The Manasollasastuti of Appayya Diksita with a commentary in Sanskrit by Sri Sivananda Yati, is now presented by the Academy to the discerning public, along with a free rendering in English, both of the text and commentary.
The title Manasollasa is a popular one, a few other works being the Varttika by Suresvaracarya on Daksinamurti Astaka and a work on Architecture (also known as Abhilasitartha Cintamani by Somadeva. But this work, the Manasollasastuti, though not as popular as other works of the same name, is yet a valuable addition to Advaita literature.
Sri Appayya Diksita, a polymath and a dialectician, hailed as an incarnation of Lord Siva (Paramesvaravatara), is known to have composed 104 works, both small and voluminous. The reconciliation of Agamic texts and thoughts with the Vedic mode of worship is what Diksita attempted in many of his works.
He had composed many stotras, as praises on different deities of many temples which he visited and also stotras as prayers. The Manasollasastuti, though styled as stuti, is ethical in nature as it is in the form of an address to the mind by the jiva, stressing the value of vairagya (detachment) and worship of Lord Siva.
During those turbulent times (16th century CE) of fight among different sects in establishing their superiority over the others, Sri Diksita is known to have advocated the cause of Saivism, though he did not entertain any hatred towards Vaisnavism. Vide his statement nasti visnuvidvesasanka (there need be no apprehension of hatred whatsoever towards Visnu). He composed hymns in praise of Visnu too. This stuti too refers to both Siva and Visnu.
In the Advaita system, the Supreme Self is referred to variously as Brahman, Paramatman, Isvara, Siva and Visnu. While describing the spiritual journey of the jiva, Kathopanisad refers to the destination as visnoh paramam padam ; the sixth case in visnoh is not interpreted in the sense of possession as there is no difference whatsoever. So visnu and pada are one - He being the goal, He is the traveller too. Visnu is the reference for traveller and Siva, the goal. Vide the Mandukya upanisad statement :- Prapancopasamam santam sivam advaitam, caturtham manyante sa atma sa vijneyah.
Using that metaphor and recognising the need for Siva's worship for a spiritual aspirant, since He is known as Mahayogi (vide: Patanjali's Yogasutra - sah (isvarah) purvesam api guruh), Diksita clearly says that attaining moksa is realising the oneness of jiva and brahma. In other words, it reiterates, the abheda between Siva and Visnu. This idea is developed well in the commentary. To mark this sentiment of Appayya Diksita the outer cover of the book carries the beautifully carved image of Lord Sankara-narayana depicting one half as Siva and the other as Visnu.
In spite of Appayya Diksita having been a prolific writer and well respected, some of his works are still not available.
Hailing from the same lineage, Sri Sesacala Diksita (alias Sesa Diksita) who took the ascetic name Sivananda Yati, travelled widely and toiled hard to collect the works of Appayya Diksita and to record the biography of Sri Appayya Diksita. He made a few attempts at writing Diksita's biography, but only his work titled, Appayya Diksitendra Vijaya, has been found available. It was published by Karattozhuvu Ganapati Sastrigal, again of the same lineage. More information about the commentator can be had from Appayya Diksita's life history written by Sri Y. Mahalinga Sastri, in Tamil.
The manuscript of the text and the commentary copied by Sri P. Narayananswami Iyer was given to us by his son, Sri. N .Balasubramanian, with a request to publish the same with English rendering. Dr. T. V. Vasudeva, Deputy Director of the Kuppuswami Sastri Research Insititute was approached to render it in English. While the text had been translated word by word, the commentary is provided with a free rendering in English instead of literal translation.
The publication of this book is made possible by the financial help rendered by Sri. N. Ramamoorthy, Sri N. Balasubramanian and Sri N. Panchapakesan, sons of Sri P. Narayanaswamy Iyer. The Academy remains grateful to them.
The entire format of the book including checking the manuscript readings, has been carried out by Dr. V. Kameswari (Director), Dr. K.S. Balasubramanian (Deputy Director) along with Dr.T.V.Vasudeva (Deputy Director) of the Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute.
The type-setting was done by Ms. K. Vidyuta, M. Phil. Research scholar, of the Institute. Cover design is done by Sri B. Ganapathy Subramanian of the Madras Sanskrit College.
I thank all of them for their valuable corporation and assistance.
Mis Harish Printers are to be thanked for the nice get-up.
Stuti or Stotra is a prayer addressed to a superior anticipating favour in any form, depending on the nature of the seeker and the bestower. The form of prayer as stutis, can be traced from the Rgveda where Agni, Indra, Vayu, Surya and others are glorified by the seers for obtaining the respective results desired by them. Thus originating from the Vedas the Stotra literature developed into a separate branch consisting of a variety of stutis in praise of innumerable divinities besides the principal ones. Among the stutis some are exclusive compositions while others form part of Epics and Puranas.
The noteworthy feature of the stotras is the metre used in the composition that embellishes the text. For example, the bhujangaprayata and the totaka are some of the popular metres that fascinate the aspirants with their structure in recitation. The stotra literature developed into a separate genre of literature after Sri Sankara who had introduced the propitiation of six divinities - Ganapatya (of Ganapati), Kaumara (of Kumara), Saiva (of Siva), Vaisnava (of Visnu), Sakta (of Sakti) and Saura (of Surya). Thus following Sri Sankara, the followers of the different cults had composed stotras on the god of their choice.
A staunch advaitin well-versed in scriptures, Appayya Diksita who flourished in the 16th century composed stotras on Siva as well as Visnu besides authoring philosophical treatises. His compositions - Atmarpanastuti for Sambhu, Durgacandrakalastuti for Gauri and Varadarajastava for Visnu - attest his own statement at the end of his work Ratnatraya - pariksa, that after churning the milky ocean (called) commentary, the three gems known as Sambhu, Gauri and Hari are obtained.
The Atmarpanastuti in praise of Lord Siva in 50 verses seems to follow Sri Sankara's Sivananda-lahari. Though Appayya Diksita does not distinguish Siva from Visnu as is evident from his Harihardbheda - dasasloki, his devotion towards Lord Siva can be guessed from his Atmarpanastuti and Manasollasa- stuti.
Manasollasastuti is a stotra on Lord Siva in 18 verses, the first seventeen set in Sikharini metre having 17 syllables in each quarter and the remaining sloka in Vasantatilaka with 14 syllables. As the title suggests, it is in the form of an advice to the mind, to disassociate itself from worldly attachment and activities and to gain the Real pleasure by resorting to the worship of Lord Siva. Here, the self (jiva) advises the mind (cetas). The word 'stuti' in the title implies glorification of the Lord Siva by the self through the advice to the mind.
The mind is said to be the cause for the bondage and release. Hence the self requests the mind to stay away from the worldly activities. In the present edition, the terms self, atman, jiva and soul are used interchangeably.
The stuti has a commentary by Sivananda Yati or Sivananda Bhiksu, a descendant of Sri Appayya Diksita's family. A disciple of Cidambarananda, he has commented also on Appayya Diksita's Atmarpanastuti. As already stated there are parallel ideas between Atmarpanastuti and Manasollasastuti; and Sivananda also has used similar citations in his commentary on both the works. Hence references to a few of the puranic and epic passages cited by Sivananda in his commentary on Manasollasastuti, are traced from his own commentary on Atmarpanastuti.
Another noteworthy feature in this stuti (Manasollasastuti) is that Appayya Diksita uses the epithets smarari, smararipu for Lord Siva so as to emphasise the contrast between sensual objects and the non-attachment.
It is quite interesting to know that Appayya Diksita, who had been a staunch Saiva throughout his life, had upheld the view that there is no difference between the Gods, Siva or Visnu. The Manasollasastuti under consideration also reflects the unbiased attitude of Appayya Dlksita quite subtly.
The present edition and translation are based on the printed text published by Srimad Appayya Diksitendra Granthavali Series - 9 (Hyderabad, 2010) and also the xerox copy of the hand-written text of Sri P. Narayanaswamy Iyer, provided by his son Sri N. Balasubramanian.
Sri N. Balasubramanian, a learned member and well-wisher of the Instiute (KSRI) offered his father's personal copy of the text for publication to Srimad Appayya Diksitendra Samiti at Secunderabad. Since the Samiti could publish only the Sanskrit text with commentary (Series no. 9), he approached the Samskrita Academy, Chennai to undertake the English translation of the text and commentary.
The text and the commentary presented here are edited after correcting the readings wherever necessary, comparing the edited original texts of the various sources cited within the text. The English translation has been prepared following closely the interpretation provided by the commentator.
I take this opportunity to thank Dr. V. Kameswari (Director, K.S.R.I.) for suggesting the necessary corrections and Dr. K. Srinivasan (H.O.D. of Sanskrit, R.K.M. Vivekananda College), for the overall guidance in editing the Sanskrit and the translation of intricate passages. I am grateful to my collegue Dr. K.S. Balasubramanian (Deputy Director, K.S.R.I.) for his suggestions in the preparation of this edition.
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