भवानि त्वं दासे मयि वितर दृष्टिं सकरुणां
इति स्तोतुं वाञ्छन् कथयति भवानि त्वमिति यः।
तदैव त्वं तस्मै दिशसि निजसायुज्यपदवीं
bhavāni tvaṁ dāse mayi vitara dṛṣṭiṁ sakaruṇāṁ
iti stotuṁ vāñchan kathayati bhavāni tvamiti yaḥ |
tadaiva tvaṁ tasmai diśasi nijasāyujyapadavīṁ
bhavāni tvaṁ - O! You Bhavāni! dāse mayi – me, Your servant; vitara – bestow; dṛṣṭiṁ - glancing; sakaruṇāṁ - compassionate; iti – in this manner; stotuṁ - praying; vāñchan – desirous of; kathayati – reciting; bhavāni tvam – O! Bhavāni; iti yaḥ - whoever thus; tada iva – almost immediately; tvaṁ - You; tasmai – for him; diśasi – bestow; nija sāyujya padavīṁ - innate absorption; mukunda brahma indra sphuṭa - Viṣṇu, Brahmā, Indra, other gods and goddesses; makuṭa nīrājita padām – performing ārati with their illuminated crowns on Your lotus feet.
“O! Bhavāni! The one who addresses You as Bhavāni seeking your compassion to bestow Your glance on him considering him as Your servant, offered liberation by You instantaneously, even before he could complete the word Bhavāni. The crowns of Viṣṇu, Brahmā, Indra, other gods and goddesses get the reflection of Your lotus feet and appear as if they perform ārati for You.”
This is one of the important verses in Saundaryalaharī. The emphasis of this verse is on Her name Bhavāni. Bhava refers to Śiva and ana means infusing life and therefore Bhavāni refers to the Consort of Śiva, who infuses life into the beings. Her creative aspect is referred through the name Bhavāni. Śrī Rudraṁ (5.1) says “namo bhavāya ca rudrāya ca नमो भवाय च रुद्राय च”. This verse is in Kriṣṇa Yajurveda Taittirīta Samhtā (IV.v.5.1). Bhava means the One who exists all the time and the One who causes creation. Bhava is one of the common names of Śiva and His consort is Bhavāni (like Maheśvarā – Mahesvarī). Since She is so fond of Bhava (Śiva), She becomes immensely pleased when She is addressed as Bhavāni. She showers Her compassion on those devotees who address Her as Bhavāni and offer them instantaneous liberation. The poetic masterpiece used in this verse by Śaṁkarācārya is immeasurable and only he alone can poetise his divine visions. Lalitā Sahasranāma 112 is Bhavanī.
The visualization of Śaṁkarācārya could have been like this. There is a devotee who constantly thinks about Her. His mind is totally pervaded by Her thoughts. He prays to Her daily seeking only Her glance. On a particular day he communicates with Her like this: “O! Divine Mother! I am Your servant! I always contemplate You. I have no other desires. My Mind is entirely pervaded by You. You prevail in me during all the three states of my consciousness, active state, dream state and deep sleep state. Please be compassionate enough to just glance at me, so that I can attain You.” His emotional outburst is so strong with tears rolling down his eyes, he addresses Her as “Bhavānīīīīīīīīīīīī”. Even before he could complete the world Bhavāni, She appears in person before him and absorbs him into Her. There exists only Bhavāni and the devotee is no more there and he has become one with Her. This state of liberation is known as sāyujya, which means total absorption into the Divine Essence.
Absorption means the mental state that is completely filled with God consciousness. Individual consciousness submerged in God consciousness is absorption. The word Bhavānī is used in the above verse is intended by the devotee as an address to Her in the vocative case. But, as a verb in the first person of the imperative mood, it would mean ‘let me become’. Even before the first two words ‘Bhavānī tvaṃ’ are uttered, She rushes to grant him absorption into Her own Self. She becomes so elated and happy of being addressed as Bhavā’s consort, She does not even wait for the verse to be completed. She acts immediately on listening to those two words Bhavānī tvaṃ, interpreting them as ‘Let me become Thyself’. This translates into mahā vākyā “Tat Tvam Asi”. This process is called sāyujya that gives immediate liberation. This way of contemplating Her is more efficacious than japa and homa. Liberation is of four types: Sālokya, co-existence with the Lord in His world; Sārūpya, attaining the same form as that of the Lord; Sāmīpya, proximity as that of the Lord and Sāyujya, absorption into the Lord Himself. The first one progressively leads to the last one. But the thought process of identifying the self with the Lord (sāyujya) leads to fast track emancipation and this is what is mentioned in this verse.
The depth of devotion is explicitly explained in this verse. The devotee referred to earlier is totally absorbed in Her thoughts. He perpetually contemplates Her through his mind. This devotee is an ordinary devotee who does not know the intricacies of Her various kinds of worship. He does not know mantras and never recites them. But, he has established a very strong connection with Her through his mind. Whatever he does, he never thinks that he is the doer. His ego has been completely dissolved unto Her. Dissolving ego unto Her means surrendering to Her, which is also known as śaraṇāghati. Śaraṇāghati is surrendering unto Her for protection, protection from transmigration. The verse clearly says that only the depth of love and devotion for Her alone counts and rest of the procedures are only rudimentary in nature.
Viṣṇu, Brahmā, Indra, other gods and goddesses worship Her through various mantras, hymns, etc. But She has not chosen to offer them liberation. She only chooses the person described in this verse, who is totally ignorant of rituals, mantras and japas. He knows only one thing and that is Her. Gods and goddesses worship Her with some materialistic desires such as power, weapons, kingdom, wealth, etc. They have very close access to Her all the time and they participate in the everyday ārati ceremony performed to Her and Śiva. After the completion of ārati ceremony (ārati means ceasing. After performing ārati no more rituals should be performed. It indicates the cessation of all rituals at that time), they place their heads at Her feet as a mark of extremum respect. Due to the natural illumination of Her feet, the gems studded in their crowns appear as if ārati is performed at the time of placing their crowned heads at Her feet. It can also be explained that the devotee wanted only Her sacred feet and glance whereas, She has gone several steps further and offered him total absorption. She is so compassionate. She offers more than what is contemplated for and this verse also highlights this aspect.
There is a figurative description of Bhavāni in Lalitā Sahasranāma second dhyāna verse:
aṇimādibirāvṛtām mayūkhai-rahamityeva vibhāvaye bhavānīm||
अरुणां करुणा-तरंगिताक्षीं धृत-पाशांकुश-पुष्प-बाण-चापाम्।
अणिमादिबिरावृताम् मयूखै-रहमित्येव विभावये भवानीम्॥
The meaning for this verse is – I meditate on Bhavānī, the supreme happiness, whose colour is like the sun at dawn i.e. red in colour and from whom rays of light are emanating. This confirms Her red complexion discussed in the previous verse. Her compassion for Her devotees comes out of Her eyes like waves of ocean. In this verse She is described with four hands. In the rear hands She has two weapons called pāśam (like a rope) and aṅkuśa (a sharp edged metal weapon normally used to control elephants). In the front hands she holds a bow made out of sugar cane and arrows made out of flowers. A detailed study of Her weaponries is discussed later in this Sahasranāma. They represent four of Her premier assistants. She is surrounded by aṣṭama siddhi-s. Each siddhi is represented by a goddess in Śrī Cakra. I meditate on Her form called Bhavānī, a state of supreme happiness with beams of light.
There is yet another composition by Śaṁkarācārya titled Bhavānībhujaṅgam (भवानीभुजङ्गम्) which has 17 verses. In the 17th verse (bhavānī bhavānī bhavānī trivāraṁ udāraṁ mudā sarvadā ye japanti.... भवानी भवानी भवानी त्रिवारं उदारं मुदा सर्वदा ये जपन्ति....) he says that those who recite Bhavānī (recitation of three times a day is mentioned as japa in the verse) three times a day with great devotion and happiness will never have sadness, desire, accrual of sins and fear in his life. All the seventeen verses discuss about Her as Bhavānī.
Lalitā Sahasranāma 939 is Paramodārā परमोदारा which means She gives more than what is asked for. Saundaryalaharī verse 4 also conveys the same meaning by saying vāñchāsamadhikaṁ meaning She gives more than what is desired.
Chāndogya Upaniṣad (VIII.ii.10) explains the status of this devotee thus: “Whatever kingdom, whatever good things he desires to possess, they appear to him just as his wishes.” A devotee described in this verse will not seek any materialistic wealth but would seek only Her Grace, which alone can give absorption, as this alone stops the pains of transmigration.