भ्रुवौ भुग्ने किञ्चिद्भुवनभयभङ्गव्यसनिनि
त्वदीये नेत्राभ्यां मधुकररुचिभ्यां धृतगुणम्।
धनुर्मन्ये सव्येतरकरगृहीतं रतिपतेः
प्रकोष्ठे मुष्टौ च स्थगयति निगुढान्तरमुमे॥

bhruvau bhugne kiñcidbhuvanabhayabhaṅgavyasanini
tvadīye netrābhyāṁ madhukararucibhyāṁ dhṛtaguṇam |
dhanurmanye savyetarakaragṛhītaṁ ratipateḥ
prakoṣṭhe muṣṭau ca sthagayati niguḍhāntaramume ||

bhruvau – eyebrows; bhugne – curved; kiñcid – slightly; bhuvana bhaya bhaṅga vyasanini – taking great pains in dispelling the fear of all beings; tvadīye – Your; netrābhyāṁ - extraordinary eyes; madhukara rucibhyāṁ - splendorous like swarm of bees; dhṛtaguṇam – bow string; dhanuḥ - bow;  manye – believe; savya itara kara gṛhītaṁ - held in the left hand; ratipateḥ - spouse of Rati  (Manmatha); prakoṣṭhe muṣṭau ca – forearm and closed palm; sthagayati – hidden; niguḍhāntaram – middle part; ume – Umā.

“O! Umā! You take great pains in dispelling the fear of all beings. I believe that your extraordinary and splendorous eyes appear like swarm of bees. Your slightly curved eyebrows appear like the bow of Manmatha, who holds his bow in his closed left palm and as a result of which, the middle part of the bow is hidden by his forearm and fists.”

As Universal Mother, She has great concern for the beings of the world. The appropriate usage would be humans, instead of beings, as humans alone are endowed with fully functional mind.  Birth and death are always painful and the more painful part is the middle part between birth and death, which means the present life. Mind, by default is addicted to sensory organs, which have the capacity to confuse and delude the mind and cause desire, attachment, ego, pride, prejudice, anger, enmity, etc. These are the attributes that cause dualities in  mind. When there is pleasure, pain is bound to be there. When there is happiness, sadness is bound to be there. Duality manifests in alternate bouts, like a wheel going up and down. As no one is willing to understand and accept this reality and when life turns against them due to their karmic imprints, they are affected, both mentally and physically. As Universal Mother, She is not able to tolerate the sufferings of these spiritually nascent men and women. Material knowledge is completely different from spiritual knowledge. Material knowledge is huge like an ocean and spiritual knowledge is like a miniscule drop of water. Many pursue only material knowledge, as this can be purchased and pursued easily when compared to spiritual knowledge. Since spiritual knowledge is a miniscule drop of water, it has to be seen and understood with the help of a microscope (Guru, Upaniṣad-s, etc are microscopes). Material knowledge is easy to pursue because, it deals with matter. But, spiritual path is extremely difficult because, it deals with subtleties. As Universal Mother, She is highly concerned with the plight of spiritually ignorant humans as they continue to dwell only in dualities, known as avidyā (lack of knowledge about the Self, the subtlest of all), etc. She tries Her level best to rescue them from the pains of transmigration and that is why She pesters Śiva with so many questions. Śiva understands Her concern for the humanity and hence He patiently explains to Her, various ways and means to attain liberation. The sacred conversation between them is in the form of various Tantric Scriptures, consisting of various mantras, tantras, etc.

She is addressed as Umā in this verse. Umā can be explained in different ways. It means splendour, tranquillity, reputation, etc. Lalitā Sahasranāma 633 is Umā and is explained thus: “Her name is Umā.  She is the wife of Maheśvara and is known as Umā Maheśvara.  She was born to Himavān, the king of mountains and his wife Mena.  She started Her penance at the age of five to attain Maheśvara (Śiva) as Her husband.  

Śiva sūtra (I.13) says Icchā śaktir umā kumārī. Here Umā means splendour of Śiva.  One’s will power in constant commune with Śiva is also known as Umā.  The ever present “I” consciousness of Śiva which is free in knowing and doing all acts is known as Umā. 

Umā is the combination of three letters of OM – U + M + A, the praṇava.  U refers to creation, M refers to destruction and A refers to sustenance.  Therefore Umā also means the three acts of the Brahman.  Liṅga Purāṇa (133.44) says ‘the goddess is the mother of worlds’.  Liṅga Purāṇa further says “The goddess born of Rudra’s body rebuked Dakṣa and was born as Umā, the daughter of Himavān.  She is bowed to, by all the worlds.  Let her try to captivate the mind of Rudra by means of her beauty.  Through their union Lord Skanda will be born.”

The anāhata sound of heart cakra is also known as Umā. 

Umā is also known as Śaktī praṇava (klīṁ is also known as Śaktī praṇava).

Six year old girl is known as Umā. 

Kena Upaniṣad (III.12) says, bahuśobhamānām umāṁ haimavatīṁ which means a woman wearing many ornaments.  She is the combination of self-knowledge, splendour and grandeur.”

Kālikā Purāṇa interprets Umā in a different way. She was observing penance (for not listening to Śiva). Her mother advised Her not to practice austerities. It is explained that U refers to child (She was a child at the time of observing penance) and mā means negation or prohibition and contextually, it is said that Her mother had told Her not to observe penance. Indirectly and subtly this conveys that one should not waste his or her precious time in observing penances and instead contemplate Śiva to attain Him.

On the grosser side, the verse is interpreted as follows. She has beautiful and splendorous eyes which appear like a stream of honeybees. Her eyebrows are compared to the bow of Manmatha. When there is a bow, it has to have a sting. Śaṁkarācārya says that this sting is hidden by the upper arm of Manmatha’s left hand. The stream of bees is compared to the hidden sting of the bow. Sting of the bow is a straight line. Śaṁkarācārya subtly conveys that Her eyes are extended up to Her ears, a sign of beauty and auspiciousness. This verse uses the word “savya” to mean the left hand of Manmatha. Savya not only means left, but also right and thus Śaṁkarācārya says that She is worshipped by followers of dakṣiṇācāra and vāmācāra. This also means that liberation cannot be attained without Her Grace. Manmatha represents love. When devotion turns into love for Her, She begins to shower Her Grace on the aspirant. Love is the highest form of devotion, as love is expressed through mind and not by actions. Similarly, love for Her has to be developed in the mind and not externally, associating with too many rituals.

According to Sāmudrikalakṣaṇa (a treatise on body parts), following types of eyes are auspicious. Wide eyes (LS 936), eyes appearing like bow and arrow (this verse) and eyes appearing like a fish (Mīnalocaṇī) are described as not only beautiful, but also auspicious. All these descriptions perfectly fit Her eyes. There are several narrations about Her eyes both in Soundarya laharī and Lalitā Sahasranāma (18, 362, 561 and 601). Her eyes not only radiate love and compassion, but also material wealth and auspiciousness. She does not bless with Her hands like other gods and goddesses. Her Grace is expressed through Her eyes