Saudaryalahari and Sundara Kalpavriksha: 5

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A mere dropping of the Supreme Mother’s eye-lids would spell destruction to the entire creation. The entire creation has come into being at a mere opening of Her eyes. This greatness of the Mother is sung by the holiest of the holy seers, Adi Sankara. The quality of the Mother’s eyes is such that they never close and thereby never allow total destruction to take place.

The female of the “bedisa” fish does not wink and this quality is taken from the Mother’s eyes. They are afraid that their secret would be betrayed. They are like the large petals of the lotus and wide extending to Her ears.

The seer-poet prays to the Mother for a merciful glance which would render the miserable poverty-stricken one affluent and contented. The moment a mortal receives Her glance she or he is transformed by Her grace. He becomes successful and wins everything he desires. The glance would not make Her any the less affluent for immeasurable and infinite is the wealth of Her Grace. The moon shines on the wood and on the king’s palace equally and does not lose anything in the process. The Supreme Mother is all merciful. Those with a clean conscience treat all as equal with their large-heartedness and equanimity.

The Supreme Mother’s brows are like the bow of Manmadha enchanting every one. Manmadha is the one who churns the manas. Her cheeks are soft and resplendent like glasses reflecting the polychromatic radiance thrown about by the rare gems of her ear-studs. The poet remembers the four-wheeled chariot of Manmadha seeing the ear-studs and their reflections in the Mother’s cheeks. Manmadha is rendered so powerful that with the sun and the moon as the wheels and earth as his chariot, he would put even Shiva to trouble.

The goddess of learning would drink in with her palms the sweetness of the Mother’s musical words and would sway to their rhythmic feeling. She nods her head in ecstasy and the tinkling of her ear ornaments indicate her appreciation for the melodies made by the Mother. Such is the glory of the Mother’s musical enunciations.

Thus, explained Sri Bharatha Sarma the glories of Adi Shankara’s description of the divine Mother.

August, 1986


Sri Bharatha Sarma explained the significance of the two-wheeled chariot of Shiva and the four-wheeled one of Manmadha. The Mother’s ear studs are the sun and the moon and together with their reflections in Her cheeks, make the four wheels of Manmadha radha. The sun and the moon are the wheels of the chariot of Shiva. Are there two sets of sun and the moon ? No, they are only one set. The Supreme Mother is Shiva’s body. Reflection is only midhya bimba. That is Her maya. Shiva is permeated by Her, Her power and Her glory.

The nose is like a vamsi -a bamboo pole. The pearl nose-stud she wears is natural, an integral part of her body. Tradition has it that pearls come from the bamboo. The bamboo is vgamsi the flute at the lips of Lord Krishna Nostrils have great significance in saadhana. They are the seats of surya naadi and chandra naadi. The saadhaka exhales through one and inhales through the other. Exhaling through the chandra naadi makes the pearl in the nose (vamsi) come down as a natural phenomenon.

The Supreme Mother is the Supreme saadhaka and Her saadhana yields Her natural pearl in Her nose stud. The Bhagavatpada gave a lucidly poetic explanation of the natural nose-stud to which he addresses a prayer to merit the most valuable of Her blessings.

Sloka 62 describes the transcendental redness of the mother’s lips. It is impossible to describe them as there is nothing in nature to compare the redness with. Coral has to be to visualised as creeper bringing forth flowers of that colour. The lips cover the white teeth. The radiant suddha sattwa is concealed behind the rajo guna. The saadhaka Sankara is a satwika but he is bathed in Her rajo guna which makes him a poet. The red radiance of Her tongue transforms the satwika murthi. The goodness of learning is engulfed in the red radiance.

The sloka yields a clue as to why a viragi and jnaani like Adi Sankara should become a singer singing Her glory. The poetic explanation offered by the seer for the redness of the Mother’s tongue is breath taking. Her tongue became red by constantly singing the praise of Her Lord Shiva in a thousand ways. Such is the power of Her song that it bathes everything around in that redness.

Then, the beauty of the mother’s face which exudes the coolness of the moon. The chakoras having drunk the sweetness of the moon of Her face look up to the ordinary moon’s light for something savoury. The pleasant moon-light is nothing compared to the ecstatic beauty of the Mother’s face.

23rd August, 1986


The description of the Supreme Mother in the seer’s devotional composition reminds us of Her glories in Sri Lalitha sahasranama. Adi Sankara describes Her nose after describing the eyes and the ears. Then follow the descriptions of Her lips and the neck. It is not surprising that there should be such close correspondence in the order of descriptions for the drashta would be looking at the delectable form of the Mother in much the same way and would necessarily follow the same order.

Sloka 65 reminds us of the praise of the Mother in karpoora veetikamoda samaakarsha digantara. The angelic warriors Indra and others return victorious after slaying the demons. They remove their headgear and armours to do obeisance to the Mother. They who dared not take the nirmalya of Shiva which belonged to chandra accept and ingest the camphor-scented white morsels of the pan chewed and spat out by the Mother.

The depth of the meaning lies in the metaphysical significance which can be absorbed when we hear Lord Krishna telling Partha that he has already killed those whom Partha is hesitant to stay. The power displayed by Indra and others is Her power. The warriors themselves realise this and accept the morsel of karpoora veeti (pan) chewed by Her. Once in Her presence they realise what She is. She is jnaanaprasoonamba. The morsel spat out by Her is white in parts and smells good possibly symbolic of the good deeds of the slain ones.

In sloka 66 Sri Sankara describes how the goddess of learning drops her veena stopping her song extolling the exploits of Shiva on hearing the sweet words of the Mother. Before that ambrosial sweetness, her own melodies pale into insignificance.

Then comes the description of the Mother’s chin sung in the Sahasranama as anaakalitha saadrusya chubuka sri virajita. There is nothing comparable to the beauty of Her chin. Sri Sankara describes it as the one delicately touched with the finger tips hy Himavant, his parental affection flowing. It is the chin held by shiva firmly to look at himself in the mirro,of Her face.

The Mother’s neck has an ecstatic reaction for coming in contact with her Lord’s shoulders in an embrace Adorned by a string of pearls Her neck looks like a stem of a lotus, Her face being the lotus itself. The pearl string takes the delicacy of Her neck which is anointed with the fragrant sandal paste. This brings to our mind Sri Lalitha’s description. Kaamesabadda mangalya sootra sobhita kandhara.

Sri Bharatha Sharma dwelt at length on the close correspondence between the descriptions in Saundarya-lahari and Lalitha sahasram in the tradition of the highest devotional poetry.

1st September 1986


That the seer who was blessed with the realisation that Brahma alone is real and the world is unreal and a mirage (brahma satyam jagat Midhya) should be a poet of the highest order endowed with extraordinary powers of poetic conception passes the understanding of the ordinary man. Sri Sankara the enlightened one appears to the devotee as a poet of exceptional merit in that there is sublimity in everything that he has accomplished.

Sloka 69 treats of the Supreme Mother’s neck and Her skill in music. There are three horizontal lines on her neck, the marks of the sootra tied there by the Lord at the wedding. The three lines stand for Gati, Gamaka and Geeta as also the three sthayees: Mandara Madhyama and Taara. They are the basis of all musical notes and ragas. They are also symbols of Para Pasyanthi and Madhyama the origins of vaak (articulate expression) and the stithis of Naada which go into the evolution of Vykhari.

Sangeeta (music), is ‘nadaswaroopa’ her manifestation. Raga the orchestration of naada, leads to ‘rasa siddhi’; when the Mother chose to give it a form the universe had a form, for the universe is nothing else but a reflection of Her own form. The lines also appear as boundaries of the three levels in music namely Shadja, Madyyama and Gandhara. The Hindu tradition has it that three lines on anybody’s neck signify boundless fortune for a man or woman.

Sloka 70 describes how the four-headed one, Brahma, the lord of creation, prays to the Supreme Mother. Originally having five heads he had one of the five severed by Shiva with the tip of a mere nail. Afraid of Shiva, Brahma prays to the four arms of the Mother to protect his four heads. He praises Her lotus-stem like arms while invoking Her blessings. The four-headed one is not only protected but also blessed for out his four mouths issued forth the four Vedas.

Thus explained Sri Bharatha Sarma the glories in the composition of ‘Adi Shankara’ during his discourse at Praturi House, Vizianagaram.

13th Sep, 1986


The finger nails of the Supreme Mother are most beautifully red. They seem to ridicule the redness of the lotus blossoming in the morning. It is well-high impossible to sing the glories of Her beauty even in lyrical poetry. The lotus perhaps has acquired its redness because of its rare good fortune of being the house and the pedestal of the Goddess Lakshmi. If the laksharasa on the feet of Goddess Lakshmi lends its redness to the lotus, then it would be comparable to a sixteenth part of the glory of Her hands.

Srimannarayana and his ten incarnations have been engendered through the finger nails of the Supreme Mother. The lalithasahasranama has it – karanguli nakhotpanna narayana dasakritih.

Slokas 72 to 74 describe the splendour the beneficence and the sustaining qualities of the Mother’s bosom Sri Sankara’s address to the Mother is enchanted and here we see the frency into which the devotee flies in all his ardour. “Oh, Mother of all creation the consort of Shiva let they bosom which gave such to thy sons Kumaraswamy and Vinayaka till have had their fill fill, drive away all out suffering”.

In this ecstatic flight the seer visualises the Mother bosom. Vinayaka, while sucking at the mother’s nipple wonders if the kumbhas on his head have disappeared. There is nothing to compare to Her breasts except the kumbasthalas of the elephant – headed Vinayaka.

The breasts of the Mother who has enhanced the glory of the family of Himavant are diamond receptacles of nectar. This is absolutely undoubted for Her milk has blessed both her sons with eternal childhood and freedom from unworthy passions. They have forever been brahmachari.

The Mother’s bosom is resplendent with the white radiance of pearls from the head of Gajasura killed by Shiva. It is popular belief that pearls of the most precious quality are found in the head of an elephant. The pearl string worn by the Mother are a symbol of the glorious triumph of her lord. Thus, explained Sri Bharatha Sharma the splend. Our of Sri Sankara’s devotional imagination.

7th October, 1986


Sri Sankara, the fully evolved soul, is the infinitely blessed one. A seer and a saadhaka, he poetically calls himself a dravida sishu suckled by the Supreme Mother. Her milk has rendered him capable of singing Her power and Her glory. The milk flowing from Her heart is nectar itself which glows as ambrosial literature.

It is at this stage that the seer’s imagination reveals itself in all its poetic splendour. The poet becomes one totally enchanted and goes into paadukaanta deeksha. He describes the Mother’s breasts, Her waist, Her navel, Her thighs, calves and feet.

The Mother annihilates distance by Her pervasiveness. The Sun and the moon are breasts and they defi9ne and mark time. Blessed with amritha siddhi, the poet gives us rasa siddhi. While the Divine Mother doles out brahmananda to him through Her heart and through Her milk, the poet in turn makes rasa sakshatkara possible to the reader in sloka 75.

Slokas 76 to 82 describe the Divine Mother starting from bosom downwards. Squeezed between Her breasts akaasa comes down. Her navel is the lake into which the Shiva-burnt manmadha jumps to put out the fire consuming his body and for relief. The burning object thrown into the lake emits smoke. For the devotees it appears as the line of fine black hair above the navel. The line is like the Yamuna: It is blackish like the sky squeezed between Her breasts. It is like a streak of kaalindi.

Poetic effulgence takes the readers to heights of imagination: they are irradiated and bathed in rasaananda. Kavya dharma demands and justifies the use of such descriptions. Poetic power and creative imagination take over. The seer’s devotion to the Supreme Mother has taken a new quality of expressive beauty.

The Supreme Mother’s navel is like an eddy in the Ganges. The line of fine hair above the navel appears as a creeper with the blossoming flowers of her breasts. The navel is also the agni Kunda where manmadha takes his lot. It is the pleasure house of Rati – Manmadha’s consort. Laden with the weight of her bosom, the slim waist of the Mother is bent like a tree on a bank washed by a flooded river.

The poet prays: “May thy slim waist save us”. Lest the weight undo her Manmandha has put a kind of support in three ropes around her which appear as three lines in her middle. Himavant has given her a gift of weight and extent, parts of himself and the Mother covers the entire earth.

In these slokas, the poet, who became an antarmukha transforms himself and becomes a bahirmukha. Kleem is Manmadha beeja and the slokas have a significance in terms of mantras also.

What emerges before the imaginative and devoted reader is the description of the Mother in her unity with Shiva. Manmadha finds his fine arrows inadequate and makes them ten and keeps them in the Mother’s calves. The arrows make use of the crown jewel in the diadem of the gods to sharpen themselves. The shrutis and the vedas are at the feet of the Supreme Mother. The poet prays to the Mother to honour his head by keeping Her foot on it.

Thus, explained Sri Bharatha Sharma in his discourse at Praturi House, Vizianagaram recently.

8th November, 1986.

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More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.

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