saundaryalaharI - 1 (contd.) (fwd)

Ravisankar S. Mayavaram msr at COMCO.COM
Fri Nov 19 12:10:37 CST 1999

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 12:49:07 -0230 (NDT)
From: Gummuluru Murthy <gmurthy at>
To: ambaa-l at
Subject: [ambaa-l] saundaryalaharI - 1 (contd.)

shri lalite namah

Just like the first four brahma sUtrAs lay the foundation
for all brahma sUtrAs, this first verse lays the foundation
for the rest of saundaryalaharI.

shri shankara starts this stotra with the auspicious expression
shiva, thereby providing a benedictory address to the Supreme Being.
shiva refers here to the nirguNa brahman, described in the shruti
as neti, neti and as avyaktam etc. That is ungraspable by sense organs,
uninferrable and incomprehensible to the mind.

shakti is the primordial energy latent in the undifferentiated,
all-pervading consciousness. It is this energy that manifests itself
after each praLaya. There is a mutual association between shiva and
shakti (avinAbhAvasambandhah tasmAtbindu-trikoNayoh: ShrIlalitAtrishatI).
Both are inseparable and are abheda. i.e. shakti is not different from

Word shiva is derived from vashakAntau.

[ hiMsidhAto ssimhashabdo vashakAntau shivasmr^tah
  varNavyatyAt ssiddhau pashyakah kashyapo yathA

siMha is derived from hiMsi, and shiva is derived from vasha by inversion
of the alphabets. Similarly kashyapa is derived from pashyakah ]

vashati means one who brightens, that is who is self-effulgent, i.e. one
who brightens the whole jagat inside Him. Such shiva who has united with
the divine Mother has the ability to create the world. If He is not united,
He would not have the ability even to stir (vibrate).

The implied meaning is: parabrahman, without form, would not have even the
vibration or movement.

The direct meaning can be taken as follows: shiva and shakti are husband
and wife. Only if the husband is united with the wife, there will be
offspring in the form of jagat. Without this union with the wife, there
cannot be offspring.

shiva may also be stated as one without any of the three anxieties caused
by birth, death, hunger etc. Such shiva is sarvama~NgaLarUpa. When that
shiva is united with shakti, then He will be equipped with the ability
of kartum, akartum, anyathAkartum (to do, not to do, to do in another way).

The spandana referred in this verse is the desire to create and the
manifestation of the static energy (shakti) into its kinetic or dynamic

Hari-hara-viri~ncyAdibhih: It is very appropriate to recognize that shri
mAtA is eligible to be worshiped by vishNu, Ishwara and brahma and other
lesser Gods. This will be emphasized many more times in the latter verses.
The word 'Adi' here is interpreted to mean the other devatAs of the lower
rung and probably also the well-known devI-upAsakAs. In mAnasollAsa, it is

vishNuh shivah surajyeShTho manushcandro dhanAdhipah
lopAmudrA tathAgastyah skandah kusumasAyakah
surAdhIsho rouhiNeyo dattAtreyo mahAmunih
durvAsA iti vikhyAtA ete mukhyA upAsakAh

vishNu, shiva, surajyeShTha brahmA, manu, candra, kubera, lopAmudrA,
agastya, skanda, manmatha, indra, balarAma, dattAtreya mahAmunI, durvAsA:
all these are the well-known devI upAsakAs.

There are other gods who are worshiped by people. These gods can satisfy
the devotees' wishes and lead them to moksha only by these gods themselves
worshiping shri devI. Therefore, Shri devI may be considered the only one
who can bestow bhuktI and muktI.

'Adi' may also be interpreted as referring to the vedAs.

praNantum is a bodily worship; to bow. The letter pra refers to doing
worship by manasA, vAcA, kAyA.

stotum vA: For one who is incapable of these three modes of worship,
at least praising or stotra is suggested.

The verse also means that hari, hara and brahma, left to themselves
are not capable of their respective duties (sustenance, destruction
and creation) and shrI devI is the main cause for these duties
(layasthityudbhaveshwarI:  ShrilalitAtrishatI)

Therefore to worship shri devI, or do stuti, the one eligible is that
person who has accumulated puNya through many many lives. The one who
is akr^tapuNya is not eligible.

shiva and shakti are inseparable and there is no distinction between
them. kUrma purANa says:

shakti shaktimatorbhedam vadantyaparamArthatah
abhedamanupashyanti yoginah tattvacintakAh

AparamArthikAs ascribe difference between shiva and shakti. But that
cannot be so. shiva is shaktiyukta. shiva is shakti and shakti is shiva.
(mr^dvAn ghaTah: the one that has clay is the pot; tantumAn paTah: the
one with cotton thread is the cloth). No distinction. Some devotees'
attempts to distinguish between shiva and shakti is because of their
past vAsanAs.

kAlidAsA's cidgaganacandrika has this verse:

amba tAvaka padadvayArcaka stvanmayo bhavati nAtra vismayah
yah tvayaiva vivasho vashIkr^tah shaktireva samabhUh shivasvayam

O ambA, the one who worships your feet becomes engrossed in them.
There is no surprise in that. shiva is vivasha and vashIkr^ta and
is the same as shakti.

The identity between shiva and shakti will be brought out further
in the latter verses.

[My presentation here follows the four commentaries for which I
gave reference in an earlier post. My knowledge of saundaryalaharI
is limited. I notice there are many scholars of saundaryalaharI on
this List. I leave it to these learned members to bring in additional
points on this great stotra. Also, you would notice that I am leaving
some sanskrit words untranslated into english. That is because I think
the sanskrit word gives the right emphasis in the thought and there is
no appropriate single english word to express that thought. namaste.]

Gummuluru Murthy

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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