How many deities can we pray in a single verse(sloka)? May be two or three. How many meanings you came across for a verse? May be four or five?
OK. But this magical sloka(verse) can address two to six deities depending on how you interpret. Also, this mystical sloka can have twenty five meanings based on different combinations of deities and the goal of your prayers. That is the magic!
I know, you would naturally react: “Impossible. I can’t believe it!” Fine. We will make you believe! But before that, let us understand something about the extraordinary genius who wrote the verse. Who is that? It is our greatest author in Sanskrit literature, Shri Kalidasa(not me, my pen name is Kalidas. Just kidding!).
Who is Kalidasa?
Shri Kalidasa is the greatest poet in Sanskrit literature. He has many accolades into his credit. He is called jewel of poets (kaviratna) by the scholars. He is also famously known as the kavikula Guru(the master/guide of all poets). By his great contributions to Sanskrit literature, he set the highest standards for creating a great piece of literary work.
Shri Kalidasa was very spiritual person. He was also a staunch devotee of Shridevi. From the spiritual perspective, kavi means spiritually enlightened wise person. So, kaviratna means jewel of enlightened people. Now, the kavikula Guru takes the meaning: guide or master for all enlightened people.
According to a popular story, he was a stupid person to begin with. But, he was a great devotee of Shridevi, as implied by his name Kalidasa meaning servant of Shridevi. Kalidasa propitiated Shridevi by his penance. She showered her kind Grace on him. It is her kind Grace that made him a great genius and famous.
He wrote great epics including Kumarasambhava and Raghuvamsha. Kumarasambhava is the story of birth of Lord Karthikeya, son of Lord Shiva. Raghuvamsha describes the family tree of Lord Rama. In the first verse (sloka) of Raghuvamsha, he prays Lord Shiva and Shri Devi Parvathi. This is that mystical and magical verse! It has very deep spiritual connotations.
The Magical and Mystical Verse
Vagarthaviva sampriktau vagarthah pratipattaye | Jagatah pitarau vande parvathiparameshwarau || – Raghuvamsha 1.1
Popular meaning: I pray parents of the world, Lord Shiva and Mother Parvathi, who are inseparable as speech and its meaning to gain knowledge of speech and its meaning.
In this sloka(verse), Kalidasa requests divine parents Lord Shiva and Mother Parvathi to teach him speech and its meaning. In other words, In this verse, we are humble and dependent like a small kid requesting helping hand of our parents to learn the spoken language. Now we have many questions raining:
Is that all? It sounds like a pretty straight forward Sanskrit verse. Isn’t right? What is magical and mystical about it?
The magic and beauty comes from the divine language, Sanskrit. It is all in – how we divide the words, which meaning we take for a word and ultimately how we rearrange and organize the verse. Any word in Sanskrit has several meanings and many shades of interpretations. So, this provides us opportunities to dig deeper to understand a verse to unlock its esoteric meaning in many different ways.
Grammatically, this verse has many peculiarities as well. To indicate one-ness, Shri Kalidasa strategically uses the word pitarau, to indicate parents as together and one. So, he made ekashesha dwandhwa compound of mata-pitarau(mother and father) to get the word pitarau. In ekashesha dwandhawa samasa, two words are compounded so that only one of them remains.
In this case, mata and pitr are compounded to get a single word pitarau. In other words, two words are combined to get one to emphasize oneness of the two(e.g. Lord Shiva and Parvathi Devi). Similarly, sampriktau means samyak priktau(properly together; inseparable). This word is to indicate the intricate blend and togetherness.
On the surface, this magical sloka looks like a simple prayer addressed to deities Lord Shiva and Parvathi. Aim of the prayer is to gain knowledge of speech and its meaning, i.e. to acquire proficiency in literature. This is just a tip of the iceberg! If we dig deeper, we uncover more exciting, mystical and spiritual insights. We have a question:
Apart from Shiva and Parvati, are we praying any other deity in the verse?
Yes. Of course, we do. We will discuss the details in the next post! Please stay around.
Om Namah Shivaya ||
Highlights from our archives:
1. Is it possible to achieve yoga by devotion to God and Work?
2. Can we attain God by intellectual thought process and knowledge?
In short, of course, yes! Read on Jnana Yoga for details!