Letter 85

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30th January, 1947
Yesterday Bhagavan said that Sankara sang about Sambandha in Soundarya Lahari, referring to him as ‘dravida sisuhu’, didn’t he? Last night I took out Soundarya Lahari with a Telugu commentary and saw the sloka written by Sankara about Sambandha which is as follows:

O Daughter of the Mountain, I fancy that the ocean of the milk of poesy rising out of Thy heart verily caused the milk of Thy breasts to flow. On swallowing this milk given by Thy grace, the Dravidian child became a poet among great poets.

The Telugu commentary stated that the word ‘dravida sisuhu’ in the sloka meant Sankara himself. On the next day I mentioned this to Bhagavan. Bhagavan replied, “The Telugu commentators must have stated it wrongly. The Tamil Soundarya Lahari stated that the words ‘dravida sisuhu’ meant Sambandha and not Sankara” and he sent for the Tamil book and read out all that was written in it about the reason for Sambandha receiving the title of ‘dravida sisuhu’, and explained it to us as follows: “Sambandha was born in an orthodox brahmin family in the town of Sirkali, to Sivapada Hridayar and his wife Bhagawatiyar. The parents named him Aludaya Pillayar. One day, when the boy was three years old, the father took him to Thiruttoni Appar Koil. While immersed in the tank for a bath, he began repeating the aghamarshana mantram. When the child could not see the father in the tank, it looked around with fear and grief. There was no trace of the father. It could not contain its grief and so wept aloud looking at the temple chariot saying, ‘Father! Mother!’ Parvati and Lord Siva appeared in the sky, seated on the sacred Bull and gave darshan to that little child. Siva directed Parvati to give the boy a golden cupful of her breast milk, the milk containing Siva Jnana (Knowledge of Siva). She did accordingly. The boy drank the milk and became free from sorrow, and the divine couple disappeared.

“Having drunk the milk of jnana, and feeling quite satisfied and happy, Sambandha sat on the tank bund with milk dribbling from the corners of his mouth. When the father came out from his bath, he saw the boy’s condition and angrily asked, flourishing a cane, ‘Who gave you milk? Can you drink milk given by strangers? Tell me who that person is or I will beat you.’ Sambandha immediately replied by singing ten Tamil verses beginning with, ... The gist of the first verse is: ‘The Man with kundalas (sacred ear-rings), the Man who rides the sacred Bull, the Man who has the white moon on His head, the Man whose body is smeared with the ashes of the burning ghat, the thief who has stolen my heart, He who came to bless Brahma, the Creator, when Brahma, with the Vedas in his hand did penance, and He who occupies the sacred seat of Brahmapuri, He, my Father, is there, and She, my Mother who gave the milk, is there!” So saying he described the forms of Siva and Parvati as he witnessed with his eyes and who gave him milk to drink, and also pointed towards the temple chariot.

“It was clear from the verses, that the people who gave milk to the child were no other than Parvati and Lord Siva.

People gathered round. From that day onwards, the boy’s poetic flow began to run unimpeded. That is why Sankara sang, Thava Stanyam Manye. The commentators therefore decided that the word ‘dravida sisuhu’ referred to Sambandha alone. Nayana also wrote of him as ‘dravida sisuhu’ in Sri Ramana Gita.”

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