Friday, July 9, 2010

body is instrument for all (good) deeds - शरीरमाद्यं खलु धर्मसाधनम्

शरीरमाद्यं खलु धर्मसाधनम्

śarīramādyaṃ khalu dharmasādhanam

sharIramAdyaM khalu dharmasAdhanam.

this body is surely the foremost instrument of doing [good] deeds
kAlidAsa in kumArasambhavam [5.33]

this is also the motto of AIIMS - All India Institute of Medical Sciences, premiere medical institute in New Delhi, akin to John Hopkins of USA.

when pArvatI (पार्वती) decided she was only going to marry shiva, she had tried to impress shiva with her beauty. she became an attendant at his Ashram. at the appropriate moment, prodded by indra, and aided by vasant (spring), kAmadeva shot the arrow of desires at shiva, just when he saw pArvatI.

when shiva was disturbed for a moment, he quickly regained his focus, found the culprit in kAma (desire), vanquished it by burning it to ashes with his third eye of knowledge. i.e. he killed his desire through the laser of his knowledge eye.

thus humiliated, pArvatI became determined to win him with her penance, if not by beauty. she decided to win shiva with penance and austerity. when her mother heard of this resolve, that her flower-delicate princess-daughter of tender age will do penance like hardened ascetics in the cold snowy himAlayas, she tried to stop her, and said 'u maa' (उ मा) "oh [dear] no!". and from that day on, pAravtI was also called 'umA'

pArvatI did penance that was unheard of. there were grades of hardship ascetics were doing. some would eat no grain. some would eat only fruits, no roots since eating the root kills the plant. some would eat only fallen fruit. some gave up fruits also and only survived on leaves. some would only eat fallen leaves.

what hardships! self inflicted to experience the lack of desire, and control of kAma.

but pArvatI went one step further, because shiva was not yet impressed with her penance. she vowed to not even eat the fallen leaves! people cried out at such harsh vow, and old ascetics tried to convince her to leave such hard resolves. but she stuck to her resolve. and she was called aparNA (अपर्णा), a-parNa-aa = one without [eating] leaves. -aa suffix makes it feminine.

over time, pArvatI lost much body fat, and she was looking bodily weak, more like a sannyAsI than a young maiden princess. then moved by this, shiva comes to her, disguised as a ascetic himself.

after accepting her hospitality, he asks:
- are you getting wood [for fire rituals, yaGYa] and kusha grass easily [making bed]?
- is the water suitable for bathing?
- are you doing penance according to your abilities only [and not overexerting yourself]?
- [for] the body is surely the foremost instrument for all [good] deeds [actions, duties].

on knowing her intention of penance, to test her, or for his own amusement, the disguised shiva starts to talk bad about shiva, of his being poor, roaming the cemeteries, having serpents around him for garlands and wristbands, elephant skin for a dress ... to which the devout pArvatI vehemently counters.

of course, we know how the movie ends :) :)
happily ever after!

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and now the language aspects -

sharIramAdyaM (शरीरमाद्यम्) = sharIra (शरीर) + Adyam (आद्यम्)
sharIra = body
Adyam = first
Adi (आदि) = beginning

khalu (खलु) = for emphasis and also used at times as meter filler

dharmasAdhanam (धर्मसाधनम्) = dharma (धर्म) + sAdhanam (साधनम्)
dharma = duty, right act, what needs to be done ...
sAdhanam = instrument

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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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  1. Namaste,
    I love your site. Since I am in the process of learning Sanskrit (baby steps), I appreciate the stories and testing myself, to see how many of the words I can read. Often I have to go back to my notes to look up letters, but I like doing that. Thank you so much for providing this blessed service.
    Phyllis Victory
    Langley, BC

  2. thank you phyllis for your wonderful comments. self studying with an open mind and occasional help is a very good way to learn something, without the pressure but the joy!

  3. Good Work. Keep it up.

    -- Prasad Chitta

  4. namaste shashikanth,

    it is a pleasure to visit your blog and read the posts. very informative and educative. helps me improve vocabulary in sanskrit and also improve my knowledge of sanskrit literature, mythology and scripture.

    pls keep up the wonderful blog and the FB page!


  5. Namaskar..
    I just came acoss your blog while searching something on Guru.. What a wonderful blog!!!very interseting and informative..

  6. super - awesome , sarvotkrishtah! aham asya blogasya no. 1 fan asmi:)

  7. @anonymous - भवतः/भवत्याः नाम किम् ?what is your name? thank you for your kind comments.

  8. नमो नमः श्रीमन् "शशिकान्त जोशी"-महोदय !
    यदि भवान् सम्पूर्णम् श्लोकम् उद्धरति, तत् अधिकतरम् भवति । कथ्यते खलु "अधिकस्य अधिकम् फलम्" ।
    धन्यवादाः !
    श्रीपादनामा अभ्यंकरकुलोत्पन्नः ।
    ममापि "संस्कृताध्ययनम्"-इति जालपुटम् अत्र पठ्यते ।

  9. Very nice information. Thanks. K K Deepak. AIIMS NEW Delhi

  10. kindly, mention the references to the sholkas.

  11. Wonderful story and wonderful explanation!

  12. Wonderful. Body is instrument for doing GOOD deeds TRUE.

  13. Very interesting story & understand clearly.


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