The Saundaryalahari of Adi Sankaracarya is essentially a poem of intense devotion, despite the Tantric concepts contained in it. There is basically no difference between the Vedic ideals of Godhead and the Tantric. The conception of Siva and Sakti in Tantra is the same as the Vedic one of purusa and prakriti and the Advaitic Brahman and Maya.
In the words of Vivekananda, "The Absolute is formless, but energy is female. When the energy takes form, it is called Mother. Mother is the moving Power, disturbing into waves the water-calm of the Absolute." The formless infinite becomes finite in diversified creation due to Sakti, the Kinetic Power. To quote Arthur Avalon, "Power implies a Power-Holder. The Power-Holder is Siva. There is no Siva without Sakti, or Sakti without Siva. The two, as they are, in themselves are one. They are each being, Consciousness and Bliss."
Prayer is the path of purification of the mind and aids in developing in the individual worshipper the consciousness of being one with God. Indian hymns of prayer contain elements of auto-suggestion and self-hypnotism that help the spiritual aspirant in his upward path through Samipya, Sarupya and Sayujya, that is by creating a sense of nearness to the Divine, a desire to acquire the attributes of divinity, and ultimate identification of the individual self with the Supreme.
The Saundaryalahari of Sankaracarya is such a potent prayer. It makes the devotee feel that he is one with Siva and Sakti, and thus arouses the latent powers within him. The Mother of the universe is the fountainhead of beauty, riches, and knowledge. The devotee, sensing his identification with, her, becomes the lord of riches and learning and begets such a dazzling form that he is taken to be the god of love. And yet he does not get enmeshed in earthly bondage.
True worship is the worship in and by the mind. This is termed as Samaya worship. Through the Saundar yalahari, probably his only tantric work, Sri Sankara shows the pure Samaya way of awakening the power that lies dormant in every one of us, as Kundalini-sakti. With an awakened Kundalini, one lives a full life of achievement and at its end merges joyfully in the Supreme Bliss.
In placing this edition of Saundaryalahari, with English translation, Notes and Yantric diagrams, I invite all the readers thereof to take a holy dip in this ocean of bliss and beauty, bequeathed to us by the Great Master.
From the Back of the Book
Saundaryalahari is a rare tantric work whose authorship is attributed to Sankaracarya. It is a long poem of one hundred verses; a hymn of praise to the Divine Mother; an invocation and a prayer that awakens man from stupor to a state of effulgent energy and creativity.
In this monograph the original Sanskrit text of each verse is presented in Devanagari script accompanied with its Roman transliteration. English rendering of the verse and explanatory notes are provided with an eye to modern readership. Inclusion of yantras in their pictorical symbols focus attention on underlying potencies of each verse. The possibility of attainment of power and success by single-minded recitation of the verse is stressed on.
The monograph will be of special interest to mother worshippers of all denominations. Students of religion and philosophy will find it appealing. The general reader with a love for poetry and literature will also like it.
About the Author
V. K. Subramanian (b. 1930, Kerala) is an eminent Sanskrit scholar. Who has translated several ancient Indian, Sanskrit texts into English. He ahs a universalistic taste and is a prolific writer on a variety of subjects ranging from astrology to art. His published works include: Sivanandalahari, Maxims of Chanakya, Rudraprasna, Planets, Palms and Predictions, Lali and other short stories, Love Twigs, A Bond to Sorrow, The Indian Financial System, Siva Sakti, Indian Art through the Ages and The Great Ones in Art.
A retired officer of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service, (which he joined in 1953) Sri Subramanian is also a reputed painter, who has held twenty one-man exhibitions. His paintings have won wide acclaim from art critics all over the country.
Ha has traveled widely.
Excerpts from reviews
In the present edition (the author) has given the text in Devanagari and Roman transliteration along with an easy English rendering, brief notes at appropriate places, and relevant pictorial symbols of yantras. This is an important contribution to the growing Tantra literature and should be welcomed by all devotees of the Divine Mother.
S. S. Janaki
Journal of Oriental research, 1987
The main attraction of the present edition of Saundaryalahari, of which numerous edition and translations are available, rests on the representation of all the
yantras with the detail of their application and the indication of the benefits of each. The publication is well got-up with the text printed in bold type along with roman transliteration and English translation. The Sri-cakra, being the diagram of the 22nd verse and which is the most important of the yantras, is reproduced in colour as a frontispiece. The reference value of this attractive publication is enhanced by a Verse Index.
K. V. Sarma
Vishveshvaranand Indological Journal
Original Tantric Texts (18)
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