Saundarya Lahari Shloka with meaning – By Shri Sundarraman
श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः
भूमौ स्खलित पादानां भूमिरेवावलम्बनम्।त्वयी जातापराधानां त्वमेव शरणं शिवे॥
Soundaryalahari, is one of the compositions by Shri Adi Shankara, an exponent of Advaita philosophy. While Advaita follows Jnana Marga, Soundaryalahari follows Bhakti Marga, so as to benefit the common man. Soundaryalahari is made up of two parts – Ananda lahari, the first 41 shlokas believed to have been brought from Kailas by Adi Shankara and the balance 59 shlokas composed by him.
Soundaryam means beauty and Sundari, the beautiful. A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Conversely, one which gives joy, remains beautiful in the eyes of the beholder. The embodiment of Paramananda, Devi, is therefore indeed the most beautiful. Sundari, is one of the names of Devi, as also seen in Maha Tripura Sundari or Tripura Sundari. Followers of Sri Vidya know that ‘Sundari’ refers and goes with Raja Rajeswari.
Unlike many other compositions, Adi Shankara does not refer to Devi in Soundaryalahari by any of the usual names like LalitA, RAjarAjeshvarI, KAmAkshI or KaAmeshvarI. Instead, he refers to Her more as Janani, MAta, AmbA, Devi, etc. In quite a few places he calls her with the ‘daughter’ relationship with Himavan (himagiri suta, tuhinagiri kanya, etc…) and in some places as the wife of Pasupati, Sharva, Bhava….May be, Adi Shankara wanted the sadhaka to establish a ‘rapport’ with Her, reminding her of her relationships instead of addressing Her by a name!!!
More than a few dozens of great scholars have written Bhashyams for Soundaryalahari. Given their depth and expertise, it is impossible for a low level person like me to bring in their great understanding and explanations here. This attempt to write about the verses of Soundaryalahari is therefore extremely courageous and I pray that HER Divine grace prevent me from writing anything incorrect.
The author is clearly aware that there are multiple divisions among SriVidya Upasakas – Samaya, Dakshina and Kaula. Among each of them there are various schools having differing views. The idea of the author is to propagate Bhakti as he understands and enjoys it from Soundarylahari. In the process, he may be explaining some of the SriVidya principles from his understandings through his own and other associated Guru Mandalas. These understandings may not be in line with those of others. The author sincerely requests the Sadhakas not to get offended by this and concentrate only on the Bhakti aspect and not on the technicalities of Tantra Sastra.
शिवः शक्त्यायुक्तो यदि भवति शक्तःप्रभवितुं न चेत् एवं देवःन खलु कुशलः स्पन्दितुमपि । अतः त्वां आराद्यां हरिहरविरिञ्चादिभीरपि प्रणन्तुं स्तोतुं वा कथं अकृतपुण्यः प्रभवति॥
A rough English translation of this verse is as under: “Even Lord Shiva is able to become the overlord only if yoked and conjoint with Shakti. If not, HE is not even capable of any movement. Hence Devi, you the one who is worshipped by Brahma, Vishnu and Hara, how is it possible for anyone to even prostrate before you or sing your praises, if he has not acquired great merits? This verse could be interpreted in multiple ways.
Surrender at her Lotus feet has to be done by mind, words and action. While mind is implied, words and actions are indicated by ‘प्रणन्तुं and स्तोतुं’. Without Her grace it is impossible to think or talk about Her Grace and bow in front of her. Adi Shankara, who is desirous of praising Her through 100 verses prays for Her Grace, so that he can continue with his work. Viveka Chudamani says, मुक्तिर्नो शतकोटिजन्मसुकृतैः पुण्यैर्विना लभ्यते।Devi is Bhoga moksha pradayani. Hence Adi Shankara says, praising or prostrating to Her is possible only with Her Grace.
The Nirguna Nirupadhika Brahman continues the divine act of creation, sustenance and destruction through the triad, Brahma, Vishnu and Hara, only when Shakti is united with Him. While this could be interpreted as Shakti pradhanyam, to convey the Shiva Shakti Samyam, he starts the shloka with the word ‘Shiva’. There is no higher or lower between the Divya Dampati. परस्पर तपःसम्पत्फलायित परस्परौ।प्रपञ्चमातापितरौ प्राञ्चौ जाया पतिं भजे॥ They are inseperable. In a way, the word Shiva itself has Shakti embodied in itself. The’ इ कार’ in the word शिव itself is Devi. Vedas proclaim, तां पद्मिनीं ईं शरणमहं प्रपद्ये.
The consonants starting from ka and ending with Ksha are forms of Shiva and all the vowels are form of Shakti. Their confluence brings out the Shabda prapancam. ककारदिक्षकारान्ता वर्णास्ते शिवरूपिणः।अकारादिविसर्गान्तअः स्वराः षोडश शक्त्यः॥
Nirvikalpa niurpadika Brahmam realizes it is Brahman, i.e. the act of recognizing itself through the Spandanam brought within by Her. Hence She is called as parAShakti the parAhantA form of ShivaM and thus arises the name parAhantA-svarUpiNI. She is refered to as AhopurushhikA , in the 7th Shloka by Adi Shankara. असद्वा इदमग्र आसीत्।ततो वै सदजायत।तदात्मानं स्वयमकुरुत। तस्मात् तद्सुकृतमुच्यते।यद् वै तत् सुदृतम्।रसो वै सः।रसोह्येवायं लब्ध्वाऽऽनन्दो भवति॥(Taittiriya upanishid II -7)
Shevatsvatara Upanishad calls Her अनन्तशक्तिः परमेश्वरस्य, i.e. Devi as parameshwara Shakti. When there is no Shakti, none can move or stir. Hence Adi Shankara says that Shiva cannot do anything without Her. Being His Shakti, the divine couple remains inseparable. वागर्थाविव सम्पृक्तौ वागर्थ प्रतिपत्तये। जगतःपितरौ वन्दे पार्वती परमेश्वरौ – says Kalidasa. The first vibration of Her in the ParaBrahmam brings out the iccha, kriya and jnana Shaktis. (तदैक्षत, सोऽकामयत बहुस्यां प्रजायेयेति, तत्तपोऽकुरत) . Vamakeswara Tantra explains the same point as under: परोपिशक्तिरहितः शक्त्या युक्तोभवेद्यदि।सृष्टिस्थितिलयान्दर्तुमशक्त शक्त एव हि॥
According to Tantra Shastras, त्रिकोणरूपिणी शक्तिः बिन्दुरूपः परःशिवः। अविनाभाव सम्बन्दः तस्माद्बिन्दुः त्रिकोणयोः॥The inner triangle is Shakti and the Bindu is Shiva. Their communion is such that they are inseparable.
The origin of everything is said to lie in ॐ कार प्रणवं. ॐ is made of अ, उ and म. उ and म refer to शिव. अकारो बिन्दुसंयुक्तः शकतिरस्य द्विजोत्तमाः।उकारश्च मकारश्च द्वयं बीजं प्रकीर्तीतम्॥(सूतसम्हिता). Onkara is nothing but a confluence of Shiva and Shakti.
Sri Vidya Upasakas consider Sri Cakra to signify the origin of the entire Prapancam. According to the Bhairava-yamala, the Bindu of the Tri-kona and the three Cakra-s lying outside the Caturdasara, viz*, the Asta-dala, the Sodas’a-dala and the Bhu-grha, these four are representative of S’iva ; while the Tri-kona, Asta-kona, the Antar-dasara, the Bahir-dasara and the Catur-dasara are representative of the Sakti. Without their Divine Union, the Sri cakra which may be taken to signify the origin of the world, cannot be formed. According to Vamakeshwara tantra, चतुर्भिः शिव चक्रैश्च शक्तिचक्रैश्च पञ्चभिः।शिवशक्त्यात्मकं ज्ञेयं श्री चक्रं शिवयोः वपुः॥ Adi Sankara refers to this by the first Shloka.