पदन्यास-क्रीडा परिचय-मिवारब्धु-मनसः
स्खलन्तस्ते खेलं भवनकलहंसा न जहति ।
अतस्तेषां शिक्षां सुभगमणि-मञ्जीर-रणित-
च्छलादाचक्षाणं चरणकमलं चारुचरिते


padanyasya krida paricayam ivarabdhumanasah
skhalantas te khelam bhavana kalahamsa najahati
atas tesam siksam subhaga mani manjira ranitac-
chalad acaksanam carana kamalam caru carite
Your young domesticated cygnets, intent on learning from You the sportive pose of steps,
Practicing still with faults, o One of Graceful Gait, on their not giving up,
With the sound of gem-filled anklets imitating,
It would seem now that You are teaching them.
In Verse 91 the overall context of the scene represented is that of a teacher and many disciples. It is in and around the leg region of the Goddess that the interest still lingers, as it has since Verse 82. Beauty is more easily described when it refers to the face than to the feet, but Vedanta insists on giving equal value to both. That is the reason why Sankara seems to take extra trouble to present a picture where the high function of teaching disciples is still the overall theme. Sarasvati can teach the three gods, who are her admirers or disciples. They are represented in previous verses as bending before her footstool or standing inclined and overcovering it.
Here it is not a question of Brahmins, saints, or divinities that are applicants for discipleship. The disciples here consist of little swans, or cygnets, whose attachment to the Goddess is because they want to learn from her the beautiful way in which she steps when she walks or dances. The correct posing of steps is the first lesson when learning Indian dancing, next perhaps to the rolling of the eyes and sharp movements of the neck. When the legs are properly posed, the sound of the jingle-bells fixed to the anklets has a firm and united resonance, which is sometimes imitated verbally by dance teachers, when the footwork is important. Instead of jingle-bells, the anklets themselves are here stated to be filled with gems. If the anklets are made of silver or gold there is a certain firm metallic beauty in the sound.
It is not the sound of the gem-set anklets alone that comes into the picture. The Goddess while teaching, out of consideration even for subhuman disciples, takes the trouble to imitate the sound of gem-set jeweled anklets as her feet are gracefully planted in the correct dance poses. Sanskrit literature often describes the gait of a beautiful woman as resembling that of a swan. This might be a good enough comparison when the feminine features of the body of a woman are meant to be represented naturally, and not artificially viewed. The cygnets are nearer the ideal of the swan-like gait; but they themselves are not satisfied with such a maladroit way of walking. Nature has always to be corrected by nurture to complete the education, in the same way that decorative embellishments can enhance the beauty of an otherwise crude beauty found in nature. The prostitutes of Ujjain are seen to score in this respect in the writings of Kalidasa.
When we consider that Absolute Beauty involves cancellation of both numerator and denominator, it is not difficult to understand here why the young swans want to add to their natural gait something which they are willing to learn at the price of great insistence and trouble, so that their beauty could approximate to what might be called Absolute Beauty. It might be asked here why Kalidasa did not give Shakuntala silk garments to increase her beauty and said instead that anything, even a rag or a bark cloth, could only enhance the superior beauty already present in the person of Shakuntala herself, descended as she was from the celestial goddess, Menaka. The prerequisite is therefore not a decoration in itself, or naturalness in itself, but the cancellation of the one against other. The gem-set anklets represent an existent numerator value; but the living voice of the teacher, which imitates the sound of the gem-filled anklets as the feet are placed gracefully on the ground, adds further numerator accentuation to the beauty that belongs to the plus-side of the situation. When a woman is heavy in her gait and moves along slowly, like a swan when it walks on land, she is described as vilasini (having accentuated attributes or characteristics of womanhood fully expressed through her beauty). Sanskrit poets revel in such descriptions of womanhood. Here Sankara purposely, it would seem, applies a corrective to this one-sided picture. He accomplishes this by bringing in a gem-filled anklet with a metallic sound, to supply a correct numerator to an otherwise negatively-accentuated picture of feminine beauty. The full numerator side is added on to the total negative situation when the living voice of the Goddess is represented here as imitating the metallic sound, instead of treating it as inferior, as previously hinted at.
The relationship of teacher and pupil is the background on which such a cancellation of counterparts takes place. It is when we remember that it is very difficult to represent beauty when it pertains to the side of existence that this representation of beauty gains a character as overwhelmingly absolutist in its value as in any so-called superior context, such as that of heavenly blossoms. Domesticated cygnets are treated with as much consideration as Vedic students in a gurukula (teaching institution) . The overall dignity of the beauty is thus retained as a constant, even here.
There is a reference to the faults that enhance the beauty, rather than spoiling it. Birds can be heard in the morning repeating some lessons as if to learn them by heart. They can also be heard to hesitate when they cannot help making mistakes, and stop singing for a while. The lispings of children are beautiful in spite of their errors, and not because they are correct. Imitation of the sound of the anklets is two degrees removed from the actual, in that the sound itself reflects the firmness of the pose of the legs, of which the imitation by the voice of the Goddess is of a second degree.
The process of instruction, and not the actual instruction, is what is to be treated as the essence of the situation here portrayed. This explains the need for the last line, as a finishing touch added to the description.





Padanyasya krida parichayam iva - as if practising the sportive pose of steps
Arabdhu manasah skhantalah - intending to begin, still making faults
Te khelam - Your lovely gait
Bhavana kala hamsa - the domesticated cygnets
Na jahati - do not abandon
Atah tesham shiksham - thus their instructions
Subhaga mani manjira ranita achalad - with the sound of gem-set anklets imitating
Achakshanam - as if teaching
Charana kamalam - lotus feet
Charu charite - o one of graceful gait
Absolute Beauty is here revealed in a very humble occupation.
The sub-human world is brought into the world like Gurukula disciples following their Guru.

The Devi has patience, she is not hurried, what can she do?
The swans will not leave off.
The Devi becomes a glorified kindergarten mistress.

This is like King Dilipa following the cow in the Kumarasambhava of Kalidasa; the Absolute can be found in the simplest of relationships; cf. The preparation of a meal, from the Dasakumaracarita.
(In mythology, King Dilipa failed to notice the divine cow Kamadhenu on his way and passed without paying his respects to her. Thereby he incurred the anger of the cow, who cursed the king to go childless. To negate the ill-effects of the curse, the king was advised to worship the divine cow Nandini who was the daughter of Kamadhenu, and thereby to earn her goodwill.

The king faithfully served the cow for twenty-one days. He slept where the cow slept, ate when the cow ate; washed the cow and took very good care of it. On the twenty-second day, when the cow was grazing in the field, a lion appeared suddenly and pounced to eat the cow. The king tried to kill the lion but could not, because the lion happened to be a servant of Shiva and cast a spell on King Dilipa that made him motionless. The king wanted to protect the cow but could not do anything but speak. He begged the lion to spare the cow and eat him instead and bowed before the lion.

Denominator values are not to be neglected by the Vedantin. Ontology is better than teleology. The Devi's feet are referred to again and again; the vertical lotus stalk has its root in the denominator mud which is the dark cosmetic cosmetic paste on the Devi's neck; the cute plump Cakora partridge is the Devi; the exalted Vedantic wisdom seeker is just a baby swan trying to wiggle its behind as it follows the jingling anklets at the Devi's feet; the greatest king must serve a cow and die for it - understand this. If you do not, you will never understand Vedanta. ED)

(The Guru is referring to a passage in the DASAKUMARACARITA where a woman goes to infinite pains to create a meal with almost no money and with great ingenuity serves her guest a complete repast. The Guru described this as a Yoga. ED)

Here the aspect of the Devi that the author wishes to describe is homeliness, condescending to the sub-human world; a sense of leisure: the cygnets keep following Her and will not go away.