Jagadguru Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamiji
Translated into English by Dr. T.M.P. Mahadevan
bhruvau bhugne kin̄cid-bhuvana-bhaya
-bhaṅga - vyasanini
tvadīye netrābhyāṁ madhukara-rucibhyāṁ
dhanur- manye savyetarakara -gṛhītaṁ
prakoṣṭhe muṣṭau ca sthagayati
"O Umā! In Thy slightly knit eyebrows, intent on dispelling the world's fears, I imagine the bow of Rati's lord (Manmatha), strung with the string of Thy shining bee-like pair of eyes, held in his left hand, with the middle parts of both concealed by the forearm and the clenched fist covering them."
- Saundaryalaharī, verse 47.
In this verse of the Saundaryalaharī composed by our Ācārya, the eyebrows of the Divine Mother are described.
Śrī Ācārya went to Kailāsa and by the grace of Iśvara obtained along with the five Liṅgas the Saundaryalaharī consisting of a hundred verses containing mantras and a description of the Mother's form from the crown to the feet. As he was bringing the script of the poem, Nandikeśvara obstructed him and succeeded in seizing fifty-nine verses. Śrī Ācārya was able to retrieve forty-one verses which contain the mantras and completed the poem by adding his own composition of fifty-nine verses describing the divine form from the crown to the feet. In these fifty-nine also there are mantras embedded. Of these, the present verse praises that aspect of the Mother's form which dispels the fears of all the worlds.
For removing fear, it is usual to knit the eyebrows slightly. Therefore, in the verse, the Mother is described as being 'intent on dispelling the world's fears'. When the brows are knit for the sake of removing fear, they bend like a bow. Hence, the Ācārya says that the Mother's brows are like a bow. If the brows are knit out of anger, the brows will be raised. Then, they will not resemble a bow. Because the Mother knits the brows slightly for the sake of removing fear, they bend like a bow. They are seen to resemble a bow. So, the Ācārya says, 'bhruvau bhugne kin̄cit': 'bhugna' means 'slightly knit'. The two eyes extend upto the ears. The black pupils shine like the black-bees. If it be asked, whose bow is this, the reply is that it is the bow of the Lord of Rati (Manmatha). Because he is the lord of beauty, his bow also is beautiful. The poets describe that bow as ikṣu (sugar-cane). The string for that bow is constituted by bees. Thus, the pupils of the eyes that extend upto the ears are said to be like the bees that constitute the bow-string of Manmatha. In another verse of the Saundaryalaharī, Śrī Ācārya says, 'maurvī madhukaramayī (bow-string made of black-bees, v.6). If the knit brows and the pupils of the eyes are compared to the bow and bow-string respectively, there is some difficulty, so thinks the Ācārya. There is a region in between the two eye-brows. And between the two eyes there is the nose. These two partially hide the bow and the string. The Ācārya gives a thought to this.
There are ten names of Arjuna :
arjunaḥ phalgunaḥ pārthaḥ kirīṭi
śvetavāhanaḥ, bībhatsur-vijayaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ savyasācī
It is usual to recite these ten names when it thunders.
This is because thunder is Indra's bow, and Arjuna was Indra's son. Of these ten names, Savyasācī is one. The meaning of this name is, 'one who can shoot arrows even with the left hand'. Ordinarily, one holds the bow with the left hand and shoots the arrow with the right hand. But Arjuna's distinctive greatness was that he could hold the bow with the right hand and shoot with the left hand also. In the same way, Manmatha too is Savyasācī. If the bow is held with the right hand and the arrow with the left we know how it would be. So are the Mother's eye-brows and eyes. Thus says the Ācārya. Muṣṭi is closed fist. Prakoṣṭa is the forearm near the wrist. Savyetaragṛhītam means 'held with the hand other than the left'. Here the description is: 'like the bow held by Manmatha with the right hand'. It is when the bow is held with the right hand that the closed fist and the forearm will hide respectively the middle-part of the bow and of the string. This will not be so if the bow is held with the left hand. Therefore it is that the Ācārya says 'savyetaragṛhītam.' The region between the eye-brows and the part of the nose between the two eyes are like the fist and the wrist.
There is a place of pilgrimage called Madhuvana. In Tamil it is known as Nannilam. The legend in regard to this holy place is that there the bees offer worship to the Mahālin̄ga. Till today there is seen a honey-comb in the temple there. That is why the place is called Madhuvana.
There was a Cōla king by name Kocheṅgaṭ Cōla. 'Ko' means a king who wears a crown. 'Chengan' means 'red eyes'. In Samskrit, he is referred to as 'Raktākṣa Cōla'. That Cōla king was a great devotee of Śiva. He undertook renovation works in regard to several temples. For such works the name is 'yānai-eṛāt-tiruppaṇi'. This means 'reconstructing the temple-disposition in such a way that elephants will not be able to enter'. From this it can be inferred that in former days the elephants could go in. In ancient times, great sages were worshipping the Mahālin̄ga for their own sake on the banks of rivers, in forest regions and underneath trees. In those times, other people did not go near. But, in the Kali-age, in order to make available the worship of Siva to others also, the kings arranged to build temples in accordance with Āgamic rules. The kings made provision for those performing Śiva-pūjā daily. Thus, inplaces where the sages had been worshipping by themselves the Mahālin̄ga, the kings built temples and appointed for worship those priests who had received the necessary initiation [dīkṣā]. Because in the Dharma-ṣāstras it is laid down that Brahmins should not worship for monetary emoluments, the arrangement for a section to receive initiation was made. Thus, in all of these regions, the Śiva-temples were constructed by the kings later on for the Mahālin̄gas which were being worshipped in the early days by the sages for their own sake according to the Vedic tradition. Now worship is being offered in those temples according to the Āgamic rules. In each of the temples, even today, there is to be seen a sthala-vṛkṣa (a sacred tree). There are also such names as Tillai-vanam and Tejanī-vanam. In Tiruvānaikkā there is the jambū tree; in Kān̄cī there is the mango-tree; in Mallikārjuna, Puṭārjuna, and Madhyārjuna the tree is Arjuna: these are the sthala-vṛkṣas in the places mentioned.
When the renovation work was done for the Tiruvānaikkā temple, there was only a bark left of the jambū tree. The Chettiyārs of Kānāḍukāttān, who did the renovation were afraid that that bark too might go, and so they had the ekādaśa rudrābhiṣekam performed for it. By the power of mantra that bark began to sprout and has become a tree again. Even now, there is a place called Veṇṇāval near Tiruvānaikkā. Nāval is the Tamil name for the jambū tree.
Why did Kocheṅgaṭ Cōla undertake the renovation work referred to as 'yānai-eṛāt-tiruppaṇi?' He began to hate the elephant. In those days, if there was hatred for some one, it used to be said that that one should forego devotion to Śiva. That, they thought, was the greatest harm that could befall one. Why did this king hate the elephant? In regard to this, there is a legend. We should believe the sthala purānas (legends about holy places). Just because some sthala-purānas might have been fabrications, we should not think all the legends are so.
In the Dēvāram hymns, the incidents connected with the holy places have been referred to. These incidents are related in the Purānas. The age of the Dēvāram is about one thousand and five hundred years by now. Relying on the evidence which is much more ancient, the saints who sang the Dēvāram hymns recorded those incidents. Those who followed in the post-Dēvāram period have also alluded to the same incidents. Even now there are corroborative indications. In Tiruvānaikkā there is still a jambu tree. Beneath the tree, there is a Liṇga, and figures, by the side of it, of an elephant in the pose of performing abhiṣeka, and of a spider nearby and the seals of copper plate inscriptions. Similarly, in Madhuvana there is to be seen a honey-comb. The symbolic representations at Tiruvānaikkā indicate the legend connected with that place, which is as follows: In those ancient times there was a sage by name Jambu who was performing austerities at that place. Because he was performing austerities lost in meditation for a very long time, an anthill covered his body, and plants and creepers grew as also a jambu tree. The Mahālin̄ga, which he had been worshipping, was now being worshipped by a spider. Since the Mahālin̄ga was in the open, the spider was weaving constantly a web over it so that the sun would not fall on it. An elephant was performing abhiṣeka to the Mahālin̄ga everyday with the water from the Kāverī brought in its trunk. By the spilling of the water, the spider's web was getting destroyed. The spider got annoyed at this; it entered the elephant's trunk and bit it. In Ayurveda it is said that the poison of lūtā is the most harmful. Lūtā means spider. The elephant killed the spider by razing it to the ground, and it also died on account of the poison. That spider was reborn as Kocheṅgaṭ Cōla. Because the spider's eyes were red with anger at the time of death, it was reborn as the Cōla king with red eyes. Hence, the king was angry at the sight of elephants. And, he had done 'yānai-eṛāt-tiruppaṇi’ for seventy temples. He was a great devotee of Siva. His devotion to Śiva has been praised even by Ālvārs in the Periya-tirumoli. While mentioning that Kocheṅgan built the Viṣṇu temple at Nāchiyārkoil, it has been stated that he was the builder of many Siva temples.
"Place (with devotion) on your head the sacred Feet of the Lord Who is the consort of Nappinnai with roseate lips and Who, in the past (at the time of His incarnation as Paraśurāma) destroyed all the kings and, overcoming the might of enemy king (Kārta-vīryārjuna) in the battle-field, cut off his head. Go to the temple at Tirunaṛaiyūr which was visited (for worship) by the Cōla (king) of noble lineage who built seventy temples for the Lord with eight shoulders whose lips repeat the Puruṣa-sūkta of the Veda."
- Periya-tirumoli, 6, 6, 8.