Soundarya Lahari – Shloka #22: Shridevi is Easily Pleased by Devoted Prayer and Complete Surrender!

Picture of Shridevi Lalitambika

Shridevi Lalitambika : Easily Pleased by Devoted Prayers!

 Bhavani Tvam daase mayi vitara drishtim sakarunam
Iti sthotum vanchan kathayati Bhavani Tvam iti yah |
Tadaiva Tvam tasmai dishasi nija-sayujya-padaveem
Mukunda-Brahmendra-sphuta-makuta-nirajita-padam ||
– Soundarya Lahari 22

Benefits: Getting of all powers.

Meaning:
Shridevi! If one desires to pray you: “Bhavani! You please cast your merciful glance on me who is your slave”, the moment he just says – “Bhavani! You…”,  you  would give him your eternal abode which is identical with you. Your abode is rendered lustrous by nirajana(waving of light during the worship) of the brilliant crowns of Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and Lord Indra.

Exposition:
This shloka suggests that Shridevi is easily pleased by prayers of her devotees. Actually, by her very nature, Shridevi is stotra priya, i.e. she likes prayers! So, we don’t have to perform elaborate rituals such as yajna, yaaga, homa etc. Just a devoted prayer is all that is required to propitiate her.

According to this Shloka, we need to completely surrender to her like a slave (dasa) with complete devotion to receive her kind Grace. Even getting a simple and kind look of Shridevi is more than enough to have her full Grace!

Her abode is made lustrous by waving of brilliant lights from the crowns of Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and Lord Indra. It shows the supremacy of Shridevi vis-a-vis other deities.

There are two perspectives to consider about Shridevi’s  abode:

  1. Abode as Shridevi’s place: The supreme deities such as Lord Vishnu are also in Shridevi’s place to worship her to get her kind Grace.
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  2. Shridevi’s abode as Herself: The brilliant powers of Lord Vishnu and other supreme deities are present within Shridevi herself(i.e. in her abode)!

What kind of status does Shridevi bestow us if we pray her?

Her eternal abode of sayujya(one with herself), i.e. we will be one with her divine power. This means that we get moksha  or liberation from continuous birth and death cycle. So, this shloka suggests the path of devotion(Bhakti yoga) to merge with Shridevi.

According to Scriptures, there are four types of liberation:

  1. Salokya : Going to the place of Shridevi.
  2. Sameepya : Going very close to Shridevi in her abode.
  3. Saroopya: Becoming the form of Shridevi.
  4. Sayujya: Ultimately, merging with the power of Shridevi herself.

As we can see, achieving sayujya status by merging with Shridevi is the final and the ultimate form of liberation(moksha). This is possible just by praying Shridevi with complete surrender and devotion.
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Also, from the perspective of material life and enjoyment(bhoga), Shridevi graces a wealthy and royal status(padavi) in the society(vide infra, esoteric insight #5 for details).

Esoteric Insights:

  1. The words Bhavani Tvam indicates Mahavakya(Great Saying) of our Scriptures Upanishats, i.e. That thou art(That you are!)  in two different ways. Thus:
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    1. Bhavani! Tat Twam Asi : Shridevi, That thou art! By addressing as you, we acknowledge Shridevi as the Ultimate Reality(Universal Self) with all powers of supreme deities of Lord Vishnu and others. We express our wish to merge with her.
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    2. Tat (Bhavani!) Twam Asi : That Thou Art! Here are we addressing our own Individual Self to remind ourselves to realize us the Universal Self by praying Shridevi via path of devotion. Remember, Shridevi herself is the Universal Self( a.k.a the Ultimate Reality).
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  2. The words dase(to the servant) and vanchhan(desired to, intending to) provide inputs to the secret strategy to please Shridevi ! It is very simple: surrendering to Shridevi completely like a servant, with 100% devotion(intention or bhava).
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    It also suggests that we do not need to spell out what we want fully. But, we need to be very clear in our intention. That’s all!  Shridevi understands the intent very easily and grants us whatever we want instantaneously.
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  3. The word nija means two things: one’s own  and the Truth. So, here the phrase nija-sayujya means Shridevi’s own abode which itself is the eternal Truth. Thus, it further means that Shridevi herself is nothing but the Ultimate Truth.
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  4. Look at the play of two words Bhavani Tvam! It means Bhavani(Shridevi), You! If you combine the two into a single word: Bhavanitvam, it means being one and identical with Shridevi.
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    Interestingly, the words Tadaiva Tvam also have a hidden daivatvam(Oneness with the Divinity), when taken together. This means that Shridevi can make the devotee identical with God, i.e. the realization of God within oneself. It also suggests we can get the divine powers of God by the Grace of Shridevi.
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    To understand the concept of these words more clearly, compare similar words like Shivatvam(being one with Lord Shiva), Panchatvam(being one with five elements, i.e. death) and so on. Again, if we divide the word Shivatvam as Shiva Tvam it means Lord Shiva, You! What a marvel of Sanskrit words!
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  5. From the above perspective #4, the first line of the verse thus can become Dase mayi Bhavanitvam, sakarunam drishtim (cha) vitara. It means Shridevi, to me who is your servant, provide your eternal abode and kind look of Grace!
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    Consider the devotee who sought liberation(moksha) addressed Shridevi as Bhavani tvam( Bhavani, you!).  Shridevi  quickly understood the intention of  her devotee that he  is asking for Bhavanitvam(state of being one with Shridevi). So, She granted him her eternal abode immediately!
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    Now, if the house-holder is asking for material luxuries and enjoyment(bhoga), the moment the devotee says Bhavani, tvam!(Shridevi, you!), she confers the wealthy, powerful and royal status in the society to the devotee, just by her kind look!
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    How do we get this esoteric meaning? The word padaveem also means status or the prestige. In this context, Shridevi grants the wealthy status which is better than that of Lord Vishnu (the ruler of wealth) and  more royal than that of Lord Indra, who is the king of the heaven.
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    Thus, true to her name Shridevi, she bestows both bhoga(material enjoyment) and moksha(liberation) to her staunch devotees.
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  6. The verse further shows the caring motherly affection of Shridevi. It describes a familiar situation: when the baby cries,  its Mother exactly knows what that baby really needs. The kid need not spell-out anything at all!
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  7. In this context, the word padam means both the abode and lotus feet of Shridevi.  The last line of the verse, viz., Mukunda...padam, means that Shridevi’s feet is nothing but the eternal abode of Shridevi, which is prayed by bowing crowns(heads) of Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and Lord Indra.
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    It has already been said in the first shloka of Soundarya Lahari that Great powers such as Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma also worship Shridevi  as: “…atastvam aradhyam Hari-Hara- Virinchyadi-bhirapi…”. So, the phrase Mukunda…padam, extols and reiterates the supreme power of Shridevi over all other deities..

Words of Beauty: Bunch of sweet words that contribute melody and rhythm to the verse: vitara, sakaru-nam; iti, katha-yati, iti-yah; ta-daiva, ta-samyai; ni-ja, sayu-jya; Muku-nda, Brahme-ndra;sphu-ta, maku-ta. Relish and enjoy!

The Action Point: Let us pray Shridevi with full devotion to earn her kind Grace!

Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Kalidas

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