reward for worshipping Ambal

Chapter 47-Ishta Devatas - Ambal 4-Ambal as Portrayed by Adi Sankara

Chapter 48-Ishta Devatas - Ambal 5-Ambal, The Maha Vishnu and the Mother of All

 

 

A Multi-Part series.

 

(Access other parts by clicking the link below)

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

 

 

 

Chapter 44

Ishta Devatas 2-Ambal 1- The Great Mother

 

 

Blessing Sought from Ganesha

This Chapter on Ambal follows the topic on Ganesha, the prime Ishta Devata.  I seek the benediction of Ganesha in commencing and successfully presenting this important Series on Mother Goddess.

Introduction

After narrating the greatness and stories of Lord Ganesa, it is only appropriate that we should take up His mother as the next Ishta Devata for our Series.

sri matha-smallAmbal as she is called in common parlance is Parasakthi the Mother of the Universe and represents all actions and energies of the Universe. Around Her revolve all Gods and Goddesses and the Supreme Deity which manifests in all Her creations and controls them.

Mahaswamy uses several names for Her, such as Ambal’, ‘Ambikai’, ‘Devi’ ‘Parasakthi’ ‘Kamakshi’, ‘ Annapoorani ’etc. Laliha Sahasranamam gives thousand names to Her.

 

Parashakthi or Ambal, the Mother who is God

Taitriyopanishad says: ‘Treat your mother as God; Treat your father as God.’ Here, it is the mother who is mentioned first. If mother can be treated as God, looking at it the other way, we can think of God as our mother. When we think of the great power (Mahasakthi) that creates the universe and protects us, we call it Ambal (Parasakthi). (Picture at left-Matha Bhuvaneswari)

Paramathma is compassionate enough to come in whatever form He is meditated upon and shows His grace. If we pray that the Supreme Brahman shall become the mother and Ambal, it comes in that form.

There is something special about Paramathma being thought of as Mother-God. Treating Paramathma’ as ‘Amma is not a mere formality of expression. The fact is that the Paramathma is showering His grace on all beings with the love of the mother. If devotion is practiced by thinking as ‘Amma (mother), it is all love and it is all bliss; desires anger etc, get away from us on their own.

Ambikaiis mother to all people and all beings (including humans, animals, birds, insects, plants, trees etc. She is the Jaganmatha (mother of the Universe). All of us are Her children. (and hence everything are our brothers and sisters). With such a recognition, we will develop sweet love towards everyone.

Gods, evolved souls and great persons have also worshipped Ambal and received Her blessings. Adi Sankara and Kalidasa attained extraordinary power of speech by Her grace only. Thirujnanasambandar got his literary skill and knowledge from Her milk. Ambikai  who bestows all the good for this world and the next, blesses Her devotees with power of speech in particular. When becoming Ambikai, Paramathma has the fifty oneaksharasas the body. That is why those who worship the Devi (Devi upasakas) get extraordinary power of speech.

The benign look of Parasakthi who, as mother, showers Her grace on the whole world and lift up and protect anybody and everybody. We have to meditate on that Ambikai with love. Just as the child gets mother’s body formation, mental attitude etc., we have to worship Her with the feeling that Ambal Herself is our body, mind and everything else and with the thought of non-duality- with the attitude that She and we are not different. If we go on worshipping in this manner, we can also become love personified and shower bliss on the entire world. If we keep on meditating on Amba’s feet, the impurities of the mind will go, all wants would be fulfilled and we will become complete and full. It is Her function to rescue us from impurities and make us full.

It is not at all necessary that we should do things on a big scale. Whenever we go astray, let us pray to Ambal, attain fullness step by step, gain self purification by Her grace and help in the growth of our religion.

All religions lay down the goal of obtaining moksha at the end. That moksha is knowing the highest Truth by experience. It is that highest truth which the Vedanta calls Brahmam. If we worship Ambal, who is of the form of jnana, which is the mind power of the Brahmam, by Her grace, we can attain the jnana that we are also that Truth only. It has been stated in the Sastras and sthothras that, by worshipping Ambal, jnana manifests, ajnana goes and moksha is attained.

It is only one Paramathma which takes three forms as Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra to perform the three functions, namely, creation, protection and destruction. When we go beyond the circle of these three, one Parasakthi, which is the cause of these three, only remains.

 

Methods of Meditating on Ambal

The maturity to do manthra dhyana or rupa dhyana is not there. Towards training the mind to the practice of meditating on a form or repeat a mantra, the first step to be taken is to meditate on Devi’s lotus feet. If we think of the beauty and coolness of the lotus feet, the mind will get used to remain steady in that. If we worship like this always, by Her grace, there will be end to birth. Or, one can first read the Sthuthis (Sthothras) which speak of Her greatness. The first step is reading; then ‘japa’; then meditation. When meditating like this, pray to Parasakthi that She should bless you so that when life leaves this body, meditation on Her will be there by Her grace. After this body goes, we can merge with Her totally, be freed from the cycle of life and death and can become bliss ourselves.

The effulgence of Ambal who lives in Chandra mandalam gives us cool light like the Moon. (According to Sastras, ‘amrut’ (nectar) flows from the Moon and this removes sorrows). Ambikai’s benign looks and Her lotus feet as amrut, remove our sorrows and gives us peace.

 (Excerpts from the book entitled “Voice of God”-Vol.1, published by Sri Kanchi Mahaswamy Peetarohana Shatabdi Mahotsava Trust, Mumbai-2006 –pp-559-566) (Italics, highlighting and underlining are mine-sgvr.)

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

 

Chapter 45

Ishta Devatas 2-Ambal 2- Abode of Ambal, the Jnanambikai

 

This Chapter describes the abode of Ambal and her role as Jnanambikai. She is not only the Mother Goddess for all living beings but is also a Guru imparting the knowledge necessary to realize and get united with Brahman

 

The Abode of Ambal

There is no place where Parasakthi is not present. But, for the mind to have an attachment, several abodes have been mentioned for Her. In Srividya, the path of Devi Upasana, we say She is in mani dwipam, within several forts and garden like forests. It is said, She is inside a home, made of Chinthamani, on a cot which has Brahma, Vishnu, Rudran, Maheswaran as four legs. She is seated left of Kameswara who is of Brahma Swarupam. The place where Her abode is called ‘Sripuram’. Just as it is said that is in Amrutha Sagaram’, it is also said thatSripuramis on top of the golden Meru.

To meditate conveniently, another abode has also been mentioned. That is Ambal sitting in the Purnachandra mandalam. This Purnachandra mandalam should be meditated upon first and then Ambal. Meditating on Purna Chandran cools the mind so much that there is no place for sorrow or enmity and it becomes peaceful.

The external universe is within the Jiva. It is said that what is in Andam is also in Pindam.  Purusha Suktham says: It is the mind of Prasakthi, who is the Antharathma for all beings, which has become the Moon. That is why there is relationship between the minds of beings and the Moon. For purification of the mind, our Sasthras mention the meditation of Ambal in ‘Chandra Mandalam. We have to meditate on Ambal as if she is sitting in Chandran. Vyagrasana (seat of the tiger skin) has been stipulated so that we can get hold of the goal of our dhyana  firmly, just as the tiger catches its prey in one jump. If we sit on it and meditate on Ambal as ‘Chandra Mandala Vasini’, our mind will also become cool like the Moon which comes from Her mind. Ambal shines on Her own like the Sun and is cool like the Moon.

Even when removing the heat, She also gives the brightness of Jnana. We have to meditate on Ambal as ‘Guru’ as She is the Gurumurthy who gives Jnana. (Kalidasa describes Her as coming in the form of Guru and showing Her glory.)

Jnanambikai

Ambikai is the Guru and mother combined who gives the milk of Jnana. Uma is Pranava Swarupam: Nadam (sound) is like Her body. Unlike human beings where beneath the skin, it is unbearable to see, Her body is wholly Nadha, Sabdha and Vak (speech)- all the fifty one alphabets are Her body. In that only intelligence is spread all over. That intelligence only is called Jnanambikai, who shines as Divya Mangala Swarupini.

Kenopanishad narrates a story conveying that Ambikai only gave Jnana to Indira and other Devas.

Once, Devas became proud that they had achieved victory over Asuras with their own Shakthi. To protect them getting spoilt like this, Paramathama stood as a Jyothi Swarupam at a sighting distance, but His head and feet were invisible. Devas wanted to find out who this ‘Yakshafigure was. Agni and Vayu who were sent for the purpose, came back defeated by this ‘Yaksha’. Neither of them could burn nor lift a small piece of grass thrown by this Yaksha. Devatas thought ‘This has defeated our victory over the Asuras which we are celebrating.’ Now Devaraja himself became humble. They got the realization that there was some power much greater than theirs. Ego had left them and for a moment they had Iswara bakthi too. Understanding this, Indira, approached the Yaksham with humility; that most compassionate one took a celestial form of a women, in order to bless him with Jnana. Indira bowed and offered obeisance to Ambal who stood with the shine of molten gold, that is the brightness of Jnana and asked Her to explain the form of Yaksha. Ambikai took the position of Acharya  and gave him Jnanopadesa.

Dear child, that Yaksha was Brahmam, that is the one which is the cause and support to this Universe, to you, to all the Devas and Asuras. A bit of its great Sakthi is in every being,’ She said. First She stood in the form of Yaksha and put the Devas to shame, to help them shed their ego. When the ego vanished She gave Jnanopadesa. 

Adi Sankara says: Parameswara is the omniscience which is the intelligence which moves everything. She is the Jnana Swarupini who is united with that intelligence inseparably.

Mahaswamy then says that the incidence mentioned in Kenopanishd is proved in Sri Kalahasti and should have happened there. In that place, in theSahasra Linga Temple, there is a yaksha lingam and a Indra lingam.  In the big temple of Kalahasthi, the name of the Ambal is ‘Jnanaprasunambikai’ or ‘Jnanambikai’.

It is not necessary to find a new path by ourselves to worship Ambal. There are great Kshetras like Kalahasthi where great Rishis and great souls have worshipped Her. If we go to these kshetras and worship Her, it is enough.”

 (Excerpts from the book entitled “Voice of God”-Vol.1, published by Sri Kanchi Mahaswamy Peetarohana Shatabdi Mahotsava Trust, Mumbai-2006 –pp-613-619) (Italics, highlighting and underlining are mine-sgvr.)

 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

 

Chapter 46

Ishta Devatas 2-Ambal 3-  Reward for Worshipping Ambal

 

In this Chapter, the benefits accruing from worshipping Ambal are described. In the higher levels of Bhakthi, one should not expect any rewards while praying to this Mahasakthi. Worship of Ambal is by itself the result of Her ‘Arul’ (compassion) and a great reward; we don’t need any other reward. Parashakthi knows what we require and would come to our help and shower Her blessings without our request. But human nature being what it is, expecting rewards or praying for a specific purpose to an Ishta Devata is common and is the first step towards conditioning the mind.

 

Let us now see what Mahaswamy says on this:

 

Reward for Worshipping Ambal

There is no greater bliss than meditating on Ambal, the personification of love. ‘Amma, I am one with several faults. Yet, I trust in You. With your blessings all faults will vanish. You yourself conduct me in the manner in which I should be.’ Like this if we continuously keep appealing to Her, leaving everything to Her, our minds become light.

No separate reward is needed for worshipping Ambal. But, since all of us are caught in the Maya of this world, we cannot, in the beginning, realize the bliss of giving up the notion of ‘I’ and worshipping Her for Her sake. We worship Her for so many things for ourselves. So long as our prayers are not opposed to Dharma, She fulfils them.

“Having known human nature, in one of his slokas of Soundarya Lahiri, Adi Sankara narrates the rewards for worshipping the Ambal, one after the other.

“As the first reward, he says, there will be Saraswathi’s blessings. That means good education and developing great qualities because of good education, he says. Then, he says, there will be Lakshmi’s blessings. That means plenty of wealth will accrue. Ambal will first grant vivekam first to know how to spend the money in the Dharmic way and then give him money. Therefore, first She grants Saraswathi’s blessings and then Lakshmi’s blessings. In Thaithriyopanishad also it has been said the same way.

“Those who worship Ambal need not have to worship Lakshmi and Saraswathi separately. The latter are the two eyes of Ambal and She herself will make them shower their blessings. Along with intelligence and wealth, everyone wants to be beautiful. Adi Sankara says: ‘To one who worships Ambal, there will be Saraswathi’s blessings to the extent that Brahma will feel jealous, Mahalakshmi’s blessings to the extent that Maha Vishnu feels jealous. Looking at him, Rathi herself will have a doubt if he is manmatha.’

Adi Sankara also says that Ambal will grant youthfulness (chiranjivithvam).

(Here I recall the verse of Abhirami Bhattar, the great devotee of Ambal.

Here he says: the very sight through the extreme corner of Her eyes (side glance), will give Her devotees, wealth, education, tireless mind, a pure mind without rancour or ill will, Darshan of God, beneficial associates, and all other things which are good for them in life. –- a free translation-  SGVR)

“With all these blessings, we have not attained permanent peace. Even though this thought arises in our mind now and then, the next moment Maya drags us away. Like the cow tied to a rope which cannot go beyond a radius, we are also foolishly satisfied that this is all. Beyond the little pleasures of the Indriyas is the limitless, everlasting bliss (Atma Anandam). If our attachments go and also the state in which we remained tied like a rope, then we are ‘Paraprahmam’. Money, Buddhi, longevity and beauty – If in the mind which hankered after these, Vairagya comes and Ambal creates a thought in us that these bondages are not wanted, then we will get into the Sadhana for becoming bliss ourselves. And Adi Sankara says, at the end, Ambal blesses the devotee to get immersed in the nectar of supreme bliss. There is no greater reward than this.

It is not necessary for us to catalogue our needs to Ambal and pray to Her. Neelakanta Dikshitar  says in the sthothra Anandasagarasthvam that Meenakshi (Ambal) knows whatever he has in mind and that there is no need to express it to Her outwardly. But if he does (express) it, it is because if he does not speak out his grievances in his mind, it keeps smarting inside. It is only to mitigate this, He prays to Her.

“Even if we do not express our wants, once we worship Ambal, She blesses us in several ways. First She grants us a good intellect. Only good thoughts arise in our mind. In order to do good to the world, money power accrues on its own accord. Feeling of equal love to all arises. (In reality, She only is a mother to all, we are all Her children, including animals and birds. Therefore, we are really brothers and sisters. After that we will not develop hatred or enmity.) By worshipping Ambal, we develop the feeling that the whole world is a family and the feeling of love towards everyone arises. Mukar says that those who have received the blessings of Kamkashi, there will be no difference between friend and foe. The Adviata Jnana  dawns that ‘It is one Shakthi that has become so many, the difference is only in the forms. What is inside is only one.’ The same thought is expressed by Mukar: ‘To one who has been blessed by Kamkashi, the home and the forest appear the same and the friends and foe appear equal.’

Many great souls and poets have sung sthothras on Ambal, the Jagnamatha. Of these sthothra literature, three are superb. They are: Soundarya Lahiri, the greater part of which was sung by Adi Sankara, Muka Pancha Sathi done by Mukar, and the third Arya Dwisathi composed by Dhurvasa Maharishi. Adi Sankara says: ‘All this is the power of speech given by you. With the speech you gave me, I praised you.’ The other sthothras also say that, by Her grace, good power of speech is gained. Finally, all these ‘sthuthis’ say that the important reward for worshipping Ambal is that Jnana is gained. 

At the feet of Ambal the Thrimurthis Brahma Vishnu and Rudra are paying obeisance. Adi Sankara says that, therefore, the archna we perform at Her feet becomes the archana to their heads also. This statement does not mean that one Devata is high and the other is low. The import is that all Shakthi- of the humans, the animals, -several kinds of Shakthi abound in nature- all these are small drops of one source Shakthi. The same thing is stated in science also that one energy has become different types of atoms, waves etc. Shrushti, Sthihti and Samhara, all came from that one Shakthi. Therefore by worshipping Her, it will amount to worshipping Brahma Vishnu and Rudra also. There is nothing that is not got by worshipping Ambal. Poetic genius, music and other arts are acquired by Ambal’s grace. By worshipping Her, ‘guru bhakthi’ and ‘pathi bhakthiwill also grow in a big way. (The next Series will carry Mahaswamy’s thoughts on Guru and Pathi bhakthi. -Ramanan)

Before we proceed further, let us clear a common misconception about Ambal’s compassion.

Ambal’s Compassion and Our Sufferings

Ambal showers Her compassion without any need for justification (Avyaja Karunamurthi). People who face miseries and hardships develop a grievance against God. We only think of the good we do now and lament whether the troubles we face are justified. It is the Law laid down by Ambal that if a particular seed is sown, a particular plant only sprouts from it. In the previous births we have sown the seed; we are now reaping its fruits, i.e., the troubles. The truth is if we have complete knowledge of our faults and sins, it will be seen that the difficulties which Ambal gives are not enough. Then we will sympathize with ourselves and realize that ‘She has shown the way to think of Her in the midst of all these difficulties, and secure the moksha (the release). Is this not an extra dose of compassion?

Here I recall the wise sayings of Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswami of Sharada Peetham at Sringeri in South India. While discussing the question of ‘Fate and Free Will’ he says:

“Except to a very few highly advanced souls, the past certainly remains unknown. But even our ignorance of it is very often an advantage to us. For, if we happen to know all the results we have accumulated by our actions in this and our past lives, we will be so much shocked as to give up in despair any attempt to overcome or mitigate them. Even in this life, forgetfulness is a boon, which the merciful God has been pleased to bestow on us, so that we may not be burdened at any moment with a recollection of all that has happened in the past.

(For details please refer to the section on ‘Fate’ in my web page: www.sgvramanan.com )

 

Mahaswamy continues:

Ambal puts us to difficulties to ensure that we do not hereafter commit such wrongs as were committed in the previous births, correct ourselves and make us good (in thought, word and deed). If it is Her compassionate nature to grant good without a reason, the compassion with which She puts us to difficulty in order to test us and correct us is a higher form. We are not aware of what was and what would be. That is why we consider that the difficulties faced in this small interval are bad. If we can know the past present and future, we will know that She does nothing bad at all. She has kept the man ignorant of the past and future on account of a divine Lila. If a man has so much haughtiness and ego when he does not know these, there will be no limit to his misdeeds if he were to know all the three (past, present and future). She has kept him like this to keep him in check.

Ambal is not the one who will put us to difficulties and enjoy doing it. She is the only one who is helpful to us at all times, a bandhu (close relation), and the mother and father (Ammai/Appan).”

 

(Excerpts from the book entitled “Voice of God”-Vol.1, published by Sri Kanchi Mahaswamy Peetarohana Shatabdi Mahotsava Trust, Mumbai-2006 –pp-620-648) (Italics, highlighting and underlining are mine-sgvr.)

 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 47

Ishta Devatas 2-Ambal 4- Ambal as Portrayed by Adi Sankara

 

In this Chapter, we will see how Adi sankara portrayed Ambal.

Adi Sankara has favoured us with several literary compositions which are hymns of praise for Ambal. Apart from Soundarya Lahiri, he has composed long sthothras like Ananda Lahiri, Devi Bhujangam, Thripura Sundari Mansa Puja Sthothram, Thripura Sundari Vedha Padhasthavam ­ and also short sthothras on Devi like Annapurnashtakam, Ambashtakam etc. It is enough if we keep reciting these; we can happily float in the flood of Ambal’s Kataksham.

Acharyal who composed these, sings the praise of Ambal with great humility and pleads with Her: “Just as the Moon showers its shine on all places equally without looking into the merit or otherwise of the place, and gives brightness and coolness, in the same way, may not the flood of your glance fall not only on those noble and deserving people, but also on me and bathe me? Can I not be drowned in the brightness of Jnana and the coolness of compassion?’ ‘You are the personification of compassion (Dhaya). Therefore, because of the compassion, keep your feet on my head.’ There is an implied meaning in saying that Ambal’s feet are on the head of Vedhas. It is confirmed here that Ambal Herself is of the form of Guru (Guru Swarupini). Manthra Sastras say that the ‘Padhukas of the Guru are always on our head. Ambal appeared as Jnana Guru in the Kenopanishad and has placed Her feet as ornament to the Vedha Siras (Upanishads).

Acharyal narrates here other glories of those feet. Of the sixteen upacharas, washing the feet with water is called Padhya. It appears that, as Padhya to Ambal, Ganga water is always flowing at Her feet from the Jata of Pasupahi (Iswara). The import if this is that Pasupathi also offers obeisance at the lotus feet of Ambal who is the ‘Para Brahma Sakthi’.

Maha Vishnu who is the protector of the Universe also offers obeisance at Her feet with humility, because the power of protecting the Universe also came from Parasakthi. Acharya says that at that time, the bright shine of the red Chudamani, which is on Narayana’s head adorns Ambal’s feet as Laksharasam (solution made out of a red lac) which is usually applied to noble women.

“In the very first sloka of Soundarya Lahiri, Adi Sankara mentions the great Sakthi of Ambal. ‘Amma, the Sakthi! Siva, the Parameswara will be capable of action only if He is in association with you. He does not have the Sakthi and capability to even move a little. Brahmam cannot have awareness of anything since there is nothing other than itself.  Since Brahmam is everything and is everywhere, where is the place for it to move? Yet in the whole Universe, starting from the Sun and the stars and up to the electrons in the atom, all are in a state of motion all the time. It looks as if, somehow, all these awareness and motions have come from Brahmam. That is the work of maya or it is the glory of ‘Brahma Sakthi.’ When we call Brahman as Siva and Sakthi as Ambal, Acharyal says the same in these words:”Amma, you only make Siva move and manipulate Him.’ The universe, which, in the end, disappears, appeared because of Maya-(that which is not there is Maya). It is, She, who removes our Maya.

“Whatever forms we observe are all Her making; She Herself. Yet, if we meditate on some special forms, our mind gets involved (attached) in that form. She, who is the formless, the infinite akasa (space) which provides space for all forms, is the life force (Prana Sakthi), life breath. Fire, Water, Earth, everything is Her form. Our mind, which experiences these, is also She Herself. This what Acharya says in the sloka Manasthavam’.

In the previous sloka, Acharya says that night and day are Ambal’s forms. He further says that as a mother feeds her child with milk, She gives food to the world through the Sun and the Moon. It is from the Sun that the vegetable kingdom produces chlorophyl. We all live eating the vegetables or the animals eat grass, leaves and plants or the meat of goat etc, which in turn live on vegetable kingdom. Just as the Sun nurtures the vegetable kingdom, the Moon nurtures the growth of herbs.

“It has been stated in Manthra Sasthra that when the ‘Kundalini Sakthi’ is raised from the bottom of the spine to the head according to the sasthra, Ambal raises up, thin as a thread which is like what comes when a lotus stem is broken; it will be as bright as a crore of Suns together, but it will be cool as a crore of Moons together.

Apart from these forms, She is also sound and speech. More particularly, She is of the form of Manthra Sabdam. All these are subtle forms.

It is for ordinary people like us that She has the physical forms such as Lalitha, Durga, Bhuvaneswari etc.These forms are shown as idols which we can see and are in holy places. She is the one who has Her abodes with different forms in temples all over our land and continues to bestow Her blessings. (Such as Bhagavati in Kerala, Chamundeswari in Karnataka, Kamakshi, Akhilandeswari, Meenakshi in Tamil Nadu, Jananmbikai in Andhra, Thulja Bhavani in Maharashtra, Ambaji in Gujarat, Jwalamukhi in Punjab, Kali in Bengal, Kamakhya in Assam and Vindhya Vasini in Uttar Pradesh.)

 

Shed Arrogance and Be Humble

There is absolutely no justification for feeling arrogant that ‘we have achieved this, achieved that etc.’ All our Shakthi has come from that one Mahashakthi which conducts the activities of the Universe. A little thought will make it clear that all our activities are conducted only by a drop of blessings from Ambal, who is an ocean of Shakthi and therefore to think that such activities are our achievements are foolish. As much as we realize this and be humble like a grass, so much will we receive Her blessings. Even those who have come as Avatar , like Ramachandramurthi,  have lived a humble life to teach us this humility. Although they are aware of their Divinity, they will behave like human beings and in order to show the right path to others, they will be humble.

“Our Adi Sankara was also like them. He was many things rolled into one,- jnani, baktha, poet, great intellectual etc., one with great Sakthi which enabled him to achieve many things, a personification of supreme compassion. For one who could compose a literary piece like Soundarya Lahiri, there is justification to be haughty. On the contrary, after completing the ‘sthothra’ and when dedicating it to the Lotus feet of Ambal, he says with all humility: ‘You are the personification of speech (Vak Swarupini) and I am praising you through words; it is like performing ‘Harathi’ with camphor to the Sun, which alone gives this power to the camphor.’ Adi Sankara also says that just like taking water from the ocean and giving bath to it with own’s water, he is doing the ‘sthuhiby taking a little from the ocean of speech which is Ambal Herself. Acharya who was the very incarnation of Iswara says with all humility that he is singing Her praise with the speech that She has given and there is nothing that he has done himself. Great souls who come as incarnation address Ambal with such humility.

 

 

Pathi  (and Guru) Bhakthi

In the previous Chapter, while talking about rewards for praying to Ambal, Mahaswamy said: By worshipping Her, ‘guru bhakthi’ and ‘pathi bhakthiwill also grow in a big way. This is elaborated further here.

 It is natural that, by worshipping Ambal, one getsPathi Bakthi’, as She herself s a great ‘Pathivratha’. She sacrificed Her body in the ‘yaga kunda, when She found Her husband Siva was slighted by Her father Dakshan. There is nothing more auspicious than Ambal. She is spoken of as Sarva Mangala Mangalye’. Because of His association with Her, Siva is also of the auspicious (mangala) form. Ambikai who is the very personification of auspiciousness (mangalam) is a great ‘Sumangali’. Adi Sankara says in Soundarya Lahiri, that even after taking the Alahala poison, Parameswara   is in good health. The characteristics (Lakshana) of a ‘Sumangali are: -ear rings, kumkum on the forehead, chain of black beads on the neck etc. which are signs of auspiciousness. Ambal is also wearing a Thadangam in Her ears. All the ladies must have been wearing ear rings made of Palmyra leaf, as Ambal Herself. That is why, in later years, when the ostentatious practice of wearing diamond ear rings set in, these came to be called ‘Vaira Olai’ (Diamond palm leaf).

“For a woman, the husband is the Guru and therefore for her, ‘Guru Bakthi’ and ‘Pathi Bakthi’ are the same. To the women who worship Ambal, the gem of ‘pathivratha’, She blesses them with long sowmangalyam’. In the Sangam period also, virgin girls worshipped Ambal in the name of Ambavadal for getting married, known as Pavai Nonbu. Even now unmarried girls perform Gowri Pooja for getting married.

“The characteristic of noble ‘pathivrathais that, whatever kind of husband she gets, she will consider as God and surrender to him. This is a state in which one’s own interest is completely given up. Since ego completely vanishes, it is like opening the gates of moksha. What is important in this is that we surrender, irrespective of whom we surrender to. If she surrenders like this irrespective of how he is, is a  pathivratha and thinks of her husband as Parameswara, surely Parameswara will bless her through her husband.

Compare here what Thiruvalluvar, the great saint poet said:

Deyvam  thozhaal  kozuNan  thozhuthezhuvaaL

Peyyenap  peyyum  mazhai.

 

Meaning: The wife who worships not the Gods but her husband on rising from her bed,

can order the clouds to pour rain and they will obey.

 

Rajaji explains: "The Vedanta philosophy and Hindu practice recognize forms of

worship which enable the devotee to see the Supreme deity in every object of love and

adoration. Husband worship is not a neglect of God."

Mahaswamy also quotes the example of Nalayini who had an ugly husband with crooked traits, to whom she was devoted, acquired the power to prevent the Sun from rising. Any number of Puranic examples can be given for this.

In the present day, this has to be viewed in the context of absolute loyalty to the husband. There is no denial of the fact that such loyalty has to be mutual to assure marital harmony and peaceful family life. -sgvr

 Mahaswamy then reveals that this is the same in respect of Guru also.

(Excerpts from the book entitled “Voice of God”-Vol.1, published by Sri Kanchi Mahaswamy Peetarohana Shatabdi Mahotsava Trust, Mumbai-2006 –pp-631-644) (Italics, highlighting and underlining are mine-sgvr.)

 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 48

Ishta Devatas 2-Ambal 5- Ambal,  the Maha Vishnu and Mother of All

 

In this Chapter, we will see a very interesting revelation that Parasakthi is considered not merely the consort of Parameswara and sister of Narayana, but She is none other than Maha Vishnu. The explanations given by Mahaswamy on this concept are interesting and beautiful and are worth assimilating. As Swamiji hopes, this revelation should set aside all differences between Saivism and Vaishnavism. In fact, time and again Swamiji had been pointing out that the numerous personal Gods we have in our religion are only a manifestation of the one and only “Parabrahmam”. I quote here his own words: ”The one thing which is action-less takes several forms when it becomes active; there is no distinction of high and low between these forms.”

 

The Sakthi of Siva; Sister of Narayana

Ambal is the Sakthi of Parabrahmam. If Brahman is called Iswara, Ambal is combined in Him inseparably. Paramaeswara and Parasakthi who are inseparable are the original couple. We are in need of two forms-father and mother-to seek blessings, father who can pull us up and give Jnana and mother who will always love us and protect us. But if they are separate, it is not consistent with the philosophical concept. That is why Iswara and Ambal have appeared as Ardhanariswara, a single body in which one half is Iswara and the other is Ambal. According to Acharya, ‘The truth is that Sambu (Parameswra) is formless; He got a form due to the Sakthi of Ambal to fulfil our desire to see Him as father and ‘Anugraha Rupini’ as mother. Then to see that they are not wholly separated, they have come together as ‘Ardhanareswara, with the right side as Parameswara and the left side as Ambal. Just as electricity has positive and negative, the one single Truth has taken this form. Acharya further advises us that, realizing that Siva and Sakthi are inseparable, we should practice Bakthi for both in this form to get full blessings.

(Then we come to the description of the oneness of Siva, Parashakthi and Maha Vishnu. -SGVR)

The left side which is that of Ambal in the Ardhanareswaraform, is also that of Maha Vishnu in the Sankara Narayana form. Appar Swamigal (in one of his songs on Iswara) says that Iswara has no consort other than Hari. Whether it is Ardhanareswara or Sankara Narayana, in both Parabrahma Swarupa Parameswara is on the right side. If the right side is assumed to be positive of electricity, the left side is negative. Atomic scientists say that the negative force circles around the positive, which is the nucleus, very fast. The Saguna (with qualities) Sakthi creating this Universe and operating with the centre as Brahman which is the support of the whole world, but is action-less and without quality, is negative circling around the positive. The same as appearing as Murthi for worship, instead of the nucleus and circling negative, it takes a divine form with the right and left sides as two parts. In this, the right is positive, that is the action-less Brahmam, the left is negative, which is the source Sakthi of Brahmam for all activities. In the Ardhanareswara form the left part took the feminine form and is Ambal; in the Sankara Narayana form, it has taken the male form and has become Maha Vishnu.

“If we call Parameswara who is action-less and is jnana itself, the Maya principle which is the cause of all the Universe and the compassion which releases us from this, we call Ambal or Maha Vishnu. She is Parameswara’s Sakthi; She is the very Narayana Himself.

“When we talk of this from the angle of Purana, we see that Ambal is Iswara’s consort and  Maha Vishnu’s sister; at the concluding part of Lalitha Sahasranamam, Ambal has been described as the form of inseparable ‘Siva Sakthi’. In another place, it is said that She is the sister of Padmanabha.

“She is the Vishnu Maya who was born of Yashoda as her daughter on the day of Krishnashtami. During Sri Rama Navami, vasantha Navarathri is celebrated, when She had incarnated as  Jnanambaikai. Since She had incarnated at the same time as Vishnu, both are one or are siblings. If, in this manner, we get accustomed to treating Ambal as no different from Iswara  and no different from Sri Maha Vishnu on the other – as the consort of one and the sister of another- we will never talk of any differences in status between Iswara and Perumal. And the disagreement between Saivism and Vaishnavam will disappear.

The one thing which is action-less takes several forms when it becomes active; there is no distinction of high and low between these forms; similarly there is no distinction between these forms and the source truth of all these. If we understand this, there will be no internal quarrels, difference of opinion etc within our religion.

Dakshinamurthi has no consort. This is the form in which Swami is on His own, without the association of Ambal. In the same manner, there is no consort for Durgai; She is Ambal all by herself, In Dakshinamurthi’s hands there is Japa Mala, just like the female deity, Saraswathi. Those who are brother and sister are similar. Therefore, Saraswathi  is Siva’s sister.

Durgai Amman without association with a male is Nila Mega Shyamala (like the blue black cloud). She has in Her hand the Chakra (discus) and the Conch. She is the one who destroys Rakshasas like Mahisasura. When you consider all these, it will be clear that Sri Maha Vishnu is Her brother; the same colour, the same conch and discus, repeatedly taking avatars to destroy asuras- these are seen only in  Maha Vishnu. Due to their great compassion, both of them destroy the wicked (Dushta Nigraham). These two only conduct this illusory universe as a wonderful play (drama). He is always called Mayon. Puranas call Him as Mayavi- Maya Nataka suthradhari (State manager). We call Her as Maha Mayai.

“Traditionally, doing Maya is considered feminine. This aspect is more in Maha Vishnu. That is why He incarnated as Mohini when ‘Amrutam was distributed. Paramesawra himself has married Mohini. This fits in with the fact that Vishnu is Ambal’s another form. If you look at Venkataramana Swami, you will find significant connection to Ambal. There Perumal is adorned only with sari. The  abhishekam is performed on Fridays. In all other Perumal temples, there is Garuda. Here alone one finds lion which is the vehicle (vahanam)of Ambal.

Ambal, Maha Vishnu and Parameswara are three gems. It should be realized that “the Truth”, which is the source of everything is Sivam and the Sakthi, which is the cause for Siva , has to be seen in many forms as Ambal or Vishnu; we should develop a devotion that does not imagine a difference in status –high and low- between these three.

Abhor Khama and Krodha

Desire is Khamam. By Khamam, birth takes place. By Krodha (anger), we kill ourselves. Therefore, if we are to get released from the cycle of birth and death, we should not allow Khamam and Krodham to come anywhere near us. So long as desire, hatred, fear and sorrow are in the mind, money influence, fame, beauty and health, have no meaning and would not do any good to us. Ambal’s grace is the armour against Kamam and Krodham. If we pray to Parasakthi, who is Kameswari and Kamakshi with total involvement, She will fully destroy our Khama. Because She is half of Parameswara, who had burnt Kaman-half of the forehead eye is Hers. She reduces to ashes the Khamam of the world of beings. Ambal, who is Narayana Sahodhari, acing as Siva’s Sakthi, burnt Khamam. She herself revived the Kaman who had been burnt by Siva and gave him life. It is clear that Kaman is under Her control. Therefore, he will not come near Her devotees.

In the beginning stages, we may think that She is different. If we make a little effort, She herself will lift us gradually and protect us. She will also remove the difference that exists between Her and make us Herself (i.e. unite us with Her).

(I will conclude this Chapter with the recognition of Prasakthi as Amma (Mother) for all of us.-SGVR)

Mother (Amma) for All

We cannot see anywhere in the world, total unadulterated love as that of the mother. Even if the child does not reciprocate her love, the mother ignores it and continues to show total love to him. The mutual love between the mother and the child is more during the younger years than when the child has grown in age. But she is the mother for this body only. After her or our body goes, there is no connection between us. After that taking birth in another womb, there will be another mother.

Even so, there is one who is not merely the mother for our body but for our life also. When this body dies, the soul gets into another body. It is the mother of the soul who always continues to be our mother. The reward for taking birth is to offer our love to the lotus feet of the Paradevata(Supreme Deity) who, like the cow to its calf, is the mother of all times, to all beings and in all births. She is the refuge to ensure that when the soul leaves the body, it does not get into another body but gets dissolved in the supreme bliss.

She, who is the only mother, will bless us both for this world and the other. We should realize that whatever we achieve or do, is only by the Sakthi She has given us: we should surrender to Her without any ego. Just as a mother gives a child whatever is needed without asking, Amma who is the Jaganmatha, and the personification of compassion, will, even if She is not asked, bestow learning, wealth, good heath, etc in this world to become evolved in Jnana and experience Advaita  bliss, on those who are Her devotees. Let the state of bliss come at its own time after expending all our karmas. Now we have Ambal who is supremely loving. It is only now that it is possible to think of Her love and show our love to Her. For us and all the world, which has Her as their mother, there is no happiness greater than the meditation on Ambal. Let us always think of Ambikai, so that the world and all the beings will prosper.

 (Excerpts from the book entitled “Voice of God”-Vol.1, published by Sri Kanchi Mahaswamy Peetarohana Shatabdi Mahotsava Trust, Mumbai-2006 –pp-631-666) (Italics, highlighting and underlining are mine-sgvr.)

 

Go to Top