Beginning from this verse, Śaṁkarācārya describes Parāśakti’s gross form. For Gods, description begins from feet to head and for Goddesses it begins from head to feet. This portion of this Scripture is known as Soundarya laharī (saundarya means beauty) and verses beginning from one to forty one are known as Ānandalaharī. Soundarya laharī is based on samayācāra worship, where She is adored as Samaya, who has been briefly described in the previous verse.
There are two views on the second section of Soundarya laharī. First section comprising of 41 verses described Her subtle forms. Particularly the last few verses dealt with Her subtlest form kuṇḍalinī. Her relationship with Śiva was also dealt with in detail in the previous section. After having read and understood the previous section, an aspirant gets ready to meditate on Her. In order to effectively contemplate Her, Śaṁkarācārya has conceptualised the second part, which describes Her gross form. Basically, this section will be helpful only to those, who are not able to meditate on Her formless form. There is also another view that this part is meant only for those who have just entered spiritual path, setting aside all the rituals. It is believed that they cannot easily contemplate on Her and in order to help them, Śaṁkarācārya has authored the second part known as Saundaryalaharī. Saundarya means beauty and lahari means large waves. Therefore, Soundarya laharī means waves of beauty. Some of these verses are too secretive and intimate in nature. The previous part is known as Ānandalaharī, the waves of Bliss. Naturally, a question arises, as to how a great saint like Śaṁkarācārya could describe Her feminine beauty in such a depth. It is only the mindset of the aspirants that count and the way they perceive Her. Misperception clearly indicates the immaturity of the aspirant and he has to tread a lot of distance to make an entry into spiritual path. A great saint like him looks at everything as Her Grace. He did not find any difference between wealth, women and logs. For him, everything is Brahman.
गतैर्माणिक्यत्वं गगनमणिभिः सान्द्रघटितं
किरीटं ते हैमं हिमगिरिसुते कीर्तयति यः।
स नीडेयच्छायाच्छुरणशबलं चन्द्रशकलं
धनुः शौनासीरं किमिति न निबध्नाति धिषणाम्॥
gatairmāṇikyatvaṁ gaganamaṇibhiḥ sāndraghaṭitaṁ
kirīṭaṁ te haimaṁ himagirisute kīrtayati yaḥ |
sa nīḍeyacchāyācchuraṇaśabalaṁ candraśakalaṁ
dhanuḥ śaunāsīraṁ kimiti na nibadhnāti dhiṣaṇām ||
gataiḥ māṇikyatvaṁ - attaining the qualities of rubies; gaganamaṇibhiḥ - like twelve suns; sāndra ghaṭitaṁ - closely embedded; kirīṭaṁ te haimaṁ - Your golden crown; himagiri sute – daughter of king of snow clad Mountains; kīrtayati yaḥ sa – the one who praises; nīḍe yat chāyāt cchuraṇa śabalaṁ - reflections of the embedded gems in the crown; candra śakalaṁ - rays of the moon; dhanuḥ śaunāsīraṁ - Indra’s bow; kimiti na nibadhnāti – will he not decide; dhiṣaṇām – intelligence.
“O! Daughter of King of snow clad Mountains! Your golden crown closely embedded with gems, shine like twelve suns, which derive the colour of ruby. Will not the intelligent one, who sings Your praise see this reflection as the rays of moon causing rainbow?”
This verse talks about Her crown, which is fully embedded with precious gems. These gems are closely embedded on gold, leaving no space between them. The rays emanating from these gems appear like twelve suns, known as dvādaśāditya-s (dvādaśa means numeric twelve and āditya means sun). It is believed that there are twelve suns, each shining for a month in rotation. Astronomically, for every calendar month, a sun presides over. The rays emanating from Her crown appear as if all the twelve suns appear simultaneously, deriving the qualities of the gems embedded in Her crown (referring to multiple colours). It is also said that these twelve suns, unable to have Her glimpse from close quarters, have taken the forms of precious gems and adored Her crown and thus have the benefit of worshipping Her perpetually. This transformation of suns into gems adoring Her crown is described in this verse. An intelligent poet could interpret this radiance emanating from Her gems studded crown could mistake it as moon rays or as a rainbow. An intelligent poet only looks at Her as an embodiment of compassion and Grace. In spite of the twelve suns adoring Her crown, the great poet, who is totally devoted to Her visualizes moon, which is of cool nature as opposed to the extreme heat of twelve suns.
When Śaṁkarācārya speaks about rainbow, it could mean six psychic chakras and sahasrāra, as the chakras have the colours of the rainbow (VIBGYOR – beginning from sahasrāra to mūladhāra). After having immersed in the bliss caused by the first part, the aspirant’s kuṇḍalinī has ascended to sahasrāra, activating all the chakras below. When he speaks about moon, he could be referring to bindu in sahasrāra, from which nectar drips down into throat during meditation. Śaṁkarācārya could have conceptualized this description for the sake of advanced aspirants.
An aspirant should contemplate Her gem studded crown as the one that lustrously shines like a rainbow. At the end of this section, the aspirant could easily conceptualize Her.