Sri Adi Sankara Bhagawatpada, the greatest philosopher who treaded the length and breadth of India establishing the Advaidic philosophy, was also a devoted bhakta and a great poet. This fact one can come to know when he reads the works of this Great Master. The stutis and stotras he had written are the examples of his unflinching devotion to the Supreme Reality. He has just passed on his experiences, during the great moments of Oneness with the Infinite Lord, in the form of beautiful poetry. The experience this Compassionate Master had at the hillock of Srisailam at the alter of Lord Mallikarjuna comes down cascading in the form of this beautiful work Sivanandalanhari. Just as Mother Ganga comes down from the great heights of the Himalayas changing her course, colour and contents on and off according to the different landscapes she passes, this Gnana Ganga, the poetry of Bhagawan Sankara, starts from the union of Lord Siva and Mother Umadevi. On its way it teaches man about his foolish mind, which goes about the corridors of this sensual world attracted by the dazzling evanescent fruits like a monkey or an elephant in rut. It repeatedly implores the reader to control his mind and surrender at the lotus feet of Lord's Grace for everything, even controlling one's own mind.
Total identification in love and complete surrender with the Lord of one's heart is Bhakti. All of us have this ray of love called Hridaya Rekha in our hearts. Just as one tunes his receiving sets at the correct wavelength to get the music relayed from the radio station, the bhakta has to send his Hridaya Rekha towards his Bhagawan. The loving Lord constantly rains down His Grace. It is up to the bhakta to contact that wavelength of Divine love and hear the eternal music of the Lord. But Sri Adi Sankara warns that for this also the Lord's grace is required. Let us keep our hearts open and empty-to-catch at least a few drops of this water of Grace.
I have tried in my humble way to translate the stanzas and catching the curve of my devotion have given the commentary on this great work of the Universal Teacher Bhagawan Sankara. This work was initiated, helped and encouraged by my guru Prof. C. G. Vasudevan, disciple of Parampoojya Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji. But for him I, an ordinary mortal would not have dared this. It is he who is speaking through my pen.
I submit this work at the feet of my Poojya Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji with humble salutations.
I thank the printer Sri V. Subramaniam of S. Viswanathan (Printers & Publishers), and Sri Ravi and Sri Mahesh, staff of Beta Photo Comps, for patiently going through this work and printing it so clearly. I also thank Sri Mahadevan, the artist for the beautiful cover picture.
For completing this work I have consulted the commentary on Sivanandalahari Sivanandalahari by Sri Sankaracharya in Tamil by Tharakad Krishnayyar Padmanabhan. The commentary on Sivanandalahari in English by Swami Tapasyananda and also my guru Prof. C. G. Vasudevan.
From the Book:
The emotional contentment or the Infinite Bliss, which is experienced as waves by one who contemplates on Siva the pure auspiciousness, is Sivanadalahari. Siva auspiciousness; Ananda-Bliss; Lahari waves. There are different stages of happiness a man experiences. The lowest state of happiness is Shukh. One experiences it only in the presence of objects. It will be present only as long as the object is there and disappears as soon as the object ceases to be experienced. For enjoying this the subject has to send forth his 'Chaintanya Sakthi' or Consciousness, make it alight on the object so that he will be aware of the object. As soon as he withdraws his Sakthi the happiness also ceases to exist. So it is momentary and one has to waste a lot of his energy for it and also the awareness has to be applied fully.
The next stages of happiness are where the sense objects are absent and are replaced by an object of worship (Deva). For enjoying this also the Bhakta has to connect himself to the Deva. Here the Bhakta, Bhagawan and Bhakti are separate from each other. This happiness even though of a superior variety is present only as long as the three are connected. The moment one forgets God due to some other distraction, the Ananda attained disappears. So in this stage only the visible symbol of God given Ananda. It evaporates once bhakti evaporates.
In the third stage, one knows Bhagawan to be the source of Ananda. So the bhakta tries to go to Bhagawan forgetting His form, shape etc. But once one jumps into that ananda Sagara he also disappears completely like the salt doll that went to measure the depth of the ocean. As there are no two entities no transaction takes place. There is no one to experience the Bliss. Everything is just Auspiciousness and Bliss-Sivananda. In this stage of Total auspiciousness one is not conscious of any thing. Before one enters this state of Divine Bliss, at the last moment when he is about to get into the ocean of bliss is the moment when he is about to get into the ocean of bliss is the moment when one is still separate from Bhagawan. At this moment one gets the experience of flood of Ananda and also the taste of auspiciousness. This is the moment when waves of Bliss arising out of that total auspiciousness is experienced by the Bhakta. This is the state of enjoying the Sivanandalahari.
Mayadevi who is the universal mother does not like any of her Children to dissolve and disappear like this. So she prevents them by attracting them with the dazzling nature of sense objects. So one has to pray to Mayadevi also before experiencing the Sivananda. So in his first verse of Sivanandalahari, Bhagawan Sankara, the great teacher of the world offers his prayers to both Siva and Parvathi together. He seeks their permission to take us into the ocean of Bliss that he has been experiencing eternally. He is so compassionate that he wants even the lowest among the humans also to evolve and get liberated.
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