Narrated by : Brahmaśrī Ramakrishna Dīkṣitar (Vidwan – Śrī Matha, Kanchipuram)
1958. Following cāturmāsya Śrī Periyavāḷ camped at Mambalam G.V. Kalyanaramaiyer’s residence for several days. At about the same time a famous scholar was giving a series of lectures every evening to a large audience at Mylapore. I went there one day. The scholar quoted and explained in detail the following verse by Appayya Diks,itarG.
mauḷau gaṅgā śaśāṅkau karacaraṇatalē śītalāṅgā bhujaṅgāḥ|
vāme bhāgē dayārdrā himagiritanayā candanam sarvagātre||
ittha śītaṁ prabhūtam tava kanakasabhānātha voḍhum kva
cittē nirvedatapte yadi bhavati na te nityavāse madīye||
Īśvara bears the cooling Ganga and the crescent moon upon his head. On his limbs are snakes that are cold to touch (In the text I knew, the line read as ‘on his limbs are snakes that are smooth [and delicate], that is to say ‘komalāṅgā’ bhujaṅgā); to his left is the daughter of the snow-mountains and as for his body, it is fully besmeared with sandal paste. ‘O Paramēśvara! All these are very cooling. You need warmth. My heart burns with un-satiated passions of all kind. So seat yourself comfortably in my heart, you will be relieved of the cold’.
I was disturbed. What did ‘smooth [and delicate]’ snakes have to do amidst everything else that was cold? It did not fit into the context. It did not seem semantically correct. So perhaps ‘komalāṅgā bhujaṅgā’ was not right I thought. It ought to be ‘śitalāṅgā’ as this scholar had rendered the line.
The next day when I got an opportunity to speak to Śrī Periyavāḷ I mentioned this. Periyavāḷ enjoyed the śitalāṅgā’ reading immensely. The following day he sent word to the scholar.
“You have expounded the śloka maul,au gaṅgā very beautifully, this boy tells me,” he said.
From nine until midnight Śrī Periyavāḷ looked at the text from various angles and explained it with a wealth of detail. He analysed this particular śloka elaborately, delighting in the exercise.
“This boy says śitalāṅgā is a better choice of word rather than kōmalāṅgā. Henceforth the text may read in print as śitalāṅgā bhujaṅgāḥ” he said decisively.
There was no limit to the joy that all the scholars and I experienced. Not only did he pay heed to my perception of the two versions of the text, he resolved the matter in such a gracious and definite manner.
Categories: Devotee Experiences