Saturday, January 5, 2013

सुरासुर सेवित... (surAsura sevita...)


I would like to wrap up the series of saraswati slokas with this one.

सुरासुर सेवित पाद पङ्कजा
करे विराजित कमनीय पुस्तका
विरिञ्चि पत्नी कमलासनस्तिथा
सरस्वती नृत्यतु वाचि मे सदा

surAsura sevita pAda pankajA
kare virAjita kamanIya pustakA |
virinchi patnI kamalA sanastithA
sarasvatI nrutyatu vAci me sadA ||

The essence of the sloka is the following. surAsura (सुरासुर) is broken down as sura + asura. The first word sura  means a learned or spiritual man while asura refers to an evil spirit. Thus, surAsura refers to all the devas and asuras in Hindu mythology. sevita (सेवित) means worship and pAda pankajA (पाद पङ्कजा) means the Lotus feet. Thus, the sentence itself means, One whose Lotus feet are worshipped by devAs and asurAs alike. One whose hands (करे) are adorned (विराजित) with a beautiful (कमनीय) book (पुस्तका). One who is the consort (पत्नी) of Lord brahmA (विरिञ्चि) and is seated on a Lotus (कमलासनस्तिथा). O goddess saraswati, dance (नृत्यतु) in my speech (वाचि मे) at all times (सदा), i.e., make me a learned man.

Like the previous 2 slokas, this one is also relatively straightforward, but  the one word that caught my attention was virinchi (विरिञ्चि) and why it was used to reference Lord brahmA. I did some research and here is what I found. Like all devAs and other personal gods like shiva, vishNu etc., brahmA is a post. Like us, he too has to strive to attain the eternal and ultimate goal, that of merging with the impersonal god, the brahman. While doing so, he has to execute his job of creation. The current brahmA is called virinci brahmA and, hence, the reference to goddess saraswati as virinci patnI!

For those interested in some math about the lifetime of brahmA, here it is:

1 mahAyugA = Sum of 4 yugAs (krita, tretA, dwApara and kali) = 4,320,000 years. 
1000 mahAyugAs = 1 day-time of Brahma also known as a kalpa. There is an equivalent night-time of 4,320,000,000 years. The day-night of Brahma together constitutes one brahmA day (8.64 billion years). 
360 brahmA days = 1 brahmA year
100 brahmA years = life of cosmos = 311 trillion years = lifetime of brahmA

At the end of every daytime of brahmA, the world becomes uninhabitable due to a tremendous drought followed by incessant rains for stretching over the entire nighttime of brahmA. The world is then reincarnated during the next daytime. At the end of brahmA's lifetime, all the worlds and evolution as we know it are dissolved and has to begin anew with the new brahmA.

Carl Sagan, a noted scientist says in relation to this, "The Hindu religion is the only one of the world's great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond, to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long. Longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang. And there are much longer time scales still." 

Every kalpa is ruled by 14 manus (Indras) in succession. The reigning period of one manu is one manvantarA. Thus, 1 manvantarA =71.42 mahAyugAs. We are presently in the sveta-varAha kalpa in the reigning period of vaivaswatha - the 7th manu. In this manvantarA  we are in the 28th mahAyugA. As per our Cosmology, brahmA is supposed to have completed 50 brahmA years and is in his 51st year. That is why he is called "parardha-dvaya-jivin" (ie) he  lives for two parardhas. A parardha is half. Two halves make one. He is called so as he has completed one half of his tenure. If some of these terms ring a bell, it is because we regularly utter them during all our samkalpAs. If you read below, you will understand that the samkalpa is actually a wonderful form of time-keeping! 

The actual samkalpa mantra and its meaning runs like this

".... dviteeya parardhe - in the 2nd half of brhamA's life
svetavarAha kalpe - in the kalpa of Sveta-Varaha
vaivaswatha manvantare - in the reining period of the current manu vaivaswatha
ashtA vimsati tame - in the 28th mahAyugA of the current manvantarA
kaliyuge - in this kali yuga
prathame pAdhe - in the first quarter of this yuga
jambUdveepe - this denotes the place where the ritual is performed. India was known as Jambudveepa
bhArata varshe, bharata kande - in the land of Bharat
sakhabde mero, dakshine pArsve - to the South of the Meru mountain
asmin varthamAne vyavahArike - in the current period now reigning
prabhavAdi shasti samvatsarAnAm madya - among the cycle of 60 years starting from Prabhava
nAma samvatsare - the name of the year in the 60 year Hindu calendar
....Ayane - Dakshinayane (Aadi to Marghazi) or Uttarayane (Thai to Aani)
....ritou - denotes the 6 seasons or Ritus - Vasantha, Greeshma, Varsha, SharadhHemantha and Shishira
....mAse - one of the 12 tamil months
....pakshe - either Shukla Paksham (day after Amavasya till and including Pournami) or Krishna Paksham (day after Pournami till and including Amavasya)
....subha tithou - one of the 15 days between Pournami and Amavasya (Prathama, Dvithiya, Trithiya, Chaturthi, Panchami, Shasti, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami,Dasami, Ekadasi, Dwadashi, Trayodasi, Chaturdasi, Pournami or Amavasya)
....vAsara yuktAyAm - one of the days of the week (Bhanu, Soma, Bhowma, Soumya, Guru, Brugu and Sthira)
....nakshatra yuktAyAm - the day's star or Nakshatram.

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