कदा काले मातः कथय कलितालक्तकरसं
पिपेयं विद्यार्थीं तव चरणनिर्णेजनजलम्।
प्रकृत्या मूकानामपि च कविताकारणतया
कदा धत्ते वाणीमुखकमलताम्बूलरसताम् ॥
kadā kāle mātaḥ kathaya kalitālaktakarasaṁ
pipeyaṁ vidyārthīṁ tava caraṇanirṇejanajalam |
prakṛtyā mūkānāmapi ca kavitākāraṇatayā
kadā dhatte vāṇīmukhakamalatāmbūlarasatām ||
kadā kāle mātaḥ - when, O! Mother; kalita ālaktaka rasaṁ - mixed with the essence of henna; pipeyaṁ vidyārthīṁ - how will (I, the seeker of knowledge) drink; tava caraṇa nirṇejana jalam – the water that offers ablution to Your feet; prakṛtyā mūkānāmapi ca – the one born as a dumb; kavitā kāraṇatayā – cause of composing verses; kadā dhatte – when will I enjoy; vāṇīmukha kamala tāmbūla rasatām – the flavour betel essence from of Sarasvatī’s lotus mouth.
“O! Divine Mother! I am a spiritual seeker. When I will be able to drink water mixed with henna that is used for washing Your sacred feet, which will make even a born dumb to become a composer of verses? When I will be able to taste the flavour of the essence of betel from Sarasvatī’s mouth?”
This verse can be interpreted in two ways – gross and subtle. Śaṁkarācārya prays to Parāśakti that he needs Her Grace to attain spiritual knowledge. He is already a realized person and in spite of this, he, with all humility seeks Her Grace, that too only for drinking water that is used to for cleaning Her feet. Cleansing Her feet does not mean that Her feet has impurities and needs to be cleansed. Washing Her feet is a sacred ritual, performed during worship. This is done out of love, devotion, reverence and for our satisfaction and happiness. The water that is used for ablution turns into red after running over Her feet and this appears as if henna extract is mixed with this water. The water has attained redness merely because of flowing over Her feet. Several reasons could be attributed to this. One, the water turns red by reflecting Her complexion, which is red. Red always means compassion. Or, water while flowing over Her feet gets blessed by the henna pasted applied on Her feet and this blessing is passed on to this water, which turns red. The important aspect is that Śaṁkarācārya merely asks for a drop of water that has cleansed Her feet and nothing more than this. This clearly explains His humility and humbleness. Self-realized persons never rodomontade, as they do not have ego.
Subtle interpretation refers to samayācāra worship, also known as kaula worship, which is explained in detail in Lalitā Sahasranāma 98 Samayācāra-tatparā. This is about worshiping Her subtlest form Kuṇḍalinī. In maṇipūraka cakra, She is offered arghya and pādya and subtle reference is made to this contemplation. Śaṁkarācārya composed several verses on Her subtlest form Kuṇḍalinī. In the first verse in Bhavānībhjaṅgam (भवानीभ्जङ्गम्), he adores Her Kuṇḍalinī form like this.
सुधामण्डलं द्रावयन्तीं पिबन्तीं
sudhāmaṇḍalaṁ drāvayantīṁ pibantīṁ
sudhamūrtimīḍe cidānandarūpām ||
In this verse he praises Her as the One, who shines in six chakras in the spinal cord. He also says that on reaching sahasrāra (crown chakra) She makes sudhā (nectar) to flow from sahasrāra down the throat. This is also mentioned in Lalitā Sahasranāma-s Sahasrārambujārūḍhā (105) and Sudhāsārabhi-varṣiṇī (106). The followers of samayācāra, (worshipping Her through the cakra-s of Kuṇḍalinī, beginning from mūlādhāra is called samayācāra) Both the planet moon and cit-candra-mandalā (cit means foundational consciousness) at sahasrāra represent Śrī Cakra as both have similar qualities. Both shed nectar. Her lotus feet deemed to shine in the moon region of śrī Cakra. Moon is the master of all medicinal herbs that are said to ooze divine water known as nectar.
With regard to gross interpretation, Śaṁkarācārya says that by merely drinking the water that was used for washing (ablution) Her feet, even a dumb can compose and sing verses in Her praise. There is a true incident that happened (in the year 398 BC) to Mūkakavi (great poet Mūka; mūka means dumb and kavi means a poet). He was a great devotee of Kāmākṣī of Kāñcīpuram. He used to visit Her daily and on one fine day She gave darśan to him and blessed Him with speech. He subsequently became pontiff of Kāñcī mutt. He composed 500 verses in Her praise. In one of the verses (stuti śatakam – verse 11), he says, “She is capable of endowing anyone with divine speech, whose flow is incomparable even to the flow of river Ganges.” With all humility Śaṁkarācārya says that he is still a seeker and wants to get Her Grace to attain liberation. However, it is said that he was an incarnation of Śiva Himself.
Two things are interesting to note in this verse. While washing Her feet, he says that the water that cleanses Her feet turns red. The water turns red on account two reasons. One, Her complexion gets reflected in the water. Secondly, when water passes through Her feet, it attains the colour of henna applied to Her feet. He also conveys that speech too has red colour. That is why he refers to chewing of betel leaves by goddess Sarasvatī. While chewing betel leaves, the mouth turns red.