Soundarya Lahari – Shloka #28: Power of Shridevi’s devotion to Lord Shiva!

Picture of Lord Shiva and Shridevi Parvati in Ardhanareeshwara form.

Ardhanareeshwara Form of Lord Shiva and Shridevi Parvati: Ideal togetherness like word and its meaning.

Sudham apyasvadya pratibhaya-jaraa-mrityu-harinim
Vipadyante vishve Vidhi-Shatamakhadyaa divishadah |
Karalam yat ksvelam kabalitavatah kaala-kalanaa
Na Sambhos tan-mulam tava Janani tatanka-mahima ||
– Soundarya Lahari 28

Benefits: To get rid of fear of poison and untimely death.

Meaning: O Mother! (Shridevi)! Even after drinking the nectar that eliminates old age and death,
the celestial beings such as Lord Brahma, Lord Indra perish in the universe[1].
The time period of existence of Lord Shiva, who consumed strong virulent poison, is beyond computation[2].
The root of that(wonder!) is your ear-ornaments. [3]

Insights: What a great power of Shridevi’s chastity(paativratya) and devotion to Lord Shiva!

  1. According to our Scriptures, once Gods and daemons got together and churned the ocean of milk. Among other divine things, a strong poison called Halaahala(a.k.a Kaalakoota) came out as as fume and started choking the entire world. Everybody started praying Lord Shiva. Out of great kindness and compassion, he drank the entire poison. Shridevi Parvati rushed there and held the neck of the Lord and stopped the poison going to the stomach.
    The churning was resumed and continued until the divine nectar, that eliminates old age and death,  came out. When the fight ensued between Gods and daemons while sharing the nectar, Lord Vishnu appeared as beautiful lady called Mohini(means mesmerizing lady) and ensured that only Gods could consume the nectar.  Due to this, Gods conquered old-age and death, until the next dissolution. After dissolution only Lord Shiva remains as Sadashiva(eternal Brahman) after annihilating everything else to himself.
  2. Lord Shiva did not consume nectar to become immortal. Instead, to help the world, he consumed poison which could have potentially harmed him. According to this shloka, Lord Shiva is eternal even after consuming the poison, because of Shridevi’s ear ornaments, i.e. devotion of Shridevi Parvati. This shloka extols the chastity(paativratya) of Shridevi and sets the highest standard for all of us to follow.
  3. In India, married ladies wear ornaments on their ears as a mark of respect and devotion to their husbands. Generally, ornaments and decorative items are worn as a symbol of being sumangali, i.e. who is married and the husband is alive. Our Scriptures have discussed the power of devotion of wife towards her husband at length in many stories.
    For example, Damayanti was a devoted wife of the king Nala. When they were roaming in the forest, Nala left Damayanti alone due some unfortunate circumstance.
    A hunter was attracted towards Damayanti and approached her with evil intentions. Then, to protect herself,  Damayanti just gave him an angry look. That’s it! The hunter was reduced ashes!
    This is the power of chastity(paativratya) of Damayanti towards her husband. The current shloka talks about this power of devotion of a married lady towards her spouse by taking the great example of of Shridevi and Lord Shiva.
  4. Esoteric Meaning#1 : Gods are mortal even after consuming nectar. But, Lord Shiva is eternal by drinking the deadly poison Halahala. Look at the sheer contrast here!
    The nectar turns poison(in the long run) for temporary deities and the poison turns nectar to Lord Shiva to make him eternal! According to this verse the secret root cause of this wonder is Shridevi’s power of chastity(paativratya) and devotion to Lord Shiva.
  5. Esoteric Meaning #2: Focus on the word tatanka-mahima, meaning the power of ear ornaments of Shridevi. Think about it. If the ear ornaments have the power to ensure the Lord Shiva to be eternal, what could be the power of Shridevi herself? It is infinite and immeasurable. After all, Shridevi is synonymous with power. So, She is also called Shakti(power). This verse extols this nature of Shridevi.
  6. Esoteric Meaning #3: The word vipadyante(meaning killed) in the verse clearly says that other gods are mortal since they are subjected to life cycle of the universe. The Lord Shiva  and Shridevi together are nothing but the eternal Ultimate Reality(Universal Self).
  7. Words of Beauty: Here are the group of words that provide melodious rhythm to the verse: Sudha-asvadya; jara-harinim; Vidhi-divishadh; karalamksvelam; kaala-kalana. Relish and Enjoy!

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May Shridevi’s great power protect all of us!

Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Kalidas

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