8. Divine Mother

Kanakadhara Stotram Sloka 3 Cont..

Śrī Śhankara’s Intent & The Divine Mother (Ishwari) & Story of King Bali

In this chapter we will take a deeper look into the magnificence of the Divine Mother (Iśvari) and the of Hanuma, and the story of King Bali (grandson of Prahalada), or we can skip this move to Sloka 4.

Now, let’s take a moment and dwell on Śrī Śankara’s intent and His approach. This stotram is not like those done to describe the beauty and the character of Ishwara (Iśvara), we have already seen this earlier. In fact, it would be incorrect to use the word composed, as it was an extempore to uplift this poor family through the anugraham (grace) of Iśvara, and for future generations to uplift ourselves.

Now an obvious question, this poor family did not ask for Śrī Śankara to rescue them out of their current misery, nor did they ask Him for His anugraham (grace) or prosperity in return of the dried amla fruit. Then why is Śrī Śankara doing this? Another obvious fact to be noticed is, when Śrī Śankara asked Śrī Mahā Lakṣmī for prosperity, She initially denied, stating there exists no sat:karma, then what is Śrī Śankara trying to do with His stotram? Wouldn’t it be to pester or haggle with Śrī Mahā Lakṣmī? Wouldn’t it be childish and annoying, especially when a five-year-old keeps arguing with Śrī Lakṣmī? What if at the end of His stotram Śrī Lakṣmī says the same thing again? What if She appreciates Śrī Śankara’s stotram, but declines to forgive this family, and offers to grant fortune to Śrī Śankara instead? Will Śrī Śankara accepts such an offer, will He be the Jagad Guru that He is today? Such questions arising out of honest inquisition, will make us go deeper into understanding the essence. Without this essence, what is the purpose of reading or chanting this stotram (definitely there is significance in chanting and reading, no doubt)? We don’t know our own karma nor the results it’s going to bring, and in what shape or form. The giver of Karmaphala (the result of karma), is Iśvara, so how can one convince Him for his forgiveness? (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.8)


Brahmachairya (Brahma:chairyam): a stage in youth wherein one takes resort under an acharya (Guru) to learn about Iśvara and the life ahead, and collect alms for the Guru. Brahmachairya can also be a practice or discipline to follow celibacy at any age in one’s life. Even if one belongs to the Gruhast ashram(am), one can still maintain celibacy and follow the discipline of Brahmachairya. The one who maintains this discipline is called a Brahma:chari.

Itihaasa (Iti:haa:sa) meaning, ‘this is how it happened’. Itihaasa is a literature of Sanatana Dharma wherein the narrator is one of the characters in that actual flow of events or narrates it as the events unfolded. Like Rishi Vyasa who Himself was the person in the Itihaasa of Sri Maha Bharatam. The same goes for Rishi Valmiki who also was an actual person involved in the events that unfolded during Tretayuga and so narrated Sri Ramayanam.

Śrī Śankara is a brahmachari, which makes him ineligible to acquire wealth and fortune at that age. It was an age of learning. So, how is Śrī Śankara confident that He would convince Śrī Lakṣmī’s to forgive? This is the reason, each sloka keeps revolving around the stories when Śrī Lakṣmī bestowed Her forgiveness. Ignoring this will lead to the loss of two very vital objectives, one, his empathy, and second, the underlying intent which He wishes to pass on to us, hence let’s not make this reading as a history lesson.

Hanuma meeting Sita Devi in Lanka and Sita giving Her ring for Ram (Event from Sundara Kanda, Valmiki Ramayan) (2008)

Let’s see an example from one of our Itihaasa, wherein someone in a similar situation as Śrī Śankara tried to seek the Divine Mother. Hanuman, in Ramayana, after reaching Lanka couldn’t initially find Devi Sita. He searched every inch of the great city of Lanka, eventually became tired. He remembered the words spoken by Sampati (wingless bird, brother in Jatayu). Then He realized, it’s not just (the keyword is ‘just’) His effort, it’s Devi Sita who must allow Herself to be found, indirectly meaning, Hanuman needs the content of Devi Sita (Śrī Lakṣmī in the incarnation of Sita Devi). Realizing this He bowed to Devi Sita and requested to be found.

Śrī Śankara knew the forgiving nature of the Divine Mother. He knew that She will notice His aspiration, and so, it did rain golden amla fruits from the sky. Śrī Śankara considers this sight of the Divine Mothers as ‘tadi’ (in Sanskrit meaning moist, referring to the moistness in the eyes of the Divine mother), which He seeks to fall upon this family. Did this family, in their dire situation renounce their dharma on Ekadashi fasting, owning nothing but one dry amla fruit to break their fast on Dwadashi day? Did they resort to anti-social activities (adharma)? They lived in confidence of their karma and in the system of dharma. Śrī Śankara would have never visited their house if that weren’t true. Sri Śankara saw the desperation and agony of the poor lady when she went in and out of Her house trying to find something to donate to the guest (Brahmachari). This answers why He choose that house. Knowing this, we should realize the opportunity to help those who can’t. We should be grateful to Iśvara, to have a hand that can support others, compared to those who put their hands forward and beg for their living.  We should realize the importance of giving and the zeal to help others. We should realizing the danger in living a life of selfishness and greed. The proof of Śrī Śankara’s success is with the family’s successors who still reside under the name ‘Swarnamanai’, in Thiruverumbur, Tamil Nadu, who washed the feet of Sachidananda Shivanava Bharathi Swamy of Sringeri with gold coins. Śrī Śankara didn’t just succeed in providing prosperity for this family but gave us the same opportunity. It’s this accomplishment that plants confidence to seek shelter under a Guru in both good and tough times. This very confidence in Sri Śankara at the age of five, established four shrines (Sri Śankara Peetam) in four corners of Bharatha Kanda (India) and gave rise to many legendary successors. Successors like Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati of Kanchi who achieved the ability to speak directly with the Divine Mother Kamakshi and from whom the world had the opportunity to receive such wisdom and anugraham (grace). One should spend at least a little time in one’s life to read and learn the greatness of such personalities. These are the personalities that shaped the future of Sanatana Dharma and gave the strength to go through good and tough days. This accomplishment (Kanakadhara Stotram) by a five-year-old boy, who emerged as a Jagath Guru created a Legacy of Gurus to follow (Guru Parampara). A Jagath Guru who has given a remarkable message about Karma not uniting with dharma and Bhakti (Devotion). This is the significance of Guru in Sanatana Dharma.

Sapta Matrika with Shiva and Gashesh on both ends (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). (2015)

To further seek the tatva(m) (essence) of the Divine Mother, in Virabhadra Vijayam, a four-canton poem with 1046 verses, composed by a poet and scholar Bammera Pothana, refers to the Divine Mother as ‘Aagama Vandita’, meaning She who is worshiped by the Vedās, where the Kumkum on the forehead of Vedās is from the Divine Mother’s holy feet. Similarly, in Sri Lalitha Sahasranana Stotram, Sloka 68 says:

“श्रुति-सीमन्त-सिन्दूरी -कृत -पादाब्ज-धूलिका ।
सकलागम-सन्दोह-शुक्ति-सम्पुट-मौक्तिका ||”

“Shruti simanta sindurikruta padabja dhulika
Sakalagama sandoha shukti samputa maoktika”

(Sanskrit Documents. S.L.S. 2013)

‘Sindurikruta padabja dulia’ meaning the Sindoor (similar to Kumkum, a red-colored powder mainly derived out of turmeric) worn by Shruti or Vedās comes from the Holy feet of the Divine Mother. Such is Her magnificence. Even Asuras and Rakshasas also attained glory and prosperity from Iśvara but never to be misunderstood that their achievement is not because Iśvara failed to stop them, rather Iśvara’s shrusti (creation) allows them when dharma is followed. We learned earlier, in Sanatana Dharma, there is only one entity to punish or to uplift, similarly, there isn’t an entity to support Asuras or Rakshasas, another to support Devatas, it’s the same Iśvara for whom we are all children.

Ravana, king of Lanka, achieved great wealth and Kingship, but if we question the source, then it’s obviously Iśvara anugraham (grace). Hanuman in Sri Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kanda, Sarga (Chapter) 51, Sloka 28 and 29 says:

“न तु धर्म उपसम्हारम् अधर्म फल सम्हितम् ||
तत् एव फलम् अन्वेति धर्मः च अधर्म नाशनः |
प्राप्तम् धर्म फलम् तावत् भवता न अत्र संशयः ||
फलम् अस्य अपि अधर्मस्य क्षिप्रम् एव प्रपत्स्यसे |”

“na tu dharma upasamhaaram a:dharma phala samhitam ||
tat eva phalam anveti dharmaH ca a:dharma naashanaH |
praaptam dharma phalam taavat bhavataa na atra sanshayaH ||
phalam asya api a:dharmasya kShipram eva prapatsyase |”

 (Valmiki Ramayana. S.K. n.d.)

Hanuman says to Ravana, it’s because of your tapasya and your worship of Iśvara (Śiva), you have attained the Kingship of Kanchana Lanka (Golden and Royal Kingdom of Lanka) as it was a Karma dictated by dharma, but the negative Karma which is adharma of kidnapping Devi Sita , will lead to your demise and the destruction of your kingdom. Among the adharma, kidnapping someone else’s dharma:patni who is a pativrata is a Muula-Ghati (meaning karma punishable by death in the same life).

Asura King Bali, Tarakasura and many more attained great power and riches by the boon of Iśvara. Hiranyakashapa (father of Prahlada) also an Asura sought great power (siddhi) and so performed extreme tapasya for Brahma. Thus, making it clear that there are no separate entities that Asuras or Rakshasa reach out to. Upon achieving such powers (siddhi) and kingship through tapasya, the obvious question remains, why are they still considered evil? Because, now that they possessed such wealth and power they use it to cause more suffering to others and act devoid of dharma, very few struggles to overcome such ego and walk the path of dharma. Even though Iśvara notices their evil deeds, He doesn’t just jump to decimate them, it’s only for few specific reasons does He intervene. So, a question, when will Iśvara intervene? Following is a sloka from Srimad Bhagavatam (Sri Bhagavata Purana) composed by a poet and scholar Bammera Pothana:

“శుద్ధ సాదులందు, సృతలందు, నా-గుణములందు  తావి  నా-భక్తులందు గోవులందు
ఎవడు దుష్కర్మ  చేయునో వాడినే పట్టి నేను వాదింతు”

“Shuddha:Sadulandu, Sruthulandu, Naa Gunamulandu, Thavi Naa Bhakthulandu, Goovulandu, Evadu dush:karma chayuno vadine:patti nenu:vadhintu”

Meaning, ‘Saadulandu’: One who ill-treats Sanyasis or Sages or Rishis, ‘Sruthulandu’: One who always defies Sruthi (Vedā), ‘Naa Gunamulandu’: One who speaks ill of the titles and nature of Iśvara, ‘Naa Bhakthulandu’: One who mistreats devotees, and finally ‘Goovulandu’: One who abuses and commits atrocities towards cows that provide milk, then I (Iśvara) shall decimate them so that they suffer and live with the fear of death, and be released from their fears through death. Like Kamsa who lived under constant fear of Krishna (Kṛṣṇa), which can be seen in the sloka from Srimad Bhagavatam (Sri Bhagavata Purana) composed by a poet and scholar Bammera Pothana:

“అరుగుచు, కుడుచుచు, వాలుచు, తిరుగుచు, కూచుంది, లేచి, అనవరతంబున్
హరి తలచి-తలచి జగామ హరి మయముగ:చూచి కంసున:ఆరణీయాలుకున్”

“Aaruguchu, Kuduchuchu, vaaluchu, teruguchu, kuchundi, lechi anavaratambun
Hari Talachi talachi, jagamaa Hari mayamuga chuchi Kamsun aaraniyalukan”

Meaning, when Kamsa realized that Kṛṣṇa would be born as the eighth child, waited and lived under constant fear at every step of his life, and finally took solace in death. Whereas devotes like Parekshit who had only seven days to live, sought a great Guru like Shukabrahma (Son of Vedā Vyāsa) and spend his seven days listening to the stories and accounts of Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu. Parekshith didn’t focus on how long he could live, rather how well he could live. To live by the word of Iśvara should always take precedence.

Iśvara does not have favoritism among Devatas or Asuras or Rakshasas or Manavas and more. If Iśvara had favoritism, then Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu when speaking about Prahlada, son of Asura King Hiranyakashapa said, that even Aadi-Shesha (the thousand-head snake on which Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu lies in PalaSamudra with concert Sri Lakshmi) will not be able to elucidate the greatness of Prahlada. Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu gave word to Prahlada that He would never harm any of his decedents, why? Because Prahlada was devoted and walked the path of dharma. By making such a promise to Prahlada, it doesn’t mean Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu will overlook any adharma, Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu must take responsibility to take care of Prahlada and the well-being of his decedents and by choosing those with satkarma to inherit as Prahlada’s decedents. It’s also to be noted, a king or an official no matter how good, should make sure his/her subordinates are also well mannered and good natured, else they will mutate a good person evil, nor will they allow a good person to flourish.

 (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.9)

आनन्दहेतुरधिकं मुरविद्विषोऽपि ।
ईषन्निषीदतु मयि क्षणमीक्षणार्धम्

Aananda-Hetur-Adhikam Mura-Vidvisso-pi
Iissan-Nissiidatu Mayi Kssannam-Iikssanna-Ardham
Indiivaro dara-Sahodaram-Indiraayaah”

(Green Message Kanakadhara Stotram, n.d.).


Loka: Loka is generally referenced as celestial worlds in an expanding universe, can sometimes be perceived as a separate dimension, wherein kaal(am) (time) as perceived on Earth would be different compared to each loka. Purana(m) states the existence of fourteen lokas, out of which seven are considered as higher lokas called as Vyahrtis (bhu, bhuvas, svar or swagra, mahas, janas, tapas and finally the highest of all lokas being Satyaloka), and seven lower lokas known as Patalas (atala, vitala, sutala, rasaataala, talatala, mahaatala, patala and the bottom most loka being naraka). (Wikipedia. 2017. L)

Sukaloka(m) (Suka:lokam): The highest among the Vyahrtis lokas and is a beautiful loka reached by people with utmost character to help. Even Devatas wish to live in that Suka:loka(m). King Bali was sent to this loka by Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu during Vamana era.

Rishi Brhaspati: An exalted rishi, Guru of all Devatas, Son of Sage Angiras and devoted of Vedās and Iśvara.

Rishi Shukracharya: An exalted rishi and the Guru of Asuras, Son of Bhrigu, and devote of Vedās and Iśvara.  Rishi Brhaspati sent His own son as a student to learn under Rishi Shukracharya.

Upanayana(m) (Upa:nayanam): A ceremony marking one’s passage from baalyam (childhood) into Brahmachairya, a phase during youth in which one takes shelter under the shade and teaching of a Guru.

Brahmachairya: a stage in youth wherein one takes resort under an acharya as Guru to learn about Iśvara and the life ahead, and collect alms for the Guru. Brahmachairya can also be a practice or discipline to follow celibacy at any age in one’s life. Even if one belongs to the Gruhast ashram, one can still maintain celibacy and follow the discipline of Brahmachairya. The one who maintains this discipline is called a Brahmachari.

Shukra Neeti: The dharma applying only to Rishi Shukracharya and His students and other Asuras. Such as taking back one’s promise in a dire situation like losing everything or in a life and death situation.

Manu:  Is the first human or man, and we are all the children of manu and hence the name manava or manusya or man. In the cycle of creation and dissolution of creations, there will be a total of fourteen Manus and the current Manu is the seventh, known as the Vaivasvata manu. That is why in pūjā we say ‘Vaivasvata Manmantare, Kaliyuge’.

Savarni or Savarnika Manu: Is the eight manu, current manu is seventh and is called Vaivasvata manu, and the next manu will be Savarni Manu.

Sindoor(am): Reddish orange poweder mixed with champa oil. Champa, also known as Champaka or Sampangi, is a flower, in English its called Magnolia Champaca.

Kunkum: Red powder worn by women on their temple/forehead made out of powdered dried turmeric.

Anant(am): Aan:antam meaning Aadhi & Antam, wherein Aadhi means beginning, and Antam meaning end. Anantam is to have no beginning or end, also defined as the one who is not limited by time and can see beyond the concept of kaal (time).

We discussed earlier, Sri Shankar’s doesn’t compose for poetic beauty. Anything that He states has relevance to the topic, and the poetic beauty is involuntary. Having known this, if we recollect statements from earlier, we referenced King Bali (Grand Son of Prahlada) twice. King Bali was an Asura king who overthrew Indra and took control of Swarga:loka(m). But from Sri Śankara’s sloka ‘Vishva-Amarendra-Pada-Vibhrama-Daana-Dakssam’ which we have been discussing, we learned that Indra lost His Kingship but later regained it when Sri Lakshmi emerged from the Ocean. When again, and how did Indra lose His kingship to Bali? This happened during the Vamana era where Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu incarnated as a young boy, asked Bali to donate space and land, three steps full. Bali’s Guru, Rishi Shukracharya, identified the young boy as Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu and forbid Bali from donating. Bali attained this kingship and overthrew Indra by serving and obeying his Guru, who performed Homam (a ritual/karma done with devotion) that produced various weapons of war, flag, and chariots, using which he overtook the Swarga Loka. Indra reached out to His Guru, Rishi Bṛhaspati, who pondered on the reason for Indra’s defeat, and suggested Indra to wait patiently with hope and belief in Iśvara. He also mentioned Bali devotion to his Guru which is protects him like an armor. Iśvara Himself will not override the one who has his Guru’s protection. Rishi Bṛhaspati predicted that one day Bali will defy his Guru and so will lose his protection and kingship. Indra followed this directive and took abode in the forest and faced hardship with faith in Iśvara, and on the path of dharma. In Ramayana, there is a reference to the greatness of Kshama (forgiveness) and patience and tolerance, following is a stance of a sloka:

“ख्शम दानम्, ख्शम यज्ञम्, ख्शम सत्यम ही पुत्रिका रामा”
“Kshama Daanam, Kshama yajñam, Kshama Satyam Hee Putrika Rama”

All the offerings that once went to Devatas were taken by the Asuras. Indra’s elephant (Amaravati) was used for entertainment. A day came when Indra’s mother (mother of Devatas), Aditi gained sorrow for Her son’s despair, Her daughter-in-law’s (wife of Indra: Shachi Devi) hardship and Her grandson’s (son of Indra: Jaynta) poverty. She reached out to her husband, Rishi Kaśyapa, one of the Saptarishis (seven divine rishis extolled in Vedās). Please note that Aditi could have reached out to Iśvara, rather She reached out to Her Husband, but why? Here is a sloka from Sri Valmiki Ramayanam, Sundara Kanda, book 5, Sarga (chapter) 24, Sloka 9, where Ravana asks Sita Devi to comply with his wishes, for which Sita Devi says:

“दीनो वा राज्यहीनो वा यो मे भर्ता स मे गुरुः |
तं नित्यमनुरक्तास्मि यथा सूर्यं सुवर्चला ||”
“diino vaa raajyahiino vaa yo me bhartaa sa me guruH |
taM nityamanuraktaasmi yathaa suuryaM suvarchalaa”

(Valmiki Ramayana. S.K. n.d.)

Meaning, Sita Devi said to Ravana, that Rama even without a Kingdom, is my Guru, my abode and I am always fond of Him and love Him. Such is the devotion of a Dharma Patni to Her Pathi (husband).

Rishi Kaśyapa upon noticing Aditi’s depression asked if by any chance She failed in Her Dharmic obligations to properly assist sages/rishis or guests, such was Rishi Kaśyapa’s devotion to dharma and confidence in Iśvara. Aditi explained Her sorrow and urged Rishi Kaśyapa to restore Her son’s kingship. Rishi Kaśyapa smiled and advised, that it’s Iśvara who is the real granter of wishes. Following sloka from Srimad Bhagavata(m) (Sri Bhagavata Purana) composed by scholar Bammera Pothana, explains Rishi Kaśyapa’s statement:

“భగవంతున్ పరమున్ జనార్దనున్ కృపాపారీణు
సర్వాత్మకున్ సర్వేషన్ శ్రీ  హరి అతనుం సేవ చేసి
ఆతఁడున్  సంతుష్టుండున్  పొంది నే ఇష్టార్థముల్ ఎల్లా ఈచు
అఖిలార్థ వైప్తి సాధించాడున్
భగవత్ సేవ పొంద-రాధే బహు సౌభాగ్యములన్ ప్రేయసి”

 “Bhagavantun Paramun Janardhanun Krupa-Parinu Sarvatmakun
Sarveysun Sri Hari Athanun Seva Chesi,
Aathadun Santustudun pondi, Ne eestardamul ella echu
Akhilardha vaypthi Saadhinchadun
Bhagavat seva pondha-radhe bahu saubhagyamulan prayasi”

Meaning, by serving Śrī Hari who is Holy, who is Śrī and the preserver of everything and everywhere, if pleased, one can achieve anything in the whole of creation.

So Rishi Kaśyapa suggested a ritual so as to serve Iśvara with devotion and Shraddha. We should note that it’s not Indra who is doing this ritual, it’s his Mother who desired prosperity for Her son. Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu pleased by Aditi’s Shraddha, appeared (manifested into a swarupa) and instead of granting Her wish, He Himself asked for a wish, a wish to be Her son. Aditi, in Her delight, agreed and forgot to ask for Her son’s kingship. Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu, however, didn’t forget Her inner desire, so His wish of becoming Her son, comprised of having to restore Indra’s former glory.

Bali donating to Vamana Murty, while Guru Shukracharya asking Bali not to (Sadhashiva temple Nuggehalli, Karnataka, India) (2015)

Now, if we recall, Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu promised His devotee Prahlada that He will never harm any of His descendants, and since King Bali being Prahlada’s grandson, Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu can’t wage war against Bali and win over the kingdom. With this caveat, Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu came to Bhuloka (Earth) to be born in the womb of a mother, that Viṣṇu, who does not need to take birth, who does not need to walk on Earth like a man, who is not bound by karma, who is the Pārama, that day performed karma of Upanayana as brahmachari. As a young boy like Sri Śankara (when He composed Kanakadhara), Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu as Vamana Murthy went to king Bali who was performing a Dharmic ritual. As a brahmachari, He has the ability to bless others, so if He asks for arms from King Bali and later if He has to bestow a blessing upon him, what would that blessing be good fortune? That will negate His efforts in getting all prosperity back to Indra. If He blesses Bali with long life, then there is no stopping Bali, since He will be victorious over others including Indra. Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu had to do something that would both bless Bali and also help Indra get His kingship back. Hence, He said ‘Swasti  Swasti  Swasti’ where all your nature and ill-will end, in this way Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu wasn’t really explicit, but at the same time blessed Bali. Such was the compassion of Sri Hari, knowing this Sri Śankara also a five-year-old brahmachari like Vamana Murthi come to this house asking for arms. Now let’s get back to the story, King Bali was delighted to see such charismatic young boy walk into his ceremony, in his joy he asked what the boy wishes and that he would grant them, the young boy replied for a charity of land and space, three steps full. Please note, the preserver of all creation, who doesn’t require to ask, is now asking King Bali for charity, this is what we referred earlier as tadi or daya (compassion) in the eyes of the Divine Mother. Rishi Shukracharya recognized this young boy to be Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu and realized that He is here to take Bali’s Kingdom. He insisted his student (Bali) not to donate and take his word back and said “it’s ok to go back on your word in a certain situation as per Shukra Neeti wherein one’s life and prosperity is in imminent threat”. King Bali’s choice at this point was to either disown his promise to the Boy or defy his Guru which was also adharm. King Bali choose to keep his promise to the Boy, he urged his Guru that he will never get such a grand opportunity where the Preserver of creation is standing in front, asking for arms. He considered this opportunity to be worth more than his kingdom and all his wealth and glory, and that his pride would tarnish if he goes back on his word. Bali washed the Boy’s (Vamana Murthy’s) feet while his Dharmapatni Vindyavali poured water (a gesture while donating something, in Sanatana Dharma, the one who donates shows gratitude towards the one who asks).

This washing of Vamana Murthy’s feet was visualized gracefully in Srimad Bhagavata(m) (Sri Bhagavata Purana) composed by a poet and scholar Bammera Pothana, wherein his poem he illustrates Vamana’s feet to have the Sindoor from Sir Lakshmi’s forehead, which got stuck when She bowed down at the feet of Sri Hari. One might ask how a brahmachari to be married? Irrespective of which ashram (a discipline of Life), Sri Lakshmi will always be within Sri Hari, since She is Nityanapayani. Sri Hari’s ability to give or take comes from a merged essence of both Sri Lakshmi and Sri Hari, one cannot visualize a distinct essence, hence Both can never be separate or viewed separately.

While washing the Boy’s feet, Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu consoled Vindyavali, addressing her as Mother (Vamana Murthy as a young boy referred Vindyavali as a mother), and consoled her not to worry, as He was not going to hurt Bali, He claimed that He was going to send Bali to Sukaloka.

Through the anugraham (grace) of a Guru, Bali acquired such prosperity, and by rejecting the suggestion of that very Guru, which was adharma, Bali is now losing the kingship of Swargaloka. The young boy (Vamana Murthy) with His feet grew to encompass all earth in one step, all space and eternity with another and asked king Bali on where to land His third step, for which King Bali glorified and bowed his head and asked it to be landed on him. King Bali was bound as a slave with binding spells now that he gave up everything. Let’s take a moment to notice, a King who conquered Heavens, become a slave in an instant, all this for disobeying his Guru. Bali’s Guru, Rishi Shukracharya didn’t curse him, nor was he angry for his student’s actions, but Bali’s adharma caught up with him and brought him to his knees. Then what about the act of him keeping his word towards honoring the Boy’s request and performed the dharma of donating to a brahmachari? Before we answer this, let compare this with the story of Kanakadhara, wherein the poor lady who had only one dried amla fruit left in the house, for her to let go of her fast, but when she saw the Boy (Sri Śankara) standing in front of her house seeking arms, she gave up the only edible thing she possessed, meaning she gave everything she had.

Let’s get back to the story, this moment Prahlada walked into that assembly and Bali’s eyes rolled in tears, Prahlada asked Bali, “till now when you lost everything you had no sorrow when you were bound with spells you were not sad, why do you have tears in your eyes now?” Bali replied, “grandfather, a personality like you, a devote praised by Sri Hari Himself, walked into this assembly and I was unfortunate that I couldn’t bow down and perform vandana (namaskar) as I am tied up, that is why I have tears”. Bali’s character and respect were exceptional and admirable. Prahlada reached out to the Boy (Vamana Murthy/Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu) and said, it was your blessing that made Bali conquer heavens, and it’s now your anugraham (grace) that he lost everything. Both times you help him, when he had everything he understood the beauty in your creation, when you took them away, he understood the importance of devotion and that the true joy is in You. The Boy (Vamana Murthy/Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu) filled with pride and joy proclaimed, “Prahlada, you think I am punishing your grandson? No, I am not, I am sending him to Sukaloka, also during the period of Savarni Manu, I shall make him the next Indra and he shall rule the heavens again with purity and will never deviate from dharma. No force or enemy can come close to him or harm him because I will have my Sudarshana Charka (a weapon which is like a disk) guarding his at all times. At the end of this creating, he shall unite with my Neja Pradesham (true self)”. Prahlada in joy fell at the feet of the Boy.

Thought Vamana Murthy’s task was accomplished after restoring Indra’s kingship, He didn’t dissolve His manifestation. Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu who is Anant, named himself as Upendra, meaning the one who came after Devendra (younger brother of Indra). By calling Upendra, He will now have to sit in a lower position compared to Indra who will be sitting on the thrown as a King of Heavens. As a younger brother, He will now bow down to Indra. Why stay and adhere to such a state? Because Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu was happy that even in times of despair when overthrown by Bali, Indra didn’t lose his belief in his Guru and didn’t complain, so Vamana Murthy said, “I will stay and make sure that Indra doesn’t suffer”. Sri Hari blessed Indra even though it was not Indra who asked for help, it was Aditi who worshiped Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu. Even in the case of Bali, it was Prahlada and Vindyavali who urged Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu, not Bali himself. If we compare this with Kanakadhara, it is Sri Śankara who is urging Sri Lakshmi for anugraham (grace) and not the brahmin’s wife.

When Sri Śankara stood in front of Her house and asked for arms by uttering “Bhavati Bhikshan Dehi”, the brahmin’s wife though in pain and poverty felt that she should honor the Boy’s request and desperately searched Her house to find something. So, was Her dharma, so was Her confidence in the system of Karma created by Iśvara, so was Her confidence in Iśvaranot to complain, gave that one dried amla fruit to Sri Śankara. Holding this very dry fruit in His hand, head raised up with confidence, that young boy stared at Vaikuntam, and presented his defense on behalf of the brahmin family urging Iśvara to recollect His events as Vamana Murthy and bestow the same anugraham (grace) to this brahmin family who is patient, tolerant, and didn’t deviate from the path of dharma in such poverty and pain. Sri Śankara shows this fruit to Iśvara and requests to considers this compensation for their sins and their eligibility for forgiveness. We discussed all this just so that we can understand what is meant by ‘Vishva-Amarendra-Pada-Vibhrama-Daana-Dakssam’ such is the composition of Sri Śankara wherein each sloka follows the situation. Let’s not forget the superior state of compassion that Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu holds towards those who don’t devoid of their dharma even in tough times. Tough times can come to anyone due to many unknown actions of past or previous life mistakes, but for the one who adheres to dharma, Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu is proving His compassion and anugraham (grace) to overwrite karma and its karmaphala. We can wholeheartedly say that this situation and the slokas of Kanakadhara applies to us all in our daily lives, especially when we don’t know our past mistakes and our previous life sins. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.9)

Sri Śankara’s talent and the anugraham (grace) of His Kanakadhara is not just to this brahmin family but will outspread to us all, since we all can, and will have to face the inevitable effects of our Karma and receive its karma-phala (Fruit of our actions) by the same “Karma akarma phala pradhata” (the bestower of the result of Karma, who is Iśvara). Though He is the one who gives us the karmaphala, and no matter how tough, one cannot stop urging Iśvara for forgiveness and for devotion towards Him (yes to get devotion towards Iśvara), one must ask Iśvara to grant us that devotion, since there are no two entities, one to give and the other to take).

There are many significant stotram passes on to us, some might be specific to urging Iśvara for the opportunity to have children, some might be associated with marriage and some for prosperity in respect to a person’s ashram. Such stotrams might not necessarily be applicable to all, however, from our understanding so far of the essence of Kanakadhara, one can’t interpret it as a stotram seeking wealth, if so it would be to undermine and disregard its essence. Kanakadhara has taught us the ability to seek Iśvara’s forgiveness for our Karma (since we don’t know our past karma and its result), hence one cannot conclude Kanakadhara to be applicable or relevant to only a given situation. Kanakadhara by Sri Śankara was an extempore, sung to urge Iśvara for forgiveness on behalf of the brahmin family and not to bestow wealth to the brahmin Family because Sri Śankara never asked for riches (this forgiveness, which we earlier referred to as Tadi). Kanakadhara is applicable to us all, irrespective of the situation, without which, how can one understand the limit of yogam and kshemam in one’s life. Therefore, Sri Śankara at the age of five (we keep referring to this aspect again and again) with such exceptional compassion choose His first stotram to be the one to grant us the forgiveness and Kshemam that we should all seek for being a manushya (human). Sri Śankara is hence called ‘Sham-Karothi Ethi Śankaraha’ meaning Śankara is the giver of joy and happiness, so what better name than Sri Śankara to the boy who has granted us such an opportunity towards happiness.

आनन्दहेतुरधिकं मुरविद्विषोऽपि ।
ईषन्निषीदतु मयि क्षणमीक्षणार्धम्

Aananda-Hetur-Adhikam Mura-Vidvisso-pi
Iissan-Nissiidatu Mayi Kssannam-Iikssanna-Ardham
Indiivaro dara-Sahodaram-Indiraayaah”

(Green Message Kanakadhara Stotram, n.d.).

In the earlier sloka, we saw Sri Śankara use the same reference ‘Mura-Vidvisso-pi’, meaning the One who has liberated Purana from the asura known as Murasura. So, ‘Aananda-Hetur-Adhikam Mura-Vidvisso-pi’ means, Sri Lakshmi showers happiness upon those who reject the action of Murasura. If we recollect from our earlier reading, Murasura is someone who is bound with desires, similar to many of us who bind ourselves to materialistic desires and cannot free ourselves from those self-imagined attachments. The more we assume and keep referring to materialistic objects as ‘mine’ the more we get coupled with them, we keep losing the opportunity to give or share. There will come a kaal(am) (time), for every man when the last breath of life is taken, all those ownership one proclaimed shall detach. Sri Śankara is advocating that, though this brahmin family didn’t share in their previous lives, for which they reap the sorrow for their Karma, they now have shared, not just any offer, but the only item left for them to eat (amla fruit/ gooseberry) to me. Hence rejected the nature of Murasura, making herself a reason for Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu to be proud and happy.

When and Why will Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu feel happy? As a preserver of creation, what could Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu happy? Let’s take an example of a judge in court, what would make him/her proud? Only to pass a judgment that would both free the innocent and punish the guilty. Similarly, as the preserver of creation, Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu would be happy when one liberates themselves from self-created attachments and struggles to free themselves from the effects of Murasura within us. In Ksherasagara Madanam (Churning of Ocean) in Book 8 of Srimad Bhagavata(m) (Sri Bhagavata Purana(m)), Chapter 9, Sri Lakshmi emerged from the ocean, but before Her, an anti-creation element emerged that could dissolute creation itself. To save creation, Shiva consumed it, but before consuming, He consoled His dear wife Parvathi Devi saying the following sloka from Halahala Bakshanam Sarga in Srimad Bhagavata(m) (Sri Bhagavata Purana(m)) composed by a poet and scholar Bammera Pothana:

“హరి మదినానందిచిన హరిణాక్షి జగబులెల్ల నానందించున్
హరియును జగములు మెచ్చఁగ, గరళము వారించు టొపుఁ గమలదళాక్షి!”

“HariMadi Anandinchina HariNaashi .. Jagamuella Anandinchun,
Hariun Jagamulu Mechaga, Garalamu-varinchu topu GamalaDalakshi”

(Pothana Bagavatham Audio. H.M. 2016)

Meaning, Shiva is consoling His wife (Devi Parvathi), that Her Brother (Sri Hari/Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu) who is the preserver of the worlds, will be happy when the worlds of this creation are happy, for which I will consume this destructive and poisonous element that is about to dissolute creation.

Sri being the source and the power behind all prosperity, safety, and all happiness resides in Viṣṇu, as Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu, and acts through Him. This makes Her (Sri) both the giver and the non-giver of all prosperity, because of this, Sri becomes the reason for Śrī Viṣṇu’s joy. So, Sri Śankara continues by saying:

आनन्दहेतुरधिकं मुरविद्विषोऽपि ।
ईषन्निषीदतु मयि क्षणमीक्षणार्धम्

Aananda-Hetur-Adhikam Mura-Vidvisso-pi
Iissan-Nissiidatu Mayi Kssannam-Iikssanna-Ardham
Indiivaro dara-Sahodaram-Indiraayaah”

(Green Message Kanakadhara Stotram, n.d.).

Meaning, Sri Śankara is asking Sri’s sight (the joy of Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu) to fall upon the brahmin family (also to everyone reciting this and experiencing this). Note that He is not asking Sri Lakshmi to watch for some time, rather He is asking ‘Kssannam-Iikssanna-Ardham‘ meaning a quick and partial glance. This quick and partial glance would be enough to bring all prosperity to this family and also for Sri Śankara to be proud to have given such a stotram to the world. One should notice the analysis and examination of Sri Śankara from the words He chooses to construct his sloka in extempore. Without a proper examination, how can anyone give a proper conclusion? How can Guru without a thorough examination, suggests a student on where to focus or make corrections accordingly. Such is Sri Śankara’s references and His analogies with so much thoughtfulness and intensity. Moving on Sri Śankara uses the word ‘Indiivaro’ meaning a dark (deep red) water lily. Sri Śankara is referring to Sir Lakshmi’s eyes and Her glance to have the soothing coolness of the dark stigma of the water lily which is similar to the soothing coolness of moonlight or a dark night sky. But why partially opened eyes and why not fully opened eyes like a full blossomed lotus? Because with wide-opened eyes, if She Lakshmi Stares, it could also mean to experience Her seriousness or wrath or anger. A similar reference can be seen in Soundarya Lahari, Sloka 57, wherein Sri Śankara says:

“दृशा द्राघीयस्या दरदलितनीलोत्पलरुचा”
“drishA draghiyasyA daradalitanilOtpalarucha”

(Hindu Literatrue. S.K.K. n.d.).

‘daradalita-nilotpalarucha’ meaning the eyes of Devi Parvathi are like partially bloomed dark water lily with the dark stigma which is gracious, tender, fragrant and has a soothing feel.

So, Sri Śankara is comparing Sir Lakshmi’s eyes to have the same soothing coolness, filled with mercy, anugraham (grace), compassion and the anxiousness of a mother (we referred to this as ‘tadi’). He continues by saying that Her gracious sight is meant for us because we are Her children, and if not us then who else? It’s we who are in sorrow, and it’s we who seek forgiveness for our mistakes and so it’s we who are eager for Her glance to fall upon us, fulfilling the purpose of the kindness in Her eyes. Like a cow, eats grass and produce milk, but for whom? It’s for the calf, who is eager to receive it, which runs to Her mother expressing love and hunger. Looking at its calf’s gesture of love and hunger, the cows release its milk. Similarly, it’s our eagerness to uplift ourselves from our mistakes and sorrows, makes us eligible for Her mercy and kindness in Her eyes. Hence, Sri Śankara claims this brahmin family to be now eligible for those kind eyes to notice them for a ‘Kssannam’ moment. He further says that, till now, they waited with confidence and belief in their karmaphala, expecting only Iśvara to uplift them. For all of us who are reading this, our strength lies in the confidence that our Divine Mother who possess that compassion and mercy in Her eyes, would save us from our pains and mistakes. It’s She who saved that brahmin family that day, and so She will save us today from our suffering and our uncertain future, restoring prosperity and devotion, even if our karma concludes any imminent and irreversible loss and suffering. These gracious eyes will lessen the intensity of our Karmaphala and save us from dangerous outcomes. When we start to cultivate our faith in Her, seeing this brahmin family as an example, so will the doors of prosperity open for us towards our confident and truth in Sanatana Dharma. Like a calf with love runs towards its mother, Sri Śankara like the calf expressed and urged Iśvara through His Kanakadhara, and since we know that the Divine Mother was ready to bestow Her anugraham (grace) at the very first sloka (stance), She didn’t. She knowingly, though happy and proud of Sri Śankara, waited, waited for Sri Śankara’s Kanakadhara (like the nectar of immortality and like the holiness of Ganga) to flow, and flow in full so that we who are reading it, be drenched in this flow. She intentionally restrained Her Kanakadhara, so that Sri Śankara’s Kanakadhara be bestowed to this world. When Sri Śankara’s Kanakadhara flows within us, then Sri Lakshmi’s Kanakadhara shall shower upon us without a doubt. A rain doesn’t stop because we don’t have an umbrella, so if Sri Śankara’s Kanakadhara flows within us, we, without explicitly asking, Sri Lakshmi’s Kanakadhara will shower. Having known this, is it true to consider this stotram as one to bestow wealth to the brahmin family?. If it was riches, Sri Śankara could have given that himself being born in a wealthy family, or does it have a flow of more than just wealth, a flow towards forgiveness, towards prosperity, towards devotion, towards faith, and all the way towards Aaham Brahmasme?  (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.10)

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