Soundarya Lahari

The Saundarya Lahari  meaning "The waves of Beauty" is a famous literary work in Sanskrit written by sage Adi Shankara. Some believe the first part "Ananda Lahari" was etched on mount Meru by Ganesha himself (or by Pushpadanta). Sage Gaudapada, the teacher of Shankar's teacher Govinda Bhagavadpada, memorised the writings of Pushpadanta which was carried down to Adi Shankara. Its hundred and three shlokas (verses) praise the beauty, grace and munificence of Goddess Parvati / Dakshayani.

There are several legends about this work. One legend says that, once Adi Shankara visited Kailash to worship Shiva and Parvati. There, the Lord gave him a manuscript containing 100 verses which described the many facets of the Goddess, as a gift to him. While Shankara was returning after visiting Kailash, Nandi stopped him on the way. He snatched the manuscript from him, tore it into two, took one part and gave the other to Shankara. Shankara, desolate, ran to Shiva and narrated the incident to him. Shiva, smilingly, commanded him to retain the 41 verses with him as the initial part of the 100 verses and then, write an extra 59 verses in praise of the Goddess himself. Thus, verses 1 - 41 are the original work of Lord Shiva, shedding great light on the ancient rituals of Tantra, Yantra and various powerful Mantra. The remaining verses, that is, 42-100 are composed by Adi Shankara himself, which mainly focuses on the appearance of the Goddess. Yet another legend says that once when Adi Shankara was visiting Kailash, Lord Shiva was writing about the beauty of Goddess Parvati on the walls of their home. Shiva rubbed what he wrote as he didn't want Adi Shankara who was an outsider reading about the beauty of his wife. But Adi Shankara had seen some part of the writings and with his superior mind recollected the rest. Thus, he composed the Soundarya Lahari (waves of beauty of the Devi).

 

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