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Monday, 15 September 2014

Abhirami Andhadhi & Soundarya Lahari - a comparison

Once Adi Shankara visited Kailash to worship Shiva and Parvathi. There, the Lord gave him a manuscript containing 100 verses which described the many facets of the Goddess, as a gift to him. While Shankara was returning after visiting Kailash, Nandi stopped him on the way. He snatched the manuscript from him, tore it into two, took one part and gave the other to Shankara. Shankara, desolate, ran to Shiva and narrated the incident to him. Shiva, smiling, commanded him to retain the 41 verses with him as the initial part of the 100 verses and then, write an extra 59 verses in praise of the Goddess himself. Thus, verses 1 - 41 are the original work of Lord Shiva, shedding great light on the ancient rituals of Tantra, Yantra and various powerful Mantras. The remaining verses, i.e. 42-100 are composed by Adi Shankara himself, which mainly focuses on the appearance of the Goddess. All the 100 verses are collectively known as 'Soundarya Lahari'.

First 41 verses cover the detailed account of internal worship of the Mother, the Goddess. The Soundarya Lahari is not only a poem. It is a tantra textbook, giving instructions on puja and offerings, many yantras, almost one to each shloka; describes tantric ways of performing devotion connected to each specific shloka; and details the results ensuing therefrom. i give you in detail. 

Soundarya Lahari, meaning waves of beauty consists of two parts viz. Ananda Lahari meaning waves of happiness (first 41 slokas) and Soundarya Lahari (the next 59 slokas)  

Soundarya Lahari, 27th sloka

Japo jalpah shilpam sakalam api mudra-virachana
Gatih pradaksinya-kramanam asanady'ahuti-vidhih;
Pranamah samvesah sukham akilam atmarpana-drsa
Saparya-paryayas tava bhavatu yan me vilasitam.


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!  

Adi Shankaracharya's period was from 788 AD to 820 AD. 

(Majority of the people would say Adi Shankara was born in 788 AD at Kaladi in Kerala and died in 820 AD. But the three monasteries among the four set up by Shankaracharya – Dwaraka, Puri and Kanchi – will say it is 509 BC. The fourth Sringeri monastery will say 44 BC. In nutshell, a common birth date of Shankara has not been agreed upon by researchers and the mutts.)

Abhirami means “She who is very attractive every moment of time”. This goddess is believed to be extremely powerful and fulfills all the wishes of  her devotees. One of her great devotees was Abhirami Bhattar (18th Century AD).  He was a priest at the temple of Abhirami in Thirukadayur and a great scholar (famed as the author of a collection of hymns called Abhirami Andhadhi which is widely regarded as one of the foremost works of modern Tamil literature).

Abirami Anthathi, Verse 10: 

"நின்றும் இருந்தும் கிடந்தும் நடந்தும் நினைப்பது உன்னை
என்றும் வணங்குவது உன் மலர்த் தாள் எழுதாமறையின்
ஒன்றும் அரும்பொருளே அருளே உமையே இமயத்து
அன்றும் பிறந்தவளே அழியா முத்தி ஆனந்தமே"


'அறிதற்கரிய பொருளே! அருளே உருவான உமையே! அக்காலத்தில் இமயமலையில் பிறந்தவளே! என்றும் அழியாத முக்தி ஆனந்தமாக விளங்குபவளே! உணர்தற்கரிய பெருமை வாய்ந்த வேதப் பொருளில் ஒன்றிய பொருளே! நான் நின்றாலும், இருந்தாலும், கிடந்தாலும், எந்நிலையில் இருப்பினும் நின்னையே நினைத்து தியானிக்கின்றேன். நான் வணங்குவதும் நின் மலர் போன்ற பாதங்களையே யாகும்.'

While standing, sitting, lying and walking I pray you Goddess Umadevi.
I bow your flower like feet.
You are the essence of Vedas.
You were earlier born on Himalayas.
You are ever Bliss.

Sri Vidya Rajagopalan

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