स्मरं योनिं लक्ष्मीं त्रितय-मिद-मादौ तव मनो
र्निधायैके नित्ये निरवधि-महाभोग-रसिकाः ।
भजन्ति त्वां चिन्तामणि-गुणनिबद्धाक्ष-वलयाः
शिवाग्नौ जुह्वन्तः सुरभिघृत-धाराहुति-शतै


smaram yonim lakshmim tritayam idam adau tava manor
nidhayake nitye niravadhi mahabhogarasikah
bhajanti tvam cintamani gunani baddhaksavalayasa
sivagnau juhvantas surabhigrtaa dharahutisataih


Eros, Source, Wealth; this triplet placing first within your charm
O lone and eternal one, innumerable seekers of great enjoyments
Adore you, telling beads of philosophers' stone, ever sacrificing into the fire of Shiva
By hundreds of streaks of clarified butter oblations from the celestial cow.


It is not difficult to see that this verse is dealing with the Samayins, as there is reference to the sacred cow (kamadhenu) and the Vedic ritual of the fire sacrifice (shivagni). We are called upon to use two degrees of abstraction in order to grasp the meaning of the situation described. We have to think of thousands of spoonfuls of ghee (clarified butter), derived from a celestial cow, being poured as offerings into a fire.


In performing this ritual act, the spoon, which contains the ghee, circles a thousand times in the hands of the Vedic votary. When abstracted, this circulation will resemble a rosary, but with the ghee as its value factor instead of the usual rosary such as one made of rudraksa beads, which is natural to the context of Shiva worship. As noted previously, the word aksa is made up of the first and last letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. An aksamala is a rosary, with the help of which votaries of divinities - whether in India or elsewhere - repeat mystical syllables, each representing a divinity, symbol or monomark. Instead of the A and Ksha, we could think of Alpha and Omega. An aksamala then, can be seen as a rosary consisting of some sacred items of value in the form of a "universal concrete", but derived from letters or syllables made up of signs of the alphabet. The first and the last, when fused together, would represent a value resulting from the reciprocal cancellation of counterparts.


If Verse 32 was nominalistic in its intention to name the various limbs of the Goddess in order to understand her both realistically and in an abstract form; then Verse 33 tends to be hedonistic rather than nominalistic.


Ancient Vedism was characterized by its love of the "good life". The drinking of Soma juice and the sacrificing of calves to propitiate one god or another was a natural form of behaviour to the Aryans. Later Vedism, however, began to eschew the infliction of suffering (himsa) and the shedding of blood as impure and unvirtuous. The Buddhist and Jaina doctrine of ahimsa (non-hurting) must have had its share in shaping this revised way of life through the ages.


Whatever their historical origin might be, Brahmins of the present day, at least in South India, do not lend their support to those items which are distinguished as the vamachara (left-handed) features of Tantrism. As a dialectical revaluator, Sankara evidently wishes to recognize the claims of both the Samayins and the Kaulins by treating them as representative rival schools and accepting what is laudable in each of them, so as to present them both without partiality, but in a form slightly revalued and restated. By this unitive approach, both these forms of prevailing spirituality can be brought into line with his own fully Advaitic standpoint. The Bhagavad Gita even speaks of the Vedas as being under the sway of the three Gunas (traigunya visaya veda) (II: 45).


Hedonism, relativism, ritualism and negativism are not defects in themselves, but they are capable of being revised in the name of a fully unitive absolutist standpoint. Clarified butter and the wish-fulfilling cow of heaven, kamadhenu, are natural to the Brahminical world of values. Pouring ghee into a "Shiva-fire" instead of into a "Brahman-fire" is to be understood as a slight concession made in this verse to the Shiva-Shakti context of South India, to which Tantrism must necessarily belong. There is no Tantrism that can be called purely Vedic and the conflict between Vedism and Tantrism is clearly evident in many parts of the pre-Vedic literature, as revealed in the writings of Sir John Woodroffe and others. Verse 32 represents an ascending movement from the actual or "universal concrete" to nominalism through conventional syllables applied to divinities used as monomarks, in the interest of taxonomy or nomenclature of the various aspects of the Goddess, as is usual in Tantrism.


Conversely the movement in Verse 33 is clearly one of descent from the value represented by the celestial cow toward actual benefits here on earth, in the name of bhoga, or enjoyment. By clarifying or enhancing the path of hedonism, Sankara here refers to bhoga in revised terms, as mahabhoga (great enjoyment), as seen elsewhere in Vedantic literature, such as the "Yoga Vasishta".


If bhoga is derogatory, mahabhoga is not so, because the word maha (great) lifts its meaning to a status sub specie aeternitatis, or "within the scope of the eternal", thus taking away any stigma that might be attached to enjoyment as a brute reality in life. In other words, mahabhoga is not to be treated as just bhoga. Verses 32 through 35, when read together in the structural perspective we are presenting, reveal two opposite movements between positive and negative counterparts in the context of the scrutiny, analytic or synthetic, of the same high value of absolute beauty which is always the subject matter or object matter of these verses. When we give primacy to effect, as in Verse 34, a new element is introduced into beauty. When we give primacy to cause, as in Verse 35, our reference is to the source of all things, already existing in the past.


The reference in the second half of Verse 35 is to a simple wife of Shiva, although it is to be understood in the light of the rightful dignity of an eternal feminine principle. We find that the body of Shiva referred to in Verse 34 has the epithet "new" applied to it. By this attribute, one has to understand that it refers to the effect side and not to the cause side of the total situation.


The double movement in these four verses taken together will be progressively abolished in purer epistemological terms of non-dual cancellation. In the coming verses, which refer to the actual Chakras, such as Ajña and so on, we will find the principles of compensation, reciprocity and complementarity (or milder forms of ambivalence and parity) presented in a certain epistemological and methodological sequence by Sankara. Verses 32 through 35 are meant to reveal the structural dynamism before the same stands revealed in its fully revalued Advaitic form, from Verse 36 onward.


Samaya is the conventional name applied to the Vedic Goddess as implied in the revised Tantric context, while the term Kaula would suggest a more popular approach to the Tantrism of pre-Vedic times. On final analysis, whether we employ an ascending or a descending dialectical approach, it is the same Sri Chakra that is implied in both the movements, positive and negative. Advaita Vedanta does not admit of any duality between part and whole, cause and effect, substance and attribute. Unitive vision, at whatever level, refers to one and the same Brahman. All references to higher and lower Brahman have to be left behind when the doctrine is to be stated in its finalized form.


What is gained on one side is lost on the other, as between immanent and transcendent values, leaving behind a constant always to be understood under the aegis of the same absolute self-hood. Neither epistemological, methodological nor axiological duality is to be allowed to taint, even in the least, the status of the non-dual Absolute. This is required by Sankara's position as an Advaita Vedantin.

Narayana Guru endorses this in Verse 60 of his Atmopadesa Satakam:

"Even when knowledge to egoism is subject in any predication
And one is unmindful of the ultimate verity of what is said,
Yet as with the truth however ultimate, such knowledge
Can never fall outside the scope of the knowing self."


The language of abstraction and generalisation has various degrees and dimensions, always within the scope of the four states of consciousness as described in the Mandukya Upanishad - the gross, the subtle, the causal and the "fourth" (sthula, suksma, karana, turiya).


Hedonistic motives might be reprehensible ordinarily, but as we have pointed out already, the qualification maha added to bhoga rasikah, which all together means : "lovers of great delights", absolves the devotee from any charge of hedonism. Also, when the duality between ends and means is abolished, his worship becomes at least as dignified as the kind of worship envisaged in the previous verse.


In these two verses, 32 and 33, Sankara succeeds in revaluing and restating both the Kaulin and Samayin ways of worship without detracting anything from either of them, by giving them their full status in the light of the intentionality natural to Advaita Vedanta. If intentions are good, the actions themselves have also necessarily to be good , according to the doctrine of the Bhagavad Gita (IX:31). There Krishna says: "My disciple will never perish, because his intentions are good". This doctrine of grace is the most touching thing a god can say to a human being. This is not found in Buddhism. If you are dedicated to Brahman (the Absolute), ends and means will cancel out by your intention.



Bhagavad Gita, Chapter II

traigunya vishaya veda
nistraigunyo bhava 'rjuna
nirdvandvo nitya sattvastho
niryogakshema atmavan


The Veda treats of matters related to the three
gunas (modalities of nature); you should he free
from these three modalities 0 Arjuna; free from
(relative) pairs of opposites, established ever in
pure being, without any yoga (discipline) or well-
being (as dual factors, but remain) one (unitively)
Self-possessed (atmavan).


Bhagavad Gita, IX,

kshipram bhavati dharmatma
sasvachchhantim nigachchhati
kaunteya pratijanihi
na me bhaktah pranasyati


Instantaneously he becomes established in his own right
nature and enters into eternal peace. Believe Me in all
confidence, 0 Son of Kunti (Arjuna), that one affiliated
to Me with fidelity knows no destruction.






Smaram yonim lakshmim - Eros, source, wealth
Tritayam idam - this triplet
Adau tava mano nidhaya - placing first within Your charm
Eke nitye - o lone and eternal one
Niravadhi maha bhoga rasikah - innumerable seekers of great enjoyment
Bhajante tvam - they worship You
Chintamani gunani baddhaksha vilayhi - telling rosaries of philosopher's stone
Shiva agnau - into the fire of Shiva
Juhvantaha - ever sacrificing
Surabhi ghrta dhara ahuti shataihi - by hundreds of streaks of clarified butter oblations from the celestial cow (Surabhi)
The Celestial cow, known as Surabhi or Kamadhenu - the Wish-Fulfiller.
This is a related verse to the previous Verse 32.
The ritualistic Vedic worshippers go to the Denominator, worshipping the Numerator with the milk of Kamadhenu, the celestial cow.
A streak of ghee being offered in a ritual.


This verse describes revalued Vedism
The Agnihotra (fire-sacrifice) is for enjoyers of life (Vedic Brahmins).
(As opposed to Vedantins who renounce attachment to the enjoyments of life. ED)

This Brahmin described in this verse wants maha bhoga (great enjoyment), making hundreds of offerings and always telling beads.

This is Vedism revised and excused.
Maha bhoga is great enjoyment; if the ritualist has attained maha bhoga, then he is not all bad.
(The word "great" implies some kind of absolutism - the enjoyment is given a somewhat verticalized status. Note that in the provisional translation below "maha bhogarasikah" is translated  "those who are capable of enjoying endless happiness", ED)

bhoga is Absolute. Put the Numerator and the Denominator together.
The message of this verse could be described as: "How to be a Vedic ritualist on Absolutist lines."
(Vedic ritualism can be verticalized and revalued in terms of the highest of all values - the Wisdom of the Absolute or "endless happiness" - and thus reach the same status as Vedanta. "He who knows the Absolute becomes the Absolute". "Brahmavit brahmeva bhavati". ED)
Another version:
Certain ones, o Eternal One, those who are capable of enjoying endless happiness, they serve you - as if they possess a rosary string of valuable gems (a value-string of gems from contemplation).
In the fire of Shiva, they are sacrificing the ghee (clarified butter), which is made from the milk of Kama Dhenu, the wish-fulfilling celestial cow.
There is an equation between the numerator ghee and the denominator fire.
Make a bursting flash of light in praise of the Absolute.
Certain people think there is a difference between Vedism and the esoterics of South India.
The use of ghee is a North Indian custom - certain others are in the habit of using esoteric Tantra Shastras, which are South Indian in origin.
They amount to the same thing in the totality of the Absolute.

This is a kind of mocking: "some people" are not approved of by Sankara.
Those who tell beads are doing the same thing as those who pour ghee into the fire.
Both of them are hedonistic ritualists seeking enjoyment.
(Ritualists seek enjoyment of the goods of life. Vedanta seeks only wisdom. ED)

The Vedic context has a wish-fulfilling cow, Kamadhenu, bestowing benefits (milk) from the negative hierophantic side.

The negative side is the side of Necessities - it is the ghee from this cow that is referred to.

Then there is a garland of beads, each bead being the result of Kaulist speculation - representing a string of values.
(The individual beads are items of contemplation - each item is just one way of contemplating, understanding and becoming the Absolute - one could perhaps imagine this as looking at a many-faceted diamond from different angles - different facets, same diamond. ED)

This is not Vedic. Their speculations are on the Absolute.
Each bead represents a value in the Absolute.

But each kind of devotee is concerned with benefits - in terms of a graded set of values. They are concerned with some joy or other.
The implication here is that they are the same kind of people, although one is Vedic and the other Kaulist.

He damns both with faint praise, indicating that both are hedonistic and relativistic.

The Guru tells the story of the son of a servant woman who went to a guru and said that he did not know the name of his father, and the cart-driver sage who called the king a sudra (low caste person). (This reference is obscure, except inasmuch as it is meant to illustrate the unimportance of caste. ED)

Sankara contrasts both the Vedic worshippers and the Kaulists against those who realize the totality of the Absolute.
(The different syllables recited while telling the beads each have a symbolic meaning. ED)
aim - Kama Raja (Deva?)
shrim - Lakshmi
hrim - Feminine source, (unclear in the original. ED)


Another version:

- Eros and feminine source (or female organ)
- Lakshmi (goddess of wealth)
- These triple factors
- First into your mantra placing ("aim", "shrim", "hrim")
- O eternal (one)
- Many enjoyers of great benefits (enjoyments, boons) (there are many who place these first in mantras)
- They praise you (by the telling of beads with syllables as above)
- With collections of philosopher's stones strung on a rosary (they pass in review various grades of values)
(She is the eternal Goddess)
(These values are at least strung together, he is thinking of integrating all the values together as eternal)
(Guru withdraws the charge of sarcasm in this verse)
- Into the fire of Shiva (as a numerator aspect)
- Sacrificing ( the act of pouring ghee)
- Ghee of Kamadhenu (the cow who gives unending milk)
- Streak (unbroken) (indicates a never-ending function)
- In a hundred acts of sacrificial offerings. (forming a streak)
(why a streak? Because they are strung together, as a string of beads are strung together.)

He is saying that one is just as orthodox as the other. Do not make a distinction based on superiority.)
(As the Guru indicates in the above translation, the word translated as "source" is the Sanskrit yoni, which is often translated as "vagina" or "womb". Its counterpart is the male symbol or lingam.
A lingam is literally anything that constitutes a sign or symbol. The male and female sex organs as symbols are referred to as lingams, "Pullingam" meaning "male sex symbo"l, and "Strilingam" marking the feminine. The Shiva-lingam which is the phallic symbol of Shiva is a spherical stone which is an object of worship in India from prehistoric times. It is dressed up, anointed or washed with ablutive waters by way of respect or adoration in memory of the antique god Shiva. ED)

Lingam worship or puja.


"Maha" ("great", as applied to enjoyment. ED) is the word that lifts this out of the relativistic, hedonistic context - since this is "great" devotion.
Both sides are thinking of a hundred values which are united into one value (which is the Absolute. ED).

One side is numerator, and the other side is denominator.
Because of the word "maha" the Guru retracts all of the commentary up to the word-for-word translation.
But, without "maha" which indicates that the totality is recognized, then we would have relativism and hedonism.

The phenomenal world of waves on the ocean can be cancelled with the noumenal side of the world.
Here we have Kaula values revalued in the light of the Absolute.
When the Numerator is equal to the Denominator, then there is no sin.
This verse provides a Vedic Numerator for a Kaulist Denominator.
Kama Dhenu is the appropriate numerator to cancel with - it is of the same quality or status in the Vedic context as the denominator rituals of the Kaulins.
So, Sankara is correcting a one-sided approach.



Layer 1 - Lakshmi, Smara (Eros - someone in the world of action to embrace) The Yoni is a Kaulist factor.
Layer 2 - Vedas (Kama Dhenu)
Layer 3 - Nitya ("eternal")  (Vedanta, thinking)
Layer 4 - Maha Bhogya, the Absolute, absolute enjoyment.


Here is a circulation of values, with fire as the locus.
A worshipper goes through four stages, from Kaulin to Vedic, to Vedantic speculation, to Absolute Maha Bhogya (great enjoyment)..



The fire of Shiva is Vertical.
The fire of Smara is horizontal.
There is a continual flow of milk from Kama Dhenu, the wish-fulfilling celestial cow - a streak of ghee, which implies continuous offering.
Eros is the horizontal version of Shiva.
(When Eros fires his arrows at Shiva to tempt him erotically, as recounted in Kalidasa's poem, the Kumarasambhava, Shiva is united with the Devi - thus becoming horizontalized just sufficiently for the war god Kumara to be born - or, in other terms, for the universe to come into being. The firing of the arrow and its result imply a cancellation between the two counterparts - Eros and Shiva - and the cancellation implies an equivalent status between them - if only for an instant, when Shiva is smitten. Eros appears in a similar role throughout the Saundarya Lahari. A curious note by the Guru: "Eros is the horizontal Shiva". ED)

Kamadhenu, the heavenly gift-giving cow, provides the corrective touch to avoid a break in the continuous flow of culture.

Sankara stands for the synthesis of all forms of worship or ritualism into one culture.
Pouring ghee one hundred times is the same as telling one hundred rosary beads.

These are particular instances of worship in general.
Eros must be placed on the horizontal because he is real.


Another version:

- Eros, Source, Wealth (principles) (Smaram, Yonim, Lakshmim)
- This triplet
- Placing first as your mantra (charm) (numerator)
- O, one and eternal (eke nitye)
- Innumerable great enjoyers of benefits
- Adore you
- With rosary strung together with philosopher's stone beads
- Into the fire of Shiva
- Sacrificing (offering into the fire)
- Hundreds of streaks of oblations from the heavenly cow


Here the Vedic method is described, as opposed to the Dravidian one of the previous verse.
Here again there is a cancellation with the two sides held together in the source at the centre.
Put the three words in your charm, "O lone and eternal one.."


Again, there is a revaluation by Sankara; "Maha Bhogya" ("Great Enjoyment") is given an absolutist status, plus the cancellation.
Attaining to pure Vedanta is like having the philosophers' stone. (Everything turns into gold (the highest value). ED).

The Brahmin keeps on praising the Devi with Numerator mantras and pouring Denominator ghee to get benefits from her.

"Mahabhogya" - the greatest delight is copulation.

Thus there is participation between Numerator and Denominator at the O Point.
(Copulation is a cancellation of Numerator and Denominatror.ED)

They are continually praising and ever-sacrificing, meaning that they are sub specie aeternitatis, or under the aegis of the Absolute.

Sankara is telling us how to make the Vedic ensemble acceptable: "Try to include all and exclude none".
The Gita tradition accepts worship in all forms.

Note the overlapping levels of abstraction and generalization:
from stone to spoon to cow to ghee to beads to letters to mantras.



Bring out the difference between a man who wants enjoyment in the Vedic sense and a real absolutist. But if they understand the circulation of values within the Absolute - if they worship the Absolute, even without being conscious of it -  it amounts in principle to the same thing. c.f. the Bhagavad Gita: "Those who worship me, even with wrong intentions, are as good as far as they go".


So this enjoyment is not excluded, but one can go further - from the taste of a banana to the taste of the Absolute. The latter includes the former: "worshipping Me" is the goal, as the Gita states; if it is not perfect, we can worry about that later.
If a Sudra (low-caste person) can enter heaven, then a Brahmin can also enter it. It goes without saying that some worship is better than no worship. The lower worship is all right, there is an intention to do worship, and it is better than something worse. Bring out Maha Bhoga ("great enjoyment") which implies some element of absolutism.


(All values, from the taste of a banana to the joy of the Absolute, have their place on a vertical scale of values, from the most negative and concrete to the most abstract and numerator. Cancellation takes place at every level between the Self and the non-Self, and cancellation is cancellation, at whatever level. ED)



Show a man meditating with a rosary on the Numerator, and an Agnihotram (fire sacrifice) and a cow on the Denominator:  there are two circulations, merging into a greater over-all circulation. The Maha Bhogi (great enjoyer) thus involved, even unconsciously, participates in the over-all value. Karma and Jnana (wisdom and action) are put together without contradiction.

Abolish the cow and the rosary, and let the flame come into the forefront, then show magenta glory and a repetition of the theme.
You can put anything at the Omega Point as the object of worship, as long as you can cancel: 3/3, 4/4, 7/7... all of them cancel out into 1. The 1 here is the Absolute.
Here, let a Sannyasin (renouncer) teach this as one step further than mere enjoyment, which is "Bhoga Rasika"; this is "Maha Bhoga Rasika" - great enjoyment - he corrects the Brahmin.




Laksmi and Eros are on the numerator side.
Wealth (Lakshmi)




Kama Deva (Eros) tempting Shiva by firing his arrow.


Kama Deva.



The Samayins are Brahmins
"Seekers adore you..."