गतै-र्माणिक्यत्वं गगनमणिभिः सान्द्रघटितं
किरीटं ते हैमं हिमगिरिसुते कीतयति यः ॥
स नीडेयच्छाया-च्छुरण-शकलं चन्द्र-शकलं
धनुः शौनासीरं किमिति न निबध्नाति धिषणाम्


gatair manikyatvam gagana manibhis sandra ghatitam
kiritam te haimamhimagirisute kirtayati yah
sa nideyachaya churana sabalam candra sakalam
dhanus saunasiram kimiti na nibhadrati dhisanam


These sky-orbs (twelve), attained to rubyhood and pressed close together;
He who can praise thus your golden crown, o daughter of the snowy peak,
Would he not have then in his mind the impression of the bow of Indra,
When, by reflected glory, a slender crescent is produced by gems embedded therein.


Verse 42 can be read in such a way as to presuppose the Chakra form of visualizing the absolute beauty value of the Goddess in the same way as hitherto, through the end of Verse 41. In Verses 39, 40 and 41, the transition from inner to outer space has already been completed. The lower negative limit of the vertical axis has been touched when the split-second-world is created once again by the joint dance of the goddess and the god there. It is not an actual terra firma that has been created, but one of an ontologically philosophical order. There is a difference between a clod of earth and a mentally revised version of the same; nor is the clod of earth a mere concept either. The schematic status of a neutrally monistic world, neither material or mental, was what the union on equal terms of the functions of Shiva and Parvati conferred in a combined dance of bliss: their joint parenthood on an orphaned universe. Now the Muladhara Chakra stands “over there” as it were, lifted hypostatically into outer space, rather than located in the inner space of the negative and collective unconscious of humanity, which is now awakened to its parenthood, having been hitherto steeped in empty orphanhood. Such are some of the implications to be carried over to the present verse before giving it a treatment which continues to respect the same norms and methodological requirements in the positive series of descending pictures that are going to follow in the remaining verses, beginning at the topmost level of the vertical axis. The three circles surrounding the Sri Chakra could still be retained, representing three limits of the upsurging billow of beauty. It cuts both ways, but here these circles are set in a background of borrowed light called cidabhasa, while in the previous context they glowed with a schematic splendour or “clear obscurity” still visible to the penetrating intuitive vision of the yogi or contemplative. A peacock's feather seen against the magenta background of a dark cloud would perhaps suggest such a dark-splendid vision of beauty. The magenta thus participates with the blue sapphire of Indra's world on the one hand, and the ruby on the other with all its brilliant fluorescent luminosity. Such would be the nearest analogy, as indicated by Sankara in the first line of this verse. A lotus shines or looms by virtue of its petals. A crystal radiates colour through its cross-polarized light, emitted as it were, through a grating, while a supernova sends its beams far and wide. Here the term mayukha, (ray of light) would be acceptable to Sankara, while monomarks, lettered or unlettered, could apply to a crystal, and the lotus could speak the language of the Sri Chakra, using symbols but relying on signs, whether colourful or not. The whole setup would be not unlike a chess-board on which the pieces live and move as in a game. The “rubyhood” of this verse has therefore to be understood as belonging to a context of brilliance and not of shade or mere tint.


A high degree of saturation, however, need not be ruled out because twelve sky orbs seem to have been pressed together and fused into one large brilliant magenta-coloured ruby here. We can readily guess that the twelve orbs refer to the twilight suns, two for each day, of the twelve months of the year. Imagine such suns at twenty-four sunsets and sunrises, typical of each of the twelve months, blending into twilight redness in the sky to produce this particular shade of magenta. One could even add the more fluorescent inner brilliance of moonsets and moonrises. One should locate such a precious stone inwardly at the very focal point of one´s meditation, where beauty is recognized to reside inside or outside in abstract and general terms.


This requires some philosophical or contemplative effort, but one could consciously or subconsciously cultivate such an attitude and construct it in absolute space, in spite of what might actually be experienced through the senses directly in the more overt or quantitative version of the same space. It is thus that the reader could correctly orient himself vis-à-vis the beauty to be appreciated in the remaining verses. It is a process of descending dialectics that will now unravel itself step by step before the contemplative, as induced by the poetic suggestions of Sankara, who will present a series of positive Chakras instead of the negative ones hitherto presented. The reader has to be carefully prepared to appreciate them as they are intended to be, and not as he might wrongly presume under premises unwarranted by a Science of the Absolute. If he should make such a mistake, it would be his own fault, and not that of anyone else. A further caution is that the onlooker will not see these visions when he is lying in an easy chair in a state of passivity, as has hitherto been acceptable. He is now asked to put some constructions on something that is lazily presented to his view at the lower level of sense impressions. The photographer must now adjust his camera and not just take sudden snapshots without adjusting for glare. As in a time exposure, the message has to sink in to reveal the superimposition of pictures. The datum of the senses is passive, while the higher intelligence constructs its own version of value, by “doing violence”, as Bergson put it, to the given picture so as to see it related to structural lines which, like ghostly holographic outline pictures of a different kind of wavelength or vibration, will add a stereoscopic structural dimension to the light, as if superimposed on the original datum more passively given to the eyes. First of all, we should notice that the creative imagination of a poet is brought into play here. The poet who is capable of such an imagination will see in the golden crown of the Goddess another crescent, besides the one that that is already placed there, because the Goddess is the dialectical counterpart of Shiva, as in Verse 23. It is normal for the absolute Goddess to retain, at least schematically a point of participation with the highest and thinnest of vertical points where Shiva, in a purely mathematical context, is placed.


The thin crescent represents a numerator limit where such participation between two absolute values, one belonging to Devi, the other belonging to Shiva, could meet and abolish themselves mutually into one and the same crescent. There is reference to a second crescent here, said to be that of Indra, who is a demiurge of a lower hypostatic order. The bow of Indra is sometimes spoken of as identical with a rainbow. A rainbow in its jewelled glory belongs more to an ontological than to a teleological order. Wordsworth said that a rainbow in the sky could make his heart leap up within him, in his childhood as well as in his old age. We have in him, therefore, just the poet under reference in this verse, to whom the glory of a rainbow succeeds in producing the echo of an upsurge of Absolute Beauty within. Half at least of such an experience must be personal or perceptual to him, while the other half could have a conceptual or mathematical status only. The creative minds of great poets are the common meeting ground of these two grades of crescents.


A hypostatic and a hierophantic crescent would thus become legitimately both possible and probable here. In Verse 46 also, there will be two more crescents which are juxtaposed like two brackets at a slightly lower level than the ruby tip of the crown of this verse. The crescent of the Indra context and the mathematically thin crescent already there, marking the limit of the function of Shivahood, belong to two distinct epistemological orders. The former is phenomenal and the latter is noumenal. If we should think in terms of these two divisions of Kantian philosophy, the two crescents given here could be placed inverted like two brackets enclosing the central value of the big ruby, resulting from the fusion of the twelve twilight orbs of each month. Though not explicitly stated in this verse, when read together with Verse 46, this bracketing could, in principle at least, be thought permissible in anticipation. This is not, however, necessary to insist upon, because it is within a poet´s imagination that we are asked to see the second Indra-bow. Furthermore, it is the product of something like diffraction and not of reflection or even of many refractions. One has to be a great poet to put it there. Then alone would such a second crescent correctly cancel out against the thinnest of mathematical crescents that is supposed already to belong to Shiva, without being based on any crown of the Goddess. Sankara here only intends to cancel the most delicate of ontological beauty-aspects with the most logically thin aspects of intelligible values. The cancellation between them is intended to produce in the mind of the reader that overwhelming upsurge of Absolute Beauty called Saundarya Lahari.


The beauty of a gem is colourful in its appeal. The beauty enclosed within the two crescents of Verse 46 is meant to encircle the ambrosial content of a mature moon, which essentially appeals to the sense of taste rather than to mere sight. Such gradations between hierophantic and hypostatic values should not be left unnoticed by the reader who wishes to master the more finalized lessons of the schematism contained in this composition. The “reflected glory” of this verse could even be changed into a “diffracted glory”. The Sanskrit text would bear such a revision, as the word nide suggests “home ground” and “chayac churana shabalam” means “to become brilliant with the variegated effect of bright shining light”. A kind of iridescent brightness is implied here.


The second and the third lines underline that all this is to be attributed to the fertile mind of the poet. Here this imaginary beauty belongs only to the golden crown of the Goddess and not to the person of the Goddess herself, to which we are coming more directly in Verse 46. We are still in the domain of a kind of mathematical mysticism here.


The fusion of the twelve luminaries of the twelve months is also an operation that only a mathematician-mystic could easily accomplish, when extrapolated and imagined as applicable to any number of years, past or future. We can arrive at a thin vertical parameter, without which the correlation of the various implied Chakras of many of these verses would become difficult. It is like the thread of Ariadne meant to guide Theseus back through the labyrinth of the Minotaur so that he would not be lost in that horizontal maze.


(Cidabhasa - variously described by Nataraja Guru as: reflected glory, the indirect conceptual light of reality, the atma which is its own mirror reflection, reflected reasoning. ED).





Gataih manikyatvam - they attain to rubyhood
Gagana mani bhih - those sky orbs twelve
Sandra ghatitam kiritam - pressed close together
Te haimam - Your golden
Himagiri sute - o daughter of the snowy peak
Kirtayati yah - he who praises
Sa nideyachaya churana shabalam chandra shakalam - when by reflected glory have then in his mind a slender crescent
Dhanush shaunasiram - as Indra's bow
Kimiti - whether it is not
Na nibadhnati dhishanam - present to his mind.
Twilight is the resultant of sunrise from one side and sunset from the other; 12 suns fuse into a vertical axis after one year.

The twelve suns, one for each month of the year, are like rubies on the Devi's crown.
The rubies reflect on the crescent moon she wears on her forehead.
There is a ruby light reflected on the crescent moon.

The ruby here represents twilight.




"Having attained to ruby-hood, (red, magenta, dawn)..."
The Saundarya Lahari proper begins here, coming out of Space (the Akasha), with the sun and moon.

Twelve suns are referred to as ornaments of Her crown, they are Numerator factors.
These 12 suns are very close together - they merge, as the 12 months and the seasons merge into each other.

Do not separate them, but know that there are twelve of them, pressed together into one.

"This crown is golden, O daughter of the Himalayas; anyone who wants to praise you, will he not think of that"?

The rubies reflect on the crescent.
He is saying what any Indian poet will begin by saying: that there is this ruby light reflecting on the crescent moon.

From Verse 42 on, the methodology changes to descending dialectics.
In the same way, the periodic table descends from hydrogen to the heavy metals.
You can find God in the sky, in the luminaries on the positive side and also in the mother's milk on the negative side.

Carbon 6 is found in the middle - it is capable of joining with others to form the horizontal dimension; all living beings need carbon 6.

In the first of this series, 12 suns are fused into the ruby of the Devi's crown: this indicates the vertical dimension implied in twilight.
(12 suns can include 12 moons as well.)


These twelve diamonds - to the ordinary man - represent twelve distinct suns.
But the poet sees one reflected glory - a river of diamonds.

Sankara says: "surely the poet will make the mistake of seeing a bow in these diamonds - because that is nearer to the truth than just seeing diamonds".

There are twelve suns as a numerator fact: "Is it not just and fair that the poet sees one diamond's light permeating another? I am sure that he will see Indra's bow in these diamonds."

Sankara is saying that, schematically, all his poetic flights correspond to the Absolute.
A river of diamonds is not the same as another river.

Here, at the Omega Point which is the Devi's crown, all individual things tend to merge.
You cannot be a poet without being a philosopher and vice-versa.

In every Chakra the value factor is always the same.
(Woodroffe wrote his Tantra Shastra at second hand, as interpreted to him by some Bengali Pundits. ED)

The Malayali pundit says that up to Verse 41 it is Ananda Lahari, after that it is Saundarya Lahari.

The first 41 verses are conceived as Chakras and these were unknown in the North of India.

Thus this area of the Chakras of esoteric Devi-worship has been geographically isolated.
When Sankara left his village near Alwaye, in Kerala, he went north toward Goa.
He had to go along the neglected Kerala coast - the home of esoterically-minded Devi-oriented people.
The pundits will say that this was not the "real" Sankara in the first 41 verses because they do not like the Tantra there.

The only difference between the first 41 verses and the last 59 is in style.
The first 41 verses are concerned with Chakras and are Dravidian,
Then in the latter part he goes on to a more descriptive language.
Pundits want to say that the first part was written by a Dravidian, the last by an Aryan. But it is not true.

Sankara must have traveled all along the Kerala coast and been familiar with the Tantra practiced there.

The first 41 verses are esoteric, from Kerala - the rest speak the language of the Himalayas.


Another version:
- Gone to rubyhood.
- By virtue of the sky-suns (12 suns) of each month.
- The crown closely knit. (With gems)
- Your golden. (Gold is a numerator value - known to all people)
- O daughter of the Himalayas (there is reference to the Himalayas because he is turning to the hypostatic, positive, side)
- He who (intends to) praise.
- He (the poet).
- In the crown, what shade.
- Mixed radiance.
- Making a crescent.
- The bow.
- Of Indra.
- Is this not.
- Fixed.
- In his mind.
The important part is now to come.
Sankara is justifying a poet's doubting that they are just twelve suns - he is sure to see in them Indra's bow.

The poet's job is to conceptualize - and for the Indian poet, all brilliance and hypostatic beauty is Indra, the King of the Gods.

Sankara is saying, "I am also an Indian poet, and I am sure to do it. Don't you understand that any poet will do it".

This is an explanation of the first 41 verses.
It is natural for a poet to schematize.

If you want to place Sankara culturally, put him in the exact centre of the Kerala coast, but he also has a place in the Aryan North Indian context.
Here, he is making a transition from one style to another.

Kerala, in the South, is one cultural region - it is fond of Mantras, Tantras and Esoterics.
Sankara first writes in the style of Kerala - about hierophantic inner space on the negative side, and then goes to the more conceptual, hypostatic and positive Aryan context.
To understand Verses 42 and 43, first descend from the ruby to the parting in the hair, that is the vertical axis - the main central road. Think of it as a river with the reflection of magenta sunlight: the high road to heaven.
It goes hypostatically upwards on the numerator side to infinity.
Jainas and Buddhists come very close to the Absolute, but you cannot worship "nothing".
(This is a reference to the fact that Buddhists say that the Absolute or Ultimate Reality is Nirvana - which could be translated as "nothingness". By contrast, Shankara's Advaita says that the Ultimate Reality or Absolute is the Devi described in the Saundarya Lahari. ED)

They have not arranged a scale of values and given a content to Absolute Beauty or reality.

A whole series of Chakras is needed, without a gap between the Alpha and the Omega Points.

In the Saundarya Lahari, Sankara gives them a map, showing all the intermediate stations: even if you are capable of going directly to the highest Sat
ori (enlightenment), you had better know the intermediate steps.

In the verses following this one, Sankara says that there are two smells in Parvati's hair - the natural fragrance of the hair and the smell of the flowers that are put there.
The series ends with the Devi's jingling anklets teaching the cygnets how to walk.

Note: the Mukambika temple in Kollur, just north of Kerala, is the headquarters of erotic mysticism in India.