Can God have favorites?
I don’t mean favorites as in people, but favorites as in colors, or flowers, or sweets…we often hear of maakhan (butter) being Krishna’s favorite food, or Durga maa favoring a certain flower. Would be odd to think that the supreme power and creator of all, prefers something to the rest, isn’t it?
The song weaves a vision of the valley below male mahadESvara mountains looking up, towards the abode of lord Shiva through the eyes and mind of the singer. Is She married, a mother? We don’t know. All we know is the intense Bakti she has for mAdEva an incarnation of Shiva. Knowingly or unknowingly she expounds extraordinary wisdom through her simple words. She is our singer.
sOjugAda sUju mallige,
mAdEva nimma mande myAle dunDu mallige,
sOjugAda = wondrous,
sUju =sUji= needle, pin, sharp petalled
mallige = Jasmine (newly coined term pin-Jasmin with sharp petals)
mande = top part of head, crown (not a crown that is worn, part of head). This is an endearing word for head, implies closeness.
dunDu = round, bulbous
The song begins by painting the picture of shivalinga with sharp petalled and round petalled Jasmines on him, on the top of his head. A black smooth rock with white embellishments on top, not unlike the snow capped Mount Kailash in a back drop of clear dark sky sprinkled with pin-Jasmine-like stars and lit by round-Jasmine-like moon.
What is so wondrous about Pin Jasmine? Does it symbolize the sharp flow of water from the aBiSEka vessel hanging on the linga? Or is it a picture of sharp spout of Ganga shooting out from his space-Black mane? Perhaps it is the pointed ends of the crescent moon on his crown. So what then is the bulbous Jasmine? Perhaps today is full moon. all of this creates a picture of mAdEva the Yogi, eyes closed deep in meditation as our singer looks on…
Many songs of male mahadESvara centered on a jasmine theme have been sung. This connection must imply an abundance of the flower and or some underlying belief that I am still unaware of. Do jasmines naturally bloom during Shivarathri?
Our singer has brought many lotuses for the pooja. She also brings Shiva’s favourites, the ekka flower, the bilva leaves and tulasi leaves.
Another interpretion would be, beautiful apsaras are in front of me (ahead of me) to beautify your idol with Bilva and tulasi for pooja. While they put them on you some nodoubt fall on the crescent moon resting on your crown (head).
Using the word chandakki = for beautification we can split the verse into two sides, the imagery of colourful Lotuses which are for beautification, and bilva and tulsi which are green, simple and shiva’s favorites. Symbolizing his preference for detachment, a theme that runs strong through the song.
The last para has a clue. the key word here is “symbolizing”. Shiva here seems to prefer bilva and tulsi, which are pretty simple leaves, rather than the beautiful lotus, which is aesthetically more pleasing. Everything in Sanatana Dharma is a symbol, a metaphor.
The very image of Shiva, with a crescent in his locks, wearing animal skin and rawness in appearance, all signify detachment from the material world – unlike the indulgence of Sri Krishna who is immersed in worldly life (yet detached, but that is for another day).
So this part is about the mountain, the physicality of the scene. The next part delves deeper, into the spirituality of the song. Wait for tomorrow!