13. Kanakadhara Sloka 6

Kanakadhārā Stotram Sloka 6

“बाह्वन्तरे मधुजितः श्रितकौस्तुभे या
हारावलीव हरिनीलमयी विभाति ।
कामप्रदा भगवतोऽपि कटाक्षमाला
कल्याणमावहतु मे कमलालयायाः||”

“Baahv[u]-Antare Madhu-Jitah Shrita-Kaustubhe Yaa
Haaraavali-Iva Hariniilamayii Vibhaati |
Kaama-Pradaa Bhagavāto-[A]pi Kattaakssa-Maalaa
Kalyaannam-Aavahatu Me Kamala-[A]alayaayaah ||”

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

May prosperity and well-being (Kalyaannam) be bestowed (ahatu) onto me, oh Divine Mother, who is seated in a lotus (Kamala-[A]alayaayaah), and whose face blushes upon the sight of Śrī Viṣṇu, like a lotus that blooms in the sunlight. Your eternal abode is the heart (Baahv[u]-Antare) of the one who is victorious over the evil Madhu (Madhu-Jitah). The empathy, grace, love and compassion which make up the heart of Śrī Viṣṇu are none other than You. Your splendid eyes emit a soothing radiance like the bluish dark jewel (Hariniilamayii), adorning him like a necklace of pearls (Haaraavali). The radiance of your sight overwhelms the vibrancy of the jewel (Kaustubhe) which emerged from the ocean (Kṣheerasagara) alongside You and hangs near His heart. You fulfilled (Kattaakssa) the wishes (Kaama-Pradaa) of Śrī Viṣṇu (Bhagavāto) by providing support alongside ([A]pi) Him in the preservation of Creation by creating your child Manmatha (Kaamadeva), who is the cause for the progress of all beings. My salutations oh lotus dwelling Mother.

Yoga Nidra: a trans-meditative state in Yoga, a topic we have discussed elsewhere.
Vak:sha:sthala(m): chest area, where the heart is located.
Hrudaya(m): heart, not the physical heart but the conceptual heart which represents love, empathy, and compassion.
Srimad Bhagavāta(m): Also known as Sri Bhagavāta Puráńa(m), is one of the eighteen primary Puráńa(m)s – literature that unravels the glories of Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu and His various manifestations and incarnations.

What is Darshan(am)? It means to behold or witness, as a firsthand experience, Iśvara’s karuna (empathy). A composition by a person who has had such a privilege would be quite different from those who have simply read or heard accounts of Iśvara.

The first word of the sloka “Baahv[u]-Antare” refers to the area between the arms of Śrī Viṣṇu – His Vakshasthala(m) (Vak:sha:sthalam) – denoting the location of His hrudaya. So, as always, why? Because His hrudaya is the abode of Śrī Mahā Lakṣmī. Then why is Śrī Lakṣmī mostly depicted either seated next to Śrī Viṣṇu or at Śrī Viṣṇu’s feet in the Padmanabha posture? This is because Śrī Lakṣmī chooses to be by Śrī Viṣṇu’s side and at His feet, massaging them, and gazing at His charming visage during His Yoga Nidra. Only when Viṣṇu is depicted by Himself, does Śrī Lakṣmī take Her true resort – which is His Vakshasthalam or hrudaya. This murti is called Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu. Similarly, when Lakṣmī is depicted alone, She is addressed as Śrī Mahā Lakṣmī. The same reference can be seen in the story of Kṣheerasagara Manthana(m), where Śrī Lakṣmī emerges from the ocean, walks to Śrī Viṣṇu and chooses His heart to be Her abode. Hence, there is no such thing as Śrī Viṣṇu being alone; Śrī always accompanies Viṣṇu. In the Rig:Vedā, Śiva is mentioned more than 30 times, and all these are not personified names; they are various adjectives like Śrī (auspiciousness), kindness, benevolence (Kalyanam), caring (Karunya), prosperity (Lakṣmī), glow, gentle (Saumya), knowledge & eloquence (Sarasvatī), love (Madurya), bond, friendly (Mitra/Maitri), security (Bhadhra), and more. This is why Śiva is never addressed as Śrī Śiva. Similarly, Śrī is never conjoined to Pārvatī, or śakti. Because Pārameshwara is Śiva and Pārameshwari/Pārvatī/śakti is Śivā (Śiva and Śivā are the same, so is Śiva:śakti; hence, they are depicted as two halves together called Aardha:NaarIśvara). Viṣṇu is never addressed alone, it is always Śrī Viṣṇu, Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu, Śrī:man Nārāyaṇa, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Śrī Rama, Śrī Lakṣmī Narashimha, Śrī Lakṣmī Varaha Murti, Śrī Venkateshwara Swami, Śrī Puruṣa (He is the Pāram:Puruṣa = the highest of all Puruṣa), and more. (Vamana avatara is a Brahmācharya murti, so Śrī is not conjoined with the title; but the bracelet on Vamana Murti’s ankle is depicted as Śrī Lakṣmī).

Now, coming to the feet. They represent motion, so if Śrī Viṣṇu must move then it is to protect and preserve Creation, especially to protect those who take refuge at His feet. By massaging His feet, Śrī Lakṣmī pampers and blesses Creation through Her śakti, which manifests as Śrī Viṣṇu’s companion.

A good reference would be the story of Gajendra Mokṣa(m) from Srimad Bhagavātam (Śrī Bhagavāta Puráńa(m)), where Śrī Viṣṇu forgot Himself for Gajendra – who surrendered himself fully to the preserver of creation. Śrī Viṣṇu, in His haste to reach Gajendra, forgot that He was holding the pallu (tip of the sari worn around the shoulder) of Śrī Lakṣmī and so dragged Her with Him. The tatvam in this beautiful scenario is that Śrī can never be separate from Puruṣa, so Śrī Viṣṇu never let go of Śrī Lakṣmī even in His haste. Later, Śrī Viṣṇu asked Śrī Lakṣmī about His actions, to which She said – to His astonishment – that it was Her pleasure to always watch His feet and always walk by His side. This is exactly what Śrī Lakṣmī, as Devi Sita did in the Ramāyāna, by following Śrī Rama through His exile. This behavior is called “Anuvartana” (meaning, to follow or accompany someone’s actions and always stand by their side). We have read earlier that Śrī Lakṣmī watches Śrī Viṣṇu while He watches us during our upāsanā, in turn making us get noticed by Śrī Lakṣmī. We also read that Śrī Viṣṇu shines in the luminescence of Śrī Lakṣmī and provides His anugraham (grace) through Her. This nature of Śrī Lakṣmī of following Śrī Viṣṇu (Anuvartana) made Her the icon for Padasevana, one of the eight approaches to Bhakti (navavidha bhakti). So Śrī Viṣṇu accommodated Her in His hrudaya(m) (heart) as His eternal love. In other words, with Her Anuvartana and devotion, She conquered the hrudaya of Śrī Viṣṇu. This is the significance of Śrī Viṣṇu’s “Baahv[u]-Antare” that Śrī Śankara is trying to instil in our thoughts. Please note that it is Śrī Lakṣmī who chooses to sit at His feet during Sir Viṣṇu’s Yoga Nidra, it is not He who asks. It is also She who chooses Śrī Viṣṇu’s heart at Her abode. It is through Her that He shines and it is through Her that He bestows prosperity. So never interpret Śrī Lakṣmī’s bhakti (devotion) to be lesser or in any way be discriminated for massaging Śrī Viṣṇu’s feet. An effort needs to be made by readers to comprehend their devotion and love for each other. As a reader, it is to be understood that Śrī Viṣṇu does not have to walk like us to reach a certain destination, nor perform any physical actions if He wishes to accomplish something. He, with His very thought, and Śrī Lakṣmī, with Her very sight, can change creation and its reality. Yet, in situations that are exceptions in the realms of this physical reality, and to show those who are yet to understand the tatvam of Iśvara, He manifests in different forms to prove that devotion can make Him behave like us. He manifests in a physical form to stand as an example by performing actions similar to humans, showing that we can also follow His footsteps. This is again a reminder to us that Śrī and Puruṣa should be worshiped together as Śiva:śakti, Śrī Viṣṇu, Vaani Pati, etc.

In the case of Sri Ganesh, who is usually depicted alone, there is a hidden meaning. He represents His Father and Mother who are in the “AardhanaarIśvara” form (one body with both Śiva and śakti, with śakti taking the left half of the body). Sri Ganesh broke His left tooth rather than His right to depict that His left half is His śakti (which is Siddhi and Buddhi).

बाह्वन्तरे मधुजितः श्रितकौस्तुभे या
हारावलीव हरिनीलमयी विभाति ।
कामप्रदा भगवतोऽपि कटाक्षमाला
कल्याणमावहतु मे कमलालयायाः ॥

Baahv[u]-Antare Madhu-Jitah Shrita-Kaustubhe Yaa
Haaraavali-Iva Hariniilamayii Vibhaati |
Kaama-Pradaa Bhagavāto-[A]pi Kattaakssa-Maalaa
Kalyaannam-Aavahatu Me Kamala-[A]alayaayaah ||

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

Now that we understand the significance of Śrī Viṣṇu’s Vakshasthalam and His hrudaya(m), let us understand the word “Kaustubhaya” – which refers to a jewel around Śrī Viṣṇu’s neck, resting exactly at his Vakshasthalam. This jewel also emerged from the ocean where Śrī Lakṣmī emerged during Ksheerasagara Manthanam (an account from Srimad Bhagavātam). Since this jewel hangs right at His Vakshasthalam, Śrī Lakṣmī constantly watches it while sitting at His feet. It has a vibrant and astonishing glow that makes Śrī Viṣṇu’s Vakshasthalam glow. This jewel is a representation of all the śakti (primal energy) that supports Creation, and especially the preservation of Bhu:devi (Earth). Śrī Lakṣmī’s eyes constantly watch Śrī Viṣṇu and His splendid form, proclaiming that His hrudaya is Her residence. Her splendid eyes emit a radiance that adorns Śrī Viṣṇu’s Vakshasthalam like a garland around His neck, overwhelming the vibrancy of the jewel; hence the word “Haaraavali-Iva”, wherein “avali” means a row (like the row of flowers tied together to become a garland) – similar to the word deep:avali meaning a row/string of lights.

Another similar jewel is known as “Hariniilamayii”, which has the property of emitting a soothing and pleasant glow – providing coolness to hearts, giving us peace and comfort. Śrī Śankara is comparing the soothing coolness of this jewel to the radiance emitted by Śrī Lakṣmī’s eyes which provide “badhram” (safety) that is felt in the lap of one’s mother. Hence, it is never to be assumed as Śrī Lakṣmī being jealous. Her radiance always covers Śrī Viṣṇu, making it a source of His joy. Such is the description of Śrī Lakṣmī’s eyes given by Śrī Śankara, and is the reason why He wishes Her sight to fall upon this brahmin family so that they can also receive the “badhram”. It is this topic that our entire discussion will keep revolving around because it is the “tadi” (compassion) of these eyes that we should wish to fall upon us. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.15-16) 

SRI VENKATESHWARA (Vem:katta:ite:Iśvara)

Venkateshwara: Vem:katta-Ite:Iśvara – “em” means obstacles or pápa(m), “katta” means to expunge, “Ite” means this, and Iśvara means the Supreme Authority or Supreme Singular Consciousness. When this is read as a whole it means – He, the Iśvara who eradicates our obstacles, is Venkateshwara. Sri Venkateshwara is addressed in the sloka as “Kalow Vemkattanayakaha”, meaning He who came as a leader to eradicate our obstacles in this Kaliyuga. It is to be noted that in this manifestation no sage or Maharśi gave Him the title of Vemkateśvara, unlike other manifestations – like Rama, who was named by Maharśi Vaśiṣṭha. He (Śrī Viṣṇu) titled Himself as Vemkateśvara.
Tirumala: holy site of Sri Venkateshwara located in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India. Tirumala is also known as Venkatachalam.
Kulasekara Alwar door: one of the nine doors to reach Sri Venkateshwara in the Tirumala temple, named after Kulasekara Alwar – a great poet-sage and a devotee of Sri Venkateshwara.
Tarigonda Vengamamba Aarti: Aarti is a lamp lit with camphor or a wick soaked in oil or ghee, and this ceremony in Venkatachalam was named after Tarigonda Vengamamba –  a poet-sage and a devotee of Sri Venkateshwara.
Sama Vedā: one of the four Vedic classifications, the rest being Rig Vedā, Yajur Vedā, and Atharva Vedā.
Aayush Homma: a fire ritual performed for good health and longevity.
Tanmāyātvam: a deeply devotional and joyous state, immersed in the thoughts and speech of Iśvara.

[Readers specific to the Kanakadhārā stotram message can skip this paragraph]. Sri Chaganti Koteshwar Rao himself shares rare experiences during the discourse of this sloka. After returning to his hometown from Tirumala, while in Ayappaswamy temple, he received a phone call from Tirumala. During the call, he was notified of an event in Tirumala – that a new set of vastram (clothes like dhoti/pancha) was offered at the feet of Sri Venkateshwara, which itself is a rare act since external items are never taken past the Kulasekara Alwar door. These clothes were later held under the Tarigonda Vengamamba Mutyala aarti plate while reciting rare slokas from Sama:Vedā by Vedic scholars from Venkatachalam. He was then informed that these vastram (clothes) would be presented to him in his honor on his birthday by these Vedic scholars while performing Aayush Homma. Sri Chaganti describes this as an anugraham (grace) of Śrī Viṣṇu and Śrī Lakṣmī when delivering his discourse on Kanakadhārā, especially after explaining the part of Kalambhudhari in tanmāyātvam. He believes that such an extraordinary gift was not because of his talent or behavior but purely the anugraham of Iśvara. He considers himself a mouthpiece for the Divine Mother Iśvari and the honor he received was nothing by a Kanakadhārā itself. In fact, those four scholars claimed no credit for themselves but believed it to be the anugraham of Sri Venkateshwara – who is the “Jagannatha Sutradhara”, meaning the one who operates and directs this creation and its reality.

Similarly, when a devotee pleads with Iśvara then Kanakadhārā becomes the means to express one’s difficulties arising from Karmā.

Since we just had a chance to read about Sri Venkateśvara and His anugraham, let us take a quick glance at one of the topics we discussed earlier by deviating from this sloka temporarily. We discussed that Iśvara takes on an Ugra swarūpa (Ugra meaning angry, and swarūpa a state or a form) and it is the Divine Mother who triggers the change in Parameshwara from Śiva to Rudra and back to Śiva. Like Parameshawara, there is a form of Sri Venkateshwara called Ugra Venkateshwara Swamy. One day His idol in Tirumala was brought out into the open into the sunlight; as a result, Tirumala experienced many wildfires. From that point on, this idol was always taken indoors before dawn. There is a reason why Iśvara (be it Śiva or Sri Venkateshwara) expresses anger, or rather – one should say – portrays anger. It is because Iśvara, unlike His creation, is not limited to humanly emotions and so is not agitated by worldly desires. He is always, and forever is, in the state of Brahmānandam (closest meaning is to be in a state of cosmic bliss). Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself said in Srimad Bhagavād Gita (an 800-verse section from the Itihaasa(m) called Maha Bharatam, composed by Maharśi Vyāsa) that He shall always manifest to free His devotees from those who deviate from the path of Ḍharma, like the way He manifested as Sri Narasimha to save Prahlada. Sri Narasimha manifestation was so ferocious that even Devatas were uncertain if they could calm Him. Prahlada alone, with his devotion and confidence in Iśvara’s compassion, faced Sri Narashima and said to Him, “though furious, you are very compassionate and kind, and I am more afraid of saṃsāra (life dwelling each day in a loop of desires) than Your furious looks”, and prayed for Him to restore His calm, charming form. From that point on, Sri Narashima can be seen as Śrī Lakṣmī Narashima in any kṣhetra(m) (consecrated and auspicious sites).

We also discussed the freedom expressed by many poets towards Iśvara, who – with their devotion – made compositions that sound like Ninda Stuti (poems blaming Iśvara), which might look like sarcasm. A similar incident can be seen in a 15th century Telugu poem composed by Annamacharya, a devotee of Balaji (Venkateshwara Swamy at Tirupati).

“ఆరగించి కూర్చున్నాడల్లవాడె
చేరువనే చూడరె లక్ష్మీనారసింహుడు”

“Aaraginchi koorchunnaa dallavaade
cheruvane choodare Lakṣmī naarasimhudu
aaraginchi koorchunnaa dallavaade”

(Annamacharya Samkirtanalu. A.K. 2006)

Narasimha_Musée_Guimet_2697The poet is referring to a statue of Sri Narashima – seated in a yoga pose – in Tirumala,  who depicts an elderly person and head of the family sitting in leisure after a hearty meal just for the purpose of digesting it. Since elders, after a certain age, are not really assigned any specific task, they enjoy their relaxation. The poet further claims that Sri Venkateshwara, being the primary deity, is the one addressing all the devotee’s needs, while Sri Narashima, being the elder in that kshetra (holy and auspicious place), is doing nothing but enjoying his relaxation. Does this mean Sri Narashima would get angry for such a composition? Of course not! As we have discussed many times, Iśvara is devoid of human desires; He dwells in compassion and Brahmānandam. Hence, this poet is expressing the freedom gained due to devotion.

Sage RamaKṛṣṇa Pārama:hamsa once talked about “elder, the pumpkin cutter” – meaning elders of the family, after a certain age, are given a special task a few times a year, on special occasions, to cut and plant a pumpkin. He is referring to the age where the elders should be at a state where one is detached from worldly tasks. At that age, one should dwell in Iśvara’s tatva and not chase status or compete with the next generations, seeking attention.

बाह्वन्तरे मधुजितः श्रितकौस्तुभे या
हारावलीव हरिनीलमयी विभाति ।
कामप्रदा भगवतोऽपि कटाक्षमाला
कल्याणमावहतु मे कमलालयायाः ॥

Baahv[u]-Antare Madhu-Jitah Shrita-Kaustubhe Yaa
Haaraavali-Iva Hariniilamayii Vibhaati |
Kaama-Pradaa Bhagavāto-[A]pi Kattaakssa-Maalaa
Kalyaannam-Aavahatu Me Kamala-[A]alayaayaah ||

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

Anugraha(m): a word we discussed earlier, which means to shower sukkam (joy).
Nigraha(m): to remove certain things from our lives to make us realize the reality.

Coming back to the sloka, let us look at the word “Kaama-Pradaa”. This statement might be a little surprising, because how can Śrī Viṣṇu have Kama (desire)? In the tatvam (essence) and the concept of Tri:murti, Śrī Viṣṇu holds the position of the “Sthiti:karaka” or “Sthiti:katha”, meaning the preserver or sustainer of existence. When we say preservation, what exactly does He preserve in creation? He preserves and protects Ḍharma and fosters those who follow the path of Ḍharma, by becoming their savior and guide. The śakti with which He does this is through the radiance of Śrī Lakṣmī. When Ḍharma flourishes, Śrī Viṣṇu operates in the background, but at times that require His presence to guide us He stands as an example by taking avatar to manifest in a physical form. Time and again He manifested in various countless forms to save His devotees, preserve Ḍharma and share the knowledge of Ḍharma.

Śrī Viṣṇu showers both Anugraha and Nigraha, which are a part of His samarthata (capability) through Śrī Lakṣmī. In case of Prahlada, Śrī Viṣṇu was in an anugraha rūpa(m) and protected him; to Prahlada’s father Hiranyakashipu, Śrī Viṣṇu was in Nigraha rūpa(m), hence abolished him. To Lord Brahmā, who actually gave the boon to Hiranyakashipu, Śrī Viṣṇu made sure to manifest in a form that would comply with all the conditions that were a part of the boon. In this way, Śrī Viṣṇu made sure to take care of all three – Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu and Lord Brahmā – at the same time. This ability is called samarthata (capability). Hence, when we bow down and show gratitude, Śrī Lakṣmī flourishes; however, if we revolt with petty desire and defy Ḍharma then it becomes a place for Alakṣmī (negation of Lakṣmī).

बाह्वन्तरे मधुजितः श्रितकौस्तुभे या
हारावलीव हरिनीलमयी विभाति ।
कामप्रदा भगवतोऽपि कटाक्षमाला
कल्याणमावहतु मे कमलालयायाः ॥

Baahv[u]-Antare Madhu-Jitah Shrita-Kaustubhe Yaa
Haaraavali-Iva Hariniilamayii Vibhaati |
Kaama-Pradaa Bhagavāto-[A]pi Kattaakssa-Maalaa
Kalyaannam-Aavahatu Me Kamala-[A]alayaayaah ||

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

The word “Api”, means “also” or “along with”; in this stanza, it means that Śrī Lakṣmī can also fulfill the desire of Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu Himself. As discussed, Śrī Viṣṇu does not have desires like us. As a preserver, He preserves and sustains creations and allows Ḍharma to flourish. So, rather than phrasing it as desire, let us say “the śakti to preserve creation” is fulfilled by Śrī Lakṣmī. With “Api”, which means “along with”, Śrī Śankara is inferring that She (Śrī Lakṣmī) does more than just be His (Śrī Viṣṇu’s) śakti. So, what does Śrī Lakṣmī do more than being Śrī Viṣṇu’s śakti? To understand this, let us explore a very vital concept of Sanātana Ḍharma, which is Kama. We said at the very beginning of our discussion that this is not a word-to-word translation of Kanakadhārā and so let us make a conscious effort to dive deep into the fundamental concepts that Śrī Śankara has passed on to us in his Kanakadhārā. Let us look into the concepts of Kama and Guru. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.16).


Kama means desire. Though widely misinterpreted as only lust, it refers to any desire. If so, is having a desire wrong? Or as per Shastra (Śāstra), is having kama ill-advised and against Ḍharma? This is a very crucial topic explained in Sanātana Ḍharma (Hinduism) literature that one needs to understand thoroughly because manava (human beings) are a bundle of desires that drive them towards performing karmā (actions with associated results). Kama, though an inherent concept originating from Sanātana Ḍharma literature (also Hinduism), the fundamentals were also assimilated into Buddhism. So, let us explore the concept of Kama and its source.

Kamadeva (Manmatha, Son of Śrī Maha Viṣṇu) & Rati (2009)

In order to donate or perform charity, one needs to have two things – first, the desire towards charity, which could be because of empathy or other reasons, and second, to have the ability to perform charity. The lack of either will not result in performing such action. It is very unfortunate that Manmatha (Deva of Desire) is widely misinterpreted and misunderstood. Without His role in the cycle of existence, the entire human race (manava jaati) would not have flourished in the absence of one vital desire, which is to foster the next generation. A devotee who walks the path of Ḍharma with shraddha towards Ishwara (Iśvara) and receives Iśvara anugrah(am) would require the primal desire to learn and understand Śāstra, or an elementary desire towards Iśvara. So, one must ask the question, how can one get such a desire to receive Iśvara’s anugraham (grace)?

RISDM 63-049 v02
Śiva Pṛthivī immersed in Kaelivilasam (Kaeli:vilasam). Ganesha and Kartikeya at bottom. 11th Century Sandstone Sculpture, RISD Museum. (n.d)

Is the desire in other aspects wrong? It is not that a specific desire is right or wrong, because Sanātana Ḍharma literature does not have the concept of right or wrong and good or bad. Sanātana Ḍharma only associates an individual’s karmā (actions) either to be in line with Ḍharma or not, making it a:Ḍharma. Without the knowledge and understanding of Śāstra and without the belief in parents and Guru, one loses a conscience check of one’s thought and actions. In the Ramayana, it was not that Ravana was not aware of Śāstra and his Ḍharma. He himself was a great scholar; however, his confidence in his boons, which he received through forceful stubbornness of abstinence in performing tapasya (penance) caused him to lose the moral check of his conscience, and so he was dwelling in Rajoguna. This made him feel justified regarding all his atrocities, especially towards women. It was after facing Rama in battle, that he realized that the results of his karmā (karmā phala) had arrived – from which he could not escape. Both Ravana and Rama had kama, but with one significant distinction – Rama’s kama was in line with Ḍharma, whereas Ravana’s was not. Rama’s desire towards women was only towards Devi Sita, whereas Ravana’s desire was not just towards Mandodari, and not just towards those who desired him, but his desire forced many who begged him not to. With his boon and strength, he forced and subjugated the will of others.

Ḍharma Chakra Buddhist monument (Sanchi Hill, Madhya Pradesh, India). (2013)

Desire that is not compliant with Ḍharma might be very tempting during that very instant, and one might also feel its effects to be insignificant and minuscule. One might feel the path of Ḍharma might not be worth the effort, but one cannot stop the results of one’s karmā (karmā phala). Sometimes, with impulse driven by desire, one performs a:Ḍharma – especially one who lacks the will and who has failed to cultivate the strength to resist – and falls out of the Ḍharma chakra (wheel of Ḍharma). This leads to repenting one’s own actions and to regrets that could culminate in this life or be carried over to many coming lives. Many without the knowledge and the awareness might not even realize the reason and the source of such karmā phala, making them dwell in confusion, losing hope and purpose.

It’s a very common misconception that one’s own ārtha (one’s potential in terms of one’s wealth, riches, intellect, beauty, and more) are one’s own. Many fail to realize that we are limited to the phenomena and the choices that are presented to us. Even with choices, we can only choose those we can comprehend. Many fail to recognize the vast variables in this creation that brought forth that choice to our choosing, and this availability is not our creation. One might only have the scope and vision to recognize that one has chosen an option, but never tries to comprehend all the countless possibilities and variables that brought forth that choice to present itself to our choosing. Hence, as Śrī Ramana Maharshi said, we are not the karta (neither the creator not the implementer), we are but mere sakshi (witness) to māyā the kreya (actions that perform). Does this mean human effort and zeal has no meaning; if so, wouldn’t that be demotivating, does it mean we cannot uplift ourselves? No, that is not the intent, it means that we should realize the fact that we are not the creator nor the one who comprehended the choices that came forth for our choosing. With this fact, we should try to move forward with our strength and our buddhi towards Iśvara, who is the creator and the propagator, and the one to channel us towards Him, recognizing our effort.

Say, a person earns riches in line with Ḍharma but then chooses to spend on addictions and other acts that are a:Ḍharma; such actions will also lead to that person’s demise since Ḍharma should be followed both in earning and in spending. If one spends too little on oneself, suppressing one’s own desires either out of greed or with a false notion that one shouldn’t enjoy, Śāstra claims such an attitude as cheating one’s own jiva. If one spends too much and exhausts the natural resources for mindless pleasures or laziness, just because they are at their disposal, Śāstra claims such an attitude as cheating and reducing the opportunities and resources for the next generation. We reap the benefits as a fruit from the trees sowed by our predecessors; just consuming and not preserving such resources is to leech upon the wealth and to rob from the future generations.

There are those who revolt against Ḍharma, their own parents and their Gurus, those who criticize Ḍharma and make fun of it, either to seek attention or popularity or for their own profits. Such people and their lifestyles might look interesting because of the momentary excitement it creates. Many such individuals might be good orators who, with their skills, charm and convince us of their philosophy, especially when we are not well versed with the tatvam of Śāstra, or lack morality and confidence in our predecessors. Following such individuals will lead to a path that would crumble over time. On the other hand, a person might face challenges initially, especially when new to comprehending Ḍharma and its concepts, but entwining one’s actions with Ḍharma will not only uplift them but also bring prosperity and morality for generations to come. Śāstra, as sruti, is not passed on to us for popularity or fame. It is passed on to us as inheritance and self-upliftment and so is not sold to us for profit, though many use the knowledge of Śāstra to cheat and subdue others for their personal gain. Śāstra is knowledge which teaches us the reality, its constraints, and a way to navigate ourselves through it, making us evolve in our consciousness and wisdom. Falling prey to a false philosophy which is nothing but illusion will one day be rejected by reality itself making us realize our foolishness.

Śrī Changanti refers to Mr. Subbarao, who was considered as Saraswati Putra due to his devotion and knowledge. He was criticized for his devotion as being old fashioned, and for spending too much time in the Devi Saraswati temple. However, such a personality fostered generations of engineers, doctors and well-educated and well-mannered students with his teaching. Such people not only prosper themselves, they also help their family, friends, and others.

Kama is a word with a very broad spectrum in its definition and is very widely misinterpreted as lust. However, it applies to all human desires. A person’s desperate desire to see and touch the feet of their Guru is also kama; such kama is called Uttama:kama (Uttama means best or highest), which uplifts a human to higher planes of consciousness. A kama (desire) to serve Śrī Rama and Sita Devi is an Uttama:kama since it materializes as devotion. It uplifted Hanuman to become the future Brahmā. However, kama towards Sita Devi lead to the downfall of Ravana, making him lose all his ten heads, his army and most of his family. In the Ramayana, Hanuman said that Ravana had accumulated the fruit of adharma (a:Ḍharma), which got exaggerated when he spoke ill to Sita Devi and treated women badly to satisfy his own desires. The very nature of Kalipurusha (the predominant entity and nature of Kali:yuga) is to throw humans out of the wheel of Ḍharma, and to encourage lifestyles built upon the acquisition of materials, greed, lust, selfishness and pleasure, causing truth to be covered under too much misinformation and misinterpretations, making it very difficult to both follow and seek truth.

No matter how much knowledge or riches one may acquire, it’s very easy to fall prey and become a slave to kama (desire). However, it is not that desire is at fault, but it is the lack of intertwining that desire into the wheel of Ḍharma that makes it dangerous. For example, a desire to earn riches and wealth is not at fault, but a desire to earn with whatever means necessary, resorting to a:Ḍharma is what leads to a man’s downfall. No matter which Sanātana Ḍharma literature one tries to research, like Srimad Bhagavātam, Śrī Maha Bharatam, Śrī Ramayana or Śhiva Maha Puranam, all revolve around one word and one word only, which is Ḍharma. Hence, Sanātana Ḍharma is not a religion, it is not a cult, it is not a theory, it is not even a philosophy, but more an encyclopedia narrating the construct of this reality, its constraints, and the lifestyle of human on earth in each time (era). It shares paths for humanity – options or alternatives to reaching higher planes of consciousness. It helps in realizing that a human being, with its physical body, is only a temporary state of existence, which is here to use this physical form allowed by this reality, to learn, implement and grow in consciousness, leading to Brahmanandam (Brahmā:nandam). This is the reason why Sanātana Ḍharma never forces its principals or its message upon anyone; hence, there is no conversion into Sanātana Ḍharma. Neither does it preach, propagate, or publicize its message. Hence, one should not try to popularize it or preach it. A person eager to learn, or an urge to understand devotion, or a desire to seek Iśvara (truth), should and will automatically make efforts to explore Śāstra and, more importantly, implement it to evolve oneself into that lifestyle.

This makes Manmatha the son of Śrī Mahā Lakṣmī and Śrī Viṣṇu, and so goes the sloka from Srimad Bhagavāta(m) (Sri Bhagavāta Puráńa(m)) Canto 10, Chapter 78, sloka 38:

“श्री भगवानुवाचा
आत्मवइ पुत्र उत्पन्न
इथी वेदानुसासनं
तस्माद अस्य भवेद वक्त

“sri-Bhagavān uvaca
Ātman vai putra utpanna
iti Vedānusasanam
tasmad asya bhaved vakta

(Srimad Bhagavātam Class. S.B.C. 2008).

Meaning, Śrī Kṛṣṇa said, as it is in the Vedās, one would be born again as one’s own son.

Another sloka from KushitakiBrahmāna Upanishad, sloka 11:

“अङ्गादङ्गात्सम्भवसि हृदयादधिजायसे ।
आत्मा वै पुत्रनामासि स जीव शरदः शतम् ॥”

“angad angat sambhavasi
hrdayad abhijayase
Ātman vai putra-namasi
sañJīva saradah satam”

(Sanskrit Documents. K.U. 1999)

Meaning, one’s son shall walk this Creation in his father’s image, or on his father’s behalf. (Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.17)

So, concept of preservation (which is by Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu) and the concept of Kama (by Manmatha) go hand in hand, hence the secret of Manmatha and Kama. Śrī Lakṣmī, being a Ḍharmapatni, abided by Her Ḍharma and granted a child worthy of supporting the concept of preservation. Śrī Lakṣmī looked into the eyes of Śrī Viṣṇu and understood His desire – not that Iśvara has desire. What it means is that She understood the concept of preservation and the support that is needed for a man to dwell in the notion of self-preservation. That support was through kama, without which humans would cease to strive towards their own preservation. This is the reason why Śrī Lakṣmī granted a son who would be the catalyst for Śrī Viṣṇu’s concept of preservation.

We have discussed earlier how a man’s kama towards one’s Ḍharmapatni, and vice versa, results in ārtha (ārtha means a meaningful outcome and purpose) – which, in this case, is in the form of a child. Through a son, that a person can clear his debt to his own father and his predecessors by moving his family and generation forward. Through a daughter, a parent gains the unique opportunity to perform Kanya Danam (a topic we discussed earlier in detail) to unify one’s daughter as Lakṣmī with the groom as Śrī Viṣṇu. Let us also not forget that Manmatha is one of the nine primordial devotees of the Divine Mother, which we have discussed earlier.

A human is the only species with free will that can choose an action, and it is these actions that define a person’s destiny. Some think free will is an illusion, and some think one can identify and recognize oneself and the availability to choose options itself is free will. However, it is not that straightforward. This reality provides many options; however, we can only choose the ones we can comprehend and our comprehension depends on many factors and many variables like time, place, and experience. Hence, free will comes with limitations. Then who can reach such knowledge, how can one get such understanding mentioned among many approaches and philosophies? First, philosophy is not something to be sold or publicized, nor is it a product to be purchased in stores or an entity to be feared or reached out to in desperation when we are vulnerable. Let us discuss this detail later.

Coming back to kama (desire) – one can be a slave to desire and pride, or rejoice in the freedom gained by exploring Śāstra and the confidence it gives towards understanding this creation and its creator. Śāstra is not something to be read in fear or for gain. Having fear and desire is human nature. Reaching for solace towards a higher power is also very natural because it is our vulnerability that makes us feel lonely and so we pray for a helping hand. A desire to read and comprehend Śāstra and its Ḍharma, and to get the strength to move forward in our existence makes us pray to Iśvara. It is Iśvara who must walk towards us when we take our first step. It is He who must hold us and give us that knowledge, the will, the confidence to comprehend Him, and gain shelter under the shade of a Guru. It is He who must take care of us since it is His creation and His plan and His constraints. With our limited knowledge, we cannot navigate in the ocean of His creation and its reality, but it is He who navigates. It is kama (desire) that confuses us and causes us to make mistakes, but it is the same kama (desire) that makes humanity move forward and forces us towards our self-preservation.

Also, from our discussion above, it is safe to say that Śrī Lakṣmī has granted a wish to Śrī Viṣṇu Himself. This is the meaning of Śrī Śankara stating the phrase “Kaama-Pradaa Bhagavāto-[A]pi Kattaakssa” where he helped us understand the desire of Śrī Viṣṇu and that Śrī Lakṣmī – as His śakti – granted (Api) Manmatha (Kattaakssa) to support the concept of preservation, which is “Bhagavāto” (Śrī Viṣṇu).

“बाह्वन्तरे मधुजितः श्रितकौस्तुभे या
हारावलीव हरिनीलमयी विभाति ।
कामप्रदा भगवतोपि कटाक्षमाला
कल्याणमावहतु मे कमलालयायाः ॥”

“Baahv[u]-Antare Madhu-Jitah Shrita-Kaustubhe Yaa
Haaraavali-Iva Hariniilamayii Vibhaati |
Kaama-Pradaa Bhagavāto-[A]pi Kattaakssa-Maalaa
Kalyaannam-Aavahatu Me Kamala-[A]alayaayaah ||”

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

Mangalam (auspiciousness), badram (protection), shrayam (comfort and safety), and shobhanam (prosperity and goodwill) are all analogous to the word Kalyanam. This is the reason why the ceremony of the wedding performed for Iśvara is called Kalyanam. Using this word, Śrī Śankara says that the eyes of the Divine Mother that can grant the desires of Śrī Viṣṇu (the Preserver) can also bestow us with kalyanam. This is also the very reason why Śrī Śankara started Kanakadhara with the word Kalyanam in his first sloka, where he refers to the Divine Mother as “Mangala Devataya” – wherein Mangalam is also an analog of Kalyanam.

In this same sloka, Śrī Śankara addresses the Divine Mother as “Kamalaalayaayaah”, which means the Divine Mother who bestows kalyanam is seated on a lotus flower. Earlier, we discussed that Śrī Lakṣmī’s adobe was Śrī Viṣṇu’s hrudaya(m), and in Her manifested form in Vaikuntham She sits at His feet – massaging them during Śrī Viṣṇu’s yoga nidra. Then why such a contradiction?

Before we head further, let us recollect the very purpose of this dhara. Our purpose is to understand the very concept and thoughts of Śrī Śankara and cherish it with joy as we read, recite, and recollect the images and stories of Kanakadhārā. Having said that, in our very early reading we said that a word-to-word meaning might not reveal the history and the hidden essence in the dialog between Śrī Śankara and Śrī Lakṣmī. Śrī Śankara, like an attorney, is referring to so many accounts from the Puráńa(m) and Śāstra in an attempt to convince Śrī Lakṣmī. Please note that it is not just Śrī Lakṣmī who needs to be convinced. She, along with Śrī Viṣṇu, was ready to grant Her blessings at the very first request of Śrī Śankara, but then what would happen to us, and how would we today be able to learn these various stories and tatva inherent throughout this stotram? How can we build confidence the next time we choose an action? How can we evolve if such Gurus do not pass on this tatva for generations to come? How can many who are not scholars and have not had the opportunity to explore Śāstra and Puráńa(m) in detail comprehend this creation? This stotram is small compared to many other stutis and suktams, and it being poetic makes it easy to memorize the flow and its context. So, when we make an effort like we are doing right now, it will help us cherish this stotra at a new level when we recite or read it. At the end of the day, this stotram is our treasure, it is ours to cherish, it is a legacy given to us to enjoy. This stotram is not a mandate but, when explored, makes us a part of its magnificence. This was the intent of Śrī Śankara, so let us continue exploring it.

Now, why is the Divine Mother referred to as Kamalaalayaayaa or Padmaalayaayaa, and what does it have to do anything with Her being seated on a lotus flower? We might have seen many images, paintings and sculptures depicting such a posture of Śrī Lakṣmī seated on a lotus flower, but how many such pieces of art did we comprehend? It is the nature of a lotus flower to fully bloom and spread its petals in the light of the sun. In the same way, when the eyes of Śrī Viṣṇu fall upon Her, Śrī Lakṣmī – in a lotus – blooms to grant wishes to support the preservation of this Creation. This is also the very reason why Śrī Viṣṇu is called Padma:bandhava (“Padma” means lotus and “Bandhava” means to be related to).

During the dissolution of Creation (with all its realities and countless universes), Prakṛti (both physical manifestation of energy and pure energy) is unified with Pārama:Śiva to form a singularity. In the same state, as per Viṣṇu tatva(m) (same tatva, different perspective), Śrī Viṣṇu is depicted as Vatapatra Sai. During this state, He alone (the supreme singular consciousness) dwells in the absence of Creation and all its realities devoid of kālá (time). It is to be noted that Iśvara is always alone, since there is no other entity besides Him. However, in Creation and its various realities, He manifests differently. After maha:pralaya(m), when He decides to restart creations, His śakti drips out of Him as Prakṛti; or rather, we should say His śakti emerges from within Him to manifest as Prakṛti, which eventually unifies with Him through maha:pralaya(m). Countless such creations and dissolutions take place (or rather, one should say, are taking place) within Iśvara because the time for us might be linear, but for Iśvara, He is kālá:aathita (where “kālá” means time and “athita” means devoid; read as a whole, it means devoid of time). This is the reason why Pārama:Śiva is depicted with a garland of skulls which belong to previous Brahmās (creators) who came and left, and out of respect as the creator of each Śrusti (creation), Śiva tags them to His garland. A similar message of multiple creations and realities existing in parallel can be seen both in Srimad Bhagavād Gita and Sri Devi Bhagavāta(m) (Sri Devi Bhagavāta Puráńam). In Viṣṇu tatva, when Śrī Viṣṇu restarts creations, similar to the way a lotus flower blooms, so does Śrī Lakṣmī blossom in His hrudaya(m) (which is His śakti) to become Śrusti (creation) and manifests as Prakṛti. In a single word, Śrī Viṣṇu becomes viśvām – entire Creation and its realities encompassed within Him. This is the reason Śrī Viṣṇu Sahastranāma Stotram starts with the word “viśvām” and every other name in this stotram is but an analog of “viśvām”.

Now, what does all this discussion of dissolution and creation have anything to do other than to intrigue our curiosity? Like the way Śrī Viṣṇu’s hrudaya(m) bloomed, we have the same lotus in our hrudaya(m) that should bloom in the light of Kanaka Dhara, filling itself with the honey of compassion derived out of devotion. Then why not any flower, why a lotus, apart from the fact that it blooms by the touch of sunlight? Or is it just an analogy? We know that Śrī Śankara would never use a reference without deeper meaning and purpose. It is because a lotus is a magnificent flower that usually blooms in the wilderness and in a muddy pond; however, these lotus leaves are unblemished by the mud and the dirt. Even if a drop of water falls on it, the water droplet rolls over the leaf to fall back into the pond without wetting or blemishing the leaf. Similarly, we in this Kali:yuga are filled with desire, surrounded by temptation with an endless competition to achieve it. In the midst of all those who walk such a path, we – on our path of Ḍharma – should not be corrupted or blemished by their influence, just like the lotus leaf. It is on this path that our hrudaya(m) should bloom, filled with the nectar of devotion. If the philosophy of Kali:yuga is “what we see and measure and comprehend is what we believe”, then it is very difficult to follow Ḍharma – especially when others are not following it as well; then a flower in a muddy pond should also be dirty and should also have the same muddy smell and complexion. Yet this unblemished plant and its flower have a splendid smell, with magnificent beauty and color and with sweet nectar. Let us look at one more important aspect of this analogy. Though other creatures like frogs live in the surroundings of a lotus plant, they fail to realize the presence of sweet nectar in the lotus, but a bee or a hummingbird from a faraway garden searches and seeks the lotus knowing it has sweet nectar. In this way, when the lotus in our hrudaya(m) blooms under the rays of Śāstra, filling it with the nectar of devotion, then – even in Kali:yuga – Iśvara, like the hummingbird, will come seeking that devotion.

Śivaanadha Lahiri, composed by Śrī Śankara in his later years, says in sloka 51:

“भृंगीच्छानटनोत्कटः करमदिग्राही स्फुरन्माधवा-
ह्लादो नादयुतो महासितवपुः पञ्चेषुणा चादृतः ।
सत्पक्षः सुमनोवनेषु स पुनः साक्षान्मदीये मनो-
राजीवे भ्रमराधिपो विहरतां श्रीशैलवासी विभु: ॥”

“Bhringischa natanothkata kari madha grahi sphuran madhava,
Hladho nadayutho mahasitha vapu pancheshuna chaddhadha,
Satpaksha sumano vaneshu sa puna sakshan madheeye mano,
Rajeeve bramaradhipo viharatham srishailavasi vibhu”

(Sanskrit Documents. S.L. 2010)

In Śrīshailam (Śrī is the representation of śakti and Shailam means hill), one of the twelve Jyotirlingams, the Divine Mother is called Bhramara:mbika – meaning bumblebee – and Śiva is referred to as Brahmāra:mbika Pati, because they are the bees that come seeking the nectar of devotion cultivated by our research of Śāstra and faith in Iśvara.

Now just by reading Śāstra can one foster Bhakti? We discussed earlier that it is the Divine Mother who nourishes us and brings us closer to Iśvara; also, it is She who can throw us into the abyss of Her māyā – pushing us further away from Iśvara. The realization that this Creation is not ours to have created or to control, makes us seek Iśvara for answers. The Divine Mother distances us from Iśvara and our comforts, making us question this Creation, allowing us to think about its creator. Again, it is Iśvara to whom we should reach for answers and not publishers or orators who sell faith as a profession.

Now coming back to our exploration of Kanakadhara, was there any reference of Śrī Śankara urging Śrī Lakṣmī to bestow anything in specific, like wealth, or job, or fame on this brahmin family? There wasn’t. Then how will it fit into Śrī Śankara’s argument for helping the brahmin family? Śrī Śankara made a reference to Bhakti (which we have been discussing) being the nectar of the lotus that blooms within us. Indirectly, Śrī Śankara is now referring to the bhakti of the brahmin’s wife, who – though in poverty – maintained Eka:dashi fasting, and hasn’t deviated from Ḍharma and made sure to donate the only edible item to a brahmin child who came looking for alms. With this reference, Śrī Śankara is stating to Śrī Lakṣmī that the nectar of bhakti is now ready for Ishwar to bestow their anugraham (grace). But how? It is Śrī Lakṣmī who, being a Pati:vrata (a Ḍharma patni who follows her Ḍharma), created Manmatha with Her sight to support the preservation of Creation and so granted the desire of Śrī Viṣṇu. It is with the same sight that She can vanquish the karmā of this brahmin family and bestow prosperity.

Before we go any further, let us ask an obvious question. Just by fasting on Eka:dashi, can one prove devotion towards Iśvara? In Sanātana Ḍharma, many customs are defined as Ḍharma for the various ashrams. Fasting, a well-defined ritual, needs to be performed with discipline for both good health and evolution of consciousness. Because of many widespread misconceptions and self-created rituals, fasting has become a widely misconstrued process. Fasting has many approaches and, when done properly, provides a lot of health and emotional benefits. Fasting can be full-day fasting or partial-day fasting. Full-day fasting is performed on Eka:dashi (eleventh moon phase) and other auspicious days like Sri Rama Navami, Maha Śivaratri, Mukoti Eka:dashi, Gokula Ashtami, etc. Partial fasting may be performed on Bhanuvaram (Sunday), Poornima (full-moon day), and Amavasya (no-moon day), wherein only the night meal is skipped. Another partial fasting is done on Chaturthi (fourth phase of the moon) and Ashtami (eighth phase of the moon), wherein the only meal that should be taken is the night meal.  (Youtube. M.E.V.M.P. 2014., Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.17)

Now, how does fasting make us move closer to Iśvara? Fasting is but one practice out of many approaches that assist us in achieving this. It helps us understand how difficult it is to skip a meal and channelize our mind to focus on Iśvara. By skipping a meal, one gains an awareness of one’s own body and its vulnerability. It lays down a perspective and helps prioritize important things in life. But why should anyone fast, and based on what motivation should one perform such customs? What is defined in Śāstra is not for fun or publication, but purely for the well-being and the upliftment of man. Again, as we discussed earlier, Śāstra and Sanātana Ḍharma should not be used for propaganda and hence must never be forced upon the will of man. Śāstra is the word of Iśvara passed on to us by Maharśis as a lifestyle approach for better health and mind in order to condition ourselves to walk the path of Ḍharma, cultivate devotion, and to strengthen our physical body. However, the choice to perform is where the free will comes into play. Like the military and many other groups with tight physical and mental regimens help a man break free from many self-created limitations and evolve stronger both physically and mentally, fostering value towards aspects like honor, courage, and respect. Similarly, many such regimens have been suggested by Śāstra for a man to evolve both physically and psychologically. It is not the intent of Śāstra to harm us; however, it is to challenge us and prove that we can break free of our limitations and laziness, and realize that this body and mind is capable of much more. Such rituals are like regimens that help us prioritize our lives, rather than becoming a slave to endless desires and compulsions, and becoming lethargic.

There is nothing we can give to Iśvara that is not already His, all we can do is evolve in consciousness and foster the nectar of devotion. Iśvara, like the hummingbird, will come for this nectar. Following the approach laid out by Śāstra as Ḍharma itself is the first step towards attracting the sight of Iśvara, and He will take many steps towards us and navigate us in the ocean of His māyā. Without discipline in life and a path to realizing this reality, we will be further pushed into the delusions arising from the illusions called māyā.

In the final sloka, we will see that Śrī Śankara opens his hrudaya(m) and explicitly pleads with Śrī Lakṣmī, because all the slokas till now actually revolve around Śrī Lakṣmī’s sight with an inherent request.

(Srichaganti. K.D.S, n.d., p.17)

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