गले रेखास्तिस्रो गति गमक गीतैक निपुणे
विवाह-व्यानद्ध-प्रगुणगुण-सङ्ख्या प्रतिभुवः ।
विराजन्ते नानाविध-मधुर-रागाकर-भुवां
त्रयाणां ग्रामाणां स्थिति-नियम-सीमान इव ते 


gale rekhas tisro gatigamaka gitaika nipune
vivahavyanaddha pragunaguna samkhya pratibhuvah
virajante nanavidha madhura ragakara bhuvam
trayanam gramanam sthiti niyama simana iva te
Those three lines on Your neck, O One fully expert in time, syncopation and melody;
They are the counter-grounds of Your marital thread of strands and sub-strands,
As they do shine as the ground wherein is born many a melody;
Giving position, regulation and limitation for the three groups of musical keys.
The transition from the delicate lotus-core strands of shining pearl-like vascular bundles to horizontal lines on the neck of the Goddess give us a new perspective in Verse 69. We are still in the context of music and of words.
The Goddess' nods of appreciation of her own performance in praise of Shiva could still be treated as the subject matter of this verse, but we enter here into the domain of musical theory, just as we entered into semantics in Verses 15 through 17.
The beauty of music depends upon gati, gamaka and gita, which we have translated as “time, syncopation and melody”. Indian musical theory differs from that of the West, and without going into the merits of these three items it would be difficult for us to say if they complete the list. Music has to conform to some rules, as in a game. Every game has to have two rival sides. Random kicking of a football on a field by boys not divided into two teams interests nobody. Beauty thus has to be an emergent factor when two counterparts enter into intimate interplay.
Here we have to recognize the black ceremonial string that husbands tie around the necks of their wives at their wedding. Three strands of such a string could easily be considered permissible, even if not always considered obligatory. Sankara gives these three black strands a first-dimensional status in the picture that he is presenting in this verse. Each of these three black sub-strands coming from the numerator side as a decoration added onto the beauty of the Goddess in herself, is here represented as having a corresponding fold of skin on the neck of the Goddess. As she nods to appreciate the beauty of her own song of praise for Shiva, these folds could be imagined as becoming alternately accentuated or lightly marked.
The beating of time refers to the most horizontally factual quality in music. It is like a band across the spectrum. The lowest and the most definite of horizontal lines is to be marked first on the neck of the Goddess. Syncopation is a musical device employed by experts in which they can play with fractional variations in the beat, to be recovered in the next or successive beats. Time is not so strictly respected here. When we come to melody, the horizontal reference to time can be relaxed to a further degree. An expert singer can take full liberties here so as to reveal his creative genius, sometimes throwing to the wind cheap conventions which only amateurs are expected to respect to the letter. The three lines, therefore, show three degrees of necessity or freedom, to the requirements of which the creative artist in music should conform.
There are approximately a hundred different modes in Indian music called ragas. Among these there are melakartas (chief modes) and janyas which are sub-varieties of the main modes. This explains the reference to strands and sub-strands in this verse.
Good music results when the limiting considerations are respected or transcended, according to the genius of the particular musician. It is possible, as suggested in the third line, to see in visible form the subtle incipient movements which are at the basis of creative musical expression. They have these bright lines for their common locus.
In the last line, the “position” involving the time factor, the “regulation”, which would refer to syncopation, and the “limitation” of the notes of the particular mode or raga, proper to each creative type of music, which give to each of the three main types of music (trayanam gramanam), whatever specific beauty they might possess, are put in a one-to-one correspond­ence with each other. Thus a complete theory of Absolute Beauty in music is covered by Sankara in this verse. Music thus helps us to distinguish further details within the structure of absolute Beauty within the domain of the Word and its meaning. Here again we have to notice how the visible and the intelligible are put together with a one-to-one correspondence between them. Medium and message thus meet and cancel out into sheer musical enjoyability.
We have translated sthiti as “position”, niyama as “regulation” and sima as “limitation”. There is also reference to the three gramas (trayanam gramanam), which we have translated as “the three groups of musical keys”. Each of the keys is limited to certain scales which give them their character.




The thread (mangalasutra) is of three strands (This is to be compared to the three gunas).
The three folds in the neck are existential. Swaram, Layam, Ragam. (A swara is a note in the octave, equivalent to do, re, mi etc. in the West; laya means rhythm or tempo;  a raga is a melodic mode. ED)


Gale rekhas tisrah - the three lines on Your neck
Gati gamaka gitaika nipune - o One fully expert in time, syncopation and melody.
Viva havya anaddha praguna guna samkhya prati bhuvah - they are the counterground of the marital thread of strands and sub-strands
Virajante - they shine in glory
Nana vidha madhura raga kara bhuvam - as the ground wherein is born many a melody
Trayanam gramanam - of the three groups of musical keys
Sthiti niyama simana - as factors of position, regulation and limitation
Iva te - as they are
Gale rekhas tisro - the three lines of Your neck.
Gati gamaka gita ika nipune - tempo, choke, cadence, syncopation, note of song - experts
Viva havya nadha pra guna guna samkhya prati bhuvah - at the time of marriage of the (three) sets of gunas, forming the plus side, the basic counterground
Virajante - they shine triumphant
Nana vidha madhura raga kara bhuvam - the fertile (three) fields for varied sweet ragas (modes major or minor, etc.)
Trayanam gramanam - of the three ensembles
Sthiti niyama simanam - of the state of existence the limits
Iva te - they are like
(Much of the material below is from fragmentary notes and jottings in the Guru's own handwriting and rather obscure. ED)
The three lines on the neck of the Goddess are triumphant in their glory.
They represent three factors in music:
Cadence, syncopation, speed.
Or Tempo, choke and notes (?).
("Choke" seems an odd choice of words, but the notes were taken by a Western musician and may be his interpretation of "syncopation." In any case, the general meaning is clear. ED)
"At the time of the marriage of the higher aspects of music to the lower, these three values - three sets of gunas, following the style of the basic centre ground, they shine triumphant, the fertile fields of..." (3 ?)
(The three gunas (modalities of nature) are related to the three lines, the three strands of Her marital thread and the three groups of musical keys etc. This is a very complex description of music. In a later verse, the three lines on the Devi's stomach are also described. ED)
"For varied ragas of the three ensembles of the state of existence the limits...". (?)


Note that the above structure has the shape of a Vina.

(The above structure appears to refer to 1) above, the lines on the neck as counterparts of time, syncopation and melody and 2) below, the strands of the marital thread and the three "gramas" or groups of musical keys. See our tentative structure below. ED)
Drop out, tune in.
Inner space, mind expansion, back to back.
(Sic - in the Guru's own handwriting - inexplicable. ED.)


(The above structure may be also fairly tentative. ED)


Another version:

The three lines on Your neck, showing expertness of movement (quick or slow), vitality and sweetness of melody,
When conjoined to its counterpart, forming (three) fertile grounds
For each of the triune modalities, (they do) shine triumphant,
Constituting the counter-ground of the three ensembles, limiting their stable state.


Saundarya - beauty ...LAHARI
Sankara - acharya
Devi as Absolute.
Architectonic music (?)
(The above four lines are obscure.
Saundarya Lahari - "saundarya" means "beauty" and "lahari" means, roughly, "an upsurging inner billow".
Sankara is an "acharya" or wisdom teacher, so what he has to say is authoritative.
The structure below describes the Devi as the Absolute.
The French expression, "Architectonique Musicale" refers to the structure of music, which is the subject of this verse. ED)


(In the above structure the three sets of ensembles are related to the structure of other verses through the three gunas, sattva, rajas and tamas. It refers to some other context or verse which is not indicated in the original manuscript. ED)


Music and notes can be divided into three sets of ensembles.
These three produce all the different ragas ("modes"- very roughly translated. ED) on the Numerator side.
All music depends on the use of the three gamuts within the octave.
There are three lines on the neck of the Devi, which vibrate.

When Shiva married the Devi, he put around Her neck a black thread - basic and ontological - made up of three strands. (This is the Indian equivalent of a wedding ring. ED)

So the vina (stringed instrument) is also divided into a three-fold ground system.
 (It may be relevant that, like the 24 frets of the Vina, the human backbone has 24 divisions. According to  anatomy, the backbone has three groups of vertebrae: 7 cervical, 12 thoracic and 5 lumbar vertebrae. The three Gunas and the three functions of creation, preservation and destruction must be kept in mind and related to the three "gati gamaka gitaika nipune" - "O One fully expert in time, syncopation and melody", as also to "trayanam gramanam - the three groups of musical keys."
There are many subtle allusions and suggestions in these verses. ED)

There is 1-1 correspondence between the notes of music on the Numerator and the ground of music on the Denominator.
"You can sing whatever songs You like, but the origin of the songs must belong to the husband, Shiva."
There is a "marriage" between the notes and their ground.
"The three lines in Your neck…": a beautiful woman is said traditionally to have three lines on her neck, representing the three gunas (nature modalities). Shiva is beyond these on the Numerator side.

Conceptual and perceptual aspects are again brought together.
Let her play the Vina and frolic on the three lines.
The marital string is intended to underline the participation between Numerator and Denominator.

She is singing in praise of her husband - when the numerator of Her husband, Shiva, is supplied, the situation becomes sublime.

The black string is the conceptual version of the three types of musical keys.

There are three folds in the Devi's neck: syncopation, measure and melody.
There are three strands in Her bridal thread - this is Her link with Shiva.

The lines are Denominator
The threads are Numerator.


There are three traits of music
three strands in Her marital thread
three folds in Her neck.



(The manuscript says "3 folds in her stomach" not "neck". As is seen in other verses, there are also, traditionally, 3 folds in a beautiful woman's stomach. These triune structural factors reappear in many places - as Gunas, as lines in the neck, as lines on the stomach in Verse 80 etc.


O Goddess, having made Your twin breasts gain the beauty of gold pots,
Rubbing at the upper arms, bursting the bodice and presently perspiring,
The God of Love, now wanting to save your threefold waist from breaking, saying: "enough"
With three strands of a wild creeper, he presently binds.