Soundarya Laharī Verse 2

तनीयांसं पांसुं तव चरण पङ्केरुहभवं
विरिञ्चिः संचिन्वन् विरचयति लोकानविकलम्।
वहत्येनं शौरिः कथमपि सहस्रेण शिरसां
हरः संक्षुद्यैनं भजति भसितोद्धूलनविधिम्॥

tanīyāṁsaṁ pāṁsuṁ tava caraṇa paṅkeruhabhavaṃ
viriñciḥ saṁcinvan viracayati lokānavikalam|
vahatyeanaṁ śauriḥ kathamapi sahasreṇa śirasāṁ
haraḥ saṁkṣudyainaṁ bhajati bhasitoddhūlanavidhim||

This verse further explains the Supremacy of Śaktī in upholding the universe, through various energies. Each of these energies is worshipped as gods and goddesses. For example, fire is worshipped as Agni, water is worshipped as Varuṇa, etc. All these energies function out of fear for Her. Kaṭha Upaniṣad (II.iii.2) says “The Brahman is like a thunderbolt (vajra) about to strike.” She strikes those who are delinquent in performing the prescribed duties. The sun shines fearing Her, the air blows fearing Her. Kaṭha Upaniṣad (II.iii.3) explains this; “From fear of Brahman, fire gives heat. Out of terror, the sun shines. Afraid of It, Indra, Vāyu and Yama rush to perform their respective duties.” Every action that happens in this universe is headed by a god or goddesses and when they do not perform their duties, as prescribed, She wields Her thunderbolt. This establishes Her supremacy.

These gods and goddesses perform their duties out of specific powers given by Her. For example, Varuṇa presides only over water and water bodies and he cannot control Agni or fire. Though She assigns duties to different gods and goddesses, She being omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient, knows what is happening around Her. Hence, She is feared for. No action in this universe can take place without Her knowledge. This is the exclusive quality of the Brahman.

This verse specifically adores Her feet. Her feet (caraṇa) are compared to a lotus flower. Generally eyes are compared to lotus. Here, Her sacred feet are compared to a lotus, not merely because of the beauty, but also for the rosy complexion of Her feet, which also means presaging good fortune. In Śrī Vidyā cult, great importance is attached to Her sacred feet. She is worshipped in the bindu of Śrīcakrā. Before reaching the central point of Śrīcakrā, which is the bindu, one has to worship different goddesses known as āvaraṇa devi-s. These devi-s’ feet are worshipped before reaching Her, who is worshipped as Parābhaṭṭārikā in the bindu as “śrīlalitā mahātripurasundari-parābhaṭṭārikā śrīpādukāṁ pūjayāmi tarpayāmi namaḥ श्रीललिता महात्रिपुरसुन्दरि-पराभट्टारिका श्रीपादुकां पूजयामि तर्पयामि नमः”

This verse is full of poetic parlance. Śaṁkarācārya while composing this verse probably was having Her direct vision, particularly Her sacred and radiant feet and would have overcome with Bliss. He says that the gods of creation, sustenance and destruction – Brahmā, Viṣṇu (Śauri) and Śiva collect the dust on Her feet. Here dust (pāṃsu) means pollen grains of the flowers She wears. She is fond of kadamba flowers, says Lalitā-Sahasranāma 323. {There are said to be five types of sacred trees and kadamba tree is one among them.  These five sacred trees represent the four components of antaḥkaraṇa viz. mind, intellect, consciousness and ego and the fifth being the heart where the soul is said to reside (Some modern interpretations point out that the soul resides within the pineal gland, the gland of divinity).  The aroma of these flowers is compared to the modifications of the mind.} 

By collecting these dust particles, Brahmā creates fourteen worlds (seven upper and seven lower), Viṣṇu sustains the universe and Śiva causes death and destruction. Dust particles can also be explained as infinite individual souls, the cause for all that exists in the universe. Without soul a body cannot exist. Therefore, it is implied that these three God heads create, sustain and dissolve the beings by collecting the souls from Her feet. Further,  Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva should not be taken as gods but as the symbols of the triads. She is present in all the triads.  There are many triads - past, present and future; Brahma, Viṣṇu and Rudra; creation, sustenance and dissolution; the three letters of ॐ a, u and m; the three types of karma-s prārabdha, sañcita āgāmya or kriyamāṇa; three guṇa-s – sattva, rajas and tams; icchā, jñāna and kriyā śaktī-s, etc. Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa (21.36 – 38) says “In You reside the three mātra-s of time (short, long and medium), O Goddess, all that exists and does not exist, the three worlds, the three Veda-s, the three sciences, the three fires, the three lights, three colours, the three qualities, the three sounds and the three āśrama-s, (house holder, anchorite and sannyās) the three times and the three states of life, the three types of pitṛ-s (Vasu, Rudra and Āditya), day-night and the rest.  This trinity of standards in your form Oh! Goddess”

When the third person (nara or a human being), the second person (Śaktī) and the first person (Śiva) are used together, simultaneously there is the absorption of the lower into the higher because it is the higher that contains the truth of the lower.  This means that Śiva aspect prevails in Śaktī aspect and Śaktī aspect prevails in nara aspect.  Thus Śiva aspect prevails all over.  Nara-rūpa (rūpa means form) first rises to Śaktī rūpa and then to Śiva rūpa. Nara rūpa cannot rise to Śiva rūpa, leaving aside the intervening Śaktī rūpa. This is the reason that Śiva always addresses Devi in the second person. This is known as Trika philosophy. Śiva is known as Prakāśa, Śaktī is known as Vimarśa and their sāmarasya (equipoise) is known as identity in difference, the living beings. This is the reason for adoring Her as the Supreme Mother.

All triads (tripura) are derived drom Ādi Śaktī.  Ādi Śaktī is the sum total of all the energy forms, the cause of material creation.  Time to time, this divine energy manifests itself in various forms and shapes that we are able to construe.  The entire universe is filled either with matter or with energy.  In other words, what we call as void is filled with gravitational force or electromagnetic fields.  It has been proved scientifically, that the universe was much smaller than it appears today and will expand further leading to the complete collapse known as annihilation.  The expansion of the universe stops at some point of time and the universe begins its contraction.  When the contraction is complete, the universe reaches its original state of Big Bang. Śaktī as the kinetic energy and as the Supreme administrator causes the conception, expansion and contraction, the three primary acts of Śaktī, hence She is known as Tripura Sundarī).  The kinetic energy is derived from the static energy or the original source of the Big Bang, known as Śiva.

To sum up, through this verse Śaṁkarācārya conveys the importance of triads that hold the universe together. All the triads are presided over by Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva. Śiva does not mean Her consort Paramaśiva, who passed on His unique and independent power of authority to Her. But for Paramaśiva, She Herself cannot exist. Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva contextually mean the three powers of creation, sustenance and dissolution and should not be taken as the Gods described in the Scriptures. However, these Gods control over all the triads and hold the universe as it stands today. Only because of their actions, the balance in the universe is maintained. When imbalance arises due to some destructive forces, the universe is annihilated by Paramaśiva, for which action, She alone stands as a witness. This is discussed in Saundaryalaharī verse 26. Lalitā-Sahasranāma 571 adores Her as Mahā-pralaya-sakṣiṇī महा-प्रलय-सक्षिणी.