SAUNDARYA LAHARI

 

 

VERSE 10

 

TWO INVERTED TREES
THE MOVEMENT OF KUNDALINI IS A PARAMETER

 

सुधाधारासारै-श्चरणयुगलान्त-र्विगलितैः
प्रपञ्चं सिन्ञ्न्ती पुनरपि रसाम्नाय-महसः।
अवाप्य स्वां भूमिं भुजगनिभ-मध्युष्ट-वलयं
स्वमात्मानं कृत्वा स्वपिषि कुलकुण्डे कुहरिणि

 

sudha dhara sarais carana yugalantar vigalitaih
prapancam sincanti punar api rasamnaya mahasah
avapya svam bhumim bhujaganibham addyusta valayam
svam atmanam krtva svapisi kulakunde kuharini

 

With streaks of ambrosial essence streaming from between your twin feet,
Sprinkling blessing over the worlds, and again from that point of high intelligible values,
Turning yourself into a snake-form of three coils and a half,
You sleep in the hollow of the Kulakunda, your proper ground attaining.
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We find, by visualizing this work as a whole, that it is tacitly divided into sections of ten, though not strictly in every case. Thus we can expect this tenth verse to sum up a preliminary section in which all matters of importance are introduced to the reader. They are:
  1. The world of paradox
  2. The world of particles
  3. The quaternion
  4. The primacy of ontology
  5. The borrowed glory of demiurges
  6. Occasionalism
  7. The total structural dynamism
  8. The principle of vertical inversion
  9. The six stable positions, or Adharas

 

These conceptions have all been brought to light to facilitate the understanding of the latter verses before passing on to the Sri Chakra and its details in the next verse. Yoga literature is familiar with what is called a Kundalini snake. It is said to be coiled and normally in a dormant, hibernating or sleeping state. By wilful disciplines, such as Hatha Yoga, yogis are supposed to rouse this sleeping snake, which is said to be present within the hollow of consciousness, having its reference at the base of the vertical axis. When thus aroused, it unfolds its coils and raises itself like a spiral spring, reaching higher and higher levels of consciousness, passing through the various Chakras where syndromes and synergisms, whether psychologically or physiologically understood, are to be schematically marked out by the yogi for his guidance in meditation.

 

We are familiar also in yogic literature with the three nadis: the ida, the left or moon nerve; the pingala, the right or sun nerve and the susumna or central nerve. The susumna marks the central line of nervous facilitation through which the Shakti or power called Kundalini rises upward to transcend the various levels of consciousness. This parameter, or line of nervous facilitation, is supposed to be a capillary as thin as one-thousandth of the breadth of a hair which conducts urdhva retas - the ascending vital energy - which, passing through other intermediate plexuses, ganglia or synapses, representing various syndromes and synergisms constituting a hierarchy in the nervous system, finally attains the highest position in the centre of the thousand-petalled lotus. The snake is represented conventionally as passing from the left (ida) to the right (pingala) of the central nadi (susumna), the three strands of which, when taken together, perhaps correspond to the sympathetic nervous system where the main flux of vital energy is said to ascend by an innate principle of facilitation. Various attempts have been made by physiologists as well as psycho-physically minded experts, as also those who speak in psychosomatic terms, to establish a correct correspondence between this ancient Hatha Yogic vision of the ascent of psychic energy and the attainment of the proper purpose of Yoga. All such attempts have been only partial examinations. This is due to the fact that various degrees of abstraction between mind and body factors are possible. It is the philosophy adhered to, whether accepting a dualistic or non-dualistic position, which determines whether the picture of such a snake is to be taken seriously or only figuratively.

 

One sees sometimes, in some conventional pictures of this snake, that it passes from the right to the left of the central, thin and mathematical parameter. Dualistic schools of Yoga, such as that of Patanjali, give more importance to the ascent than to the descent of the Kundalini snake. At the final point of the ascent is the sahasrara padma, or lotus. In other texts, that final point is sometimes called the brahma randhra, an absolutist passage through which consciousness can rise to higher levels than can be envisaged by dualistic thought. The methodology and epistemology of Advaita Vedanta require that the whole question of the Kundalini snake be viewed from both its positive and negative perspectives; that is, both as ascending beyond the brahma randhra and as descending to sleep again in the cavity at the negative ontological limit of the total psycho-physical setup, within the four limits of which all states of consciousness must necessarily live, move and have their being.

 

It would not be wrong for us, in the light of these remarks, to attribute to Sankara the intention of presenting here a revised and revalued version of the dynamism of psycho-physical states, presented with its beauty and symmetry in keeping with his own Advaita Vedanta, rather than according to the philosophy of Patanjali or others vitiated by various degrees of implied dualism.

 

We have to begin by placing the feet of the Goddess at three different levels, marked by the O Point at the centre, and the Alpha and Omega Points at the negative and positive limits of the vertical parameter. The description here, viewed from a vertical perspective, of some ambrosial essences having their origin at that locus, marked by the O Point, between the two twin feet at the central level, is justified.

 

The reference to the blessing of the world by sprinkling ambrosia on all the levels within the limits of the body of the Goddess necessarily presupposes an upward as well as a downward movement from this point of origin. Thus, there are ramified sets of values that resemble the tree of Porphyry of western theology, as also an inverted version of the same which could be a reflection of the former. The movement of the kundalini snake and the levels, both positive and negative, that it can attain, thus come to have both a vertical and a horizontal parity or symmetry. The quiet and dormant snake marks the lower limiting point in consciousness when the yogi does not exercise any pressure of psycho-physical discipline on himself.

 

When he does exercise such a pressure by what is generally called tapas (mystical agony), this hissing snake passing spirally around the central parameter not only attains higher levels by what is marked as the O Point, but touches higher and higher worlds in the domain of the intelligibles. Though all these details are not specifically indicated in the verse itself, we are sufficiently justified in elaborating the purport of this verse in this manner because Sankara does the same in other verses, telescoping into unity many factors which could be elaborated endlessly through didactic verbosity, He is using a non-verbose and necessarily cryptic medium here, which has many aspects to be supplied by the imagination of the reader.

 

The higher levels of the intelligibles attained by the kundalini snake in its ascent refer to conceptual values, as implied in the word rasamnaya, which refers to the essence of joy or value described in scriptures such as the Upanishads. The term mahas, meaning greatness or glory, justifies our position that it is the joy or bliss in experiencing the Absolute that is to be kept in mind here. The glory of the Absolute marks the topmost limit in this spiritual ascent, of which the bottom-most limit is known as the kulakunda or the kundala, which is an inside or hollow, rather than an outside. What is lost by the author's avoidance of verbosity has to be supplied by the imagination of the reader so that this preliminary section of ten verses could effectively round off matters of interest for the student to proceed more normally with his studies beyond this first section.

 

The reference to the three and a half coils of a snake could remind us of a viper rather than a cobra. A viper has a way of coiling in half-circles and placing its head at the point where the three and a half coils can be imagined to terminate. Twice the three and a half coils makes seven; thus we cover all the psycho-physical centres in an extended sense when we include factors such as ahamkara or ego-sense, as we see in the Gita's enumeration of the hierarchy of factors. If we include the brahma randhra and the kulakunda, we could add two more stable positions. If we should add one on the positive side, or ascent, it would be fair to omit one on the negative side or descent. The "half" in the "three and a half" is supposed to indicate this alternative inclusion or exclusion of limits understood dynamically rather than statically.

 

The Yoga Upanishads actually speak of ten Adharas or Chakras; six of them real in the cosmological sense, while the others could be psychological or theoretical in their status. Sankara elsewhere dismisses such discussions about the actual number, saying that he is unable to settle the difference between text and text, but would prefer a larger number so that nothing, subtle or gross, stands in danger of being overlooked. As in a cricket game, it is always better for a team to have a few extra players along.

 


(The Porphyrian tree, Tree of Porphyry or Arbor Porphyriana is a classic device for illustrating what is also called a "scale of being". It was suggested—if not first, then most famously, in the European philosophical tradition—by the 3rd century C.E. Greek neoplatonist philosopher and logician Porphyry. It is also known as scala praedicamentalis. Porphyry presented Aristotle's classification of categories in a way that was later adopted into tree-like diagrams of dichotomous divisions, which indicate that a species is defined by a genus and a differentia and that this logical process continues until the lowest species is reached, which can no longer be so defined. ED)
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ADDITIONAL COMMENTS WITH STRUCTURAL DIAGRAMS RELATED TO THIS VERSE FROM SAUNDARYA LAHARI/NOTES

This is a verticalized series ranging both ways.

 

WORD FOR WORD
sudha dhara saraihi - with streaks of ambrosial essence
carana yugalantar vigalitaih - streaming from between your twin feet
prapancam sincantih - sprinkling blessings over the worlds
punar api rasamnaya mahasaha - and again from that point of high intelligible values
avapya svam bhumim - attaining one's proper ground
bhujaganibham - taking serpent likeness
addyusta valayam - having 3 1/2 coils
svam atmanam krtva - turning Yourself
svapisi kulakunde kuharini - you sleep in the hollow of the Kulakunda, having a hollow therein.                                

 

There is Omega Point light at the top of the vertical axis; having attained that, you come back down.
Nectar originates at the central O Point.
On the negative side is the existential world, receiving nectar, representing value, from the O Point.
"Becoming a 3 1/2 coil Kundalini snake..." - the negative side is a cavity.

 

 

The Numerator is not a cavity.
The full Kundalini is 6 (Chakras) plus 1 (an intermediate neutral zone) which makes 7/2 with 3 ½ on the Denominator side and 3 1/2 on the positive Numerator side.
The snake can travel all the way up the vertical axis.

 

 

 

A stream of nectar flows from between the feet.

 

 

 

All values are ramified.

 

 

 

Various representations of a Tree of Porphyry.

(The tree of porphyry represents the values (nectar) that the "snake" spreads in ramified sets when it ascends and also descends, The stable points from which the nectar emanates are here called the twin feet of the Devi. ED)


In this verse we have here a top view and side views of the Chakras and Kundalini.
There is a Kundalini snake of 3 1/2 coils which is pictured as sleeping at the bottom of the vertical axis.

 

 

Above are traditional diagrams of the Chakras etc.

 

Another version:

TRANSLATION

by the flow of ambrosial streaks
streaming from in between the two feet
created) five-fold world (understood in the contemplative context)
sprinkling ritualistically (Vedic ritual context)
then again (after doing that)
from the (great blissful) source of high intelligible values (such as the Vedas)
attaining
one's proper ground
like a snake
with 3 1/2 coils
Your (proper) self
making
You sleep in the Kula cavity/having a cavity, i.e. a hollow

 

There is some question over the translation of the last line: “Kulakunde...” ("In the hollow of the Kulakunda")

(Kuṇḍa, a noun with the meaning "bowl, water-pot" is found as the name of a Naga (snake-deity) in Mahabharata 1.4828.

The 8th-century Tantrasadbhava Tantra also uses the term kundalī ("ring, bracelet; coil (of a rope)".

The use of kuṇḍalī as a name of Durga or of a Shakti appears as a technical term in Tantrism and Shaktism as early as c. the 11th century, in the Śaradatilaka.

The term Kula has many meanings, most of them inapplicable to this context. ED).


We place the two feet at the central O Point where there are certain ambrosial essences being sprinkled down onto the denominator worlds, the streaks of ambrosia forming ramified sets - by Her blessing, everything becomes a member of a ramified set, related to some source at the O Point.


By this, all relativistic worlds are brought together into the realm of the Absolute Devi.


A ramification of blessings is being sprinkled on the created worlds.
The Kundalini snake goes to the point of highest bliss, then coils backwards.
Then again, from the great blissful source, it descends to its own proper source.
The 3 1/2 coils exist on the denominator side, and the snake is sleeping, where there was "sporting" in the previous verse.

 

 

All of these points have to be justified: some immortal value is oozing out from between the feet of the Goddess; how to justify these "ambrosial streaks"?

 

These are value-streams or ramifications, sprinkling over the physical world which is going to be abolished, since it is unreal.


There is an amorphous veil covering the whole universe - it is vague and subtle.


The Kundalini participates between the Numerator and the Denominator which is its own true ground.


The Kundalini here reaches the Sahasrara (the thousand-petalled lotus) at the positive limit of the vertical axis; this is to be seen in the light of Yoga.

 

 

THE 1000-PETALED LOTUS.

 

Main Principles of This Verse:


1) The "real world" is to be abolished.


2) The vertical parameter is the Kundalini here.


3) The snake's length and coils depend on the limit attained.


4) Out of 6+1 (six chakras and the Sahasrara), 3 1/2 coils are justified.


5) Essence and Mahas (rasamnaya mahasah in the verse, "
that point of high intelligible values") are below the O Point and between the feet.

 

(This may also require a rather long lesson in the film, as also explanation of the upper and lower limits, often not clarified.)

 

A streaming flow of nectar - that certain kind of liquid - between the legs of the Devi - from that centre downwards, bestowing grace on all it touches.
“And thyself resembling the form of a serpent of three and a half coils.”

 

 

 

A serpent of three and a half coils - this must be some of the basic Chakras.

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A DISCUSSION OF THE DEVI, AND OF VERSES 10 AND 11
The Devi has to be understood.
Only in this way can Vedanta be presented in a useful manner.
Vedanta must be able to solve problems, especially marital.


The whole of the universe is composed of two forces, originating at opposite poles, and meeting in a neutral, central zone, called by Descartes the zone of occasionalism.

 

 

Descartes discovered the secrets of the Upanishads in his meditations.


So the Goddess must become the centre of meditation - thus the meditation becomes normalised. Only that version of philosophy which makes real values from out of the conceptual and the perceptual is worthwhile.

 


In order to have a pure conceptual understanding of Brahman, the Absolute, the Devi must be given positive status. She is not only a female, She gets a real dimension, which finally becomes the Absolute. (See Sankara).


Sankara was fully conversant with the most precious aspects of Hindu Philosophy. He made no mistakes because his intuition was right.

 

But you can go still further into the mystical experience and be completely overwhelmed.


The Guru states: "I do not have mystical trances. I have trances of a mild nature, and I have certain mild occult or psychic powers. I always get the book I want."


The Devi is a normalised god - all the other gods are hypostatic.
She is a neutral Goddess.

(The Devi of the Saundarya Lahari is not some deity that lives in the sky, or in some heaven or Olympus. She is the concrete universal basis of the universe and participates equally with phenomenal values at the negative root of the vertical axis and the highest values at the positive limit. The snake is imagined as travelling between these two poles. The reference to her feet emphasizes her concrete universal status. ED)


 

(The above structure is found in the original manuscript - but the Editor thinks that, perhaps, the structure below would be more accurate - the original manuscript is in the Editor's own hand and he is aware that occasional inaccuracies may have crept into his note-taking. Anyway, the structural methodology is not a dogma but a way of looking at things and, therefore, fluid. ED)