Information

The Glory of Kanchi Kamakshi Ambal

The Glory of Ambal:

Vedabhashyaratnam R. Krishnamurthy Shastri

Sri Kamakshi is the mother of the entire universe; we are all her children. Even when we, her children, worship other demigods out of ignorance, can we ever become theirs? When a child or a cow enters another’s house, does it become a property of theirs or the state’s? It still belongs to the mother. Likewise, we are Sri Kamakshi’s children at all times, as Shri Nilakanta Dikshitar observes in the following sloka:

Maudhyaadaham sharanayaami suraantaram cet
Kim taavadaasvamapi tasya bhavaami maatah|
Ajnaanatah paragrham pravishan parasya
Svatvam prayaasyathi pashuh kimurajakeeyah||

The moment we receive the grace of the Goddess Sri Laitha Parameshwari, we attain all prosperity. Her benevolence is beyond words. One can conquer the world without seeking any extraneous media. Manmathan, the god of love, is an example. He does not have a physical form. Flowers make his bow and bees the bowstring. He has only five arrows; he does not possess the strength of a huge army. Spring is his only companion; the breeze from the Malaya hills is his chariot. In spite of all this, he conquers the whole world. He even charms Parameshwara. The reason for this is the grace of the sidelong glance of Ambal, says Shri Adi Shankara in his Soundarya Lahari:

Kanchi Kamakshi Amman

Dhanu paushpam maurvi madhukaramayi pancha vishikha
Vasanthah saamantho malayamarudaayodanarathah |
Tadaapyekah sarvam himagirisute kaamapi krupaam
Apaangaat te labdhvaa jagat idam anango vijayate ||

Even Shiva’s glory and immortality are due to Ambal’s auspiciousness. Even the devas, who have partaken of the Amruta, are subject to mishaps. However, even on consuming the Haalaahala poison, the blue-throated God Shiva remained untouched by mortality. The Soundarya Lahari says that this too is the result of the splendor of the Goddess’ ear ornament (taatankam).

Sudaamapyaasvaadya pratipaya jaraa mrutyuharineem
Vipadyante vishve vidhishatamakhaadyaa divishadah |
Karaalam yat kshvealam kabalitavatah kaalakalanaa
Na shambhostanmaye tava janani taatankamahimaa ||

Even though Ambal brings so much glory to her husband, she never claims any of it for herself. She does not mind it when encomiums are showered on Shiva for such deeds of glory. For instance, wasn’t Manmathan burnt by the third eye of Ardhanareeshavra, to which Ambal has an equal claim? How then is it appropriate to hail Shiva alone as ‘smararipu’, Smara’s foe? At least this seems to be more acceptable than the episode of Yama. Wasn’t it the left foot, belonging wholly to Ambal, which struck Yama? It is completely unjust that all credit for this deed goes to Ishvara. What is his role in this deed? In a lighter vein, Shri Nilakanta Dikshitar portrays Ambal as an ideal wife thus:

Saadhaarane smarajaye nitilaakshisaadhye
Bhaagee bhajatu naama yashas samagram |
Vaamaangri maatrakalite janani tvadiye
Kaa vaa prasaktiriha kaalajaye puraareh ||

In times of distress, we must pray to the Goddess, the Mother of the Universe. It is the mother who hears our pleas for help and showers her grace immediately. Others might take it amiss that we do not remember them in good times, but seek their help in times of misfortune. But the mother never takes offense and deals with us with compassion, says a devotee:

Aapatsumagna smaranam tvadeeyam karomi durge karunaanaveshi
Naitaccatatvam mama bhaavayetaah kshudaadrushaartaah jananeem smaranti||