saura miscellany


The famous poet, mayUra of harShavardhana’s court, whose shR^i~NgAra work, the mayUrAShTaka, we had earlier alluded is supposed to have composed the sUryashataka in the aftermath of the events following the former composition.

jaMbhArAtiibha-kumbhodbhavaM iva dadhataH sAndra-sindUra-reNuM
raktAH siktA ivaaughair udaya-giri-taTI-dhAtu-dhArAdravasya
AyAntyA tulyakAlaM kamala-vana-ruchevA .aruNA vo vibhUtyai
bhUyAsur bhAsayanto bhuvanam abhinavA bhAnavo bhAnavIyAH ||

The imagery of the first simile with which the work opens puzzles me somewhat: I take the sindhUra reNu=scarlet dust i.e. an allusion to the dust motes in the rising sunbeams, which are likely to appear scarlet. Now they are described as sAndra, which in this context I mean to take wet. They are described as being on the frontal domes of the elephant of indra. So I took this to mean the mud bath that elephants take by spraying the mud from their trunks on to their heads. So it might seem that mayUra sees the spray of mud by the elephant onto its frontal domes as the motes in the sunbeams. I am not entirely sure of this simile though. The second simile is of streams of sprinkled blood flowing down the slopes of udaya-giri-like molten metal streams. The third simile compares the crimson luster of the rising sun with a water-lily conglomeration’s glow, and states that the rays are simultaneous with the rising. While I ignored my lessons in saMskR^ita, especially pertaining to kAvya, a word called utprekShA filtered in from somewhere. I guess this richly illustrates that utprekSha – the synaesthetic tendencies of the poet.

bibhrANaH shaktim Ashu prashamita-balavat-tArakaaurjityag-urvIM
kurvANo lIlayA .andhaH shikhinam api lasach-chandra-kAntAvabhAsaM
AdadhyAd andhakAre ratim atishayinIm Avahan vIkShaNAnAM
bAlo lakShmIm apArAM apara iva guho .aharpater Atapo vaH ||

This is a famous example of what the Hindus of yore called the shleSha or paronomasia. The sentences are supposed to simultaneous refer to both sUrya and kumAra. We can work it out as below (given my kaumAra predilection unlike my father’s saura one, I give the kaumAra form first):
kumAra: Bearing a weighty shakti that instantly suppresses the might of the powerful tAraka /
sUrya: Bearing the strong energy that instantly suppresses the shine of the stars;
kumAra: sportingly riding atop a peacock which verily flashes the moon-shaped [tail spots]/
sUrya:Effortlessly drowning the fire[‘s illumination] and verily the flashing glow of he moon;
kumAra: bears immense pleasure to the eyes of the andhaka’s enemy/
sUrya: bears immense pleasure to the eyes given to darkness;
The young rays of the sun, like a second guha, conveys unlimited prosperity/
The young guha like a second sun’s rays conveys unlimited prosperity.

The sUrya shataka is one of those saura works from the classical Indian saura tradition, the evolution of whose tAntrika forms we shall consider in due course. A rough outline of the evolutionary scenario of the saura mata is presented here.


A picture from my parents’ recent performance of a tAntrika saura sAdhana.

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