Soundarya Lahari

[In Ananda Lahari especially, Amba’s depiction is close to affectionate parents of Prakriti and Paramashiva, while Soundarya Lahari reflects beauty waves coming in a rush as the ideas expressed as complex too with poetic finesse.]

42. Jagajjanani!Your Saadhakas on visioning your ‘ kireeta’ glittering with several crores of manikya manis to be meditated upon; would they not mistake that the ever expanding Chandra’s visage gets dragged on and on and looks like an elongated and never ending colourful Indra Dhanush!

43. May the darkness of nescience of all of us be dispelled and all be granted well being. May the densely grown, glossy and smooth tresses of Amba’s black hair dispel our ‘avidya’ ignorance! Instead of experiencing the aroma from a distance, the celestial flowers from Indra’s pushpavana yearn and compete to beautify the already glossy/ dark and fragrant hair tresses of Amba’s which all by themselves dispel darkness. Indeed, we must all meditate on the excellent locks of Her hair to relieve the burden of our hardships.

44. Bhagavati! Your Face of Marvel and glory is like ‘Saundarya Lahari’, especially the Seemanta Sarani or mid-partition of glossy black hair neatly smeared with sinduri looking like darkness or avidya smashed by the Ushakaala Surya, even as celestial flowers are competing to decorate and brighten up your dark ‘hair- do’ too which again have similar purpose of fighting out the dark enemy of ignorance.

45. Shankaracharya makes a parallel between Amba and a Lotus: ‘Your placid countenance outshines a highly alluring lotus flower which unfolds its petals a little by little showing sparkling teeth which are like the filaments of the lotus with your mischievous smile, while your arresting eyes are comparable to hovering black bees imbibing honey. Even Parama Shiva who resisited earlier the lusty flowery arrows of Manmadha would indeed indeed have to finally succumb!’

46: Your broad forehead is dazzling with an adornment of an eighth night’s half Moon while the Tilaka or the streak of Musk on the forehead is likened to a smudge on Chandra! First half of the Shukla Paksha is Her ‘Lalaatasya Chandraardha’ while the Second half is the Devi’s ‘Kireetasya Chandraardha’. The Saadhakas would thus not wait for Pournami but and intensify their ‘Antardhyaana’ on that Ashtami itself at the ‘sahasraara’ !

47: Amba’s ‘bhrukuti mahatmya’ is stated: normally, her eye brows are like the sugarcane archery’s Manmadha arrows about to be released! However, one visions the annoyance of upcoming evil energies and impending tribulations! She is Pancha Kritya Paraayana of Mula Srishti- Brahma Srishti- Preservation- Destruction- Punah Srishti; yet She is to retain Her own Image as the Mother of Her children including grass,worms, insects, humans and celestials. Thus the Compassionate Mother is lost in anxious thoughts to free the children from misery, fear, and suffering as an indication in the knots of Her eyebrows in sorrowful thoughts!

48. Amba’s left and right eyes are the Sun and Moon and the third eye on her fore head is like the molten gold like Agni Deva. Like in the Trinetras of Ishwara, Moon was born of mind , the Sun was born of Ishwaras’s own eye and His third eye on the forehead when opens there is a blaze born of Eswara’s mouth. She is the Adishthaana Maha Devi controlling the Kaala Maana the Time Schedule.

49. Devi! You are a lasting resident of places like Vishala’s Mangalaambika, Kalyaani’s Kaantimati, Ayodhya’s Karuna Devi, Dhaara’s – Aspashta Madhurata, Madhura’s Bhogavati , Aabhogavati as Jagat Rakshaka, Avanti / Ujjain ‘s Deeptamati, Vijaya of Vijay Nagar. Bhagavati’s ‘drishtis’ or radiant looks are thus represented at these places are ‘vishala-vismaya- avyakta-aalasya-vilasa-snigdha sneha yukta bhogavati, atyantaugdha drishti of Avanti- vijaya drishti’. These Shaktis respectively are ‘Samkshobhana-Aakarshana-Vidraavana-Unmaada-Vashikarana-Ucchaatana-Vidveshana and Maarana kriya’!

50. Devi! Maha Kavis are blessed with deep knowledge and finesse for elegant expression and subtlety and seek to unveil the hidden import to the commoners, like the message of Bhagavati about Her ability of creativity- sustenance and destruction and thus warn human beings to self conduct as their record of pluses and minuses is metered!

51. Bhagavati is the mother of Nava Rasaas; Shringara Rasa is generared from her her romance with Parama Shiva- Bibhibhatsa Rasa is her reaction to the appalling behavioural pattern of human and other species-Roudra Rasa is her reaction to Devi Ganga whom Shiva keeps on his head-Adbhuta Rasa is the outcome of Bhagavan’s bravery and valor- Bhaayanka Rasa emanated from Devi’s instant reaction of hissing cobras on Shiva’s body-Veera Rasa reflects Her admiration of the process of Creation like that of redness of Lotuses -Haasya Rasa is due to playfulnes of sakheejana– Karuna Rasa in response to Her Bhaktas’ devotion- and Shanti is as Bhagavati’s Final Destination of ‘Tadaatmyata’ with Prakriti and Parameshwara!

52. Parvata Raja Putri!Your chanchala drishti or weavering looks of bashful eyes as though fanned by the ears nearby is being disturbed deep inside your heart by the thoughts of Sada Shiva and is generating shringara rasa as though Kama Deva is drawing his flowery bow right upto his ears ready for his ‘shara vilasa’or release of flowery arrows.

53. Bhagavati’s three eyes display three colours arun-dhavala-shyama with anjana and of Satva- Rajo-Tamogunas representing Srishti- Sthiti- Samhara by the Tri Murties for Jagat and Kaala Nirvahana. But Sthaanu Parameshwara is of ‘nirgunatva’ – ‘nirvikaarata’- ‘niraadambarata’ and ‘niraakaarata’ in totality. Bhagavati is how ever the camouflage or the disguising mask of concealment who is the essential Life Force ; – it is He the strong back up for the Maha Shakti as His Better – Half literally.

54. You are of Trigunas and Trivarnas generated by your Trinetras fuming at times and cooling too often. Your Trinetras are wet with ‘Trinaadaas’ / Trivarnas generating Shrona- Ganga- Yamuna Devis and also of the ‘sangama’ or the merging place ! Indeed you are unique in the realm of Sada Shiva as the Pashupati to bestow opportunities to the Pashus in Srishti to break the ‘Paashas’ or shackles and place them on the high path of Dharma to seek their ‘Dhruvam’ of yours and of His!

55: Devi! As you open your eyes Bhuvanaas are sprouted and destroyed as you close the eyes. Once you hold up your breathing for a while then the Universe faces ‘pralaya’and when it resumes again, then creation of Beings gets resumed! If you desire to destroy the universe, it should suffice that your oral saying or even a ‘ fleeting thought’ could instantly end up in a ‘pralaya’; You are ever awaken always as the Jaagrat Swarupa!

56. As your eyes are spread up to your ears, fishes in the ocean are terribly ashamed and afraid of facing you and trying to hide themselves from your glances; not only that Lotuses shut themselves during the day timings while in the nights these tend to blossom . Thus the fishes and lotuses are quite hesitant to face you out of sense of shame as they suffer terrible inferority complex before your magnificence.

57. Parama Shive! May Your glorious glances which are like mini smiles of just blossoming blue lotuses bestowing even a mild spray of your kindness on me . This would in no way reduce the enormous fund of your kindness since the cool rays of Moon get spread themselves evenly all over the entire garden , a forest, or a mansion or an individual like me!

58. Parvati! Your broad face terminating between the ears and eyes is like a Manmadha’s bow and arrows being so provocative as though to tempt Kamadeva to get his arrows readied! Such ‘netra dvandaas’ as provoked by Manmadha have laid Parameshvara to trance! Do very kindly now look after the Universe and its child like Beings ranging from humans to pieces of grass forgiving their respective shortcomings!

59. Bhagavati! Your Miror like ‘vishala phaala bhaaga’ or broad face has the reflections of both of your ‘karna pushpas’ or well drawn flower like ears on either side. On this expansive space it looks as though Manmadha is riding a chariot on earth with Surya Chandras as the chakras while Parameshvara Himself is engaged as if against Tripuraasuras!

60. Sharvaani! The tingle of your earling bells is indeed like what Devi Sarasvati’s sweet ‘Sudhaamaya Kaavya gaana’! While you have been continuosly drinking in the hollow of your outstreched ears the sweet singing of Sarasvati Herself, the flow of nectar like musical compositions, then your ear ornaments chime in unison . This indeed implies that the Goddess of Learning herself is seeking to please Her Patron and win Her approbation by producing exquisitely attractive compositions and the latter is shaking Her head resulting in Her ear ornaments echo in unison with soft chimes!

61. Devi Girija! You are kind enough to bestow Kaivalya to saadhakas by controlling their breathing by the left nostril of the ‘Ida Marga’ since they naturally enjoy the sugandha of fresh flowers too. Now eventually when one exhales too by ‘nishvaasa’ by ‘Pingalika Maarg’ then Devi’s both sides of Her pearls worn both outside and inside too through the hollow of bamboo like nose should grant us mukti by the same logic!

62. Indeed, Bhagavati’s lips are incomparable. Poets get confused with her luscious lips by comparing them with any sweet fruit of the Universe. Let it be the coral creeper bear fruit, or even the Bimba fruit! By her nature, would not any fruit in the Universe be ashamed by comparison! Her Moonlike Face laps up the facial fruit juice as is by far the tastier of all kinds!

63. Shankaraacharya has gifted us beautiful poetry in which he says that even the nectar of moonlight is sour by comparison with the sweetness of Amba’s gentle smile; this idea he conveys by speaking about the experience of chakora birds. The Celestials, despite partaking of amrita perish during th great dissolution / mahasamhara. But Ishvara remains; Amba who is the embodiment of the ambrosia of consciousness, as ‘chaitaanyamrita’ is superior to the gross ambrosia of consciousness gotten from the churning of the Ocean of the milk!

64. Bhagavati! Hail your red tongue which is blood red like ‘japakusuma’ and which is engrossed with the chants and japas of Parama Shiva’s heriocs and magnanimity always. Further, Devi Sarasvati who is always seated at your ‘ jihvaagra’ like a spkatika mani’ of white purity now turned blood red, is playing sonorous notes on her ‘padma raaga manikya veena’ about ‘Agama Rahasyas’ / vedic secrets!

65. In the battle against daityaas having been won, Swami Kartikeya, Indra and Vishnu approached Bhagavati having removed their helmets and kavachas or body guards while She was enjoying the chewing of ‘taambula’ as the ‘karpura khanda’ was still in Her mouth. This reveals that She is highly relaxed and happy that the great warriors have returned with a good job done by Her grace. They too are thrilled that Bhagavati is contented as they are aware that She would be happy with Kartikeya anyway but now she too was pleased with all.

66. Bhagavati! As Devi Sarasvati is commending Pamameshavara’s magnificent acts of glory by her veena’s mellifluous melodies, you are wholly immersed in the musical notes by shaking your head sideways with trances, and the smooth yet sharp wires of the veena instrument turn self -conscious by shyness as resultant of Your grandeur! Eventually, the veena gets dumbfounded and confused! That is why Devi Sarasvati wrapped up the Veena cover cloth and concluded.

67. Devi Girija! Your chin is uniquely shaped and is above depiction; the Mangala Sutra tied by Kameshwara around your neck symbolises the close affinity and inseperability of Prakriti and Maha Purusha . Just as Your father had fondled your thin chin when you were baby girl, after your wedding Parameshwara has been handling your chin and cheeks with love and lifted them for carressing your rosy lips for kissing them while you bowed your head with extreme shyness! Shiva being excited to drink the sweet juice of your rosy lips lifted your face and suddenly kissed your lips and thus His hands got hastened to play with your spotless and bright cheeks as though as a toy his love play!

68. Devi! As your spot less neck leans on Sada Shiva’s shoulder then your body’s hairs stand up in trance and your milky white neck gets ‘Neela Kantha’s bluish taint, albeit His original body was milky white too!

69. Bhagavati! You are the expert of Gati-Gamaka-Geeta! Your neck place possesses of three significant lines as the Gandhara and other basic raagaas of sangeeta jnaana; their glory at wedding becomes outstanding. At the auspicious muhurtha of your wedding, Parameswara decorated your neck with the three threads of the mangala sutra viz. Kaamojjeevana-Saubhagya- Chirakaala Putrasamsaara, as the focal points at the wedding. His neck is blue due to retention of haalahala poison, yet the ‘Pranava Naada Hetu’ and the Maangalya sutra sthaanaa ! That is also the Seat of Sangeeta and Jnaana or of Devi Sarasvati too!

70. Bhagavati! Your the lotus like exquisiteness of four hands, is being extolled by the Chaturmukha Brahma seeking your protection and solace; this is so keeping in view that Parama Shiva had in the past snipped off my erstwhile fifth head owing to His annoyance with me and hence my supplication to you seeking your merciful attitude by your very nature as the unparalleled ‘abhaya hasta’!

71. Devi Uma! How could anybody describe the brightness of your tender finger nail-heads as that defies and puts to shame the grace and beauty of early morning fresh lotus flowers! Indeed there is nothing comparable to the splendour of Devi’s hands and if at all one might surmise that since Devi Lakshmi’s feet were perhaps playful, the red ‘paaraayana’ or the ‘laakshaa rasa’- or lac dye juice – around Her feet might have perhaps left mild imprints on lotus flower!

72. Devi! Your the milk of your ‘vakshojaas’ was shared together your renowned sons, Kartikeya and Ganapati. As there were doing so, Ganesha was looking askance and asked whether somebody was stealing his own ‘kumbh’ and held it tight; this became a high tone humour to their parents!

73. Jagajjanani’s breast milk is far superior to amrita the divine ambrosiaa. The Lords Ganasha and Kumara who have Amba’s breast milk remain eternally boyish – certainly nor boy like- and do not age! That is even to day the remain boys! The greatness of Amba’s breast milk is such that Her children are ‘jnaana’ personified and they have no ‘Kaama’!

74. Vishva Janani! You are wearing the brightest ‘muktaa manimaala’dangling in the midst of your ‘vakshojaas’ and indeed that maala around your neck resembles as had been made from the unparalleled pearls dug up from ‘Gajaasura’s kumbhasthala’ or his skull! Hence the comparison of the pearl necklace of Devi worn like a trophy, as tinged with the red luster of Her lips, and that of the fame and valour of Parameshwara who destroyed Gajaasura .

75. Jaganmata! Your breasts emerging from your heart being possessive of ‘sudhaa sagara ksheera’or the ocean of milk are stated to abound with ‘Saarasvata Jnaana’. Indeed it is that graceful kindness of yours which enabled this Dravidian Boy to reach the heights of the Poets famed for incomparable finesse and taste! In other words, your heart is the spring of milky ocean of poetry and having elevated a Dravidian boy[ apparently Adi Sankara] to reach the pinnacles of priceless poetic skills!

76. Bhagavati! Even as Kama Deva got burnt of by Parama Shiva’s third eye’s flames, you made him bathe deep into your ‘naabhi sarovara’ or navel like cool lake!This caused the thick smokes high in the splash stated to be the outcome of the soft hair growth around the waist and of your navel! In other words, there might be a suspicion that the smoke of Manmatha’s burnt body is the fallout of your navel hairs which Parama Shiva plays with in your mutual intimacy!

78. Devi! Your slender waist and its ‘romavalis’ might remind one about the Sacred Yamuna River’s ‘sukshma tarangas’ being of skylike blue colour! But your massive ‘vakshojaas’ appear to take shelter into that navel at that thin ‘kati pradesha’ or the waist. In other words, the condition of Devi’s waist is precarious as it might apparently give way owing to Her weak spots viz. the navel and the folds!

79. Girija bhavani! Hail to your pretty and attractive navel as that is rather indescribable easily! This naabhi of yours is like deep and whirlpool like hallowed Ganga; this is the nivasa sthaana of Rati Manmathas. The heavy breasts are the flower pots and constant flowers attract the ever busy honey bees. Gireesha’s eyes are naturally drawn to the fragrant flowers, the bee hive and the busy bees!

80. Shaila Tanaya! By nature your slender waist is ever auspicious and the navel is soft and deep; there is always a concern that the heavy and shapely breasts of yours might any time fall down and smother the graceful bud like navel, just as the strong river bed might any time break down the tree on the bank and get smashed! The river bed tree is always susceptible to get carried away the force of the waves and the ever risked tree be a washout!

81. Your slim and trim waist and heavy ‘vakshojaas’ are of ‘uttama stree’ features while the three ‘valis’ or partitions are ‘trikaalaas’ or of the past-present and the future; Tri Gunas or Satva-Rajo-Tamogunas; Tri Shaktis of Durga- Lakshmi -Sarasvatis and Tri Lokaas of Bhur-Bhuva-Svahas.

82. Parvati!Your father bestowed on you by way as dowry the vastness and hugeness of his landed property. This had been performed as ‘agni saakshi’! Hence these prodigious hips, being broad and heavy, hide from the view of the whole terrestrial universe as thrown into the background and made it light and enjoyable to Parama Shiva as well!

83. Giri Sute! As Kaama Deva was physically devastated by Parama Shiva, he now seeks to double the number of Arrows and carries two quivers on either of his non-existent body sides. Thus on both the sides of Manmadhaa are hanging the long and sharp quivers and the kireetas of Indraadi Devas bent in reverence to Bhagavati are paled out of the grandeur and redoubled sound of Manmadha’s both the quivers!This is with the tacit understading of Bhagavati, since ‘srishti’ deeds to be doubled.

84. As though as sign of appeasing Devi’s ‘pranaya kopa’, Parameshwara washes Bhagavati’s feet with the waters of Sacred Ganga which adorn His own head. Further, Maha Vishnu who adores and wears on his kireeta with pride the Mani Koustubha whose luster is enhanced by Devi Lakshmi Herself is now being placed at Bhagavati’s sacred feet ! The secret import of the stanza states that both the ‘paada kamalaas’ or the Lotus Feet of Bhagavati are adorned by Veda Shastraas which in turn are at the heads of Vishnu and Sadashiva as though the tasks of Sthiti- Samharas are being observed suitably!

85. Bhagavati! May we greet your enticing eyes bewitched with your soft feet of gloryof your feet which periodilally wake up Parama Shiva in his trance by soft kicks that keep reminding Him of what Padmini Strees kick Ashoka trees for quick flowering! why this competetion by Devi’s amorous kicks to the Ashoka tree now!

86. Parama Shiva casually addresssed Bhagavati by a pretty sweet and another name, the latter as a sweet reaction had amorously and mildly pushed her husband’s ‘lalaata’and Kama Deva felt delighted that his long- long burnt off body’s Inner Soul got now revived thus hearing the hustle and bustle sounds all around ! Indeed there is no differenciation of the names of Janani and Janaka: Shiva-Shivani , Bhava-Bhavani, Sharva- Sharvani; Mrida-Mridani and so on. Ardha Naareeshwara Umashankara has no distinction either by way of body or soul!

87. You as the brilliant daughter of Himalyas ever moving about on icy mountains would witness a situation of closing lotuses in cold and frost and their openings during the day times due to Sunshine. Indeed your paada padmas are always fresh in the nights and days alike. Could the fearless beautiful and fragrant natural lotuses be comparable ever with the reputation of your unparalleled feet!

88. Bhagavati! Your paadaagra portion is popular as the ‘keertisthaana’ or the place imbued with high reputation.How indeed Siddhas and Maha Kavis of high reputation compare Your hard layer of the feet with the hardness of the back of a tortoise, instead of describing as soft and smooth! How again at the Sacred Wedding of Yourself and Parama Shiva, the latter being extremely kind hearted, lifted you by your soft feet on such a hard and tough surface of a customary grinding stone!

89. Kalpa Vriksha in heaven might be according fulfilment of their desires to the residents of Heaven, but the sparkle of Devi’s foot nails instantly grants wishes to one and all who desire and deserve, both day in and day out instantly.

90. Bhagavati!You are ever compassionate to your devotees to fulfill our beseeches for wealth as also to liberally scatter clusters of beauty in the form of flowers and honey bees. May I have the status and fortune of becoming a honey bee to get attracted to the kalpavriksha flowers like your feet enticing these bees with sex legs could drink up as much of elixir as possible.Indeed, my ‘jeevatma’ would then be able to use my Panchendriyas and their leader the Mind like the six footed ‘honey bee’!

91. On noticing the playful foot- steps of domestic swans, apparently Devi seeks to teach the swans to imitate the symmetry of the soft and swingy sounds of her own golden anklets. It is natural that the domestic swans seek to follow the manner of the Supreme Misress!

92. Trimurtis Brahma-Vishnu-Rudra and Ishana have constituted your cot while Sadashiva is like your comfortable bedsheet thus converting your ‘ragaaruna shareera’ is reflecting on Parameshvara’s white body thus leading to mutual shringaara rasa! The synthesis of Aadhaara-Svadhishthana, Manipoora, Anahata, Vishuddha and Agjnaa of Shadchakraas reaches the ‘baindava sthaana’ the union point of Parama Shiva and Prakriti!

93. Sadashiva’s inherent Adi Shakti is manifested with long -curly and attractive long hairs, with natural smile, soft nature, supple mind like ‘shireesha’ flowers, hard and shapely breasts and bottom, slim and trim waist; indeed Bhagavati is of ‘aruna-taruna- karuna- raksha dhaarini!Here Shiva and Shakti are in Supreme Union!

94. The features of chandra mandala are the beauty aids of Bhagavati all placed inside a container of the famed nine gems. Brahma Deva ensures that these features of the Chandra Mandala are refilled or refurbished on a day-to-day basis as his duty.This is the reason why the devotees of Bhagavati also use kasturi and karpura seek to make sure in their daily puja.

95. Bhagavati, you are the Consort of Sadashiva, and thus ; it is just not possible to enter the precincts of your hallowed place of stay. Lord Indra who had the distinction of performing hundred yagjnas, let alone others who might well be versed in accomplishing ‘ashtasiddhis ‘, had to give up the ambition to reach even the entry gate of the Palace of Loka Janani! Devi, your glory is such that you have the unique distinction as the ‘Ardhaangi’ of Tripurasamhari Shiva and it is just not imaginable to reach your feet by the fickle minded persons or even ‘jitendriyas’even at the level of Indraadi Devatas. It is stated thus Maha Siddha Yogis too are barred to enter the portals of Maha Bhagavati![ Note the warnings of Paramacharya of Kanchi in his explanation of this Stanza].

96. Indeed worship of Devi Sarasvati ever praised as Atma Vidya-Maha Vidya- Shri Vidya- Braahmi- Sharada -Sangeeta- Vaak- Vigjnana and worship Her as Ashta Sarasvatis. Similarly, Adi Lakshmi-Dhanya Lakshmi-Dhairya Lakshmi- Gaja Lakshmi- Santana Lakshmi-Vidya Lakshmi-Vijaya Lakshmi- Dhana Lakshmi be worshipped. Bhagavati! You are of the Unique Swarupa of Parameswari who is the ‘ardhanaareeshwari’ who alone could stimulate the Sthaanu Paramashvara to Action and Play of Universal Creation-Preservation-Destruction- Re Creation and so on till Eternity!

97: Acharya speaks of Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati the wives of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the Trimurtis. Then only does he come to the fourth, Kameshwari, the Parashakti, the root of all and the wife of the Tureeya Brahman; Maha Maya the most Illusive Power; Vishvam bhramayasi-or which bewilders the Universe; Parabrahma Mahishi- the Singular Empress of Parabrahma Sadashiva Himself!

98. Jagajjanani! Having had the fortune of sipping drops of Your Paada tirtha, a born dumb person had turned out to be poet ‘par excellence’; a born deaf had turned out as a highly sensitive listener ! When indeed may I ever able to sip your paada tirtha to attain in my life’s fortune!

99. Any human being should cut through ‘avidya’ or ignorance and to become a ‘chiranjeevi’ and ‘paraanandaatmika’ and the means to do so he or she should accomplish ‘samyagati’ or ‘samyak jnaana’.

100. By bathing again and again in Soundarya Lahari, we must become one with it, become it!

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at