saundaryalaharI (fwd)

Ravisankar S. Mayavaram msr at COMCO.COM
Thu Nov 18 09:45:30 CST 1999


I have taken the permission from Prof. Murthy to forward his
postings on saundaryalaharI to advaita-L. If you have any
comments/suggestions please send me a _private_ mail. I will
forward them to Prof. Murthy.

I thank Prof. Murthy for kindly giving me permission.

You can also read these postings from


Thank you for your attention.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 21:43:04 -0230 (NDT)
From: Gummuluru Murthy <gmurthy at>
Reply-To: ambaa-l at
To: ambaa-l at
Subject: [ambaa-l] saundaryalaharI

sa kuMkuma vilepanAmaLika chumbi kastUrikAM
samanda-hasitekshaNAm sa-shara-chApa-pAshAnkushAM
asheshha-janamohinIM aruNamAlya-bhUshhAmbarAM
japAkusuma-bhAsurAM japavidhau smaredambikAM

shrutismr^tipurANAmAlayam karuNAlayaM
namAmi bhagavatpAdam shankaraM lokashankaraM

shankaraM shankarAchAryaM keshavam bAdarAyaNaM
sUtrabhAshhyakr^tau vande bhagavantau punah punaH


I always consider all my actions to be at Shri LalitA's behest,
including taking up this project of writing on saundaryalaharI.
Am I eligible for writing on saundaryalaharI? Can a work like
saundaryalaharI be discussed in a medium like the internet?
It is true that I would certainly learn by taking up this
monumental task. I am sure it would help in the vanquishing
of the ego. May be, after I initiate the project, some learned
person from the group will emerge as a guru and teach us all
vidyopAsana. In any case, I take initiating this project here
is at Shri LalitA's command and I am simply following Her command.
There are many scholars here well-versed in saundaryalaharI and
I would request them to add additional points to the material
that I will be putting here (if this project is continued;
please see below).

SaundaryalaharI is the great masterpiece of Shri Shankara. It is
sometime expressed in two parts;  AnandalaharI, comprising the
first 41 verses and saundaryalaharI, the second part, comprising
59, 60 or 62 verses depending on the edition we see. In north India,
the two parts are referred to separately. However, it is traditional
in south India to refer the total work as saundaryalaharI.

There are stories  associated with the source of saundaryalaharI.
One story goes that Shankara bhagavatpAda - who is Ishwara-incarnate -
paid a visit to KailAsa, clad in the robes of a mendicant, and took the
mantra-shAstra  placed by the DevI on the throne of Ishwara. While the
AcArya was about to leave KailAsa, Nandikeshwara, who is on duty,
snatched the book from his hands. After grappling with him for a while,
the AcArya succeeded in retaining a portion of the book, which contained
the first forty-one stanzas. The remaining stanzas (59, 60 or 62) were
added by him to complete the work.  Another story attributes this stotra
to Lord Shiva Himself as praising the paradevatA - Shri Shankara
bhagavtpAdA brought it to the world for the good of the humanity.
Traditionally, the whole saundaryalaharI is attributed as composed
by Shri Shankara bhagavatpAda.  In any case, certainly, there is divine
inspiration in the composition of this masterpiece. It is in exquisite
Sanskrit. All the 103 verses of this classic are set in the ShikhariNi
metre.  This hymn is the expression of ShrIchakra rahasya. For
vidyopasakAs, this is a highly respected stotra.

There are about 36 commentaries in sanskrit on saundaryalaharI. All these
commentators (except one) consider this to be the work of Shri Shankara
bhagavtpAdA and all  these commentators present it as proving advaita
philosophy. In the course of this presentation, the following four
commentaries will be closely followed:

1. SaundaryalaharI of ShrI Shankara bhagavatpAda:   by Pandit S. Subrahmanya
Sastri and T.R. Srinivasa Ayyangar; Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar,
Madras, 1977

2. SaundaryalaharI of Shri Shankara bhagavatpAdAchArya: editor A. Kuppuswami;
Nag Publishers, Delhi, 1991

3. Shri Shankara bhagavatpAda viracita SaundaryalaharI (in Telugu); by
BrahmashrI Tummalapalli Ramalingeswararao Sarma; Balasaraswati Book Depo,
Kurnool, 1998

4. SaundaryalaharI (in Telugu); by Shri Bommakanti Venkata Subbrahmanya
Sastry; Shri Sitarama Book Depo, Rajahmundry, 1992.

Further, in the course of this presentation,  it will be shown to be
consistent with the advaita philosophy.

Appropriateness of discussing saundaryalaharI on the medium of internet:

Before I start on verse 1 or before I continue on this project, I would
like to hear the members' views on the appropriateness of putting this
discussion on the internet. As mentioned above, saundaryalaharI is about
ShrIchakrarahasya. This being a secret and very potent mantra, I am not
sure if the upAsana itself can be discussed in a medium like the internet.
I am not knowledgeable about ShrIvidyA upAsana and I would not even venture
into discussing  that. I am envisaging that my weekly or fortnightly
(hopefully regular) writings will concentrate on the pratipadArtha and
meaning of the verse, shrutI references to points made, and a brief
commentary where applicable. I would like to hear from the members and
the moderator whether even that is an excess, taking into account the
secretive nature of devI upAsana.  In saying the above, I have in
mind the verse lines from ShrILalitAtrishatI:

nAvidyAvedino bruyA nabhaktAya kadAcanA
na shaThAya na dushTAya na (a)viswAsAya karhicet
yo brUyA trishatIm nAmnAm tasyAnartho mahAn bhavet
ityAgnA  shankarI proktvA tasmAd gopyamidam tvayA

On the other hand, the following also need to be taken into account.
The devotees of Shri DevI may be roughly divided into two classes:
the samayin-s or those who believe in the sameness of the Shakti and
Shiva, and the Kaula-s or those who worship the KaulinI, i.e. the
Shakti, which resides in the MUlAdhAra.

The form of the worship of the samayin-s is exclusively internal.
They believe in the rousing of the KunDalinI, the grossest form
of the Cit and its being worked in successive stages by upAsanA,
tapas and mantrajapa through the six chakrA-s, which are the
centres of energy, on to the thousand-petalled lotus. This is
where the Sat and the Cit abide and where the unification of the
jeevAtman and the paramAtman is to be effected. The foremost
exponent of samayAcAra is Shri Shankara bhagavatpAda.

The form of worship of the kaula-s is mainly external. They worship
the KunDalinI, even without rousing her from sleep and are satisfied
with the attainment and enjoyment of purely temporal objects, believing,
at the same time, that with the rousing of the KunDalinI, they attain

While I am envisaging that my discussion of saundaryalaharI contains
only the meaning of the verses, followed by references to Shruti here
and there, yet, to understand the first forty one verses, ShrI-chakra
description has to be included. I am not sure that I am eligible to
write such description and whether such description can be put on the
internet. I leave it to the learned members to advise me on this matter.

Gummuluru Murthy

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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