Jagadguru Sri Maha Periyava - Kanchi Paramacharya
There is a reference in Mooka Panchasati that Goddess Kamakshi caused a shower of gold in Tundeeram (Tondaimandalam) to relieve the sufferings of the people. This allusion is substantiated by the existence of a place which goes by the name of Pon Vilainda Kalathur in the Chengleput District. There is also a tradition that Sri Vedanta Desika, the renowed Sarvatantra Swatantracharya, who established the Vaishnava Sampradaya, prayed to the Goddess of Wealth, Sri Mahalakshmi, by composing and reciting the Sri Stuti and obtained gold for giving it to a Brahmachari. This Brahmachari is said to have been sent by some people envious of Sri Vedanta Desika and this youth begged for gold so that he could get himself married. This incident also seems to have taken place somewhere in the region known as Tondaimandalam.
Sri Kanakadharastavam of Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada is a widely known composition. The circumstances which led to the composition and recitation of this prayer is interesting. After his Upanayana, performed at a very early age, Sri Sankara rigorously followed the injunctions of the Brahmacharya life and lived on the food obtained by begging or bhiksha. In the course of his daily bhiksha rounds, he stood at the threshold of a poor Brahmin, one day, and asked for alms, by uttering the prescribed formula, Bhavati bhikshaam dehi. The master of the house, who himself lived on the charity of his neighbours, was away and the lady of the house, who possessed a magnanimous heart, wanted to give something to this child with a divine countenance. Her search resulted in unearthing only a small amalaka fruit. This she deposited in the begging bowl devoutly, her heart melting at the thought that she had nothing better to offer. Sri Sankara divined the situation and realised that the small gift came from a heart as expansive as the sky itself. He composed and sang the 18 verses, which go by the name of Sri Kanakadharastavam. Sri Mahalakshmi responded to the prayer and showered golden fruits inside the house of the poor Brahmin couple and banished their poverty. Incidentally this was also the first composition of Sri Sankara.
There is internal evidence in the stotra itself to substantiate this story. The verse providing this evidence is:
“Dadyaat Dayaanupavano Dravina-Ambudhaaraam Asmin-Akinchana Vihanga Sisau Vishanne Dushkarma Gharmam-Apaneeya Chiraaya Dooram Naaraayana-Pranayinee Nayanaambuvaahah”.
In this verse, Sri Sankara prays that impelled by the wind of kindness (Dayaanupavano) of Sri Mahalakshmi who is the beloved of Sri Narayana (Naaraayana Pranayini) the cloud of her glance (Nayana-Ambuvaahah) should shower (Daadyaar) the rain of wealth (Dravina-Ambudhaaram) driving away to a distance (Apaneeya Chiraaya Dooram), the scorching heat (Gharmam) of the past sins (Dushkarma) of this suffering (Vishanne) fledgling (Vihangasisu). The bird referred to here is the mythical chaataka, which can quench its thirst only when rain falls. The utter helplessness of the poor householder is indicated by a comparison to the fledgling of chaataka. To meet the possible objection that the householder’s present plight is the consequence of his past wrong deeds (Dushkarma), Sri Sankara says that this prayer, on his behalf, should be sufficient to absolve him of all his past sins.
While the other verses in this stotra are all in praise of the Divine Mother, this particular verse alone contains the request for wealth. In the same way as showers relieve the parched condition of the scorching summer heat, he prays that the cooling grace of the Mother should relieve the sufferings of the poor householder.
“Ishtaavisishtamatayopi Yayaa Dayaardra- Drshtyaa Trivishtapapadam Sulabham Labhante; Vrshtih Prahrshta Kamalodaradeeptirishtaam Pushtim Krsheeshta Mama Pushkaravishtaraayaah Geerdevateti Garudadhwaja-Sundareeti Sakambhareeti Sasisekhara-Vallabheti; Srshti-Sthiti-Pralaya Kelishu Samsthitaayai Tasyai Namasstribhuvanaikagurostaruny
In the first of the above two verses, also occurring in Sri Kanakadhaaraastavam, Sri Sankara prays for the bestowal of desired prosperity (Ishtaam Pushtim), wealth, crop, family, etc. Here Sri Sankara indicates that even those who perform the prescribed rites to qualify them for a place in heaven, can attain that status only when the benevolent glance of the Divine Mother, seated on the lotus, falls on them. The second verse indicates the true nature of the Mother. It also teaches that the Divine Mother, known by different names as Saraswati, Lakshmi, Saakambhari & Parvati, are but manifestations of the same Supreme Divinity, who is none else than that Creative Energy, who forms part of the static Paramatma (Tribhuvanaika Guru), both together constituting the Father and Mother of the universe, and to whom creation, preservation, and destruction are a mere sport.
If we too recite this Sri Kanakadhaaraastavam with devotion, we shall be relieved of poverty, sufferings and afflictions and sins (daaridrya, taapa and paapa).