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Words of Wisdom

Selections from Jagatguru Adi Shankaracharya’s Hymns “Shivananda Lahari,” Slokas 48 – 84, Part 1 of 2

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Born in 8th Century India, Jagatguru Adi Shankaracharya showed an early interest in spiritual life. By age eight, He had read and understood all of the Vedic scriptures. After receiving permission to leave home in pursuit of spiritual attainment, He met and received instruction from Guru Govinda Bhagavatpada. Shankaracharya went on to write commentaries on the ancient doctrine, “Advaita Vedanta” as well as the “Bhagavad Gita” and the ten principal Upanishads. He became known as the founder of the Smartha tradition, which brought together several branches of the Hindu faith and highlights the oneness of the inner Self (Atman) with the Supreme God (Nirguna Brahman). At the age of 32, Jagatguru Shankaracharya was said to have completed His mission on Earth as He achieved videha mukti, or freedom from embodiment. “Shivananda Lahari,” or “Waves of the Bliss of Shiva,” is one of the devotional hymns composed by Adi Shankaracharya. We will now share with you excerpts from “Shivananda Lahari.”

“I serve and worship that Lord, Who has the blue sky as the plume, Who has thousands of eyes, Like Adisesha who is the lord of snakes, Who teaches Pranava (cosmic sound) to those who bow, With blessings and wishes, Who is sung about like the peacock, Which sings ‘Ke’ – ‘Ki,’ Who dances with joy, On seeing cloud colored Goddess Parvati, Who likes to play in the garden of Vedantha, And who has a blue neck like the peacock.”

“Oh Lord of all beings, Oh Consort of Goddess Gowri (Parvati), Oh all-pervading One, Just like the swan desires the cluster of lotus flowers, Just like the Chataka bird intensely longs for the blue dark cloud, Just like the Chakravaka bird longs for sun, the Lord of lotus flowers, And just like the Chakora bird longs for the moon every day, My mind longs for thine pair of lotus like feet, Which can be searched only by path of knowledge, And which bestows the bliss of emancipation.”

“Oh Lord, the mother called devotion, Bathes with tears of joy and feels enthralled, Dresses her using the clean and pure mind, Feeds and fills up the belly she with the nectar of your stories, Found in words at the tip of the conch like vessel, Protects her body with Rudraksha (stonefruit) and ash as amulets, And takes care of the devotee child, Placed in the cradle of Your memory.”
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