SAUNDARYA LAHARI

 

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VERSE 6

OCCASIONALISM GIVES POWER TO EROS

 

धनुः पौष्पं मौर्वी मधुकरमयी पञ्च विशिखाः
वसन्तः सामन्तो मलयमरु-दायोधन-रथः ।
तथाप्येकः सर्वं हिमगिरिसुते कामपि कृपां
अपाङ्गात्ते लब्ध्वा जगदिद-मनङ्गो विजयते

 

dhanuh pauspam maurvi madhukaramayi panca visikha
vasantas samanto malaya marud ayodhana rathah
tathapy eka sarvam himagirisute kam api krpam
apangat te labdhva jagad idam anango vijayate
 
O daughter of the snowy peak, just deriving from your glance askance
Whatsoever grace he could, with flowery bow and bumble-bee bowstring
And five-flowered dart and springtide for minister; all these as one withal,
Mounting the chariot of the mountain breeze, he victoriously reigns, that God of Love.
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This verse continues and carries over the basic ideas just examined in Verse 5 and adds a little more dynamism to the picture. The key to the understanding of this verse is in the principle of occasionalism, by which Eros acquires a dignity out of all proportion to his importance in human life. All people do not fall in love at all times of the year. The component factors, making up the totality implied in every absolute occasion in which they do fall in love, are here enumerated and described realistically in some detail. Let us examine them separately and together.
 
The primary requisite for Eros to reign supreme is stated in the first line to be the glance, though only askance, of the Goddess. This kind of glance is very familiar in devotional Sanskrit literature where the votary, out of humility, does not dare pray for a full frontal look of kindness towards him from the Goddess. Such a sympathetic side-glance, well-known as karuna kataksha, is all that a humble devotee can claim from an absolute Goddess. Though the glance is only partial in its nature, it is received with total gratitude on the side of the devotee. Thus, what is lost on one side is compensated for on the other side. Shiva's love of Vishnu in female form, mentioned in the previous verse, is a richer and more direct relationship than in the case of Eros and the Goddess in this verse. Eros thus has a lesser status than even a demiurge or a divine presence. He tends to derive his dignity from the instinctive pole of the personality of the Goddess and, as such, is to be placed nearer to the elemental spirits, located at the ontologically-rich pole of existence at the negative limit of the vertical axis. This is the reason why, as we shall see in the later verses, the God of Love is depicted as having his proper place within the legs of the Goddess. Above the horizontal line, Eros is exposed to too much light and heat or electricity coming from the topmost limit of the vertical axis. In this bright world of high energy his head is said to catch fire and he is obliged to jump into the navel of the Goddess, represented as a lotus lake in the mid-region of her body. More such details will come under more specific reference in later verses.
 
The reference to a bowstring of bumblebees has its own structurally dynamic implications. Every flower of the vasanta season (spring-summer) carries a drop of honey at its core, and each drop of honey attracts a bee. Thus develops the basis of a dynamism such as that between a bow and its bowstring.
 
A bee, very thirsty for the drop of honey from the flower, develops a kind of tension within its mind, similar to the tension of a bowstring when drawn away from its bow. In this picture the bow and the arrowhead are made up of choice flowers. The season spreads over the surface of the earth horizontally and evenly. The same scene, when reviewed three-dimensionally, gives us a cross-section which contains the bowstring of bees sitting in a line along the horizontal parameter, thirsty for the drops of honey in the flowers which make up the bow. Enjoyment and the enjoyer, represented by the honey and the corresponding thirsty bees, are thus structurally placed together as counterparts.
 
The arrow shoots vertically through this two-sided total horizontalized situation. When the trajectory of the arrow is perfectly verticalized, it can hit Shiva at the Omega Point, the apex of the upper cone. It is Parvati who gives perfect verticality to the arrow of the God of Love, who has to lie in wait for this propitious moment, based on the principle of occasionalism in the total absolutist context. The five flowers of the arrows represent the five sense-interests. When they strike the victim all together at the given occasion when everything else is favourable, even an austere god like Shiva is unable to escape their total effect. The fate of us human beings, who are lesser than Shiva, could be thus left to the readers' imagination. The whispering breezes of springtide lend their support to endorse this power conferred on Eros by the occasion. The arrow has to be released at the most favourable moment to hit Shiva. The mountain breeze is also an important concomitant, finalizing the imperative character in the operation of such successful functioning of the God of Love. It is in this sense that, at a given moment alone, when the totality of favourable factors conspire together, the God of Love can triumph. The integrative principle belongs both to principles represented by Shiva, as well as by Shakti. Eros has necessarily to hide and operate from the negative side. The dynamism gains support from the relational structuralism and vice-versa; both must be treated as belonging to Occasionalism with a capital letter.
 
 
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ADDITIONAL COMMENTS WITH STRUCTURAL DIAGRAMS RELATED TO THIS VERSE FROM SAUNDARYA LAHARI/NOTES.

The Numerator and Denominator must be ready for cancellation to take place.
Pure love comes from the Alpha Point at the negative pole of the vertical axis of value and is irresistible - no one is excepted from it.


Ananga (Eros, "the limbless one") = Beauty.
Ananga rules. Although he is a passion, he still rules. (See Othello).

(Ananga or Kama or Kama-Deva is the Eros of India. Rati is his consort. The central eye of Shiva which erupts fire is said to have burnt Kama to ashes when Kama aimed his flowery-arrow at Shiva in order to make him erotic, as commissioned by the gods who needed a martial deity to be born. The war-god was born, however, without erotic love in circumstances portrayed by Kalidasa in his poem called Kumara Sambhava (The Birth of the War-God). ED)

 

WORD FOR WORD
dhanuh paushpam - (with) flowery bow
maurvi madhukara mayi - bowstring of bumblebees
panca visikha - five-flowered dart
vasantah samanto - springtide for minister
malaya marud sayodhana rathah - Southwest breeze for war chariot
tathapi - in spite of this
eka sarvam - all one
himagiri sute - o Daughter of the Himalayan Peak
kam api krpam - some little grace
apangat te - from your side-glance
labdhva - obtaining
jagad idam - this world
anango vijayate - Eros reigns supreme

 

Another version:

WORD-FOR-WORD
Dhanuh paushpam = the bow made of flowers
Maurvi madhu kara mayi pancha vasikha = the bow-string with five-fold flower arrowheads is made up of bumblebees
Vasantah samantantah = the springtide makes the minister
Malaya marud ayodhana rathah = the wafting mountain breeze stands for the war chariot
Tathapi ekah sarvam = notwithstanding all these as one
Hima giri sute = o Daughter of the Himalayas
Kam api krpam = whatever mercy
Apangate = from Your side-glance
Labdhva jagad idam anangah = having derived that limbless god of love (Eros)
Vijayate = he reigns supreme
 
 
In Verse 6, half of the Devi's body is filled with eroticism; eroticism is normal bliss.
You cannot throw eroticism out of the picture as Christianity does.
The Absolutist picture gives Eros a place in the Devi's legs.
 
Eros reigns victorious, because he got some fraction of grace from You, the Devi.
He is victorious on the numerator side and is going to fill the numerator side with content.
 

 

 

 
Imagine the flowery season. This is when people are smitten with love.
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Eros has a chariot and the grace of the Goddess comes to him by her glance, slightly askance.
His power is absolute for a certain time, when all the right factors are present.

Eros reigns supreme in spring; this is how numerator values can have (false) erotic luxury implied and still reign victorious - the side-glance of Devi gives this power.
 
The aide or adviser is Springtime, whispering to Eros to shoot his arrow at Shiva.
 
(This is described in the Kumara Sambhava, a minor Sanskrit epic by Kalidasa, literally, "The Birth of the War-god Kumara". In their struggle against the demons (asuras) the gods (devas) badly needed a warrior-god and approached Brahma to this end, who counselled that they should somehow make Shiva, who was then steeped in meditation, fall in love with a woman. Kama Deva (Eros) (q.v.) was selected to tempt him for this purpose, and Kama Deva came with his wife, Rati, choosing the moment when Uma (the Devi) came with offerings, to let fly at him the flowered dart of erotic temptation. Shiva caught Kama Deva before the arrow left his bow, and in his anger, Shiva opened his third eye whose glance reduced Kama Deva to ashes. ED)
 
 


 

This is the situation favourable to love affairs; flowers, pleasant breezes, bees that suck honey - also, there is a conspiracy to give battle with chariots. The whole situation conspires for love to triumph.
Do not treat any of these as distinct parts, they are one, a unit or gestalt.

(In Gestalt Psychology, the operational principle  is that the brain is holistic, parallel, and analog, with self-organizing tendencies. The principle maintains that the human eye sees objects in their entirety before perceiving their individual parts, suggesting the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. ED)


You cannot stop people falling in love: first with the above factors and then with the sanction of the Absolute (the side-glance of the Devi).

 

Another version:

TRANSLATION
the bow flowery
the string made of bees
five-flowered dart
springtide (is) minister
the western mountain breeze
war chariot
notwithstanding (their distinctness)
everything (here) treated as one
o daughter of the Himalayas
some sort of grace (kam api krpam)
from Your side-glance
obtaining


Eros ("the limbless one" - HE IS A MENTAL STATE) reigns supreme over this world.
So, given certain conditions, Eros must be successful, when the grace of the Devi is there.
An example of occasionalism is divine will.
Even given all the other factors, the final occasionalism is the grace of the Devi - Her side-long glance.

(Occasionalism is a philosophical theory about causation which says that created substances cannot be efficient causes of events. Instead, all events are taken to be caused directly by God. ED)


There is a war-chariot because there is a conflict.
The conflict is the paradox between the vertical and horizontal factors involved in falling in love.


There is always a struggle to resolve a paradox - thus, the war-chariot.
Shiva is not completely free of eroticism - this is the element of paradox here.

 

We have first to recognize the components mentioned in this verse as making up the totality of the Absolute feminine principle.
The bow, arrow, the humming bow-string and arrowheads are concrete and harsh counterparts to be viewed in a more structurally subjective and refined context.
The chariot and the minister belong more to the general and plus side of concepts. They are symbolic rather than direct signs.
 
(Signs are metalinguistic and horizontal; symbols are protolinguistic and vertical. A red traffic light is a symbol; the letters R.E.D. written on a piece of paper are signs. A symbol is semantically polyvalent - it has many meanings, roughly speaking - and a sign has only one meaning - "R" represents a certain sound and that is all. ED)
 
 
After fitting these various conceptual and perceptual elements into a total whole, one should think of Eros himself as a total and Absolute Value, colouring life itself and giving it a vital complexion.
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It is the Negative Absolute, implicit in the Goddess, that is praised here for Her beauty as a supreme value, under whose aegis Eros gets the power to influence human life, always and at all places.
 
He himself substitutes and functions for the Absolute. A structural analysis will help to bring the rigid and subtle aspects of the total erotic situation of the double perspective here into proper relief.


 
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STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS
The total erotic situation can be schematically represented as the top and bottom half of a circle. The bow of iron, when conceptualized, becomes flower-tender as a luxury springtime value.
 
Flowers bring bees, and the bumblebee is the conceptual aspect of summer love-feeling in operation.
 
The five senses and their afferent functional counterparts are represented by five darts that hurt the lovers' hearts subjectively or objectively.
 
The total controlling factor giving purpose to erotic life is the season of spring; and the more ineffable numerator side of the situation is a wind-wafted chariot.
 
The minister is a person, here and now, and thus has to take his position on the point where the vertical axis meets the horizontal at the O Point.
 
Eros himself is an abstraction created by the mind, and thus he represents an erotic value under the aegis of the Absolute.
 
Thus, he could be said to radiate his essence over the whole of the conscious situation from the Omega Point at the positive apex of the vertical axis; while the Devi herself, as his counterpart, occupies the rich ontological position of the Alpha Point at the bottom of the vertical axis. Other structural implications ought to be clear.
 
 
Numerator and Denominator must be ready for cancellation to take place.
Pure love comes from the Alpha Point and is irresistible - no-one is excepted.
 
 
In Verse 7, the Devi is "Purushika", a bold, virago-like figure, the counterpart of Shiva: do not try and copulate forcefully with Her: the Absolute cannot be defeated.
 
 

 

In Verse 8, the Yogi has to meditate on something: a gem-island.
 

 

In Verse 9, stable positions of cancellation ascend on a vertical axis.