Soundarya Lahari Sloka

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Preface – part - 1

There are many stotras about the divine (para) mother – goddess, who is worshipped in different forms such as vaag devi (saraswati), mahalakshmi, sriparvathy, the goddess of goddesses referred before, as mahamaya and as the spouse of lord paramasiva.
Of the many stotras referred, lalithasahasranama, soundaryalahari, devi mahatmya, durgasaptasati, saktimahimna are considered to be very important ones.

With amma’s grace, this brief description about soundarya lahari is being offered with full devotion, with prostrations unto the Lotus Feet of Sadguru, amma, the pure consciousness, for the sake of those jijnaasu devi bhaktas.

A stotra is considered to be full in itself if it fulfils the six characteristics or lakshanas, viz., namaskar – bowing wholeheartedly, aasiss – blessing devotees, siddhantokti – bringing out the siddhantas, parakrama – praising the parakrama power, vibhooti – describe the greatness, prarthana – offering the prayer.

Namaskaarastadaaseesca siddhaantokti parakramah:
Vibhooti prartanaa ceti shadvidham stotralakshanam.

Soundarya Lahari is one which satisfies all the above referred qualities.
Soundarya Lahari consists of 100 slokas of which the first 41 are named Ananda Lahari and the rest as Soundarya Lahari. In the first part, i.e., Ananda Lahari, the description of tantra, mantra, yantra with respect to the goddess devi and the darsana pertaining to the tantra-sastra are covered. It is said that the first part is not written by Sankara.

There is a historic finding (or aitihya) like this –
When Acaryapada visited Kailasa, Lord Siva presented him five sivalingas and also permitted Sankara to take to the world for propagation the hundred sloks of Soundarya Lahari found embedded on the walls of Kailas. Also there are other aitihyas one - that these slokas are given directly to Sankara by Lord Siva; second that they are given directly by Lalitha devi to Sankara, the the third that Sankara was asked to read these slokas, and during this process, Nadikeswara or Ganapathi was erasing from the end sloka – (reverse) onwards, and when Sankara finished reading the 41st sloka, he found that the rest of the slokas were erased; Sankara added the rest slokas from 42 onwards himself. In lingapurana, in the portion containing the adoration of god, vigneswara, it is referred that this stotra is written by vinayaka.

There is another aitihya that this stotra was found embedded on the mahameru mountain walls and was brought to world by acarya Gowdapada and handed to his disciple govindapada and was in turn transferred to his disciple Sankara. This is confirmed by some sampradayas by the starting chanting of Soundarrya Lahari thus –
Asya sree soundarya lahari stotrasya govinda rishihi.

Whatever be the finding or aitihya, we take it to be the contribution by Sankara.
This is the saaramsa of samayacara tatwa of saakta aagama.
Just as we find the style of bringing the principle of embedding with utmost darsanikanaipuni, dvaita principle in advaita, in Sankara’s other slokas, here also we find the same. Each sloka is mantrakshara-bound, and from pada-ghatana (coining of words) it involves the yantra-rupa, and these are the wonderful mudras (styles) of Sankara. Whoelse, other than the Sarvajna acaryapada Sankara, possess this divine capacity rid of any blemish? The important sampradaya bhedas involved in devi upasanas are all found in Soundarya Lahari.

A great poet in Mahakavi Ulloor from Kerala refers like this –

aadhyatmika soudarya – which of these is not fully, crisply, attractively flowing in this stotra!

The stotras given to us by the Maha-rishis will definitely contain several specialities which we cannot find in normal mans’ or poets’. For those who are fully immersed in worldy life, and struggling to find out ways to get out of infinite (bhava roga) problems, but have just recognized that they want to get out of this taapatraya agni, step by step success in worldly life and above all, iswara saakshatkara (god realisation) are taken care of while composing the slokas. Many other acaryas also had composed stotras which suits devotees according to their vaasanas and tastes and also different forms of deva- devis (gods-goddesses). Advaita specialist Sankara himself had composed plenty of slokas which involve beautiful, formful descriptions of gods-goddesses.

Even for those who chant without knowing the meaning of slokas, get fulfillment of purusharthas which are found by the mantraksharas in these.
A devotee who goes on repeating the slokas, get the benefit of the mantras and the propitiated god’s (mantradevata’s) blessings automatically and unaware of. When a devotee becomes matured in chanting, and when he gets merged as a perfect upasaka with the mantra, he gets the meaning of the mantras with ease. Above all, in due course of time, the intrinsic, implicit, mantra-tantra rahasya get unveiled to this devotee. Such is the case with Soundarya Lahari also.
We can compare the rishiprokta stotras with the great famous temples like Puri Jagannatha kshetra, Mathura kshetra, Madurai Meenakshi, Kanchi Kamakshi, Kasi visalakshi, Tiruppati venkatacalapati, Mookambika, Chottanikkara, Ujjain Kaali, Suchindram Hanuman, Kanyakumari, Guruvayoor and so many other temples. A temple has gopura, bhoopura, pradakshina rounds, inner temples, garbhagriha and inside that devapratishta surrounded in praakaras by the sub deities. Eventhough a devotee approaches all these components with devotion, but is not concentrating his attention on any of these only, but the sarvavyapi iswara caitanya, the all pervading, the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent Consciousness. Temple is an aaraadhana-kendra and also an upaadhi which enables a devotee to combine his upasana with the upasya devata.

In the same way, the stotras are also serve as the upaadhi to enable a devotee to combine his upasana with the upasya devata. The beauty obtained by the coining of the words and also the descriptions and alankara-prayogas, are all like the sculptural and picture works, both of which serve the purpose of lifting the devotee’s mind to the level of perfect upasaka. The upasya devata’s moolamantra’s beejakshara’s are included at the appropriate places in this stotra.

If a person, chants this knowing the meaning, it will have excellent effect for his uplift from animal-man to man-man and from there to god-man. Evenif a person chants without knowing the meaning, still it will have tremendous effect, by changing his tamoguna to rajoguna and from there to satwaguna and bringing out the godly divine qualities in him unaware of and giving him extreme success and happiness in life.
Annai saradhadevi, has said that evenif a person falls by slip into ganges, ganga water will fall on him and he becomes blessed.
Anyway, it may be right for us to consider each of the slokas in such mahastotras as a sacred kshetra or temple and the total stotra as the greatest mahakshetra.

Soundarya Lahari is such a wonderful mahastotra. The description found further is only for the loukika upasakas(jijnasu) and not for the perfect mumukshus. There are more than forty descriptions by various respectable authors in different languages like Sanskrit, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, English, Telugu.

Lallar- lakshmidhara kavi’s description is found popular, who was a renowned poet, in the palace of Pratap Rudra deva,500 years before in Orissa state.
Another great poet Kaivalyasrama has written a description of this named sowbhagyavardhini. Yet another poet Kamesara soori has written a description by name Arunaamodhini.
Yet another great Tamil veteran author/poet tethiyoor subramania sastrigal has written elaborate description.
Acarya Kamakoti Sankara has given lucid descriptions for these slokas during his upanyasas during his discourses at different times for the sake of devotees, which are published in the Ramakrisha asrama magazines.

The purvabhaga of this stotra is the saara sangraha of devi-tantra. There are sacred things like sri-chakra, kundalini-yoga, which are extremely difficult to understand.
Eventhough a brief description of srichakra will be given at the appropriate places of the slokas, it is better to get more details about the same from a guru.

The fact will remain, in the end, that this devotee of goddess amma, will not be able to do justice even for a single sloka, to its fullest extent; then one may ask- why this adventure? This devotee gives the answer given by Sankara himself like this in the 100th sloka:-

Swakeeyairambobhi: salilanidhisauhityakaranam
Twakeeyaabhirvaagbhistavajanani vaacaam stutiriyam.


Samsaaraadhwani taapabhaanukirana
Khinnaanaam jalakaangkshayaa marubhuvi
Braantyaa paribraamyataam
Atyaasanna sudhaambudhim sukhakaram
Brahmaadhwayam darsaya-
Ntyeshaa sankarabharatee vijayate

Hridaye kalaye vimalam caranam
Bhava sankara desika me saranam

“Like showing a lamp to the Sun, like offering the chandrakaantha stone to the moon (the moon’s rays make the chandrakantha stone or give life to it), like offering the sea’s own water as abhisheka to the sea, similarly O Goddess of words!, I have used your own words and praised you!!!!”

The above sloka mentions the humility of Sankara who was undefeated in his time & there was nobody equivalent to him in that day in all the worlds – he who was the king of knowledge, poetry, logic etc.

In the last class, we referred that a stotra is complete if it satisfies six lakshanas – viz.,

Wishing well
Bringing out the siddhanta
Praising the paraakrama capability
Describing the bravery capacity
Apply prarthana

Here are some examples to show the proof of the above:-

1. sloka – 85 namo vaakam broomaha – this satisfies the first condition – prostrating. If one prostrates with the concentration of the mind on the word namah – Upanishad says all desires will do upasana for this person. This can be experienced by a person who undertakes this attempt.
2. sloka 3 and 4 – the sacred ashes from your holy feet serves as the sun’s brilliant light for an ajnaani whose inner darkness is removed quickly just as the sun rises, the darkness of the night is removed instantaneously; for avivekis, the referred sacred ashes serve as the makaranda of karpaka vriksha of aatma jnaana which goes on spreading quickly and removes the aviveka unknowingly bestowing bliss and purushaarthas; for a poor man suffering from poverty, your sacred ashes serve as the chintamani jewel which gives whatever one wants to procure, thereby removing his poverty and bestowing bliss.For those, who are immersed in the janana marana bhava saagara enjoying the sorrows and sufferings of samsara, and not intending to come out of this painful samsara, sacred ashes of your holy feet serve as the most dangerous teeth of murari, the varaha-avatara which threatened the great asura hiranyaksha.
3. sloka 4 refers – to save a person from fear or bhaya and to give him materials and power more than what he wants, your sacred feet alone are enough to bestow the same. Slokas 3 and 4 are indicative of the offering of blessings of goddess.
4. Oh goddess! You are united having become one with the parabrahma; those who are vedavids – who know veda , they consider you yourself as the goddess saraswati , the spouse of Lord Brahma, as the goddess lakshmi, the spouse of Lord Vishnu, and as the goddess parvati, the spouse of Lord Rudra;
You are also the one who is beyond all the above three goddesses referred, and who cannot be even described by words or by mind or by intellect completely, and most difficult to achieve and beyond even time, space and objects and greatest wonder in the world and referred as mahamaaya who rules anything and everything in the world. Refer sloka – 97- such slokas describe the siddhanta principles.
5. sloka 5, 24, 25 etc describe the unbelievable parakrama capability of goddess.
6. Oh! Goddess! Your feet is referred as the place for the Vedas, which consider your holy feet as the most sacred sirobhooshana, you kindly place the same feet on my head also, thereby making me blessed – sloka 84; Oh! Goddess! when am I, who is in search of brahma vidya, going to drink the nectar of lakshaarasa-paada teerta of our lotus holy feet, which will make my job most simple! – sloka -98; Oh! Goddess! Let the beautiful sacred waters flowing from your face bestow us kshema or bliss – sloka – 44; these slokas refer to praarthana mode of lakshana.

Like the chintamani- jewel and its brilliance, or like the sun and its scintillating brillilance, the nirguna parabrahma only is only appearing as the saguna goddess.
Brahman is only appears as braham sakti. When we say, it is inactive, it is Brahman or sivam; when it is doing the job of threefold action - creation, protection and destruction, it is referred as maaya sakti – so says Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Sivane enru irukkum pothu, athu onrum cheyyatu, sakti enum pothu athu ellavatraiyum cheyyum.

Sivamenum porulu maadisaktiyodu cherinettozhilum vallataam, ival pirintidin, iyangutarku mari tari tena marai uraikkumaal – so says in tamil – soundarya lahari sloka – 1.

Upanishads talk most of the time about nirguna brahma and hence it is called brahma vidya; Srividya gives the method for making it known and bringing it to practice.
Brahman is referred by Bindu. Sakti is referred by triangle.
Three gunas – satwa, rajas, and tamas –
Three moorties – brahma, Vishnu, and Siva –
Three avastas – jaagrat, swapna and sushupti –
Such three sets appearing anywhere is that of sakti-swarupa. Hence, sakti is called tripura-sundari.

In Saakta-method of worship the three corners/angles of triangle are referred as mantra, tantra and yantra. The content in the mantra is brought out pictorially by yantra. To make the mind concentrated on this mantra and yantra, the external poojas – kaayika and vaacika poojas, mental or internal poojas- maanasika poojas, kundalini yoga and other saadhanaas such as sravan, manana, nidhidhyasana etc are invlolved in tantra.
There are crores of mantras forming part of the srividya; out of these, panca dasaakshari is the most important one. This is referred in sloka – 32- siva-saktikkaamaha;
The most important and sacred yantra in the world is the sree charka. This is referred in the sloka- 11 – caturbhih sreekantaihi.
The most important tantra is aikya-anusandhanam – this is referred in sloka – 34.
To achieve mantra siddhi, yantra and tantra are the supporting ones. Bhagavan Sree Ramakrishna Paramahamsa considered his body as the most sacred yantra. He said to Goddess Kaali thus – amee yantraha, tumee yantree. Naan yantram, nee yantri.

Bhavanopanishad describes elaborately, the method of upasana considering the body as the Sree-Chakra.

If one worships the goddess paraa sakti with full devotion – ananya bhakti, she herself, who is the embodiment of sarva deva devi swarupini, will definitely bless one with whatever form he wishes to see. All the principles, demands, wishes, get satisfied there with samarasa. He becomes one with Brahman- as

Upanishad says brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati.
For those, who worship goddess paraa sakti,
nirguna and saguna - karma and bhakti - yoga and jnana - advaita and dvaita -
illaram and thuravaram [sanyasa and grihastasrama], all these form most beloved for goddess and become the means of reaching the goddess who is full in herself.
Every-one, irrespective or caste or creed, ashrama-differences, man or woman, child or parent, has the power to pray goddess paraa sakti in this way, with equanimity.
Here is a song of amma –

Jaatiyendrum matamendum oorethum bhetamillai
Kadavulillapporulai kaanave mudiyavillai
Yezhaikalkum chelvarukkum ore oru amma
Chiruvarukkum periyavarkum sontam inta amma

The meaning of the same is:
There is no differentiation of caste, creed, place etc. in the various objects as all are filled with Ishwara (there is no object in which Ishwara is not there). AMMA doesn’t have any such distinctions as well as rich, poor etc. because for a mother, all children are the same.

The great poets like Mahakavi Kaalidasa, Mooka-Kavi, Vidyaranya who were devi upasakaas and Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa also had this view only.

Thirumoolar who is one of the great saints or Siddhas out of 18, who was a siva bhakta, sat at Thiruvaaduthurai and did the unstinching worship of goddess Parasakti and got poornatwa. He himself says like this –

Nerizhaiyaavaal niratisayaanandap
Perudai yaalen pirapparut taandaval
Cheerudai yaalsiva naavadu tandurai
Cheerudai yaalpadanj chertiruntene.

Tirumoolar describes the kaadividya of panca-dasaakshari mantra thus –
Kakaaraadi oraintum kaaniya ponmai
Hakaaraadi oraarum arthame polum
Sakaaraadi or naankum taan suddha venmai
Sakaaraadi moovittai kaamiya muttiye.

The same power available for siva is available for sakti too. If you pray both siva and sakti in mind, you can attain ashtamasiddhi – and also mukti- or liberation.

Sattan arultarir sakti arulundaam
Sakti arultarir sattan arulundaam
Saktisivamaam irandum tan ulvaikka
Sattiyam ennsittittanmaiyum aame.

One who worships gods get the innocence of children; their minds get purified. Those with children’s mind, worship goddess as their own mother; such a method of worshipping goddess as own mother exist completely only in Bhaarata. In India, Soundarya Lahari is a pokkisha – crest jewel of diamonds for the devi upasakaas.

Sree-Guru-Paadukaa Vandanam

Ainkaara hreenkaara rahasya yukta
Hreemkaara goodaartha mahavibhootyaa
Omkaara marma pratipaadineebhyaam
Namo nama:sree guru paadukaabhyaam

Sreemkara with the secrecy of ainkara and hreemkara contains the most precious wealth; Guru is trying to bring out the secret truth of Omkara with this precious wealth.
Prostration unto the feet of the Sad Guru again and again.

SL-Core-Sloka - meaning

Aum Amriteswaryai namah
Aum Hari Sree Ganapataye namah
Sri Lalitambikayai namah

We know that in the Upanishads, there are many vakyaas referring to Brahman; but there are few important mahavakyas; there are very very few most important core mahavakyas – like prajnaanam brahma, aham brahmasmi, tat twam asi, ayam atma brahma etc. which contain the total content of the Upanishad.

Similarly, in Soundarya Lahari also, though all the slokas are important, there is a very very important core sloka which will give the total content of the stotra, viz., atma samarpanam.

That is sloka no. 27, the meaning of which is given below – which envisages the method of getting the full fruits of the stotra. By chanting this sloka alone and concentrating the mind on the meaning of this sloka, and applying it into actual practical life, a devotee can attain all the four purusharthaas (if he finds it impossible to chant the whole stotra but yet want to attain the desired result).


Oh! Amma! By atama samarpana bhaavana, let my simple speech and blabbering become japa for you;

Oh! Amma! All the actions of the my hands may become the explanations of your mudraas;

Oh! Amma! Let my walking become the pradakshina for you;

Oh! Amma! Whatever food I take, let it become the homa or havis for you who is all pervading, in me and outside me, in the world all over and outside all over and enliven my body and mind and thereby the whole world;

Oh! Amma! Let my lying down become prostration to you; and

Oh! Amma! Whatever other things I perform without effort and with ease, all those may become the methods or steps of prayers for you, Oh! Goddess Supreme!


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