त्वदीयाभिर्वाग्भिस्तव जननि वाचां स्तुतिरियम्॥
tvadīyābhirvāgbhistava janani vācāṁ stutiriyam ||
pradīpa jvālābhiḥ - with the flames of a lamp; divasakara nīrājana vidhiḥ - offering dīpārādhana to the sun; sudhā suteḥ - generation of nectar of the moon; candropala jalalavaiḥ - droplets of water oozing out of the moonstone; arghya racanā – offering arghya; svakīyaiḥ ambhobhiḥ - its own water; salilanidhi sauhitya karaṇaṁ - satisfying ocean with water oblations; tvadīyābhiḥ vāgbhiḥ - Your own words; tava – Yours; janani – O! Divine Mother; vācāṁ stutiriyam – words of praise.
“O! Divine Mother! These words of praise (entire Saundaryalaharī) appear like offering dīpārādhana to the sun, offering oblations to the moon from the water secreted from moon stone and offering oblations to the ocean with water. All these words (of Saundaryalaharī) are only Your own words.”
This is the last verse of Saundaryalaharī, one of the greatest hymns on Parāśakti ever composed. This would not have been possible without Her Grace. In fact, it is widely believed that Śaṁkarācārya composed these verses in Her direct presence, as otherwise, no one could have described Her qualities so elegantly and meticulously.
The grosser meaning of the verse elucidates the humility of Śaṁkarācārya, the most learned man of the recent times. He not only wrote interpretations to several great holy texts such as Brahma Sūtra and Upaniṣad-s, but also composed several hymns in Her praise. Beyond all these, he established Advaita philosophy and proved beyond doubt, its importance if realizing Brahman. It is a fact that a Self-realized person will never boast of his spiritual status or make others know his spiritual attainment, as there is no necessity for him to do so. On the contrary, those who boast themselves of spiritual realization are not realized persons at all. In the highest stages of spiritual path, ego is completely dissolved. It is only because of the ego, a person identifies himself as different from Her. In spite of being a Self-realized sage, Śaṁkarācārya, with all humility, says to Parāśakti, that it is only Her own words that are used in composing this hymn. Śaṁkarācārya subtly conveys that speech originates from Her. This is confirmed in Lalitā Sahasranāma 640, Vāgadhīśvarī (She is the ruler of speech). Her Absolute form is also called parāvāc form. This parāvāc is primeval stage. The sound in this stage can be called as a seed that has not yet germinated. When the seed begins its germination, the stage is called paśyantī. At this stage the seed has the desire to grow. The stem becomes visible and the seed is set to commence its journey of growth. Though it is known for certain that there is going to be a tree at a future date, one does not know how the tree would be, big or small, fruit bearing or barren etc. When the sapling grows to a certain height, one is able to see its leaves, he will be able to identify what type of tree that would be. This stage is called madhyamā. The sapling further grows to become a tree, when one is able to see its flowers and fruits. He is able to recognize the nature of this seed totally now. The complete form of the tree is known at this stage. This is called vaikharī stage. These three stages originated from the form of the Absolute, the seed in this example. Absolute form is called as parāvāc. Parā mean the highest form or the supreme form and vāc means sound. Parāvāc means the supreme form of sound. From this parā form or the seed form sound germinates, grows and yields words. The result is a full word with meaning. In a human being this parāvāc is said to be in the form of kuṇḍalinī energy posited in mūlādāra cakra or base cakra. From the base cakra, the seed of the sound begins its ascent, reaches manipūraka cakra or navel cakra in the form of paśyantī, moves to anāhat cakra or heart cakra in the form madhyamā and reaches viśuddhi throat cakra as vaikharī where the final cleansing takes place. From the throat cakra the physical form of words are delivered. The vibration of kuṇḍalinī energy is the seed of the sound. When a desire of speech arises, it manifests as Śabda Brahman at mūlādhāra and moves up to take a physical form and delivered through throat cakra in the form of vaikharī. Śabda Brahman is the Brahman in the form of sound. Like universe manifesting from the Brahman, words originate from Śabda Brahman. In reality, these two Brahman are not different. Thus it is proved beyond any doubt that She is the supreme ruler for words.
In addition to these authentic sources, there are several nāma-s in Lalitā Sahasranāma which authentically proves that She is the source of vāc (speech). For example, 350, Vāgvādinī (She prompts speech or She is in the form of speech itself. Goddess Sarasvatī is referred to as the goddess of speech. This nāma could mean that Sarasvatī acquired the control of speech from Her. Nāma 704 is Sarasvatī, which means She is the Goddess of knowledge. What She does as Sarasvatī? Brahman is the embodiment of knowledge. Due to the effect of māyā people are bound by dyads. Sarasvatī is the form that is capable of dispelling the ignorance, the impediment in realizing the Brahman. Bhagavad Gīta (V.15) explains this reality by saying “Knowledge is enveloped in ignorance”. The entire universe is Her manifestation. To understand this, knowledge is required. She is the store house of knowledge and She gives knowledge to those who seek this supreme knowledge. She gives knowledge only to those who are worthy of it. From the sinners, the highest form of knowledge is concealed by ignorance. Real knowledge is of no use for those who do not seek it. The next question is what is real knowledge?
Essence of Advaita is real knowledge. Seeking Her within is real knowledge. Worshiping Her as someone different from us is due to spiritual ignorance and is not the real knowledge that is spoken of in Advaita. . It is duality or dvaita. Dyads and triads do not lead to liberation. They are like a rope appearing as a snake in the darkness. When a rope appears likes a snake, there are two things happen one after another. One is the suppression of reality and secondly it is the deceptive projection. What is not there is wrongly projected, as if it is there. The individual soul has the Supreme Self within. Supreme Self is called as individual soul, because the Prakāśa of Śiva is veiled by Her in the form of māyā. The soul is within and when we need to remove this māyā, we have to look within. When we begin to look within, we first understand and realize Her. Out of compassion and in appreciation of our sincere efforts to know the Self, She removes the veil of māyā and once the veil of māyā is removed, there we realize Prakāśa of Śiva, the Supreme Self. She is in the form of māyā and only if She is properly understood and realized, Supreme Self cannot be realized. She alone can make Self-realization possible. We cannot overlook Her and go to Śiva directly. None of the Scriptures talk about Śiva and Śakti as two different entities. They are One. How can light be differentiated from its shine and splendour? After getting satisfied with his or her sincerity and perseverance, She imparts to that yogi, knowledge about Śiva (Lalitā Sahasranāma 727, Śiva-jñāna-pradāyinī). Why She should do all these for us? Because She is Śrī Mātā, the Universal Mother or Mā. (She is addressed as mātā as She is the Creator, sustainer and also the dissolver. The universe was created out of Her. The universe acts as per Her instructions. When the dissolution takes place, the universe merges back into Her. The cycle of saṃsāra, the world which has phenomenal existence and also meaning transmigration repeats itself by birth, sustenance and death. Saṃsāra is called as an ocean).
Her compassion is without partiality. She looks only into a devotee’s mind and nothing else. She evaluates a devotee on the basis of Love for Her. Lalitā Sahasranāma 992, Avyāja-karuṇā-murtiḥ talks about Her impartial compassion. The next question that arises to our mind is to know the purpose of Her compassion. This is explained in the next nāma (993), which says, Ajñāna-dhvānta-dīpikā, which means that She removes darkness of spiritual ignorance. Ajñāna means ignorance, particularly spiritual ignorance and can be removed by knowledge. Super imposition is the effect of ajñāna. The world is superimposed on the Brahman and this is due to ignorance. It disappears with the knowledge of ultimate Reality}.One should have been extremely blessed to contemplate Her in this birth. When Her Grace (Śaktipāta – Descent of Her Grace) is showered on a person, he or she gets ready for liberation in this birth itself.
As far as this 100th verse is concerned, Śaṁkarācārya says that paying tribute to Her through words is offering water oblations to the ocean, offering oblations of water secreted from moonstone to the moon and offering dīpārādhana to the sun. Though they have no significance, still we do these rituals for our satisfaction. The only way to attain Her is through spiritual knowledge. One can begin her or his spiritual journey by performing pūja-s and after attaining perfection, she or he moves on to mantra japa and after becoming conversant with mantra, she or he is able to contemplate on Her. At this stage, pūja-s and mantra japa-s stop on their own and the devotion transforms into Love for Her and when the Love for Her is Absolute, She is greatly satisfied and initiates further steps for this yogi’s liberation. From a human Guru, She takes over as this yogi’s Guru (Lalitā Sahasranāma 603, Gurumūrtiḥ) and guides this yogi for his merger unto Śiva.
Saundaryalaharī (comprising of 100 verses; many texts refer to 103 verses and the last three verses – not included in this series – are said to be subsequent additions and not composed by Śaṁkarācārya) is submitted at Her Lotus feet with the following verse from Paramārthasāra (verse 62). “As a seed scorched by fire becomes incapable of germination. Similarly, karmas are burnt in the flame or real knowledge and incapable of causing rebirth.”