भजे हंसद्वन्द्वं किमपि महतां मानसचरम्।
यदादत्ते दोषाद्गुणमखिलमद्भ्यः पय इव॥

bhaje haṁsadvandvaṁ kimapi mahatāṁ mānasacaram |
yadādatte doṣādguṇamakhilamadbhyaḥ paya iva ||

samunmīlat saṁvit kamala makaranda eka rasikaṁ - fully blossomed lotus known as knowledge, exclusively delighting in; bhaje haṁsa dvandvaṁ - worship a pair of swans; kim api – to a considerable extent;  mahatāṁ - greatness; mānasacaram – moving (swimming) in the great lake known as mind; yadālāpāt – from their conversation; aṣṭādaśa guṇita vidyā pariṇati – emergence of eighteen types of arts; yat ādatte – differentiate; doṣāt – impurity; guṇam akhilam – all types of qualities; adbhya – from water; paya iva – like milk.

“I worship the pair of swans, who solely delights in the absolute knowledge, like a fully blossomed lotus flower in the great lake known as mind. From the conversation between these two swans, eighteen arts have originated, which are capable of differentiating purities from impurities. This is like swans separating milk from water.”

This verse speaks about anāhatacakra, also known as heart cakra. According to ancient Scriptures, one’s soul resides here (Modern theory postulates that the soul is placed in pineal gland, behind ājñācakra). Anāhatacakra is one of the important points of divinity in human body. Meditating on anāhatacakra is said to fulfil one’s desires; hence it is called Kalpataru (celestial wish grating tree). There is a yogini here rejoicing in drinking nectar that flows down from sahasrāra. Probably, based on these facts and experience, Śaṁkarācārya could have composed this verse. Lalitā Sahasranāma 485 to 494 describe this chakra.

The two swans described here refer to Śiva and Śakti. These two swans swim in the lake called mind (mind of the aspirant). This means that Śiva and Śakti should be meditated in this chakra. When perfection is attained while meditating on this chakra, ājñāchakra, which is the controlling chakra for the mind, gets fully activated. The famous “hamsa mantra” also originates from anāhatacakra. Great yogī-s meditate on Śiva and Śakti in ājñācakra and seek liberation, as this chakra is capable of conferring what is desired. Yogī-s desire only liberation, as they rejoice in the power of Bliss. The turning point in one’s spiritual life will always be the maiden experience of Her Bliss. Śakti is always in the form of Bliss and when She is realized, one begins to experience Bliss, which sets the trend for one’s spiritual life. This is the point of no-return in spirituality. Her realization leads to the realization of Śiva and when both of them are realized in the form of Bliss and Pure Consciousness, one is able to distinguish between good and bad. Such a person will not indulge in mean thoughts and actions.

Parāśakti manifests here as Bliss, which ultimately leads to the realization of Śiva. When both of them are realized, the yogī begins to recite perpetually Paraprāsada-mantra, also known as “hamsa” mantra, synchronising it with his breath. Why a comparison is drawn to a fully blossomed lotus flower here? There are two aspects. One, if the flower is fully blossomed, there is not enough time left for the flower to survive. Either the flower will be picked or it will decay naturally. Blossoming of the flower is compared to acquiring absolute knowledge about Brahman. Knowledge about Brahman alone is absolute. When higher level of spiritual knowledge is gained, a practitioner first becomes a sthitaprajña and later becomes a jīvanmukta, who is ready to merge with Brahman after his death, the concluding part of Self-realization. The second aspect is that unless a flower is fully blossomed, nectar will not secrete. This means spiritual elixir can be secreted only if sahasrāra is fully opened.

Once Brahman is realized, there is no need to seek spiritual knowledge as they are revealed to the yogī automatically. The conversation between Śiva and Śakti always result in various tantra śāstra-s and vidyā-s. Former is the practice that is to be pursued and later is the destination of the path, vidyā-s. In other words, former is practice and later is knowledge. Only practice leads to absolute knowledge and only absolute knowledge leads to realization. Tantras lead to vidyā-s and vidyā-s lead to realization. This verse refers to to eighteen vidyā-s and they are four Vedas (4), the four upa-Vedas (4) (each upa-Veda originated from one Veda. Āyurveda from Rig Veda; Dhanurveda (archery) from Yajur Veda; Gāndharva Veda (music) from Sāmaveda; and Śastra Śāstra (study of arms) from Atharvaveda. There are opinions that Āyurveda is the product of Atharvaveda), six vedāṅga-s (6) (śikṣā  - pronunciation; candas – meter;  vyākaraṇa – grammar;  nirkuta – explanatory notes to difficult Vedic words;  jyotiṣa – astrology; and  kalpa – sūtra works referring to rituals), pūrva mīmāṁsā and uttara mīmāṁsā (2), purāṇa-s (Scriptures), and nīti and dharma śāstra-s (2) (dos and don’ts). However, there are variations to this description.

Beyond all these explanations, this verse subtly conveys “hamsa” mantra, which needs to be aligned with one’s breath. Meditating on this chakra also leads to love and compassion. When this chakra is fully activated, one becomes an embodiment of these two qualities.

This verse also conveys Ajapa Gāyatrī mantra which is as follows:

haṁsa haṁsāya vidmahe | paramahaṁsāya dhīmahi | tanno haṁsaḥ pracodayāt ||

हंस हंसाय विद्महे। परमहंसाय धीमहि। तन्नो हंसः प्रचोदयात्॥

This haṁsa Gāyatrī mantra is to be recited from one dawn to the next dawn (24 hours), aligning with one’s breath, concentrating on each chakra one after another by beginning from the base chakra and ending at the crown chakra. If this mantra is properly aligned with breath, then the counting will be 21600 during this 24 hour period.