Wordly life is full of evil desires; it involves servility to wicked masters; it is disastrous in the end; It is a source of sin, and productive of painful experiences. Say, why, and for whose benefit, dost Thou not remedy this misery of mine? 0 Lord! If it, however, contributes to Thy joy, we are, indeed, satisfied.
We have great pleasure in placing before our readers a lucid translation of Sri Sankaracharya's grand hymn Sivanandalahari.
There is exquisite appropriateness in Sri Sankrara singing of Sri Siva. For, was not the prodigy of Kalady an incarna- tion or aspect or the Lord or Kailasa? Whenever we hear of Sri Sankara we think of Sannyasa, even as when we speak of Lord Siva we envision the prince of renouncers, Tyagaraja, who dances in ecstasy because no want or desire binds Him down. Untold wealth the Lord showers on his devotees, but His own garment is an elephant hide. He shares half His body with the world-bewitching Uma, but He is the supreme symbol of the unattached Yogi. The celestials strive for nectar to make themselves immortal, but Siva quaffs the Kalakiita to save the three worlds. No wonder Sankara pours out not only his heart but also all his poetic skill in painting a picture of the Lord which no one can view without a thrill. This century of verses has been aptly called Sivanandalahari-the waves of bliss that inundate those who contemplate on Siva, the source of all that is auspicious.
For the convenience of those who are not very familiar with the Devanagari script, we have included a transliteration of each verse in Roman script. It is our earnest prayer that the reader may find through this intoxicating hymn the joy that comes to those who pursue the Good, the True, the Beautiful-Satyam, Sivam, Sundaram.
Sivanandalahari the Inundation of Divine Bliss, is a work noted as much for its literary beauty, as for its devotional fervour. It is attributed by tradition to the great Acarya Sankara, the commentator on the Vedanta texts and the main architect of the Advaita Vedanta philosophy. Some people find a kind of inconsistency in a great philosopher being the author of a fervently emotional piece of Bhakti literature. But to those who know the Veddntic tradition, there is no inherent inconsistency in this. For, unlike some intel- lectuals, the authentic teachers of the Vedanta have held that Jnana and Bhakti are not antipodes but the obverse and reverse of the same coin, being but two aspects of the impact made on the human mind by the realisation of the Personal- Impersonal Being revealed by the Vedas. According to the Vedanta, a philosopher can be a devetee, and a devotee, a philosopher.
Longing for God is the quintessence of devotion. So long as man is solely engrossed with worldly values, the pursuit of pleasure and power, longing for God will not germinate in his mind. Even faith of a genuine nature is impossible for one of that outlook. The nature of that divine longing, how it absorbs the whole man, is graphically described in Verse 61 of the Text, which runs as follows: 'That state of mind is called Bhakti or divine love, wherein all movements of thought go automatically to the lotus feet of the Lord and stick to them for ever. just as the seeds of the Ankola tree (on falling) gravitate to the parent tree, the iron needle to the magnetic bar, the devoted wife to her husband, the creeper to the tree. and the river to the ocean.'
The object of adoration in this devotional poem is Siva. He is usually considered the third of the HinduTrinity,standing for the destructive forces in the Cosmic play of the Lord. But in the cult of Siva, He is the Supreme Being Himself and not a mere aspect of His. It is in this light as the creator, protector and destroyer of the world and as the saviour of all Jivas that He is viewed in this poem.
The supremacy of Siva is thus stated in Verse 100 of the poem: "Let the hymn of praise now stop. I do not exaggerate. o bestower of supreme good! Thy devotees like Brahma and others deem Thee supreme when they make a list of those who deserve to be praised. For, in estimating the compara- tive greatness of all, they find themselves unimportant (lit. fly off) like a heap of husk, and consider Thee to be the best ower of the highest of all rewards (liberation)"
This exaltation of the cult Deity over all others and claim- ing Him to be Supreme Being, irrespective of the place given to Him in other cults, are characteristic of Hindu devotional philosophy. Visnu, Siva and the Divine Mother are the Deities of the dominant cults of India, and the Puranas, Tantras and hymns dealing with these cults will be found, each holding its own cult Deity to be supreme, and making the others mere votaries or subsidiaries of that Deity.
This tendency is interpreted by some as sectarianism. But it is not so. On the other hand, it is only a sign of the highly enlightened nature of Indian theism. In Semitic religions, God is not a Person but a Personality or Individual entirely separated from all monads and matter. But thanks to the Advaita philosophy, the Personal is informed and supported by the Impersonal Absolute, with whom the Per- sonal is one. The Deities of Hindu cults, in their enlightened formulation, are the expressions of that Impersonal-Personal Deity, who may be Person, but not a personality or individual. So, that Impersonal-Personal Being, who is multiformed because He has no particular form like an individual, can be apprehended and invoked in any form according to the tradi- tion of the cult. But as the philosophy beind this is difficult for the ordinary man to grasp, there is need to present the Deity of the cult as the Supreme Being when that particular cult is expounded; for otherwise the faith and devotion of a votary cannot be undivided and entire. And in order to accomplish this, the other Deities commonly adored in other cults have necessarily got to be downgraded and made subordinate to Him whom the cult exalts. While this may lead to some narrowness among the less informed followers of a cult, an enlightened devotee will easily understand that his own Deity is being worshipped as the other Deities in other cults. He can easily utilise the channels of devotion that another cult has made for his own devotional purposes without feeling any contradiction.
In the hymns of Sri Sankaracharya, this feature of Indian theism becomes all the more conspicuous. The great Acarya is said to have composed hymns of equal greatness and fervour, characterised by wholehearted and exclusive devotion, on all the Deities of Hindu cults-Saivism, Vaisnavism. and Saktism. These texts are Sivanandalahari, Visnu-kesadipada Stotram, and Saundaryalahari in which Siva, Visnu, and the Mother respectively are praised, elevating each of them to the position of the Supreme Being. Sankara, the philoso- pher of the Impersonal-Personal Absolute, could easily do it without any feeling of contradiction. So he has the unique distinction of being called at the same time the Bhasyakara, or the commentator and exponent of the Vedanta philosophy. and also the Sanmatasthapaka, the founder of the six Hindu cults. Of these cults the three dominant ones have already been mentioned. The others are the cults of Ganesa, Surya and Subrahmanya. Ganesa and Subrahmanya are only Deities of sub-sects of Saivism, and Surya of Vaisna vism.
In the Sivanandalahari, the devotee-poet uses all devices of the poetic art to depict this sentiment of Bhakti, and highly suggestive metaphors follow one after another in succession presenting the various aspects of devotion in a highly artistic form. The poetic wealth of this devotional piece of one hun- dred verses can be described adequately only in the words of verse 78, with which the poet makes an offering of his composition to the Lord. He says: '0 Lord! Thou beloved of Gauri! Deign to accept this-the maiden of my poesy-adorned with ornaments of various figures of speech, charming by the gait of beautiful diction, possessing the virtu- ous conduct of excellent metres, having the bright complexion of sweet sounds, praised by the community of the good constituted of holy sages, endowed with the loving sentiment of devotion together with the virtue of loftiness, planned with the suitor of Brahman as the objective, invested with the most auspicious marks of high literary art, revealing the modesty of poetic humility, bearing the wealth-line of clear meanings, and possessing the virtue of engendering the good of the readers.'
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Item Code: IDE171 Author: Trans. By. Swami Tapasyananda Cover: Paperback Edition: 2012 Publisher: Sri Ramakrishna Math ISBN: 8171200109 Language: English Size: 7.0" X 4.7" Pages: 95 Other Details: weight of book 72 gms