तरूणां दिव्यानां हसत इव ते चण्डि चरणौ।
फलानि स्वःस्थेभ्यः किसलयकराग्रेण ददतां
दरिद्रेभ्यो भद्रां श्रियमनिशमह्नाय ददतौ॥
tarūṇāṁ divyānāṁ hasata iva te caṇḍi caraṇau |
phalāni svaḥsthebhyaḥ kisalayakarāgreṇa dadatāṁ
daridrebhyo bhadrāṁ śriyamaniśamahnāya dadatau ||
te nakhaiḥ śaśibhiḥ - Your moon shaped toe nails (nakha means both finger nails and toe nails and contextually this refers to Her toe nails); kara kamala saṅkoca – put to shame (Your) lotus like arms; nāka strīṇāṁ - divine damsels; divyānāṁ tarūṇāṁ hasata iva – making mockery of celestial tress; te caṇḍi caraṇau – O! Caṇḍi! Your feet; phalāni svaḥ thebhyaḥ - bestow benefits to gods and goddesses; kisalaya kara agreṇa – tender shoot like finger tips; dadatāṁ daridrebhyaḥ bhadrāṁ śriyam – bestow abundant wealth to the poor; aniśam – perpetually; ahnāya dadatau – give immediately.
“O! Caṇḍi! Celestial trees are capable of granting boons only to gods and goddesses, but Your feet are capable of conferring richness, both to gods as well as to poor humans, the moment they ask for it. Your feet with moon shaped toe nails put to shame, lotus like arms of heavenly damsels.”
The verse says that the heavenly trees give wealth to gods and goddesses in higher spiritual planes, whereas Her feet with moonlike toe nails, which put to shame the beautiful arms of divine damsels, give wealth to well deserving humans, the moment they ask for it. She is addressed in this verse as Caṇḍi.
Before understanding Caṇḍi, we have to know the subtle conveyance of this verse. Apart from what is conveyed above, the subtle conveyance is that She is always ready to grant all that is aspired for, by Her devotees. Devotees are those who perpetually stay connected with Her through contemplation. Their state is known sthitaprajña, which means calm and contended. For a sthitaprajña, there will be no material requirements and what he will ask for is only Her Grace. Gods and goddesses are not spiritually evolved like sthitaprajña-s. There are many stories about Indra and others, who got affected by their acts of impropriety.
Spiritual path should be pursed with great care as any slippage could cause irreparable damage. One has to be under the care and guidance of a Guru till he or she reaches the end point of spiritual journey. Steadfast mind is the only crucial factor in Self-realization. When the mind of a disciple oscillates, Guru guides him appropriately. Hence, a lot of importance is given to Guru in spiritual pursuits. All Upaniṣad-s were revealed only through questions and answers. There are Upaniṣad-s, wherein Indra and other gods sought the help of sages and saints. Why celestial trees grant the wishes of gods and goddesses, because they seek only material wealth and they do not seek liberation. Even if liberation is asked from these trees, obviously they cannot grant, as liberation can be given only by Her and this subtle message is conveyed through this verse. The verse asks us to surrender to Her feet, which are capable of bestowing salvation. Poor humans are those who are devoid of highest spiritual knowledge. Poor humans does not mean here, the material aspect.
Soundarya laharī (verse 2) has already described Her feet thus. “By collecting dust particles from Your feet, Brahmā creates fourteen worlds (seven upper and seven lower), Viṣṇu sustains the universe and Śiva causes death and destruction”. Dust particles can also be explained as infinite individual souls, the cause for all that exists in the universe. Without soul a body cannot exist. Therefore, it is implied that these three God heads create, sustain and dissolve the beings by collecting the souls from Her feet. Śaṁkarācārya in the next verse of Soundarya laharī says that these dusts are capable of offering liberation or mokṣa. These references underline Supremacy of Her feet. There are many such verses in Soundarya laharī. Similarly in verse 88, Śaṁkarācārya said, “Your feet are known for their grandeur and they remove all misfortunes (by contemplating on them). I wonder, how great poets have compared Your feet to the shell of tortoise. Śiva took great care in lifting Your feet with His two hands and placing them on the rock stone during Your marriage with Him.” Śaṁkarācārya repeatedly speaks about Her feet because, they alone are capable of offering liberation.
She is referred in this verse as Caṇḍi. This also goes to prove that She alone assumes different forms depending upon the situations. She is praised as Caṇḍi in Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa through seven hundred verses, which is known as Devī Māhātmya. Certain procedures are prescribed for its recitation and after a particular number of recitations, Caṇḍi homa is performed. Devī Māhātmya can be interpreted grossly and subtly. For example, it is said that the fight between gods and demons lasted for full one hundred years. On the grosser side, it can be explained that there was a war between gods and demons in various shapes and forms. On the subtler side, it can be interpreted that it takes a long time to drive away mundane thought process from the mind. Hundred years does not literally mean hundred years. It is an indicator of long time that is required to annihilate the mind. Ultimately, She destroys all demons and on the subtler side, it can be explained that ultimately one is able to conquer his mind and gets liberated. The full benefits of recitation of these 700 verses will accrue only if one understands the subtle meaning. It is important that one should understand the meaning of any verse or hymn, otherwise, full benefits of such recitations may not accrue. Bhagavad Gītā also has seven hundred verses. Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa (chapter 79) says, “All the gods gave forth their special energies, which combined and formed the Goddess Caṇḍi.”