निलीयन्ते तोये नियतमनिमेषाः शफरिकाः।
इयं च श्रीर्बद्धच्छदपुटकवाटं कुवलयं
जहाति प्रत्यूषे निशि च विघटत्य प्रविशति॥
nilīyante toye niyatamanimeṣāḥ śapharikāḥ |
iyaṁ ca śrīrbaddhacchadapuṭakavāṭaṁ kuvalayaṁ
jahāti pratyūṣe niśi ca vighaṭatya praviśati ||
aparṇa – O! Parāśakti (aparṇa means either Durgā or Pārvatī); tava karṇe japa nayana paiśunya cakitaḥ- afraid of Your eyes that go near Your ears to telltale; nilīyante toye – decided to hide themselves in water; niyatam animeṣāḥ - constantly, without blinking; śapharikāḥ -female fish; iyaṁ ca śrī – even Goddess Lakṣmī; baddha cchada puṭakavāṭaṁ -closing the doors made of petals; kuvalayaṁ - blue lily; jahāti – abandoned; pratyūṣe – during dawn; niśi ca – during night; vighaṭatya praviśati – making forceful entry.
“O! Parāśakti! Female fish, fearing that Your eyes could say some gossip to Your ears, decide to hide themselves in water, without even blinking their eyes. Goddess Lakṣmī who wants to be present near Your eyes during daytime abandons water lilies and makes a forceful entry into blue water lilies only in the night to open them again.”
A masterly visualization by Śaṁkarācārya and he could not have conceived this scene without having Her direct vision. Aparṇa refers to Pārvatī, Consort of Parameśvara. Whatever forms Śiva takes, She also takes the same form. For example, when He is Bhairava, She becomes Bhairavi; when He is Śiva, She is Śakti; when He is Maheśvara, She is Maheśvari, etc. Even in names, they are not separated.
This verse again adores Her eyes. Her eyes reaching near Her ears is already described in verse 52, which said gate ime netre gate karṇābhyarṇaṁ (these eyes approaching Your ears). On seeing Her eyes ending very close to Her ears, female fish are scared that Her eyes could telltale in Her ears and hence keep vigil on Her eyes without even blinking their eyes and continue to remain in waters. But what is the telltale female fish are afraid of? Female fish think that Her eyes appearing like them could say something bad about them (female fish) into Her ears and on hearing this, if She becomes angry, they fear that they could be destroyed. Fish do not know that She is an embodiment of compassion and because of their ignorance, they could not understand Her compassion and look at Her differently. This is the difference between human mind and other animals. Human mind is Her gift to humanity. She has given a higher level of mind to humanity where mind can be tuned in such a way that they can be made thoughtless in order to contemplate Her to attain liberation. Liberation is possible only through mind.
There is yet another comparison. Water lilies blossom only in the night. Goddess Lakṣmī fearing that Parāśakti could become angry with Her if She (Lakṣmī) is not present in Her (Parāśakti) eyes, leaves Her (Parāśakti) eyes when She (Parāśakti) closes Her eyes in the night to make the water lilies blossom. Seat of Lakṣmī is lotus flower, which is described in this verse as water lilies.
This verse also highlights the point that one need not worship any other gods or goddesses when She is worshiped with Pañcadaśī or Ṣoḍaśī mantras. The point here is that when someone is worshipping the Supreme authority, where is the need for worshipping Her assistants. If one does so, it is a clear exhibition of their lack of faith in Her. Faith is the most important factor in Self-realization.
If one is able to meditate on Her properly and intently, Her vision is possible in mind. Depending upon the level of the meditator, different visions are possible at different levels. Generally, it will be the form with which we contemplate Her. Over a period of time, this vision also fades away leaving only a bright Light for contemplation. Spiritual path has also different stages and if one does not move forward quickly, liberation could be postponed to subsequent births.