Soundarya Lahari – Shloka #12: Incomparable Celestial Beauty of Shridevi !

Picture of Shri Lalita Mahatripra Sundari Devi

Most Beautiful Divine Mother Shridevi Lalita Mahatripra Sundari

Tvadiyam saundaryam Tuhina-giri-kanye tulayitum
Kavindrah kalpante katham api Virinchi-prabhrutayah |
Yadalokautsukyad amara-lalana yanti manasa
Tapobhir dush-prapam api girisha-sayujya-padavim ||
– Soundarya Lahari 12

Benefits: To attain Lord Shiva; To make a dumb person speak.

Meaning: O daughter of Himalayas(Shridevi !), the foremost poets, such as Lord Brahma, imagined to compare your beauty.(with that of celestial damsels, Rambha, Urvashi etc., but,)
Celestial damsels themselves, with their eagerness to appreciate your beauty, mentally attain the state of oneness with Lord Shiva.
This is hard to attain even by severe penance.

Insights:

  1. Lord Brahma is the greatest creative poet. He is the expert in even creating such a complex universe. Once, he imagined to compare Shridevi’s beauty to celestial damsels. Then, he noted that the damsels themselves are appreciating the beauty of Shridevi !
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    How can he compare Shridevi to them? Since the damsels focus their attention so pointedly on the beauty of Shridevi, almost like meditation, they feel the oneness with Lord Shiva. How is that possible? Let us understand it clearly.
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    We discussed oneness of Shridevi and Lord Shiva in the first shloka of Soundarya Lahari. If one prays Shridevi, automatically Lord Shiva is also adored! So, by focusing attention on the beauty of Shridevi, damsels attained oneness with Shridevi and thereby Lord Shiva too.
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  2. Merging with Lord Shiva is possible by severe penance. But, the damsels in their eagerness to appreciate the beauty of Shridevi, got engrossed fully, as though in Samadhi state. Thus, they easily merged with Lord Shiva.
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  3. Esoteric Meaning: The divine damsels attained Lord Shiva just by seeing the beauty of Shridevi. What does it tell us? Oneness of Lord Shiva and Shakti(Shridevi).   How?  Since there is no difference between Shiva and Shakti, getting engrossed  in the beauty of Shridevi is same as merging with Lord Shiva!
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    So, the message is clear: It does not matter whether you pray Shridevi or Lord Shiva. You are essentially adoring the same eternal Supreme Shakti(Power), who is also Lord Shiva.
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  4. Hidden Meaning: The shloka extols the Ardhanarishwara form(half male-half female body) of Lord Shiva, in which Lord Shiva and Shridevi Parvati occupy the right and left halves of the same body. So, if you pray Lord Shiva or Shridevi, you are really praying the same deity Ardhanarishwara form of the Lord Shiva.
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  5. The Beauty and the Power – Perspective #1: According to this verse, appreciation of the external beauty of Shridevi automatically takes us to the eternal abode of Lord Shiva. In other words, Shridevi has the power to get us liberation by her mesmerizing beauty.
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    So, Shridevi’s extrinsic beauty and intrinsic power are very intricately linked, just like word and its meaning(Vagartha).  These two aspects are the essence of Soundarya Lahari hymn. You may go through a detailed discussion on this confluence of Shridevi’s beauty and power, if you are really interested.
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  6. The Beauty and the Power – Perspective #2: The two lines of the verse starting with phrase twadiyam saundaryam implies soundarya (beauty) aspect of Shridevi. They describe unmatched glamor of Shridevi. The lines starting with Tapobhir-dushprapam echo the Shakti (power) attribute of Shridevi. It says Shridevi’s beauty has the power to get us the eternal abode of Lord Shiva.  As discussed above in #6, again it suggests the blend of beauty and power within Shridevi, which is the heart of Soundarya Lahari.
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  7. Eligibility to Worship Shridevi: Why does the verse bring the two contrasting characters, i.e.  damsels and penance(tapas), in to discussion? Let us analyze.
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    The damsels are the celestial dancers who perform in the court of Lord Indra, the king of heaven. So, they  represent every one of us, who are dancing(immersed) in the material life and luxuries. The severe penance is generally meant for saints. The saints renounce the temporary material life to focus fully on accessing the eternal bliss of the Ultimate Reality.
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    According to the verse, the damsels easily attain the Ultimate Reality which is difficult to access by even by severe penance. How do damsels achieve it?  By their minds (yanti manasa ),  by beholding the beauty of Shridevi. Damsels are equally eligible like saints to adore Shridevi, irrespective of their materialistic background.
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    The verse implies: Shridevi can be easily attained even by people delved  in material life, if they put their minds in praying Her with devotion to see Her splendidly glorious form.
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  8. Devotion is the Key: Actually, damsels must have prayed Shridevi to have an opportunity to see Her. Although, this is not explicitly told in the verse, it is echoed by the word dushprapam, meaning Shridevi is not easily accessible.  Further, yanti manasa (access by their mind) suggests that the one-pointed devotion is the key ingredient that helps us to behold Shridevi’s grandeur.
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  9. In summary, the shloka declares: Shridevi is extremely beautiful. There is no comparison. Period! Merging with Lord Shiva is the highest purpose of human life. If we are fortunate to have a look at Shridevi to appreciate the beauty, we focus so one-pointedly that easily  we would attain(maybe unknowingly!) the oneness with Lord Shiva! We must pray Her with devotion for that to happen. There is no shortcut. Got it?

Words of Beauty: Here are some bunch of words that enhance the melodious rhythm of the verse: Tvadi-yam:saundar-yam; tu-hina:tu-layitum; ka-vindrah:ka-lpante:ka-thamapi; tapo-bir:dush-prapam.

What are you waiting for? Let us adore the most beautiful Shridevi and pray her to appear before us to achieve the  real goal of life and yoga!

Narayani namostute |

We salute Shridevi Naryani (for her kind Grace).

Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Kalidas

Related Reading:

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Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Rudraksha Yoga

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