Saundarya Lahari is a popular Sanskrit hymn celebrating the power and beauty of Sakti, the primordial goddess. In one hundred verses, it underlines the centrality of the feminine principle in Indian thought.
Attributed to Adi Sankarācāryā, Saundarya Lahari is a valuable source for understanding tantric ideas. Every verse is associated with yantras and encoded mantras for tantric rituals, and specific verses in the hymn are considered potent for acquiring good health, lovers, and even poetic skills.
Mani Rao's Saundarya Laharī is an inspired, lyrical translation that renders the esoteric immediate and the distant near.
MANI RAO is the author of ten poetry books, including Sing to Me, New & Selected Poems, Ghostmasters and Echolocation. Her books in translation from Sanskrit include Bhagavad Gita and Kalidasa for the 21st Century Reader. She did immersive fieldwork among tantric communities in Andhra-Telangana for Living Mantra: Mantra, Deity and Visionary Experience Today. Mani has an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Religious Studies.
Like an old chest kept in the corner of a room, an heirloom that is part of our heritage and that we often even sit upon but have never opened sometimes a song or a poem can be familiar, and yet elusive. The Sanskrit hymn, Saundarya Lahari, is one such composition. Even though albums by leading voices in Carnatic music have made it a part of the Indian music landscape, and there are numerous audio and even video renditions of it online, the title 'Saundarya Lahari' is not immediately recognizable, even in India. 'Saundarya' means beauty, and 'lahari' is that which has a wave, and this may be why some interpret the word as 'flood', 'tide', or even 'ocean'. Oceans are recurring symbols in Indian mythology and conceal treasures which can only be obtained through the exertion of special effort.
Saundarya Lahari praises goddess Sakti as the ultimate divine power. The word 'Sakti' means 'power' in common parlance; as a name of the goddess, it connotes her absolute power over the universe. Sakti is considered feminine energy and is paired with Śiva, who embodies masculine energy. Whereas Šiva represents consciousness, Sakti represents the creative force in the universe, the kinetic energy that activates and animates consciousness. Only Sakti's vibrations (spandanas) cause the universe to be generated and set in motion. As the Devi Bhāgavata Purana puts it, Šiva is sava (corpse) without Sakti. In Saundarya Laharī, the vibrant, pulsing force of Sakti is felt as waves, sometimes light and sometimes pounding.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
Children’s Books (38)
Brahma Sutras (85)
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